Unified Communication and WebRTC

The Impact of WebRTC on UC

Topic of the month covered by WebRTC “activists”

For this month the topic is: The impact of WebRTC on UC

Unified Communication and WebRTC

Starting with my opinion on this topic.

Amir Zmora

Link: TheNewDialTone

The word Unified in Unified Communications has nothing to do with unification of platforms. UC is all about bringing all your communication channels to one screen. The systems themselves don’t really talk one with the other natively, Lync, Avaya, Cisco, Broadsoft… all use standards based protocols with modifications that don’t let them interoperate out of the box.

WebRTC takes this one step further; it creates more islands of communication as it makes it easy to add UC capabilities as a feature in other applications – business applications, customer care, team collaboration and verticals.

And yes, UC vendors are adding WebRTC as an interface to their systems. Problem is that the applications and service providers mentioned above that are adding these features to their solutions have asymmetric business models that will allow them not to charge for the UC feature but for the service UC is embedded into.

Alan Quayle

Link: Alan Quayle

Does anyone remember the hype around ICA (Innovative Communications Alliance) between Microsoft and Nortel back in 2006? Unified communications was its focus, and here we are in 2015 using an ever expanding array of dis-unified communications. Presence remains the main gap in traditional PSTN, telcos and their vendors are to blame for that yawning gap, which drives us to lots of applications: Skype, WhatsApp etc. The application diversity being driven by the person we’re trying to communicate with and their preferences. So what impact will WebRTC have on UC? None. Because the problem is in federation of presence, not in the standardization of media codecs, and the lack of federation is driven more by commercial issues than lack of standardization.

Tsahi Levent-Levi

Link: BlogGeek.me

Unified Communication will struggle to compete with new vendors that will come into their space armed with WebRTC.

WebRTC reduces the cost and effort needed to develop UC systems drastically – to the point of commoditization. This race to zero means UC gets downgraded from a service into a feature that is plugged into some other service. Enterprise Messaging vendors are primed to take the leadership position from UC vendors, as they offer much more than mere real time communication capabilities.

Here’s a recent post I’ve written about the competition between enterprise messaging and unified communications.

Sorell Slaymaker

Link: Gartner

A couple potential use cases for WebRTC in UC:

–          Clientless Access to UC Suite – Utilizing WebRTC to access an enterprises UCC solution.  For example, a 3rd party accessing an enterprise Lync conference, w/o a Lync client, via an Audiocodes or Sonus SBC/WebRTC GW.

–          Least Common Denominator Video – Utilizing WebRTC to bridge different video platforms together in a cost effective way such as Starleaf integrating Lync and Jabber together via WebRTC.

Dean Bubley

Link: Disruptive Analysis

WebRTC will improve the usability and reach of UC platforms – but ironically, it will also have a much larger effect catalysing the trend of “disunification” of enterprise voice/video.

The world has 700m “knowledge workers” who use IT applications, plus 750m more that just use a phone for work. Yet today only a third use a traditional corporate “phone” or UC system. The rest use mobile telephony, cloud/app-based communications and a variety of consumer-grade VoIP and conferencing tools. WebRTC will reach both groups – and app/web developers embedding communications.

Disruptive Analysis forecasts 120m UC “seats” enhanced with WebRTC by 2019 – but 340m regular Disunified (DUC) users, exploiting fragmented cloud-based apps or services, “the best tools for each job”. Another 450m or so will use WebRTC occasionally – perhaps for one-off conferences or “guest access”.

nterprise user-base adoption of WebRTC

Chad Hart

Link: WebRTC Hacks

One of the more interesting aspects related to WebRTC in UC is the rise of Application IT. The larger trend of “build it yourself” that is prevalent in Silicon Valley startups could seriously eat into the traditional UC vendor market.  We are seeing more and more internal development groups look to take on communications capabilities leveraging WebRTC – both for customer facing applications but also to enable their own internal IT. For example, a Fortune 100 company we have worked with created their own video conferencing and collaboration platform that is tied into many of the other systems they have already created on their own. No traditional UC vendor involved.

Many of these groups have the skills to make apps for 10’s of thousands of your own employees and get millions of website hits a day. With WebRTC, how long will it take until they no longer need their UC vendor?

Schumann Sebastian

Link: Personal page

WebRTC in UC fits B2C more than B2B for now. Business/Customers communications will be simplified, since customers do not need any prerequisites to access the corporate UC. If a company decides to “open up” its UC, they make the necessary changes within their environment and it should be accessible from most “open Internet” accesses (consumers, smaller businesses). What will most likely not be affected is the communication with other larger enterprises. Federation today is mostly with predefined partners – with the need for changes on both sides. It is very likely that the other business has restrictions in place, too (e.g. browser installation, firewall restrictions, no plug-in permission for screen sharing). It is easy to ask IT for permission to install WebEx once, but several exceptions for several websites’ “proprietary” exceptions – not that likely.

Victor Pascual-Avila

Link: WebRTC Hacks

From what I see in my customers, main drivers for doing UC over WebRTC are:

  • Complement existing UC offerings (e.g. to provide mobility or user
    access when they are using their own devices/laptops from the
  • Replace existing UC offerings (e.g. reduce cost of licenses)
  • Created tailored solutions (use web developers to implement the very
    right set of features they want to provide — some go beyond existing
    UC offering, some other included in UC offering are dropped)
  • Integrate with existing assets (support systems, user databased,
    process databases, in-house developed APIs, etc)


Rules of engagement for Topic of the Month: No product/company promotion, a short 700-800 character statement.

If you would like to join this initiative and have your opinion published here in future posts please drop me a note.

2 replies
  1. Mark Winther says:

    UC has always been a difficult concept. Nobody says “I will buy 20 UCs.” Moveover, the world is getting less unified, despite best marketing efforts and vendor hype. The forces of cloud economics and API-driven development mean that communications is being embedded everywhere. The best analogy is the shoe industry. Once we all had bareeet; Now we all have many pairs of shoes. Each does different jobs, have different price points, and different life cycles. Some are casual – flip flops; some are fashion statements – Manolo Blahnik, some are everyday workhorses; some are specialties – running shoes. The list can be infinite. What’s needed to make this work is a more or less standard sizing; and ability to try and reject before buying. Similarly communications moves from dedicated standalone environment, to fragmented, embedded environments. Devices become irrelevant. What’s needed to make this work are the backend functions of registry, discoverability, privacy

    • Amir Zmora says:

      Thanks Mark.
      Nice analogy. Communication as a feature means it is purpose built to the service it is being added to.



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