News from Industry

WebRTC iOS 11 Support. Are We There Yet?

bloggeek - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 12:00

Last week WWDC was a happy occasion for those who deal with WebRTC. For the first time, we got the official word – and code – of WebRTC on Apple devices – WebRTC iOS and WebRTC Safari support is finally here.

I spent the time since then talking to a couple of developers and managers who either tinkered with Safari 11 already or have to make plans in their products for this development.

I came out a bit undecided about this whole thing. Here are where things stand.

Apple’s Coverage

The WebKit site has its own announcement – as close as we’ll ever get to an official announcement from Apple with any detail it seems.

What I find interesting with this one (go read it – I’ll wait here):

  • Google isn’t mentioned (god forbid). But their “LibWebRTC open source framework” is. Laughed my pants off of this one. The lengths companies would go to not mention one another is ridiculous
  • WebRTC in WebKit isn’t mentioned. Two years ago I opined it wouldn’t move the needle. And it seems like it didn’t – or at least not enough for Apple to mention it in this WebKit announcement
  • TokBox and BlueJeans are mentioned as early beta. TokBox I understand. Can’t miss one of the dominant players in this space. But BlueJeans? That was a surprise to me
Previous Coverage

First things first, here are some posts that were published already about Apple’s release of WebRTC Safari (in alphabetical order):

I’ve ignored a few generic posts that just indicated WebRTC is out there.

Most relevant Twitter thread on this?

Testing out Safari 11's #WebRTC support on #macOS High Sierra. pic.twitter.com/zSpTfMlRj5

— Saúl Ibarra Corretgé (@saghul) June 6, 2017

Who’s Missing?

Well… the general media.

I haven’t really seen the keynote. I find the Apple keynotes irrelevant to my needs, so prefer not to waste my time on them. My understanding is that WebRTC took place there as a word in a slide. And that’s HUGE! Especially considering the fact that none of the general technology media outlets cared to mention it in any way.

Not even the general developers media.

What was mentioned instead were things like the iOS file manager. That seems a lot more transformative.

This isn’t a rant about general media and how they miss WebRTC. It is a rant about how WebRTC as a technology has not caught the attention at all, outside a little circle of people.

Is it because communications is no longer interesting?

At a large developers event here in Israel on that same week, there were 6 different tracks: Architecture, Full stack, Philosophy, Big Data, IOT, Security. No comms.

Not sure what the answer…

On one hand, WebRTC is transformative and important. On the other hand, it is mostly ignored. #iOS
Click To Tweet
WebRTC Safari Support

So what did get included in the WebRTC Safari implementation by Apple?

  • The basics. GetUserMedia and PeerConnection
  • One-on-one voice and video calls seem to work well across browsers AND devices (including things like Safari to Edge)
  • Opus is there for audio
  • H.264 only for video. There is no VP8 or VP9. More on that later
  • The code supports Plan B, if you are into multiparty media routing
  • Data Channel is supported, but too buggy to be used apparently
  • No screen sharing. Yet
  • This is both for the desktop and mobile:
    • WebRTC Safari support is there for the macOS in the new version of safari
    • WebRTC iOS support is there for iOS 11 – via the Safari web browser, and maybe(?) inside WebViews

This is mostly expected. See below why.

WebKit, Blink and WebRTC

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. There was a browser rendering engine called WebKit. Everyone used WebKit. Especially Google and Apple. Google used WebKit for Chrome. And Apple used WebKit for Safari.

And then one day, in the middle of the development of WebRTC, Google decided enough is enough. They forked WebKit, renamed it to Blink, removed all excess code baggage and never looked back.

Apple never did care about WebRTC. At least not enough to make this thing happen until last week. I hope this is a move forward and a change of pace in Apple’s adoption of WebRTC.

Here’s what I think Apple did:

  • Seems like they just took the Google code for WebRTC and hammered at it until it fit nicely back into WebKit (ignoring WebRTC in WebKit in the process)
  • How did they modify it? Remove VP8. Add H.264 by hooking it up with the hardware codec in iOS and on the Mac
  • And did the rest of the porting work – connecting devices, etc.
  • Plan B is there because. Well. Google uses Plan B at the moment. And it just stands to reason that the code Apple had was Plan B
WebRTC Safari and Interoperability

When it comes to WebRTC, the question is one of browser interoperability. There aren’t many browser vendors (I am counting four major ones).

