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In November, a group of us from Daitan Group attended the leading WebRTC industry event, WebRTC V, held in San Jose, California. The event sparked several conversations between us and our customers comparing the current status and expectations for this technology.
Then we remembered that after we attended the first WebRTC event back in November 2012 we had written about the key takeaways and thought it would be fun to see how things had changed or not over the past 2 years!
2014 Reality and Projections
There were several facts and figures presented throughout the conference demonstrating the impact of WebRTC. Here are a few of the published facts:
o There are 1.5B WebRTC-supported devices today that will grow to 6B by 2019.
o Also by 2019, there will be 2B individual users.
o More than 10 telecom operators have some WebRTC related service, and telecom operators could have as many as 500M WebRTC users in the next 5 years.
Our own EVP of Sales and Marketing, Graham Holt, sat on a panel discussion relating to WebRTC and Carriers which concluded that there is, as of yet, no creative new services leveraging WebRTC. The Carriers’ role as bitpipes is still generating revenues for them but we continue to question if they are moving closer to the bottom of the value/revenue chain.
The undisputed, most significant impact of WebRTC has been in video conferencing. There are as many as seventy-seven video conferencing solutions available today along with enterprises implementing video conferencing in their existing communications services. Using WebRTC, business communications are rapidly changing to provide easy access to web conferencing for employees and their customer related contact centers. This is basically innovating old or existing communications methods proving the point that WebRTC is not creative.
Maybe it’s enough to give WebRTC credit for being a game changer in other ways. After all, WebRTC provides developers with the fundamental building blocks for plug-in free, high-quality, real-time communications in a browser such as voice and video chat applications and that’s no mean feat.
However, history has shown time and again that a “new medium” is typically misused to replace the old medium in the same applications before finding its true new place in the world. Remember, “The medium is the message”. (Marshall McLuhan).
In our 2012 blog, we stated that there were several reasons that WebRTC for mobile is difficult and specifically mentioned the lack of support for the VP8 codec in hardware. Several mobile devices are now shipping with VP8 support in hardware which has a significant positive impact on power consumption and performance.
There are still some big challenges which have led to the development of mobile SDKs implementing WebRTC. While this is good news in some ways it rather kills the idea of no plugin, no download.
For the optimistic we may believe that things will change soon. Industry reports coming from the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) RTCWEB working group meeting, state that a compromise has been reached to make support for both H.264 and VP8 mandatory for browsers. As reported by Andreas Gal, chief technology officer at Mozilla, “This compromise was put forward by Mozilla, Cisco and Google. The details are a little bit complicated, but here’s the executive summary:”
This is a major step forward for developers as it provides interoperability with any WebRTC endpoint alleviating the need for transcoding as well as ensuring better performance, costs and even battery usage.
For mobile, this still does not solve all the issues. So our statement that WebRTC on mobile is hard but worth the effort remains true today.
Back in November 2012 we wrote:
“Another popular subject of interest was interoperability with existing communication standards. WebRTC will provide a great platform for many new communications applications to be embedded into websites and other web based applications, and in many cases these can be complete end-to-end solutions using WebRTC. Companies today, however, have already made a huge investment in their communication systems for customer interaction, such as call centers, CRM integration, etc., and for their own workforce.”
In 2014 we believe this is still the case. As WebRTC evolves even more towards web architecture and away from telecom architecture the most common request we get at Daitan is for SIP interconnect and interop with legacy video endpoints. Interestingly, the first project we executed in WebRTC was a signaling and media gateway to allow interop with legacy video endpoints which was soon followed by requirements to interop with MS Lync. Interop is now much more feasible as this capability is appearing in commercial off the shelf SBCs, Media servers and gateways.
WebRTC should be available as a standard in your favorite browsers by the end of 2012. This was a stake in the ground that most were claiming at the 2012 event, including us. In 2014 many people are claiming that “WebRTC should be available as a standard in your favorite browsers soon” and it seems to be now more feasible with recent announcements from Microsoft and Google.
In October, Microsoft joined Google and others in support of ORTC (Object Real-time Communications) API for WebRTC, opening up real-time communications development for Internet Explorer. Shijun Sun, senior program manager for Internet Explorer, explains in the October 27th IE Blog, “We aim to make browser-based calls more convenient by removing the need to download a plugin. It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.”
There are still open questions about video codecs and how compatible different implementations of ORTC might be but let’s all hope that interop will soon be a reality across the major browsers.
The final cornerstone will need to come from Apple to have Safari and iOS join the WebRTC ecosystem.
In 2012 and even today, there is the consensus that WebRTC is a great contribution to communications technologies but it is not a fit for all of the existing or traditional communications infrastructures and services.
Douglas Tait, director of Telecoms Markets at Oracle, outline three areas where WebRTC has what he refers to as “The Chasm” between WebRTC today and its potential.3 These include:
o Identity, authentication and authorization
o More user name and passwords
o Network Denial of Service
o Lose sessions on browser refreshes or network issues
o Lack of support for large networks with many sessions and many connections
o Between networks
o Browser and devices
o Voice and video media
o Policy, charging, or internet traversal
From this list, it isn’t hard to see why WebRTC is not ideal where there are significant security concerns such as in 911 or highly regulated communications systems. While it may not be a fit for all communications services, it has had a significant impact on customer facing web solutions that extend companies' customer service and sales capabilities.
