Six Reasons to Use a WebRTC PaaS Provider for your RTC Enabled Apps
Posted On March 20, 2017 by Chip Wilcox in Blog, Ecosystem, Media
By Gerald Baldino, Contributing Editor
Over the last few years, interest in Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) has grown, a lot. WebRTC is a set of open source APIs and codecs that make it possible to send audio, video, and data directly through an Internet browser using a peer to peer architecture. It can also be used to provide real-time communications services in mobile applications.
At some point, your boss may ask you to learn how to use WebRTC. You may start by downloading the open source code and start working to integrate its capabilities into your business’s website or other applications. Or, you may find the topic interesting enough that you want to investigate it yourself.
Regardless of when or how you approach WebRTC, here’s some advice: Be smart about how you manage your WebRTC project. Even if you’re the type to tackle new technologies head-on, this is where you may want to exercise caution.
WebRTC may have been created to simplify enterprise real-time communication, but it is not a complete solution by itself, and it has many moving parts that can prove a challenge to work with, for novice and expert developers alike.
It might make more sense to leave the heavy lifting — meaning the design, management, and maintenance of your WebRTC solution, and specifically the backend infrastructure — up to a dedicated Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider like Temasys Communications.
Otherwise, you and your team members could rush headlong into your WebRTC project only to wind up with a solution that is riddled with performance issues and unable to scale reliably.
Here are six reasons to use a WebRTC PaaS provider for your RTC enabled apps
1. You may not have the internal resources to support WebRTC
Imagine taking a crowded highway during rush hour and adding thousands of more vehicles to it. That is essentially your network if you flood it with lots of voice, video or data traffic. WebRTC can bring your network to a standstill once you start to scale. The performance and quality of your WebRTC service could degrade while it tries to adjust to the lack of bandwidth available or responds to spikes in traffic. A PaaS provider will help you avoid this problem by offering a WebRTC service that runs on a fully managed, scalable, telecom-grade infrastructure. Temasys Communications, for instance, provides an embedded WebRTC PaaS solution built upon Amazon Web Services.
2. Troubleshooting WebRTC is difficult
Again, WebRTC is complicated. Challenges can arise almost anywhere on the network — like on a user’s device, in the browser, at the signaling layer, or along the media path. Troubleshooting is difficult; it’s not always easy to tell where problems are occurring or why they are taking place. If you build your own solution, you are the help desk. We’ll get to more on that in a bit. Most PaaS providers can provide 24-hour support, albeit often as a paid option.
3. Guarantee a great customer experience
The whole point of adding WebRTC to a website or application is to add a communications feature that makes it easier for customers to engage with each other and your company. For this reason, WebRTC needs to work flawlessly and fit seamlessly into your application. Performance issues will arise, but they need to be discovered and dealt with immediately. If you tackle a WebRTC installation on your own, you may require that service to operate with extremely high availability, whether you have just a handful of users or hundreds or thousands. If you invest in working with a PaaS provider, you should have the option to sign up for SLA-backed service quality guarantees.
4. Ensure the platform is secure
Security should be top of mind, especially if you are using WebRTC to record and archive customer interactions. If you design a proprietary WebRTC solution, you will be fully responsible for securing it and making sure it’s up to date. If you let this slide, your WebRTC platform could be vulnerable from a security perspective. PaaS providers can advise you on best practices as well as ensure that the WebRTC features you add to your apps are as secure as possible. If your focus is healthcare, for example, this is critical for “covered entities” under HIPAA. Some PaaS providers will also sign Business Associate Agreements with their healthcare industry clients. (Note: Temasys does this on a case by case basis).
5. Gain more control over your platform
Real-time video, especially multi-party sessions, can be tricky to get working well. There often need to be optimizations and other tweaks for performance and quality. A PaaS provider will help here. While the video codecs used by WebRTC will automatically adjust for network conditions, some PaaS providers offer other controls that allow you to change things like default frame rates, caps on bandwidth usage, and preferred video resolution.
6. There will be times you have to ask for help
A growing and passionate community is lobbying around WebRTC. However, it can be time-consuming to chase down the right answer to questions. A WebRTC PaaS provider will save you most of this time. The job of a PaaS provider is to spare you of the burden of WebRTC infrastructure management and to give you peace of mind. In some ways, a PaaS is an extension of your team, and it’s important that they can provide excellent support. You can then focus on building your application, as you like it. The result will be a WebRTC setup that performs to spec and reduces your execution risk.
Of course, if you want to experiment with WebRTC I encourage you to try it on your own to get a better sense of the complexities and nuances that make it work. But do it as a passion project, or as a way to improve internal communication with your team members. When it comes to building a solution at scale, it’s best to consult with a professional service provider.