WebRTC, the new in-browser framework for real-time video and audio chats, will likely be a major trend this year. While it’s exciting for developers to easily add browser-to-browser chat features to their apps, however, being able to call regular phones from the web and to integrate WebRTC into existing calling solutions is still a necessity for many developers. The YC-backed VoIP startup Plivo, which raised a $1.75 million funding round last month, just launched a new SDK that makes it possible for developers to connect their WebRTC apps to standard SIP lines.
This means users can call regular phone lines from their browsers over WebRTC and, maybe more importantly, developers can integrate WebRTC into existing calling solutions for call centers and enterprises. This, of course, also works the other way around, and users can use their regular SIP-based numbers to call WebRTC users.
As Plivo co-founder Venky Balasubramanian (who goes by Venky) told me earlier today that this new SDK allows developers to bring “the past and today together.” Many businesses still rely on standard landlines, after all, and while Venky acknowledged that being able to add some WebRTC functionality to existing web apps is interesting, he noted that “just WebRTC isn’t good enough,” as the real power of WebRTC is only unleashed when it can interoperate with other systems, too. Enterprises that want to use WebRTC especially need to be able to integrate it into their existing workflows, and the new Plivo SDK wants to help them do so.
“WebRTC represents the future of communications,” said Venky. “We’ve been hard at work architecting a solution that takes advantage of all WebRTC has to offer while ensuring that enterprise customers can leverage the investments they’ve made in existing infrastructure. We’re really excited about the result.”
One company that also experimented with integrating WebRTC is Portland, OR-based Vacasa Rentals. The company is using Plivo’s SDK to integrate its FreeSwitch-based calling solution with WebRTC and plans to deploy the new SDK with 100 percent WebRTC usage for all employees soon. The company says this new solution will lower its support burden for both its servers, but also its local router and computer support for its employees.
For now, of course, WebRTC still remains a pretty geeky topic and the standard is still in flux. Indeed, while Plivo’s systems worked very well on Chrome 23 (Google, Opera and Mozilla currently support the new standard), the launch of Chrome 24 yesterday broke the implementation. If you want to give it a try, though, Plivo has set up an open conference line that will allow you to dial in from your browser to give WebRTC a try (though chances are you are already on Chrome 24 and this won’t work anymore…).