As WebRTC gains favor (and it is, as this infographic makes clear), it only stands to reason that companies will want to use it to communicate with applications hosted on public cloud platforms such as Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
On the face of it, that may sound simple to do. You’ve got a Web browser that supports WebRTC so you should be able to use it to communications-enable a cloud-based application – maybe a video link to your cloud-based call center application, for example. For the user on the remote end of the connection, it is indeed about that simple. But at the cloud end, it takes some doing to ensure the connection has adequate performance and reliability.
Infrastructure requirements for cloud-based WebRTC apps
In short, you need to ensure security and availability for the application, just as you do for SIP-based sessions. In the SIP world, we use session border controllers (SBCs) to provide security, interworking and more, all transparently to the end-user. Service providers and enterprises will need some similar sort of capabilities to support WebRTC-enabled applications in the cloud, says Cary Hayward, Sr. Director of Product Management at SBC-maker Sonus Networks.
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Toward that end, Sonus recently introduced a WebRTC Gateway, which provides security along with functions such as user registration and routing, authentication, session management and policy-based routing for WebRTC sessions.
Combining the application with a WebRTC gateway opens up a number of advanced services, including interoperability with SIP or H.323-based applications. “Basically you can build bridges to legacy infrastructure,” Hayward says.
Three Key Criteria for WebRTC in the Cloud
With respect to offering WebRTC-enabled cloud-based applications, service providers and enterprises should be mindful of at least three key criteria:
- Support for major cloud platforms such as Google and AWS
- Support for end-to-end virtualization
- Multi-tenant capability
As two of the dominant providers of cloud-based services, support for Google and AWS in a cloud-based WebRTC solution is more or less a no-brainer and the benefits are significant. Your WebRTC-enabled application will run on a virtual machine hosted on a generic x86-based blade server with Google or AWS. Benefits include scalability, as you can easily establish new VMs and take advantage of cloud-bursting capabilities to ensure availability and uptime. If there’s a failure in one VM, another can take over without the application going down.
In essence, going with a major cloud provider gives you carrier-class, “5 9s” like reliability.
Virtualization is likewise pretty much table stakes in a cloud-based platform, so support for common platforms such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and the open source KVM platform is likewise important.
Finally support for multi-tenancy is important for service providers and perhaps enterprises. The capability enables you to partition a WebRTC-enabled app, with each partition supporting different policies or privileges. A service provider, for example, could provide gold, silver and bronze levels of service with varying levels of function. An enterprise may want to partition based on user groups, with those in marketing having different privileges from finance, for example.
“There’s a whole list of things you need for WebRTC – including authentication policy, call admission control, routing tables, the flavor of SIP you use in the back end – that can be differentiated in a multi-tenant WebRTC environment,” Hayward says.
The Cloud Opportunity with WebRTC
Sonus is offering its WebRTC Gateway, along with a software development kit and an Element Management System, because it is anticipating big interest in cloud-based platforms that make use of WebRTC, Hayward says.
It stands to reason the company is right, given the interest in cloud platforms in general, with more and more interest in cloud-based applications, including unified communications-as-a-service.
In addition to all of the application service providers, large enterprises may well want to take advantage of WebRTC to communications-enable all sorts of applications. Whether it’s the ability to launch an audio or video connection to a call center from a company web site, telemedicine applications or employee training, there’s certainly no shortage of use case candidates. Whether you host the app in the cloud or not, it’s good to have viable options.