Here’s a new repository for OpenVPN deployment scenarios and example configurations:
At the moment it lists two scenarios with configuration generation scripts:
WebRTC developers are really hard to come by. I want to improve my ability to help companies in search of such skill.
If there’s something that occurs time and again, it is entrepreneurs and vendors who ask me if I know of anyone who can build their application. Some are looking to outsource the project as a whole or part of it, and then they are looking for agencies to work with. Others are looking for a single expert to work with on a specific task, or someone they could hire for long stretches of time who has WebRTC skills.You a WebRTC Developer?
I’d like to know more about you IF you are looking for projects or for a new employer.
Here are a few things first:
Fill out this form for me please (or via this link):
I won’t be reaching out to you immediately (or at all). I’ll be using this list when others ask for talent that fits your profile.You looking for WebRTC Developers?
Got a need for developers that have WebRTC skills?
I am not sure exactly how to find them and where, but I am trying to get there.
Two ways to get there:
Chat won’t bring carriers to their SMS-glory days.
The Verge came out with an exclusive last week that everyone out there is regurgitating. This is my attempt at doing the same
We’re talking about Google unveiling its plans for the consumer chat experience. To put things in quick bulleted points:
I’d like to share my viewpoints and where things are going to get interesting.SMS is dead
I liked Mashable’s title for their take on this:
While an apt title, my guess is that beyond carriers and reports written to them, we all know that already.
SMS has long been dead. The A2P (Application 2 Person) SMS messages are all that’s left out of it. Businesses texting us either their PIN codes and passwords for 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) and OTP (One Time Passwords) or just sending us marketing junk for us to ignore.
I asked a few friends of mine on a group chat yesterday (over Whatsapp, of course) when and how do they use SMS and why. Here are the replies I got (I translated them to English):
These are 40 year olds in Israel. Most working out of the IT domain. The answers will probably vary elsewhere, but here in Israel, most will give you similar answers. Whatsapp has become the go-to app for communications. So much so, that we were forced to give our daughter her first smartphone at the age of 8 only so she can communicate with her friends via Whatsapp and won’t stay behind. Everyone uses it here in Israel.
You should also know that plans upwards of 2Gb of monthly data including unlimited voice and SMS in Israel cost less than $15 a month in Israel, so this has nothing to do with price pressure anymore. It has to do with network effects and simple user experience.
SMS is no longer ubiquitous across the globe. I can’t attest to other countries, but I guess Israel isn’t alone in this. SMS is just the last alternative to use when all else has failed.
Why is SMS interesting in this context?
Because a lot of what’s at stake here for Google relates to the benefits and characteristics of SMS.RCS is (still) dead
RCS is the successor of SMS for getting carriers into the 21st century. It has been discussed for many years now, and it will most definitely, utterly, completely, unquestionably get people back from their Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat back to the clutches of the carriers. NOT.
RCS is a design-by-committee solution, envisioned by people my age and older, targeting a younger audience across the globe in an attempt to kill fast moving social network with a standardized, ubiquitous, agreed upon specification that then needs to be implemented by multiple vendors, handset manufacturers and carriers globally to make any sense.
Not going to happen.
Google’s take on this was to acquire an RCS vendor – Jibe – two years ago for this purpose. The idea was probably to provide a combination of an infrastructure and a mobile client to speed up RCS deployments around the globe and make them interoperable faster than the carriers will ever achieve on their own.
Two years passed, and we’ve got nothing but a slide (and the article on The Verge) to show for this effort:
An impressive list of operators, OEMs and OS providers that are behind this RCS initiative. Is that due to Google? To some part, probably so.
In a way, this reminds me also of Google’s other industry initiative – the Alliance of Open Media, where it is one of 7 original founding members that just recently came out with AV1, a royalty free video codec. It is a different undertaking:
Why is Google going into bed with the carriers on this one?Google had no choice
The Verge had an exclusive interview with Anil Sabharwal, the Google VP leading this effort. This led to the long article about this initiative. The numbers that Anil shared were eye opening as to the abysmal state of Google’s messaging efforts thus far.
I went ahead and placed these numbers next to other announced messaging services for comparison:
A few things to note here:
Google failed to entice its billion+ Android users to install or even use its messaging applications.
Without the numbers, it couldn’t really come up with a strategy similar to Apple iMessage, where it essentially hijacks the messaging traffic from carriers, onboarding the users to its own social messaging experience.
Trying to do that would alienate Google with the carriers, which Google relies on for Android device sales. Some would argue that Google has the klout and size to do that, but that is not the case.
Android is open, so handset manufacturers and carriers could use it without Google’s direct approval, throwing away the default messaging app. Handset manufacturers and carriers would do that in an effort to gain more control over Android, which would kill the user experience, as most such apps by handset manufacturers and carriers do. The end result? More users purchasing iPhones, as carriers try to punish Google for the move.
What could Google do?
Two years ago, Google decided to go for alternatives (1) and (3). Allo was their own social messaging app. Had it succeeded, my guess is that Google would have gone towards approach (2). In parallel, Google acquired Jibe in an effort to take route (3), which is now the strategy the company is behind for its consumer messaging.