The basics seem to work fine. If you run a simple peer-to-peer call between any of the 4 browsers, you’ll get a call going. Voice and video. The lowest common denominator for that seems to be Opus+H.264 due to Safari. Otherwise, Opus+VP8 would also be a possibility.

The challenge starts when what you’re trying to do is multiparty. While H.264 is supported by all browsers, the ability to use simulcast with H.264 isn’t. At the moment, Chrome doesn’t support simulcast with H.264. The current market perception is that multiparty video without simulcast is meh.

Doing group calling?

  • Go for audio only
  • Force everyone to use H.264 if you need Safari (either as a general rule or when the specific session has someone using Safari) – and understand that simulcast won’t be available to you

Now it is going to become a matter of who blinks first: Google by adding H.264 simulcasting to Chrome; or Apple by adding VP8 to Safari.

The Next Video Codec War

Which leads us to the next frontier in the video codec wars.

If you came in late to the game, then know that we had over 3 years of continuous bickering regarding the mandatory video codec in WebRTC. Here’s the last I wrote about the codec wars when the Alliance of Open Media formed some two years ago.

At the time, both VP8 and H.264 were defined as mandatory video codecs in WebRTC. The trajectory was also quite obvious:

After  H.264 and VP8, there was going to be a shift towards VP9 and then a leap towards AV1 – the new video codec currently being defined by the Alliance of Open Media.

Who isn’t in the alliance? Apple.

And it seems that Apple decided to bank on HEVC (H.265) – the successor of H.264. This is true for both iOS and macOS. This is done through hardware acceleration for both the encoder and the decoder, with the purpose of reducing storage requirements for video files and reducing bandwidth requirements for streaming.

But it goes to show where Apple will be going with WebRTC next. They will be adding HEVC support to it, ignoring VP9 altogether.

There’s a hefty cost in taking that route:

  • H.264 is simple yet expensive – when you use it, you need to pay up royalties to a single patent pool – MPEG-LA
  • HEVC is complex AND expensive – when you use it, you need to pay up royalties for MULTIPLE patent pools – MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance, Velos Media. Wondering which one you’ll need to pay for and how much? Me too

Which is why I think Apple is taking this route in the first place.

Apple has its own patents in HEVC, and is part of the MPEG-LA patent pool.

And it knows royalties is going to be complex and expensive. Which makes this a barrier for other vendors. Especially those who aren’t as vertically integrated – who needs to pay royalties here? The chipset vendor? The OS vendor? The handset manufacturer?

By embedding HEVC in iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple is doing what it does best – differentiates itself from anyone else based on quality:

  • It has hardware acceleration for HEVC. Both encoding and decoding
  • It starts using it today on its devices, and “magically” media quality improves and/or storage/network requirements decrease

Google, and Android by extension, won’t be adding HEVC. Google has taken the VP9 route. But in VP9 most solutions are software based – especially for the encoder. Which means that using VP9 eats up CPU. Results look just as good as HEVC, but the cost is higher on CPU and memory needs. Which means an “inferior” solution.

Which is exactly what Apple wants and needs. It just doesn’t care if interoperability with other devices requires lowering quality as the perception of who’s at fault will fall flat on Android and Google and not on Apple.

So…

Don’t expect to see VP9 or AV1 anytime soon in Apple’s roadmap. Not for WebRTC and not for anything else.

Dan Rayburn covers the streaming side (non-WebRTC) of this HEVC decision quite nicely on StreamingMedia.

Oh, and while at it, Jeremy Noring wrote a well thought rant about this lack of support for VP8 and VP9. His suggestion? Go vote for bug #173141 on WebKit. It probably won’t help, but it will make you feel a bit better

The only way I see this being resolved? If Google retracts their support for H.264 and just blatantly removes it from Chrome until Apple adds VP8 to Safari. I’ll be happy to see this happening.

FaceTime , Multiparty and WebRTC

Apple has FaceTime.

And FaceTime probably doesn’t use WebRTC. I am not sure if it ever will.

When Google came out with WebRTC, they had the Hangouts (now Meet) team about a year behind in its adoption of WebRTC as their underlying technology – but the intent and later execution was there.

When Microsoft came out with WebRTC, Skype didn’t support WebRTC. But they did launch Skype for Linux which is built somewhat on top of WebRTC, and Skype for Web which is taking the same route. Call it ORTC instead of WebRTC – they are one and the same as they are set to merge anyway.

Apple? Will they place FaceTime on top of WebRTC? I see no incentive there whatsoever.

