WebRTC World Feature Article

April 02, 2014

Swarmify Focuses on the WebRTC Data Channel


If you’ve heard about WebRTC, you’ve probably heard about it in context of a contact center, enterprise communications and collaboration or some form of real-time video and audio communication. WebRTC is a next-generation HTML5 technology that enables peer-to-peer connections via Web browsers without any need for downloads or installations. There’s also another important part of WebRTC that enables functionalities like screen sharing, file sharing and automatic updates – the WebRTC data channel.

The WebRTC data channel uses endpoints instead of servers to send data, opening up opportunities to send things that wouldn’t work well through a server, such as sensor inputs.

Swarmify understands the benefits of the data channel, and focused its efforts on data transmission of video and images. The company’s technology reduces a website’s bandwidth – its software doesn’t require any downloads or browser plugins and changes a few HTML tags and pieces of JavaScript code to make content sharing more efficient.

"In late 2012, when I began researching WebRTC, every article I read discussing WebRTC focused on how it could apply to conference software or chat in some way. I immediately thought it might be possible to send large chunks of data, in the form of videos and images, across browsers using the WebRTC Protocol. We spent a few months building the prototype and shared it with a few beta companies. At that point I knew we had something special," explained Nathan Barnett, CTO and partner of Swarm Labs. "The first year was pretty challenging. We worked like mad to get a stable versatile product. But those long hours paid off and we're excited to offer low cost plans to sites to help them save a dramatic amount.”

I caught up with Jesse Delia, partner at Swarmify, who explained working with WebRTC and the data channel was actually a lot more challenging than expected. He said different variations, people using different browsers and different editions of those browsers as well as constant updates and changes for each made it difficult to be versatile enough to cover all the bases. The company figured it out, and is confident in what Swarmify offers today, but didn’t anticipate as long as a development process.

Delia also explained the importance of working on someone’s website – if there are any problems, they’re noticed immediately. Swarmify worked with more than a thousand beta testers to help improve the product and bring it to where it is today.

Swarmify is complimentary to existing hosting services and offers a set of features:

  • Geo Loading
  • Hive Cache
  • Predictive Loading
  • Lazy Loading

Delia explained the features are part of an ongoing improvement with WebRTC and coming up with new ideas on how to cut and save bandwidth. Swarmify offers different plans based on how many sumltaneous users are connecting in a linear progression – the first run is free for three simultaneous connections, just to really get a taste of the power of WebRTC. After that, it’s $10 for 10 nodes, $100 for 100 connections, $1,000 for 1,000 and so on. Swarmify will mostly be used by people that have high bandwidth needs; especially video.

The peer-to-peer communication between users is encrypted and secure. Swarmify currently serves customers like Digital MGMT, MakeUseOf and SwimSwam with more expected to be announced in the future.

"Free plans allow users to test Swarmify. It allows them to understand Simultaneous Connections (or Users) and how this number can affect the amount they will save by using our product. Many customers are saving in the 50 to 75 percent range," Delia said. "As this technology becomes more prevalent the pressures on CDNs will be great. CDNs will either partner with companies properly using WebRTC or they'll be supplanted.”

                                          

Image via Shutterstock




Edited by Cassandra Tucker



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