The big risk here is that the plan itself relies on carriers and their decisions. We don’t even know when will this get launched. Reading between the lines of The Verge’s article, Google already completed the development and got the mobile client ready and deployed. It just isn’t enabled unless the carrier being used approves. Estimates indicate 6-12 months until that happens, but for which of the carriers? And will they use the stock Android app for that or their own ambitious better-than-whatsapp app?E2EE can kill this initiative and hurt Google
The biggest risk to Google is the lack of E2EE (end to end encryption).
In each and every regurgitated post of The Verge article and in The Verge itself this is emphasized. Walt Mossberg’s tweet was mentioned multiple times as well:
Bottom line: Google builds an insecure messaging system controlled by carriers who are in bed with governments everywhere at exactly the time when world publics are more worried about data collection and theft than ever.
— Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) April 20, 2018
Bottom line: Google builds an insecure messaging system controlled by carriers who are in bed with governments everywhere at exactly the time when world publics are more worried about data collection and theft than ever.
The problem for Google is that the news outlets are noticing and giving it a lot of publicity. And it couldn’t come at a less convenient time, where Facebook is being scrutinized for its malpractice of how it uses and protects user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Google for the most part, has come unscathed out of it, but will this move put more of the spotlight on Google?
The other problem is that all the other messaging apps already have E2EE supported in one way or another. The apps usually mentioned here are Apple iMessage, Signal and Telegram. Whatsapp switched to E2EE by default two years ago. And Facebook Messenger has it as an option (though you do need to enable it manually per conversation).
Will customers accept using “Chat” (=RCS) when they know it isn’t encrypted end to end?
On the other hand, Russia is attempting to close Telegram by blocking millions of IP addresses in the country, and taking down with it other large services. If this succeeds, then Russia will do the same to all other popular messaging applications. And then other countries will follow. The end result will be the need to use the carrier (and Google’s) alternative instead. Thankfully, Russia is unsuccessful. For the time being.Who owns the data?
With RCS, the carriers are the ones that are intercepting, processing and forwarding the messages. In a way, it alludes to the fact that Google isn’t going to be the one reading these messages, at least not from the server.
This means that either Google decided there’s not enough value in these messages and in monetizing them – or – that they have other means to gain access to these messages.
Here are a few alternatives Google can use to accessing these messages:
Google might have figured it has other means to get to the messages besides owning and controlling the whole experience – similar to how Google Photos is one of the top camera apps in Apple iTunes.
By offering a better experience than other RCS client competitors, it might elicit users to download its stock Chat app on devices who don’t have it by default. Who knows? It might even be able to get people to download and use it on an iPhone one day.
The success of Google here will translate into RCS being a vehicle for Google to get back to messaging more than the means for carriers to gain relevance again.Ubiquity is here already, but not via SMS or RCS
I’ll put the graph here again – to make a point.
1.5 billion people is ubiquitous enough for me. Especially when the penetration rates in Israel are 100% in my network of connections.
People tend to talk about the ubiquity of SMS and how RCS will inherit that ubiquity.
They fail to take into account the following:
Think about it.
You can now send out an RCS message from your device. To anyone. If the other party has no RCS installed, the message gets converted to SMS. Sweet.
But what happens when the person you are sending that RCS message is located abroad? Are you seriously happy with getting a payment request from your carrier on a stupid international SMS message, or a full conversation of such for a thing you could have easily used Whatsapp for instead? And for free.
Ubiquity isn’t the word that comes to my mind when thinking about RCS.The holy grail is business messaging
Consumer messaging is free these days. There is no direct monetary value to be gained by offering this service to consumers. Carriers won’t be able to put that jinni back into its bottle and start collecting money from users. Their only approach here might be to zero-rate RCS traffic, but that also isn’t very interesting to most consumers – at least not here in Israel.
The GSMA already suggested where the money is – in business messaging. They see this as a $74bn opportunity by 2021. The problem is that rolling RCS 6-12 months from now, by only some of the carriers, isn’t going to cut it. Apple Business Chat was just released, vertically integrated, with a lot of thought put into businesses, their discovery process and free of charge.
Then there’s the rest of the social networks opening their APIs towards the businesses, and contact center solutions driving the concept of omnichannel experiences for customers.
Carriers are getting into this game late and unprepared. On top of that, they will try to get money out of this market similar to how they do with SMS. But the price points they are used to make no sense anymore. Something will need to change for the carriers to be successful here.
Will carriers be able to succeed with RCS? I doubt it.
Will google be able to succeed with Chat? Maybe. But it is up to the carriers to allow that to happen.
The post RCS now Google Messages. What’s Next in Consumer Messaging? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.
Join Philipp Hancke and me for a free training on WebRTC 1.0, prior to the relaunch of my advanced WebRTC training.
Here’s something that I get at least once a week through my website’s chat widget:
It is one of the main reasons why I’ve created my advanced WebRTC course. It is a paid WebRTC course that is designed to fill in the gaps and answer the many questions developers face when needing to deal with WebRTC.Elephants, blind Men, alligators and WebRTC
I wanted to connect it to the parable of the six blind man and an elephant, explaining how wherever you go in the Internet, you are going to get a glimpse about WebRTC and never a full clear picture. I even searched for a good illustration to use for it. Then I bumped into this illustration:
It depicts what happens with WebRTC and developers all too well.
