Real Time Communications Featured Article

WebRTC Reveals the Obsolescence of Most UC Systems

February 03, 2016

The unified communications model used by most companies today should include sell-by date. And that sell-by date has passed.

That’s because most unified communications solutions are working from an aging technology model that combines expensive hardware and clunky on-premise software or a communications-as-a-service model.

The problem is that unified communications should no longer be a separate service or a platform that businesses install. Instead, UC today is a channel that can be used any time, anywhere without much thought or setup.

The new model for UC is embodied by WebRTC, the real-time communications standard established by Google and currently being adopted by the standards bodies, WC3 and IETF. WebRTC connects users in a UC environment with the click of a link. No need for plugins, proprietary software, usernames or cloud services (unless you want add-on functionality such as guaranteed quality of service). WebRTC just works, so users don’t have to think about platforms or software when they want to chat by video or share files.

Here are four ways that WebRTC improves upon the older UC model.

First, WebRTC is secure by default. Google has always taken security more seriously than most companies, so when the WebRTC standard was first being developed it was created with encryption as the default. So unlike many UC solutions, when you communicate over WebRTC you are ensured that communications is secure.

Second, the user experience is better for WebRTC. Since WebRTC can be embedded in apps and web sites with a few lines of Javascript, it can be more unified with the application or web site using it. It also is simpler for users to initiate, as mentioned above.

Third, there’s no need for plugins or proprietary software. We’re so used to the hassle of launching an application or moving to a dedicated platform with the login and password song and dance that entails, it almost is hard to understand how much the click-and-initiate functionality improves upon the old UC model. With WebRTC, communications becomes something you do, not something you must set up or think about. WebRTC doesn’t distract or delay the point of communications.

Fourth, WebRTC costs less. It can be as inexpensive as free because it is a standard and not a proprietary solution. Compared with the on-premise model, costs and hassles are dramatically reduced. But even compared with most cloud-based UC solutions, WebRTC costs less because there’s no service involved in most cases—just peer-to-peer communications.

Technology moves fast, and I’d argue that most UC solutions have reached their expiration date. The future is one where users just connect through real-time communications without having to invest in the technology, agree upon the platform being used—or have to think about the underlying technology at all.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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