Can Cisco change this? Rowan Trollope broke the news titled “Cisco and Apple Announce New Features” that WebEx and Cisco Spark now work on Safari – no download needed. I’ll translate it for you by adding the missing keyword here – WebRTC. Cisco is using WebRTC to do that. And since their stack is built atop H.264, they got that working on Safari.

Cisco and Apple here is interesting. While Cisco mentions this in the headline as if these new features were done jointly, Apple isn’t really acknowledging it. There’s no quote from an Apple representative, and at the same time, Cisco isn’t mentioned in the WebKit announcement – TokBox and BlueJeans are.

One wonders.

Back to FaceTime. Which is a 1:1 video chat service.

And the fact that many look into group video chat and other multiparty video configurations.

Will Apple care enough to support it well in WebRTC? Will it move from Plan B to Unified Plan? Will it care about simulcast? Will it invest in SVC? Will it listen and work with Cisco on its multiparty needs for the benefit of us all?

Older Devices

Apple will not be upgrading iPhone 5 devices to iOS 11. That’s a 5 years old device.

In many requirement documents I see a request to support iPhone 4.

Will this bump the general audience out there to focus on iPhone 6 and upwards, seeing what Apple is doing as well? Will this mean vendors will need to port WebRTC on their own to support older devices?

Time will tell, but I think that switching to iPhone 6 and above and focusing there makes sense.

Chrome/Firefox support on iOS

Here’s a question for you.

If you use Chrome or Firefox on iOS. And open a URL to a site using WebRTC. Will that work?

Here’s the catch.

The reason there was no real browser for iOS that supported iOS until today? Apple mandates WebKit as the rendering engine on any browser app that comes to its AppStore.

Now that WebKit is getting official WebRTC support – will Chrome and Firefox add WebRTC support to their iOS browsers?

And if they do – you’ll be getting the Apple restrictions. I can just see the WebRTC developer teams at Google and Mozilla cringing at this thought.

This can get really interesting if and when Apple decides to add HEVC support to WebRTC in its WebKit implementation of iOS. You’ll get Chrome on iOS with H.264 and HEVC and Chrome everywhere else with H.264, VP8 and VP9.

Fun times.

What Should Developers Do?

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for. The question I’ve been asked multiple times already:

Do I need to build an app? Should I wait?

The suggest at the moment is wait. Question is for what and until when exactly.

If you are looking for a closed app and planning on developing native, then go with whatever worked for you until today. This news item just isn’t for you.

If you are looking for browser support on iOS, then go with Safari and plan on enabling H.264 video codec in your service. Don’t wait up for VP8.

If you want something that will be cross platform app development using HTML5, then wait. Webview WebRTC support in iOS is still an unknown. If it gets there in the coming months then waiting a few more minutes probably won’t make a real difference for you anyway.

My Updated Cheat Sheet

As it is, this change with Safari, iOS and macOS required some necessary updates in my resources.

First to update is the WebRTC Device Cheat sheet. You can find the updated one in the same download page.

One last thing –

Join my and Philipp Hancke for Virtual Coffee

I planned for a different Virtual Coffee session this month. One about developer tools. It got bumped into July.

The one in June will cover the iOS announcement and its ramifications. My guest this time will be Philipp Hancke.

The session takes place on Monday, June 19 at 15:30 EDT.

It is free to join, but will not be available later as a recording (unless you are a customer).

Register now

The post WebRTC iOS 11 Support. Are We There Yet? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

Kamailio Database Structure Description

miconda - Wed, 06/07/2017 - 10:46
The database tables created by Kamailio, along with the description of their columns, are documented in the tutorial available at:If you haven’t read it so far, take a bit of time to check the details for the tables of the modules you are using. It can help to understand better the purpose of each field that you have to provision for Kamailio.The database structure is created using kamdbctl, if you start now with it, guidelines can be found in the install tutorial:Contributions to add more documentation for database structure are very appreciated. You can update xml files from source tree in src/lib/srdb1/schema/ and then make a pull request via Kamailio’s github.com project.Thank you for flying Kamailio!

With WebRTC, Don’t Never Ever Mix Media and Signaling

bloggeek - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 12:00

And while at it – don’t mix signaling with NAT traversal.

Somehow, many people are asking these question in different phrasing, taking different angles and approaches to it. The thing is, if you want to build a robust production worthy service using WebRTC, you need to split these three entities.

If you haven’t already, then I suggest you check out my free 3-part video mini course on WebRTC servers.

Now, let’s dive into the details a bit –

Signaling Servers

Signaling servers is something we all have in our WebRTC products.