If you haven’t guessed it, the elephants here are WebRTC and the requirements of the application and that flat person is the developer.
This fits well with another joke I heard yesterday from a friend’s kid:
Q: Why can’t you go into the woods between 14:00-16:00?
A: Because the elephants are skydiving
There’s a follow up joke as well:
Q: Why are the alligators flat?
A: Because they entered the woods between 14:00-16:00
WebRTC development has a lot of rules. Many of which are unwritten.WebRTC 1.0
There is a lot of nuances about WebRTC. A lot of written material, old and new – some of it irrelevant now, the rest might be correct but jumbled. And WebRTC is a moving target. It is hard to keep track of all the changes. There’s a lot of knowledge around WebRTC that is required – knowledge that doesn’t look like an API call or written in the standard specification.
This means that I get to update my course every few months just to keep up.
With WebRTC 1.0, there’s both a real challenge as well as an opportunity.
It is a challenge:
It is an opportunity:
We might actually get to a point where we have a stable API with stable implementations.
But we’re still not thereShould you wait?
We’re 6-7 years in with WebRTC (depending who does the counting), and this hasn’t stopped well over a 1,000 vendors to jump in and make use of WebRTC in production services.
There’s already massive use of WebRTC.Me and WebRTC 1.0
For me, WebRTC 1.0 is somewhat of a new topic.
I try to avoid the discussions going on around WebRTC in the standardization bodies. The work they do is important and critical, but often tedious. I had my fair share of it in the past with other standards and it isn’t something I enjoy these days.
This caused a kind of a challenge for me as well. How can I teach WebRTC, in a premium course, without explaining WebRTC 1.0 – a topic that needs to be addressed as developers need to prepare for the changes that are coming.
The answer was to ask Philipp Hancke to help out here, and create a course lesson for me on WebRTC 1.0. I like doing projects with Philipp, and do so on many fronts, so this is one additional project. It also isn’t the first time either – the bonus materials of my WebRTC course includes a recorded lesson by Philipp about video quality in WebRTC.Free WebRTC 1.0 Webinar
Tomorrow, we will be recording the WebRTC 1.0 lesson together for my course. I’ll be there, and this time, partially as a student.
To make things a bit more interesting, as well as promoting the whole course, this lesson will be given live in the form of a free webinar:
This webinar/lesson will take place on
Tuesday, April 10
2-3PM EST (view in your timezone)
The session’s recording will NOT be available after the event itself. While this lesson is free to attend live, the recording will become an integral part of the course’ lessons.
The post WebRTC 1.0 Training and Free Webinar Tomorrow (on Tuesday) appeared first on BlogGeek.me.
We have covered the “WebRTC is leaking your IP address” topic a few times, like when I reported what the NY Times was doing and in my WebRTC-Notifier. Periodically this topic comes up now and again in the blogosphere, generally with great shock and horror. This happened again recently, so I here is an updated look […]
The post So your VPN is leaking because of Chrome’s WebRTC… appeared first on webrtcHacks.
AV1 for video coding is what Opus is for audio coding.
The Alliance of Open Media (AOMedia) issued last week a press release announcing its public release of the AV1 specification.
Last time I wrote about AOMedia was over a year ago. AOMedia is a very interesting organization. Which got me to sit down with Alex Eleftheriadis, Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Vidyo, for a talk about AV1, AOMedia and the future of real time video codecs. It was really timely, as I’ve been meaning to write about AV1 at some point. The press release, and my chat with Alex pushed me towards this subject.
Before you start, if you need to make a decision today on your video codec, then check out this free online mini video course
H.264 or VP8?
Now let’s start, shall we?AOMedia and AV1 are the result of greed
When AOMedia was announced I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t that apparent that the founding members of AOMedia would actually find the strength to put their differences aside for the greater good of the video coding industry.Video codec royalties 101
You see, video codecs at that point in time was a profit center for companies. You invested in research around video coding with the main focus on inventing new patents that will be incorporated within video codecs that will then be globally used. The vendors adopting these video codecs would pay royalties.
With H.264, said royalties came with a cap – if you distributed above a certain number of devices that use H.264, you didn’t have to pay more. And the same scheme was put in place when it came to HEVC (H.265) – just with a higher cap.
Why do we need this cap?
So how much money did MPEG-LA took in?
Being a private company, this is hard to know. I’ve seen estimates of $10M-50M, as well as $17.5B on Quora. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Which is still a considerable amount of money that was funnelled to the patent owners.
With royalty revenues flowing in, is it any wonder that companies wanted more?
An interesting tidbit about this greed (or shall we say rightfulness) can be found in the Wikipedia page of VP8:
In February 2011, MPEG LA invited patent holders to identify patents that may be essential to VP8 in order to form a joint VP8 patent pool. As a result, in March the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) started an investigation into MPEG LA for its role in possibly attempting to stifle competition. In July 2011, MPEG LA announced that 12 patent holders had responded to its call to form a VP8 patent pool, without revealing the patents in question, and despite On2 having gone to great lengths to avoid such patents.