Although we were off on a couple of our predictions of WebRTC’s impact, the advancement of this technology of WebRTC has been extraordinary in the last two years. It is easy to fall back to the position that WebRTC is just a technology but we continue to believe in Marshall McLuhan’sclaim that “the medium is the message.” If proved true, then in this case it will mean another significant change in human communications.
Does a little Agile go a long way or is Agile an all-or-nothing proposition? For companies confronting the inadequacies of traditional software development methods and looking at alternatives, this is an important question.
Agile is certainly an attractive process to companies that want to respond quickly to their customers’ needs, adapt to rapidly shifting environments, and accelerate the time it takes to develop and ship new or improved products. But, it also represents a major shift in thinking—especially when traditional attitudes about software development are ingrained deeply among the members of a development team.
With the size of those teams often reaching into the hundreds and even thousands, some companies are warily eying the task of shifting the thinking of that many people and asking, “How much Agile do we really need?” Is it possible to realize some of the benefits of the Agile methodology without going “all in”?
Everybody on Board
For an Agile project to work, everyone involved with the project needs to be on board with Agile. If someone in the chain of stakeholders is not, eventually, something will go wrong. If the entire company is following the Agile methodology, that chain might need to extend on up to the business stakeholder, which, for a smaller company, could even be the CEO. Because Agile is such a radical departure from the traditional approach to software development, it can only be effective if everyone is speaking the same language.
Here are some of the key concepts everyone in an Agile process should understand:
Things Could Change
In contrast to the traditional development process, in which a single product has several set-in-stone requirements at the outset, without consideration that they might change, Agile calls for more flexible goals. Features may change over the course of the project, and if anyone involved is not prepared for that—is expecting the features to remain well-defined from start to finish—it could cause confusion for this person and the entire team.
The Product Owner
The product owner is an extremely important role in the Agile process because product owners speak for the customers. They are the ones who identify which features of a product will deliver value to the business and which are less important. Unfortunately, lack of a product owner or the unavailability of a product owner is a common failing of many Agile projects. If the product owner is too busy to answer questions, or doesn’t understand his or her role, the team will lack the critical information they need to keep their work on the right track and the product will begin to drift away from what the business and the customer really needs.
The backlog, according to the Agile methodology, is the ongoing list of requirements for a product. It can include features as well as bug fixes—anything deemed necessary for the product. The key to working with a backlog is to not let it stagnate. The backlog should be continuously reviewed and prioritized according to the business value of each item. Anything in the backlog that is no longer valuable should be discarded, for example, an older technology made obsolete by a newer one. Careful backlog maintenance will ensure a team’s energy is directed only towards work that creates value.
Collaboration is the engine that powers Agile. The continuous feedback and sharing of knowledge drives the process forward. When “heroes” try to go it alone, keeping information for themselves and ignoring aspects of the project that fall outside their specific areas of expertise, this engine comes to a halt. Sometimes these heroes are just stuck in their ways. They figure what’s worked for them before should always work. But fortunately, more often, hero syndrome is just a symptom of a lack of understanding. Once these heroes understand how they can benefit from the sharing of others, they’ll be more apt to collaborate themselves.
The Definition of ‘Done’
There’s done—when the bulk of the work required for a certain task is completed—and there’s what we call “done done.” “Done done” is when a task is really completed. This is when it has reached the common definition of what a finished task should be and the team member can move on to something else. For example, “Your task is done when your commit your source code to SVN.” Or, “Your task is done when you pass the acceptance criteria.” Whatever it is, the definition of “done” should be understood and adhered to by all members of a team, otherwise sprints will end with incomplete tasks and will fail.
To return to the question with which this article began, how much Agile is enough Agile? Clearly, there are certain elements without which the Agile methodology is ineffective. The five identified above are some of the most critical.
Still, it is possible to implement Agile on the small scale and grow from there. One of the best ways to do that is to isolate a small cell within a larger traditional software development environment and use Agile for that project (or element of a project) alone.
For example, on a recent project, we worked with a software team that had become accustomed to traditional development methods. We were finding it difficult to get the entire team working according to the Agile methodology. So, we split the team in half, one using Agile, the other not. As the Agile team demonstrated the value of the process, we gradually increased its size and decreased the size of the traditional team, until everyone was on board with Agile.
Then things really started to move.
By starting with small, self-contained Agile units, and scaling up, companies can benefit from the Agile methodology without the difficulty of implementing it before everyone is ready to get on board.
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While WebRTC is relatively new, it is becoming increasing important for service providers to invest in this technology for competitive purposes. WebRTC enables collaboration including audio, video and peer to peer data sharing directly from browsers without having to download additional programs like Flash or Java in order for them to work efficiently.
In the last few years, the contributions of IP and OTT providers have significantly outpaced the contributions of service providers and network carriers. Without Web-based and IP service offerings they may soon find themselves relegated to the role of “bandwidth pipe” or just the conduit for services, rather than being the true “provider” of services.
