A SW defined network will foster application innovation
Here is a quote from the announcement of WebRTC by Google back in May 2013:
“Today, we are making available WebRTC, an open technology for voice and video on the web. With WebRTC, we’d like to make the browser the home for innovation in real time communications.”
This post will focus on how to enable the last part of this sentence, make the browser the home for innovation in real time communications.
On the consumer services side, there has been a lot of innovation over the last 5 years or so. The business services side is also going through a radical change but there is still a way to go. One of the roadblocks is IT concerns. Concerns around interoperability and compatibility, stability and quality. Google and others are pushing for more standards compliance and WebRTC was declared feature complete. The next bump in the road will be quality of experience. Fortunately there are solutions to overcome this as well.
The highways of communications services today
Real-time unified Communications (UCaaS) services are currently delivered to enterprises mostly on private highways, aka, MPLS. Telecom operators typically bundle MPLS with their UCaaS offering and OTT providers require (or highly recommend) their customers to connect to their cloud with MPLS for consuming this service.
This approach has several drawbacks:
- Time to service is long, even in supper competitive and advanced countries like the US getting MPLS to your office can be a long process, weeks or even months
- It increases the vendor lock, many times MPLS contracts require commitment for a long period of time. This pretty much locks-in the enterprise also with the UCaaS provider
- A barrier for small companies to offer such services which also limits innovation
There is no real difference if these services are WebRTC based or “traditional VoIP” ones. In both cases, solution may use similar media quality related tools such as Opus codec for audio, bandwidth estimation, FEC, Simulcast or SVC. Enterprises (to a larger extent than SMBs) are concerned to adopt communications services that are best effort in nature.
A different approach is required to foster innovation
Innovation typically comes from smaller startup companies. This, coupled with reluctant of enterprise IT to use best effort based services, slows down innovation of communications services.
In order to enable a real digital transformation of enterprises and allow them to adopt innovative services offered by small OTT companies while making it easy for them to replace or on-board services, it is required to have a dynamic and agile WAN architecture that is SW defined, utilizes the benefits of virtualization and offers high quality and application/user specific prioritization.
Combining SD-WAN with WebRTC answers this need.
WebRTC simplifies development of communications services and allows to embed them in other applications, e.g. Slack that has voice and video communications embedded in their service. WebRTC lowers barrier to entry for developers and given its ecosystem of developer tools, allow for non-VoIP experts to add VoIP to their service.
While exact capabilities of SD-WAN differ between vendors, an SD-WAN service will typically be based on one of 3 architecture strategies. In most cases, it enables dynamic programming of the enterprise WAN making it easy to connect new branches as well as new cloud based services to the WAN. This can be done through general SD-WAN aggregation GWs of the SD-WAN provider located in central cloud PoPs or by installing such GWs in the actual cloud instances of specific services.
Delivery of WebRTC based communications services to the enterprise can be (and is today) done over best effort open internet but for higher adoption rates among enterprises it is required to enable the delivery of such services over managed networks.
The growing adoption of SD-WAN allows for agile and dynamic delivery of WebRTC services to enterprises by small and innovative OTT service providers and not only by large service providers.
This is one item in a list of requirements that include better browser compatibility, stability and maturity.
Image source: Frits Ahlefeldt
Learn about the differences between MPLS, DIA and SD-WAN
Why your decision for premise vs. managed deployment of WebRTC service is not just about cost
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