So… we have a licensing company whose members are after royalty payments on patents. They are blinded by the success of H.264 and its royalty scheme and payments, so they go after anything and everything that looks and smells like competition. And they are working towards maintaining their market position and revenue in the upcoming HEVC specification.The HEVC/H.265 royalties mess
Leonardo Chiariglione, founder and chairman of MPEG, attests in a rather revealing post:
Good stories have an end, so the MPEG business model could not last forever. Over the years proprietary and “royalty free” products have emerged but have not been able to dent the success of MPEG standards. More importantly IP holders – often companies not interested in exploiting MPEG standards, so called Non Practicing Entities (NPE) – have become more and more aggressive in extracting value from their IP.
HEVC, being a new playing ground, meant that there were new patents to be had – new areas where companies could claim having IP. And MPEG-LA found itself one of many patent holder groups:
MPEG-LA indicated its wish to take home $0.2 per device using HEVC, with a high cap of around $25M.
HEVC Advance started with a ridiculously greedy target of $0.8 per device AND %0.5 of the gross margin of streaming services (unheard of at the time) – with no cap. It since rescinded, making things somewhat better. It did it a bit too late in the game though.
Velos Media spent money on a clean and positive website. Their Q&A indicate that they haven’t yet made a decision on royalties, caps and content royalties. Which gives great confidence to those wanting to use HEVC today.
And then there are the unaffiliated. Companies claiming patents related to HEVC who are not in any pool. And if you think they won’t be suing anyone then think again – Blackberry just sued Facebook for messaging related patents – easy to see them suing for HEVC patents in their current position. Who can blame them? They have been repeatedly sued by patent trolls in the past.
HEVC is said to be the next biggest thing in video coding. The successor of our aging H.264 technology. And yet, there’s too many unknowns about the true price of using it. Should one pay royalties to MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance and Velos Media or only one of them? Would paying royalties protect from patent litigation?
Is it even economically viable to use HEVC?
Yes. Apple has introduced HEVC in iOS 11 and iPhone X. My guess is that they are willing to pay the price as long as this keeps the headache and mess on the Android camp (I can’t see the vendors there coming to terms of who is the one in the value chain that will end up paying the royalties for it).
With such greed and uncertainty, a void was left. One that got filled by AOMedia and AV1.AOMedia – The who’s who of our industry
AOMedia is a who’s who list of our industry. It started small, with just 7 big names, and now has 12 founding members and 22 promoter members.
Some of these members are members of MPEG-LA or already have patents in HEVC and video coding. And this is important. Members of AOMedia effectively allow free access to essential patents in the implementation of AOMedia related specifications. I am sure there are restrictions applied here, but the intent is to have the codecs coming out of AOMedia royalty free.
A few interesting things to note about these members:
AOMedia is at a point that stopping it will be hard.
Here’s how AOMedia visualize its members’ products:What’s in AV1?
AV1 is a video codec specification, similar to VP8, H.264, VP9 and HEVC.
AV1 is built out of 3 main premises:
Simple probably needs a bit more elaboration here. It is probably the best news I heard from Alex about AV1.Simplicity in AV1
You see, in standardization organizations, you’ll have competing vendors vying for an advantage on one another. I’ve been there during the glorious days of H.323 and 3G-324M. What happens there, is that companies come up with a suggestion. Oftentimes, they will have patents on that specific suggestion. So other vendors will try to block it from getting into the spec. Or at the very least delay it as much as they can. Another vendor will come up with a similar but different enough approach, with their own patents, of course. And now you’re in a deadlock – which one do you choose? Coalitions start emerging around each approach, with the end result being that both approaches will be accepted with some modifications and get added into the specification.
But do we really need both of these approaches? The more alternatives we have to do something similar, the more complex the end result. The more complex the end result, the harder it is to implement. The harder it is to implement, well… the closer it looks like HEVC.
Here’s the thing.
From what I understand, and I am not privy to the intricate details, but I’ve seen specifications in the past, and been part of making them happen, HEVC is your standard design-by-committee specification. HEVC was conceived by MPEG-LA, which in the last 20 years have given us MPEG-2, H.264 and HEVC. The number of members in MPEG-LA with interests in getting some skin in this game is large and growing. I am sure that HEVC was a mess of a headache to contend with.
This is where AV1 diverges. I think there’s a lot less politics going on in AOMedia at the moment than in MPEG-LA. Probably due to 2 main reasons:
The end result? The design is simpler, which makes for better implementations that are just easier to develop.AV1 IRL
In real life, we’re yet to see if AV1 performs better than HEVC and in what ways.
Current estimates is that AV1 performans equal or better than HEVC when it comes to real time. That’s because AV1 has better tools for similar computation load than what can be found in HEVC.
So… if you have all the time in the world to analyze the video and pick your tools, HEVC might end up with better compression quality, but for the most part, we can’t really wait that long when we encode video – unless we encode the latest movie coming out from Hollywood. For the rest of us, faster will be better, so AV1 wins.
The exact comparison isn’t there yet, but I was told that experiments done on the implementations of both AV1 and HEVC shows that AV1 is equal or better to HEVC.Streaming, Real Time and SVC
There is something to be said about real time, which brings me back to WebRTC.