Why?

Because without them there’s no call. At all. Not even a Hello World example.

It is that simple.

You can co-locate the signaling server with your application server.

Here are a few things that you probably surmised about these servers already:

  1. You can scale a single server to handle 1000’s or event 100,000’s of connections and sessions in parallel
  2. These servers must maintain state for each user connected to them, making them hard to scale out
  3. Oftentimes, decisions that take place in these servers rely on external databases
  4. Latency of a couple 100’s of milliseconds is fine for these servers, but it is rather easy to be abusive and have that blown out of proportion if not designed and implemented properly (a few high profile services that I use daily come to mind here)

Did I mention signaling servers are written in higher level languages? Java, Node.js, Rails, Python, PHP (god forbid), …

NAT Traversal Servers

STUN and TURN is what I mean here.

And yes, we usually cram STUN along with TURN. TURN is the resource hog out of the two, but STUN can be attached to the same server just because they both have the same general purpose in life (to get the media flowing properly).

This is why I will ignore STUN here and focus on TURN.

Sometimes, people forget to TURN. They do so because WebRTC works great between two browser tabs or two people in the same office without the need for TURN, and putting Google’s STUN server URL is just so simple to do… that this is how they “ship” the product. Until all hell breaks loose.

TURN ends up relaying media between session participants. It does that when the participants can’t reach each other directly for one reason or another. This kind of a relay mechanism dictates two things:

  1. TURN will eat up bandwidth. And a lot of it
  2. Your preference is to place your TURN server as close it to the participant as possible. It is the only way to improve media quality and reduce latency, as from that TURN server, you have more control over the network (you can pay for better routes for example)

While you might not need many TURN servers, you probably want one at each availability zone of the cloud provider you are using.

Oh – and most NAT traversal servers I know are written in C/C++.

Media Servers

Media Servers are optional. So much so that they aren’t really a part of the specification – they’re just something you’d add in order to support certain functions. Group calls and recording are good examples of features that almost always translate into needing media servers.

The problem is that media servers are resource hogs compared to any of the other servers you’ll be needing with WebRTC.

This means that they end up scaling quite differently – a lot faster to be exact. And when they fail or crash (which happens), you still want to be able to reconnect the session nicely in front of the customer.

But the main thing is that it has different specs than the other servers here.

Which is why in most cases, media servers are placed in “isolation”.

There’s a point in placing media servers co-located with TURN servers – they scale somewhat together when TURN is needed. But I am not in favor of this approach most times, because TURN is a lot more Internet facing than the media server. And while I haven’t seen any publicity around hackers attacking media servers, it is probably only a matter of time.

And guess what? Media Servers? They are usually implemented in C/C++. They say it’s for speed.

Why Split them up?

Because they are different.

They serve different purposes.

And most likely, they need to be located in different parts of your deployment.

So just don’t. Place them in separate machines. Or VMs. Or Docker. Or whatever. Just have them logically separated and be prepared to separate them physically when the need arise.

If you want to understand more about WebRTC servers, then try out my free WebRTC server side mini course. You won’t regret it.

The post With WebRTC, Don’t Never Ever Mix Media and Signaling appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

Installing vSphere Replication from Linux CLI

TXLAB - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 18:43

tested with VCSA 6.1 and vSphere replication 6.1.1. OVF Tool 4.2.0 is installed on a Debian Jessy machine.

ovftool --acceptAllEulas -ds=datastore1 \ -n=<VMname> --ipAllocationPolicy=fixedPolicy \ --prop:password='*******' \ --prop:ntpserver=******* \ --vService:installation=com.vmware.vim.vsm:extension_vservice \ vSphere_Replication_OVF10.ovf  vi://vcenter01.domain.com/DC1/host/Cluster1/

 


Filed under: Networking Tagged: vmware

VSCode Syntax Highlighting For Kamailio.cfg

miconda - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 18:31
Visual Studio Code (VSCode) is an open source edition released by Microsoft, with a special focus for development. It is an Electron application, therefore it can run on many operating systems, including Linux and MacOS (hint: if you want to give it a try, be sure you disable telemetry reports in case you want strict privacy).If you are using it for editing kamailio.cfg, you may consider installing the extension for syntax highlighting. It can be installed from VSCode marketplace:or from github repository:Editing kamailio.cfg should look like next image (on a dark blue theme).If you are using a different editor, note that there are kamailio.cfg syntax highlighting extensions for VIM, MCEdit and Atom. Contributions for other editors or enhancements to existing ones are very welcome!Thank you for flying Kamailio!

