About two years ago, Google brought a new communications initiative called WebRTC to the two best known Internet standards organizations. WebRTC is short for Web Real Time Communications and the intent is to enable complex real time communications of voice, video and data using web clients, web servers and related applications. Google has been advancing the work both through contributions to open source libraries and by contributions to standards organizations. As you may know, once work is accepted by standards organizations, lots of people can get involved, so this work is no longer strictly a Google initiative and has gained support and participation from many companies both large and small.
By the second half of last year, the drumbeats promoting WebRTC sounded loudly and in recent weeks, there was an industry conference dedicated strictly to WebRTC, with more to come later this year. I spoke at the SIPNOC conference on a WebRTC panel a couple of months back and there was lots of interest from telecom industry participants who have been busy in recent years building out real time communications using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). Some articles have even touted WebRTC as the “savior” for the telecom industry, whereas other pundits have said that WebRTC is very high on the hype scale.
If you want a deep dive into WebRTC on the technical side, I can recommend the book “WebRTC: “APIs and RTCWEB Protocols of the HTML5 Real-Time Web,” written by Alan Johnston and Dan Burnett. They have just released a second edition, which I have not read yet, but the first edition offered a good technical overview and a nice distillation of the many standards that are being extended or developed as part of the overall initiative. (Disclosure: I know Alan well from his work in the IETF and we are co-authors on a current Internet Draft.) Since this is open standards work, you can also dive even deeper and sign up for the various IETF and W3C standards lists if you want to fill up your mailbox with emails.
Circling back to the title of this post, will WebRTC truly be a new communications paradigm? In my view, it’s too early to tell, but stay tuned and hold on tight. This promises to be quite a ride.