Real time low delay considerations of AV1 were discussed from the onset. There are many who focus on streaming and offline encoding of videos within AOMedia, like Netflix and Hulu. But some of the founding members are really interested in real time video coding – Google, Facebook, Cisco, Polycom and Vidyo to name a few.
Polycom and Vidyo are chairing the real time work group, and SVC is considered a first class citizen within AV1. It is being incorporated into the specification from the start, instead of being bolt-on into it as was done with H.264 and VP9.Low bitrate
Then there’s the aspect of working at low bitrates.
With the newer codecs, you see a real desire to enhance the envelope. In many cases, this means increasing the resolution and frame rates a video codec supports.
As far as I understand, there’s a lot of effort being put into AV1 in the other side of the scale – in working at low resolutions and doing that really well. This is important for Google for example, if you look at what they decided to share about VP9 on YouTube:
For YouTube, it isn’t only about 4K and UHD – it is on getting videos to be streamed everywhere.
Based on many of the projects I am involved with today, I can say that there are a lot of developers out there who don’t care too much about HD or 4K – they just want to get decent video being sent and that means VGA resolutions or even less. Being able to do that with lower bitrates is a boon.Is AV1 “next gen”?
I have always considered AV1 to be the next next generation:
We have H.264 and VP8 as the current generation of video codecs, then HEVC and VP9 as the next generation, and then there’s AV1 as the next next generation.
In my mind, this is what you’d get when it comes to compression vs power requirements:
Alex opened my eyes here, explaining that reality is slightly different. If I try translating his words to a diagram, here’s what I get:
AV1 is an improvement over HEVC but probably isn’t a next generation video codec. And this is an advantage. When you start working on a new generation of a codec, the work necessary is long and arduous. Look at H.261, H.263, H.264 and HEVC codec generations:
Here are some interesting things that occured to me while placing the video codecs on a timeline:
AOMedia has been working towards this important milestone for quite some time – the 1.0 version specification of AV1.
The first thing I thought when seeing it is: they got there faster than WebRTC 1.0. WebRTC has been announced 6 years ago and we’re just about to have it announced (since 2015 that is). AOMedia started in 2015 and it now has its 1.0 ready.
The second one? I was interested in the quotes at the end of that release. They show the viewpoints of the various members involved.
Apple decided not to share a quote in the press release.
Most of the quotes there are about media streaming, with only a few looking at collaboration and social. This somewhat saddens me when it comes from the likes of Broadcom.
I am glad to see Intel and Arm taking active roles. Both as founding members and in their quotes to the press release. It is bad that Qualcomm and Samsung aren’t here, but you can’t have it all.
I also think Vidyo are spot-on. More about that later.What’s next for AOMedia?
There’s work to be done within AOMedia with AV1. This is but a first release. There are bound to be some updates to it in the coming year.
Current plans are to have some meaningful software implementation of AV1 encoder/decoder by the end of 2018, and somewhere during 2019 (end of most probably) have hardware implementations available. Here’s the announced timeline from AOMedia:
Realistically, mass adoption would happen somewhere in 2020-2022. Until then, we’ll be chugging along with VP8/H.264 and fighting it out around HEVC and VP9.
There are talks about adding still image format based on the work done in AV1, which makes sense. It wouldn’t be farfetched to also incorporate future voice codecs into AOMedia. This organization has shown it can bring into it the industry leaders into a table and come up with royalty free codecs that benefit everyone.AV1 and WebRTC
Will we see AV1 in WebRTC? Definitely.
When? Probably after WebRTC 1.0. Or maybe not
It will take time, but the benefits are quite clear, which is what Alex of Vidyo alluded to in the quote given in the press release:
“solve the ongoing WebRTC browser fragmentation problem, and achieve universal video interoperability across all browsers and communication devices”
We’re still stuck in the challenge of which video codec to select in WebRTC applications.
AV1 for video coding is what Opus is to audio coding. That article I’ve written in 2013? It is now becoming true for video. Once adoption of AV1 hits – and it will in the next 3-5 years, the dilemma of which video codec to select will be gone.
Until then, check out this free mini course on how to select the video codec for your application
Sign up for free
The post AV1 Specification Released: Can we kiss goodbye to HEVC and royalty bearing video codecs? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.
One of WebRTC’s biggest challenges has been providing consistent, reliable support across platforms. For most apps, especially those that started on the web, this generally means developing a native or hybrid mobile app in addition to supporting the web app. Progressive Web Apps (PWA) is a new concept that promises to unify the web for […]
The post Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for WebRTC (Trond Kjetil Bremnes) appeared first on webrtcHacks.
Demand for WebRTC developers is stronger than supply.
My inbox is filled with requests for experienced WebRTC developers on a daily basis. It ranges from entrepreneurs looking for a technical partner, managers searching for outsourcing vendors to help them out. My only challenge here is that developers and testers who know a thing or two about WebRTC are hard to find. Finding developers who are aware of the media stack in WebRTC, and not just dabbled into using a github “hello world” demo – these are truly rare.
This is why I created my WebRTC course almost 2 years ago. The idea was to try and share my knowledge and experience around VoIP, media processing and of course WebRTC, with people who need it. This WebRTC training has been a pleasant success, with over 200 people who took it already. And now it is time for the 4th round of office hours for this course.Who is this WebRTC training for?
