Authenticated, encrypted, ubiquitous and instant mobility can be achieved with a SIP to WebRTC gateway. As of right now, it’s available to any enterprise. Since this technology isn’t about any particular device, it’s about a different kind of BYOD: This time it’s Bring Your Own Display. For an IT manager, this is much more cost-effective and much simpler to deploy and maintain than your average proprietary, application-based solution. Depending on how it’s put to use, the enterprise’s investment put into the gateway can typically be recovered in the neighborhood of three to nine months. Organizations that have many employees that work at home can usually recover their investment faster by eliminating expensive dedicated circuits for communications to the homes of employees.
The components typically included in these installations are security elements, Web servers and browsers, 911 elements, signaling services and media services. There are many, many manufacturers extant that have made salable products of these components. Manufacturers of session border controllers have melded signaling and media services into commonly available products — and let it be noted that some companies have managed to figure out how to do this better than others. There are thousands of Web servers readily available in organizations; they just need to be upgraded with a directory page, as the Web server does not support media relay, but rather only signaling. Typically, the 911 elements are already embedded (usually as e911) in any company that already uses Voice over IP. Firefox and Chrome browsers for either mobile or fixed devices are available at the cost of a few moments’ download. Other elements of security such as authentication components, firewalls, platforms for executions of policies and interactive connectivity establishment components are also commonly available. And it is the work and art of the communications profession to assemble these components and craft the tiny bits of software that allows all of them to work in harmony.
Every one of the significant manufacturers of unified communications knows these facts. One of the major reasons that you will not see them in the market is due to the disruption of revenue that they will provoke if they were to make products such as these directly available to enterprises. Licensing revenue for all manner of proprietary tools will drop across the board: Mobility tools, telephones, VoIP client software in employees’ homes or in the office — all will be drastically reduced. For some legacy manufacturers this will take a big chunk out of their bottom line, as these are nine-figure businesses. If you were to ask your Board of Directors to approve a reduction of revenue of 90 percent for end-points, that would likely get you laughed out of the boardroom, if not fired right there on the spot. Simply put, if you happen to be an enterprise communication manager, then don’t expect WebRTC’s benefits to come to you through your existing PBX vendor. You will have to build the flexibility and savings of WebRTC from Microsoft or Google yourself — or you’ll have to purchase it from one of the many WebRTC startup companies that have risen in the last few years.
But should you build or should you buy? Good question. Before truly entertaining it, you need to figure out your use-cases for WebRTC. Start your inquiries with questions such as:
- Which of the organization’s communications systems’ higher-cost components can be replaced with more cost-effective, web-based solutions?
- How well will the current infrastructure cope with a disaster? How easily will it recover from one? Is it worth spending time and money on your legacy systems to upgrade them to spec, or is it better to duplicate this infrastructure on the web?
- Are there any use-cases that might speed up any decision making processes or improve productivity?
These questions will, of course, lead to some valuable answers. Still, the most important question for enterprise communication and information managers is this: If you plan to execute session control, or call control on your future web-based communications, then where will this take place? Will it happen on your SBC (session border controller), or your PBX (legacy switch)?
If it’s going to take place on your SBC, then you’re in a swiftly growing group of enterprise communications managers that are all choosing to implement selected services in order to reduce the costs imposed by 130 years of government and monopolistic regulation. From the perspective of the carrier, this effort will easily put you in a position to oversee the delivery of each of these new technologies, as opposed to being displaced by them.
Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.