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March 05, 2013

What's The Difference Between WebRTC and SIP?

The growth of WebRTC has left plenty examining this new phenomenon and wondering how best to put it to use in their particular environment. There are certainly plenty of possibilities, but in the course of examination, many are starting to notice a growing number of similarities between Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) and session initiation protocol (SIP). That's leading those same people to ask, just what is the difference between the two technologies?

Indeed, there are plenty of similarities between the two. Both are used as measures to offer up collaboration and communication simply and over an Internet connection. Similar, yes, but not the same. Some believe that WebRTC is just a refinement of SIP, and that really isn't the case. This would lead some to believe them to be competing technologies, and that's not the case either. What they are is two separate technologies that build on one another.

SIP, for example, has grown in popularity over the last decade to the point where it's one of the biggest advances in conferencing and collaboration, and several SIP providers are currently in the market, offering an array of services for their users. SIP works best when used simply: telephone calls, instant messaging and some video and audio are the main territories of SIP. But with WebRTC, not only do those same technologies come into play—file transfers, audio and video—but they come in on Web browsers, meaning that the intermediary step of softphones is no longer required. Sounds great, of course, but WebRTC still needs a little help in terms of establishing connectivity in order to be fully realized as a communication medium, and that means WebRTC needs a protocol, and SIP has just the protocol in mind.

Basically, it's like the square and rectangle concept; all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. SIP can exist without WebRTC, but WebRTC needs the help of a protocol to fully operate. It doesn't specifically need SIP for the protocol—truly it can operate on at least some level without a protocol—but bringing SIP into the equation makes WebRTC better. Think of it like a peanut butter cup; peanut butter can stand on its own, as can the chocolate coating it. But when the two are brought together, it makes a new and different whole that's better—to many users—for the combination.

Using WebRTC can even provide benefits over SIP by itself, including reduced IT costs thanks to a reduction in the complexity in the system required to establish such connections. What's more, WebRTC can offer an improved customer connection thanks to the Web-based environment, and improved productivity thanks to the comparative ease of bringing a connection into play, since the whole process is done via a Web browser.

The last decade has shown the benefits of SIP. The next decade is likely to show the benefits of WebRTC. The combination of the two makes things even better, and provides plenty of benefits.

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