This WebRTC course is for anyone who is using WebRTC in his daily work directly or indirectly. Developers, testers, software architects and product managers will be those who benefit from it the most.
It has been designed to give you the information necessary from the ground up.
If you are clueless about VoIP and networking, then this course will guide you through the steps needed to get to WebRTC. Explaining what TCP and UDP are, how HTTP and WebSockets fit on top of it, going to the acronyms used by WebRTC (SRTP, STUN, TURN and many others).
If you have VoIP knowledge and experience, then this course will cover the missing parts – where WebRTC fits into your world, and what to take special attention to, assuming a VoIP background (WebRTC brings with it a different mindset to the development process).
What I didn’t want to do, is have a course that is so focused on the specification that: (1) it becomes irrelevant the moment the next Chrome browser is released; (2) it doesn’t explain the ecosystem around WebRTC or give you design patterns of common use cases. Which is why I baked into the course a lot of materials around higher level media processing, the WebRTC ecosystem and common architectures in WebRTC.
TL;DR – if you follow this blog and find it useful, then this course is for you.Why take it?
The question should be why not?
There are so many mistakes and bad decisions I see companies doing with WebRTC. From deciding how to model their media routes, to where to place their TURN servers (or configure them). Through how to design scale out, to which open source frameworks to pick. Such mistakes end up a lot more expensive than any online course would ever be.
In April, next month, I will be starting the next round of office hours.
While the course is pre-recorded and available online, I conduct office hours for a span of 3-4 months twice a year. In these live office hours I go through parts of the course, share new content and answer any questions.What does it include?
The course includes:
In the past two months I’ve been working on refreshing some of the content, getting it up to date with recent developments. We’ve seen Edge and Safari introducing WebRTC during that time for example. These updated lessons will be updated in the course before the official launch.When can I start?
Whenever you want. In April, I will be officially launching the office hours for this course round. At that point in time, the updated lessons will be part of the course.
What more, there will be a new lesson added – this one about WebRTC 1.0. Philipp Hancke was kind enough to host this lesson with me as a live webinar (free to attend live) that will become an integral lesson in the course.
If you are interested in joining this lesson live:
You can always take it later on, but I won’t be able to guarantee pricing or availability of the office hours at that point in time.
If you plan on doing anything with WebRTC in the next 6 months, you should probably enroll today.
And by the way – if you need to come as a team to up the knowledge and experience in WebRTC in your company, then there are corporate plans for the course as well.
CONTENT UPGRADE: If you are serious about learning WebRTC, then check out my online WebRTC training:
I logged into YouTube on Tuesday and noticed this new camera icon in the upper right corner, with a “Go Live (New)” option, so I clicked on it to try. It turns out you can now live stream directly from the browser. This smelled a lot like WebRTC, so I loaded up chrome://webrtc-internals to see […]
Monitoring focus is shifting from server-side to client-side in WebRTC statistics collection.
WebRTC happens to decentralize everything when it comes to VoIP. We’re on a journey here to shift the weight from the backend to the edge devices. While the technology in WebRTC isn’t any different than most other VoIP solutions, the way we end up using it and architecting our services around it is vastly different.
One of the prime examples here is how we shifted focus for group calling from an MCU mixing model to an SFU routing model. Suddenly, almost overnight, the notion of deploying MCU started to seem ridiculous. And believe me – I should know – I worked at a company where %60+ came from MCUs.
The shift towards SFU means we’re leaning more on the capabilities and performance of the edge device, giving it more power in the interaction when it comes to how to layout the display, instead of doing all the heavy lifting in the backend using an MCU. The next step here will be to build mesh networks, though I can’t see that future materializing any time soon.VoIP != WebRTC. Maybe not from a direct technical point, but definitely from how we end up using it. If you need to learn more about WebRTC, then my WebRTC training is exactly what you need:
What I wanted to mention here is something else that is happening, playing towards the same trend exactly – we are moving the collection of VoIP performance statistics (or more accurately WebRTC statistics) from the backend to the edge – we now prefer doing it directly from the browser/device.VoIP Statistics Collection and Monitoring
If you are not familiar with VoIP statistics collecting and monitoring, then here’s a quick explainer for you:
VoIP is built out of the notion of interoperability. Developers build their products and then test it against the spec and in interoperability events. Then those deploying them integrate, install and run a service. Sometimes this ends up by using a single vendor, but more often than not, multiple vendor products run in the same deployment.
There is no real specification or standard to how monitoring needs to happen or what kind of statistics can, should or is collected. There are a few means of collecting that data, and one of the most common approaches is by employing HEP/EEP. As the specification states:
The Extensible Encapsulation protocol (“EEP”) provides a method to duplicate an IP datagram to a collector by encapsulating the original datagram and its relative header properties (as payload, in form of concatenated chunks) within a new IP datagram transmitted over UDP/TCP/SCTP connections for remote collection. Encapsulation allows for the original content to be transmitted without altering the original IP datagram and header contents and provides flexible allocation of additional chunks containing additional arbitrary data. The method is NOT designed or intended for “tunneling” of IP datagrams over network segments, and best serves as vector for passive duplication of packets intended for remote or centralized collection and long term storage and analysis.