Acrylic enclosure for FriendlyElec NanoPi NEO2

TXLAB - Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:38

The NanoPi NEO2 board by FriendlyElec has several options for an enclosure in their webshop. The 3D-printed plastic enclosure is of too poor quality, and it doesn’t fixate the heatsink properly on the CPU.

The acrylic case does not include washers, which makes the whole construct too fragile, as the screws can easily damage the plastic.  Also the M2.5 screws for fixing the heatsink are too short.

So, I added the following components to the design:

  • M3*16mm  screws (4 pieces)
  • M3 washers (24 pieces)

Also the following parts came with the acrylic case:

  • M3*6mm screws (4 pieces)
  • 6.3mm plastic spacers (4 pieces)
  • 25mm female-female M3 spacers (4 pieces)
  • 6mm male-female M3 spacers (4 pieces)

As a result, we get a sturdy case that is able to sustain some rough handling, like carrying it in a toolbox among other hardware.

(scratches on my phone camera made the pictures a bit too soft)


Filed under: Networking Tagged: arm, friendlyelec, linux

Is Twilio Redefining CPaaS?

bloggeek - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:00

Twilio’s Jeff Lawson had a really interesting keynote at their Signal event. I think Twilio is trying to redefine what CPaaS is. If this works for them, it will make it doubly hard for their competitors.

This is going to be long, as the keynote was long and packed full with information and details that pave the road to what CPaaS is going to be in 2020.

I suggest you watch this keynote yourself –

What I loved the most? The beginning, where Jeff refers to code as making art. I have to agree. In my developer days, that was the feeling. Coding was like building with lego bricks without the instructions or sitting down to paint on T-shirts (yes – I did that in my youth). When a CEO of a company talks about coding as art and you see he truly believes it – you know that what that company is doing must be… art.

Before we Begin

One term you didn’t hear at the keynote:

CPaaS

One term that was there every other slide:

This was about developers, who is the buyer and how software APIs are everywhere.

It was also about how CPaaS is changing and Twilio is now much bigger than that – in the traditional sense of what CPaaS means.

It wasn’t said out loud, but the low level APIs that everyone are haggling about – SMS and voice – are nice, but not where the future lies.

Twilio by the Numbers

The numbers game was reserved for the first 13 minutes of the keynote, where Jeff asserted Twilio’s distinct leadership in this market:

  • 28 billion interactions (a year)
  • 70 countries (numbers in) today; plan to grow to numbers in a 100 countries “by this summer”
  • Over 900 employees; Over 400 in R&D
  • 30,000 annual deployments (the number of times a year Twilio is introducing new releases… in a continuous delivery mechanism to an operational cloud service) – this enables shipping faster with less mistakes. The result? 3.5 days between new product or feature launch
  • 1.6 million developer accounts on Twilio; 600,000 new accounts in the past year; doubling YoY
  • 99.999% API availability – and 99.999% success rate
  • 0 APIs killed

More about the two last bullets later.

Here’s what Twilio deployed in the past year:

To me, this is becoming hard to follow and grasp, especially when I need to look at other vendors as well.

If you look at it, you’ll see that Twilio has been working hard in multiple vectors. The main ones are Enterprise, IP communications and “legacy” telephony.

The main messages?

  1. Twilio is the largest player in the communication API space
  2. Twilio is stable and solid for the enterprise
  3. Twilio is globally available and rapidly expanding to new countries
  4. Twilio is fast to introduce new features

All this boils down to stating that a competitive advantage can be best achieved on top of Twilio.

Twilio’s New Layering Model

If you’ve been watching this space, you might have noticed that I tend to use this model to explain CPaaS feature sets:

And this is how Jeff explained it on stage in Twilio’s Signal event 2016:

Building blocks. Unrelated. Could have been placed horizontally one next to the other to get the same concept. But piling them on top of each other is great – it shows there’s lots and lots of services and features to use.

2017 brings with it a change in the paradigm and a new layers model that Jeff explained, and was later expanded with more details:

The funny thing is that this reminded me of how we explained the portfolio and API layers in our VoIP products at RADVISION more than 10 years ago. It is great to see how this translates well when shifting from on premise APIs to cloud APIs. But I digress.

Back to the layering model.

The Super Network wasn’t given much thought in this time around. There were announcements and improvements in this area, but these are a given by now. For those who wish to outmaneuver Twilio by offering a better network – that’s going to be tough without the layers above it.

