In the not too distant future unified communications will be a feature embedded in almost every new Web application, which from a developer perspective means that most end users are going to soon view most existing applications as nothing short of being antiquated.The W3C is currently working out the details of a WebRTC specification that essentially puts support for a real-time communication engine directly in the browser.
There are already instance of WebRTC available in Firefox and Chrome browsers. But the expectation is that by having the W3C sanction WebRTC will find its way into every browser.
That’s critical for developers because instead of having to develop code to take advantage of communications features in every endpoint device on the network, they will be able to more simply invoke WebRTC running in the browser.
In fact, WebRTC, which will be the sole focus of a WebRTC Conference and Expo event in Atlanta in June, is already gaining a lot of momentum in the developer community. For example, Tadiran Telecom is adding WebRTC support to Aeonix unified communications platform that runs on top of x86 servers. According to Lindsay Kinter, vice president of engineering for Tadiran Telecom, a software-driven approach to UC makes it easier and more affordable to deploy a unified communications platform that scales, while WebRTC support will make the platform accessible from any browser that support WebRTC.
Providers of application development platform have also taken note. Plivo, a provider of a platform-as-service (PaaS) offering for building unified communications applications in the cloud is envisioning a world where WebRTC makes those applications universally accessible. According to Mike Lauricella, head of business development for Plivo, the best thing about WebRTC is that it eliminates any of the client dependencies associated with accessing communications services.
In fact, many folks think that WebRTC will help spawn a new class of communications service providers. Unified Office, for example, offers a range of communications applications aimed primarily at small-to-medium businesses that want to take advantage of unified communications without having to invest in a lot of complex infrastructure. According to Unified Office CEO Ray Pasquale what we’re really about to witness is the emergence of a new class of more agile service providers that are taking advantage of technologies such as WebRTC, HTML5 and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to build customizable unified communications applications.
Of course, larger service providers would beg to differ. At the recent ITExpo East conference, GENBAND CEO Charlie Vogt said the best thing about emerging technologies and that cloud is that they take the risk out of deploying new unified communications applications. As a provider of a communication platform widely used by service providers, Vogt says GENBAND is starting to see an explosion in the number of services being provided across broadband networks that have finally become ubiquitous, making this now one of the most exciting times in communications after what he admits has been a difficult 10 years.
Clearly when it comes to WebRTC a significant amount of momentum is starting to build. In fact, WebRTC has the potential to fulfill a Web 2.0 promise that application developers for one reason are another could never really deliver on.
In the meantime, if you’re building a Web application today it’s hard to see how it’s going to succeed if it doesn’t include support for a core technology that is about to fundamentally change the way users collaborate across and within any application environment.