Translating this to plain English: media packets are duplicated for the purpose of sending them off to be analyzed via a monitoring service.
The duplication of the packets happens in the backend, through the different media servers that can be found in a VoIP network. Here’s how it is depicted on HOMER/SIPCAPTURE’s website:
HOMER collects its data directly from the servers – OpenSIPS, FreeSWITCH, Asterisk, Kamailio – there’s no user devices here – just backend servers.
Other systems rely on the switches, routers and network devices that again reside in the backend infrastructure. Since in VoIP production networks, we almost always route the media through the backend servers, the assumption is that it is easier to collect it here where we have more control than from the devices.
This works great, but not really needed or helpful with WebRTC.WebRTC Statistics Collection and Monitoring
With WebRTC, there are only a handful of browsers (4 to be exact), and they all adhere to the same API (that would be WebRTC). And they all have that thing called getstats() implemented in them. These get the same information you find in chrome://webrtc-internals.
Many deployments end up running peer-to-peer, having the media traverse directly through the internet and not through the backend of the service itself. Google Hangouts decided to take that route two years ago. Jitsi added this capability under the name Jitsi P2P4121. How do these services control and understand the quality of their users?
If you look at other media servers out there, most of them are a few years old only. WebRTC is just 6 years old now. So everyone’s focused on features and stability right now. Quality and monitoring is not in their focus area just yet.
Last, but not least, WebRTC is encrypted. Always. And everywhere. So sniffing packets and deducing quality from them isn’t that easy or accurate any longer.
This led to the focus of WebRTC applications in gathering WebRTC statistics from the browsers and devices directly, and not trying to get that information from the media servers.
The end result? Open source projects such as rtcstats and commercial services such as callstats.io. At the heart of these, WebRTC statistics gets collected using the getstats() API at an interval of one or more seconds, sent over to a monitoring server, where it is collected, stored, aggregated and analyzed. We use a similar mechanism at testRTC to collect, analyze and visualize the results of our own probes.
What does that give us?
WebRTC chances a lot of things when it comes to how we think and architect VoIP networks. The part of how and why this is done on statistics and monitoring is something I haven’t seen discussed much, so I wanted to share it here.
The reason for that is threefold:
The post How WebRTC Statistics and Performance Monitoring Changed VoIP Monitoring appeared first on BlogGeek.me.
Twilio Flex is a peak into the future of enterprise software.
This week, Twilio announced a new product called Flex. The name and the broad strokes about what Flex is found their way to TechCrunch some two weeks ago. I wanted to share my thoughts about Twilio Flex.A few notes before I start
Twilio Flex is CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service. It isn’t the first one. Twilio is touting it a Programmable Contact Center, which is how they are referring to all of their products.
Here’s Jeff Lawson’s keynote from Enterprise Connect, as usual, Jeff’s keynotes are worth the time and attention:
Where Twilio tried to differentiate Flex from existing solutions is by making it a fully functional contact center solution that is Flexible enough to customize and modify. It has APIs, but the day-to-day users won’t see them, and a lot of the customizations needed don’t require digging deep into the API layer either. That’s at least the intent (I didn’t have the chance to see the integration and API layers of Flex yet).
Twilio highlights 5 main benefits with Flex:
Flex fits well into one of Twilio’s largest market segments – the contact center. And there, Twilio are aiming for the contact centers sizing 1,000+ seats. The big boyz.
As it was working to move up the food chain, offering ever larger components, migrating away from developers towards end users in the B2B space and in contact centers made sense.Flex and the Twilio Portfolio
If I had to map the road Twilio is taking with its portfolio, it would end up being something like this (I’ve removed a lot of the products for simplicity):
Transactional: It started with SMS and Voice, adding VoIP services and later on expanding horizontally to other components and building blocks such as IP Messaging and others. In this layer, and to some extent in Omnichannel, Twilio’s focus is in a horizontal expansion towards “Best of Suite” offering.
Omnichannel: In 2017, Twilio added the Twilio Engagement Cloud. It placed a few existing products from its portfolio in that layer and added Notify and Proxy to them. They stated that these are “Declarative APIs” talking about general intent while including logic of their own. At the end of the day, many of the products/APIs in this layer are Omnichannel – they work across channels using the one available/preferred/whatever for the task at hand.
Visual: This is where the story became really interesting. Twilio added Studio to its portfolio. It went up the food chain again, this time, with a visual IDE and a message that Twilio is no longer a company that serves only developers, but one that can be used by others within the organization.
Programmable Enterprise Software: This is where Flex comes in, going up the food chain again. This time, offering a solution that doesn’t interact with the end users only as a consequence (a phone rings), but rather has a new set of users – people who aren’t developers or planners who sit in front of the tool every day and use it. The contact center agents and personnel.
Flex was defined to me in the domain of “Programmable Applications”. Twilio, in a way, trying to do two things with this definition:
To me it is about the future of enterprise software and how to make it programmable and flexible in ways that are still impossible today. The closest to that we’ve got is probably having so many vendors integrate with Zapier.