While WebRTC has limitations to fully support functions in the telephony world, convergence can be achieved through a WebRTC gateway. Graham Holt of Daitan Group will be discussing options for service providers to leverage WebRTC technology to become more competitive. Executive Vice President at Daitan Group, Graham brings his experience with clients that have implemented WebRTC, uniquely positioning him to convey the needs of the market to offer clarity of the impact and opportunity of WebRTC.
Graham will join a panel discussion at the WebRTC V Conference & Expo and provide insights on how service providers can leverage WebRTC to expand service offerings. The conference will be held November 18-20 in San Jose, California. The panel discussion, “Building a Web Context Business Model with WebRTC”, will take place on Thursday, November 20 at 2:15pm in room 212A at the San Jose Convention Center. Graham will be presenting along other industry experts including Russ Coffin from Huawei, Karthic Loganathan from D2 Technologies and Douglas Tait of Oracle.
If you are looking to learn more about what WebRTC can do for your business and would like to meet up with Graham or another member of the Daitan team at WebRTC V, please email us at
Last month Microsoft joined Google and others in support of ORTC (Object Real-time Communications) API for WebRTC. This will open up real-time communications development for the many organizations that use Internet Explorer.
Microsoft announced at their TechEd Europe event in October that it has begun development on the ORTC API for WebRTC for future versions of Internet Explorer. Shijun Sun, senior program manager, Internet Explorer explains in the October 27th IE Blog, “We aim to make browser-based calls more convenient by removing the need to download a plugin. It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.”
Sun explains that through active collaboration with the W3C ORTC Community Group, the ORTC API for WebRTC standard has reached “significant stability” and mentions the ability to support “a wide range of features from simple conversations to scalable multiparty video conferences”.
So what does this mean for the 450 companies that use WebRTC without ORTC in their applications? Does it become a choice of one or the other? The first ORTC Public Draft Specification published in August and authored by Hookflash, Microsoft and Google addresses this.
In the blog announcement, Justin Uberti, Google tech lead for WebRTC, explains, “We heard developers say that they wanted more direct control over the technologies available in WebRTC. At the same time, we didn’t want existing developers to have to start over with a new API. ORTC is our proposal for how we can accomplish both of these things – a new set of APIs for direct control that builds off the existing WebRTC 1.0 API set. As an evolution of the existing API, we consider this WebRTC 1.1.”
So it appears that Google will make ORTC backward compatible providing continued support of existing WebRTC 1.0 based applications.
Will this be the buzz at next week’s WebRTC V Conference?
About 18 months ago, we posted a blog in advance of the WebRTC Conference and Expo held in June, 2013. In it we pointed out that the conference could begin to tell us if WebRTC would become reality and will deliver on its promise. Back then, we stated, “With a real time communication engine in every browser, WebRTC will fuel the development of a new generation of audio, video and messaging solutions that will extend unified communications to every browser.” Several OTTs and large enterprises have since seized the opportunity of WebRTC even without the support of Internet Explorer and Safari. We have helped many of our customers successfully use WebRTC for both customer-facing and employee-facing web-based communication services. So, it quickly became a question of how and how fast to use this technology, not whether or not to use it.
Microsoft isn’t on the list of sponsors for next week’s WebRTC V Conference and Expo (Nov 18 – 20 in San Jose,CA). But the event is sure to be buzzing about this announcement especially by those that have cut their teeth on WebRTC and are ready to extend their communication solutions to the vast amount of Internet Explorer users as well as use their imaginations on other options that ORTC can provide.
And we can’t help but wonder if an announcement out of Cupertino is coming next?
Visit our booth #55 at WebRTC V. Contact Karen Hutton,
We all know what it’s like to want to make an audio or video call via our computers or mobile devices. It can be a bit of a process if you don’t have an application like Skype or FaceTime downloaded or you find out you need to download an update three minutes before an important call.
WebRTC is positioned to transform video collaboration, enabling in-browser communication without needing to install Flash or Java clients or build a back end platform. First introduced by Google in 2011 as an open-source project, Daitan Group has been a trailblazer in implementing this new technology in commercial applications. Daitan has managed to combine WebRTC technology with complementary technologies to both enable WebRTC collaboration to be embedded into existing web applications and bridge the gap to traditional voice and video applications. Not only are programs like Flash or Java no longer needed to successfully implement web-based RTC, but most of the implementation process happens via the cloud in a virtualized environment.
If you haven’t had a chance to see WebRTC in action, please join us for an overview and special demonstration on November 12. Graham Holt, Daitan’s EVP of Sales & Marketing, will go into some depth about this technology and its business implications at the next meeting of the Tri-Valley Technology Professionals Meetup to be held at Veeva Systems, Inc. in Pleasanton, California. Graham is one of the key proponents of WebRTC and is a leading expert in this area. In June, he was awarded TMC’s 2014 WebRTC Pioneer Award for his contributions and for being an advocate for this up and coming technology.
If you would like to meet up with a member of the Daitan team to learn more about WebRTC and what it will do for businesses moving forward, please email us at
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