With so much attention focused recently on WebRTC, we caught up with TokBox CEO Ian Small who shared his insights on the progress and promise of WebRTC—along with some of the challenges that lie ahead for WebRTC users. TokBox develops and operates OpenTok, a global “platform as a service” that leverages video, audio, and networking technologies, including WebRTC, to connect end users via a browser or device using simple APIs. In 2012, TokBox was acquired by Telefónica Digital, a division of Telefónica S.A.
Mr. Small is a big advocate for WebRTC, and he views the platform as a service (PaaS) as what the next generation of a telco will look like, firmly believing that “a cloud infrastructure is the way to go.” He noted that WebRTC holds promise as a platform to build apps, and that it is capable of supporting everything from a contact center to education, to an enterprise video session. WebRTC is “a tide that is rising,” according to Small.
But he also contends that a cloud-based platform supporting WebRTC holds several advantages over premise-based solutions. First, because the standards are evolving so quickly, a cloud-based service provider can focus on the changes and rapidly deploy with emerging capabilities, thus reducing the risk that an enterprise will fall behind.
He also points out that “there’s still a whole lot missing from WebRTC.” For example, should network conditions degrade during a video call, there is no standards-based provision in WebRTC to shift the call to audio as a means to keep the conversation going. (This is a feature that TokBox has supported for over a year, using its own experience management platform.)
Quality management features are being considered in standards bodies, but the industry has a long road ahead to provide the kind of service management features that other platforms and protocols already have in place. While WebRTC service standards are being developed and deployed, a PaaS provider can supplement what’s missing with cloud-based alternatives, according to Small.
Our observations: We agree that the WebRTC tide is rising, and that it still has a long way to go for fully featured services. And we also agree that service providers will play a key role in helping WebRTC apps provide a quality user experience. TokBox is one of a few players to support a WebRTC platform “as a service,” and we will continue to watch and report on the company in the coming months and years.