I am sold to that kind of a future, but I am not sure others will be.Flex Channels Proposition
Flex leans on a lot of other products in Twilio’s portfolio. One of its core values lies in omnichannel, and the fact that Twilio is already investing in a programmable layer that handles that (the Engagement Cloud). The proposition here is that whatever Twilio adds as a channel for developers, gets almost automatically added to Flex for its contact center customers.
Out the door, Flex comes with support for Voice, SMS, Chat, Video, Email, Fax, Twitter DM, Google RCS, Facebook Messenger and LINE. It also includes Screen Sharing and Co-Browsing as additional capabilities within the interactions. Developers can add additional channels to customize their contact center as well.
The list of channels is impressive, but somehow Apple Business Chat is missing in that list. Apple’s launch partners in this case were contact center vendors (LivePerson, Nuance, Genesys and Salesforce). Twilio, which is still recognized solely as a CPaaS vendor didn’t make the cut. I am sure Twilio tried becoming a partner, so this is more likely a decision made by Apple. I am also sure that once Apple opens up Business Chat to more developers, Twilio will be adding support to it.
The biggest promise here? Twilio is already committed to omnichannel in its products, and Flex will enjoy from that commitment as will Flex’ customers.
Think you know how WebRTC fits in a contact center? Check out with The Complete WebRTC Contact Center Uses SwipefileGet the swipefile Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Flex
A year or two ago, ML and AI in CPaaS was science fiction. Twilio as well as its competitors delved in the real time. In transactional and transient communications. If any machine learning work was taking place, it was in the operational layers – in an effort to optimize cost and deliverability of its service to its customers.
Last year, Twilio launched Understand, a layer built on top of Google’s Natural Language Processing capabilities (NLP). Understand is where Twilio started looking in ML and AI in the context of actual services for its customers. It looks at the problem domain of its customers (mainly contact centers) and tries to offer higher level APIs that are easier to use and are targeted at NLU (Natural Language Understanding). This then gets focused to the specific domain of the customer’s needs, and you get something that is usable today (as opposed to building a general purpose AI such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant).
The result in Understand is a way to simplify the development processes and requirements for Twilio’s customers when it comes to NLU.
That also got wrapped into Flex, at least on slides.
My feelings? The AI story of Flex is built out of two parts:
AI being the holy grail that it is, you can’t ignore it when launching a new service these days.Flex Pricing is Key
Pricing for Flex hasn’t been announced, but one thing was made clear – it will be based on a per seat price and not usage based as other Twilio products.
This is where things get somewhat challenging for Twilio, and here’s why:
My guess is that Twilio is still looking for price validation and it is doing so this week at Enterprise Connect and planning to continue doing so in the coming weeks until it is ready to announce the price points publicly.Who is Twilio Flex for?
This is the main question, and one that I am not sure of the answer.
Twilio is saying the target audience is 1,000+ seats contact centers. It makes sense to go for the larger contact centers at a time when the transition towards the cloud and digital transformations of contact centers is happening more.
But would I be using it in my business or go through a third party?
Should a Twilio customer that built a contact center on its own on top of Twilio migrate to Flex?
Should a Twilio customer that built a contact center for others to use on top of Twilio see Flex as a threat or as an opportunity to improve its own contact center offering?
Twilio stated that 89% of contact centers today are still deployed on premise, and that the market is large enough. These statement was said to answer two questions:
Twilio was already trending upwards when the word on Flex leaked by TechCrunch on Feb 17, and has increasing since:
Is that related to Flex or not, I can’t say. To me, going to contact centers as an adjacent market and eating up more of the pie there is a bold move. If it succeed, then Twilio will be much bigger than it is today.The Unknowns
There are things that are still unknown to me here. They are technical ones, but important for my own perspective and analysis. They are related to what wasn’t directly in the briefing or the materials I’ve seen since the official announcement.
Here are a few things I am really interested in:
Here’s one way to map the communications landscape:
And here’s another:
What’s your worldview here?
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TL;DR – register to this webinar about WebRTC 1.0
As I am prepping to another launch of my Advanced WebRTC Architecture Course, I went through the content to make sure it is up to date. This is by far the hardest thing about a course about something like WebRTC – what was right on Chrome 63 might not be correct anymore for Chrome 64. Or is it 65 now?
I ended up spending time in updating and refreshing some of the lessons with some new material, but I ended up with one area that the course is weak at. And that’s WebRTC 1.0 information.
The problem there is that while I can tell some of the story, I definitely can’t tell it to the level I wanted. It got me to partner again with Philipp Hancke, which I love working with on lots of mini-projects. I asked Philipp if he will be willing to host such a lesson for me as a live webinar and he said yes (yippie).What’s in the Webinar?
So here’s what we’re going to do:
Next month, right after Passover, and because Philipp asked for April, we’re going to host a lesson/webinar about WebRTC 1.0.
Philipp will skim quickly over the backstory of WebRTC 1.0, where we are today and more importantly where we’re headed with it. What we will cover in more detail will include answers to questions like:
What I want here is for you (and me) to really understand the impact WebRTC 1.0 is going to have on all of us in 2018 and on.When?
This webinar/lesson will take place on
Tuesday, April 10
1-2PM EST (view in your timezone)
The session’s recording will NOT be available after the event itself. While this lesson is free to attend live, the recording will become an integral part of the course’ lessons.
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