Then there’s the Programmable Communications Cloud, which is where most of the CPaaS vendors are. This is what I drawn as my own perspective of CPaaS services. The names have changed a bit for the Twilio’s services – we’ve got Programmable Chat now instead of IP Messaging. SMS has 3 separate building blocks here instead of one, and the baseline one is called Programmable SMS – keeping the lower level Communications APIs with a nice naming convention of Programmable X.

The interesting part of this story comes in the Engagement Cloud. Jeff made a point of explaining the three aspects of it: Systems, Departments and Individuals. And the thing about the Engagement Cloud is that services there are actually best practices – they aren’t “functional” in their nature. So Twilio are referring to the APIs in this layer as Declarative APIs.

The Engagement Cloud

The main difference between what’s in the Engagement Cloud and the Programmable Communications Cloud? In the Programmable Communications Cloud you know as a developer what will happen – you ask to send an SMS and the SMS is sent. With the Engagement Cloud, you ask for a message to reach someone – and you don’t really care how it is done – just that it will be done in any channel that fits best.

No Channel To Rule Them All

What is that “any channel that fits best”?

That’s based on what Twilio decides in the modules they offer in the Engagement Cloud, and it is where the words “best practices” were used during the event.

Best practices are powerful. As a supplier, they show you know the business of your customer to a point where you can assist him more than just by giving him the thing that he think he needs. It places you often as a trusted advisor, or one to go to in order to decide what it is you are going to do. After all – you own the best practices, so why not follow them?

It is also where the most value is to be made moving forward.

SMS is probably still kind when it comes to revenue in CPaaS. Not only for Twilio, but for all players in the market. And while this is nice and true, it is also a real threat to them all:

Yes. SMS is growing in use.

Yes. The stupid term A2P (Application 2 Person) is growing rapidly and it is done using SMS.

Yes. People prefer that over installing apps, receiving emails and getting push notifications.

Yes. People do read SMS messages. But I am not sure if they trust them.

Here’s a quick story for you.

Airbnb.

I use them once in awhile. I was just planning a trip with the family for July. Found the dates. Booked the flights. Found an Airbnb to stay at. Reserved a place – and was asked if I am cool with push notifications. I clicked yes. And here’s what I got the next moment on my phone:

Businesses might be recommended to use SMS to reach their customers, but the prices of SMS urges businesses to seek other, cheaper channels of communications at the same time.

There is no money to be had in Communications APIs in the long term.
Click To Tweet

There is already a price war at this level. Vendors trying to be “cheaper than X”. Developers complaining about the high prices of CPaaS, not understanding the real costs of developing and maintaining such systems.

What’s in Twilio’s Engagement Cloud

Which is where the Engagement Cloud comes – or more accurately – the best practices and smarts on top of just calling communications APIs.

Twilio are now offering 4 APIs in that domain:

  1. Authy – handling authentication type scenarios, including but not limited to the classic 2FA
  2. Notify – a notification service from applications and services to users. It started as SMS, continued with the addition of push notifications, but now supports multiple channels
  3. TaskRouter – a way to connect incoming tasks with workers who can handle them. Can be used to build queuing systems in contact centers
  4. Proxy – a mechanism to send connect between people in two separate groups – riders and drivers for example. Suitable for the sharing economy or when the “agents” aren’t “employees” or are loosely “controlled” by the organization
Omnichannel

The interesting bit here is that these all started as functional building blocks. But now the stories behind them are all about multi-channel.

SMS is great, but it isn’t the answer.

IP messaging is great, but it isn’t the answer.

Facebook messenger with its billion+ users is great, but it isn’t the answer.

XKCD says it best:

With such a model in which we live in, programmable communications need to be able to keep track of the best means to reach a person. And so Twilio’s Engagement Cloud is about becoming Omnichannel (=everywhere) with the smarts needed to pick and choose the best channel per interaction.

Are we there yet with the current Twilio offering? I don’t know. But the positioning, intent, roadmap and vision is crystal clear. And with Twilio’s current speed of execution, it is going to happen sooner rather than later.

Vendor Lock-in

The great thing about this layer of Engagement Cloud for Twilio is that it is going to be hard to replace once you start using it.

How hard is it to replace an API that sends out an SMS to a phone number with another API that does the same? Not much.

But how hard is it to replace best practices wrapped inside an API that decides what to do on its own based on context? Harder. And getting even more so as time goes by and that piece of module gets smarter.

Twilio gets a better handle on its customers with the Engagement Cloud. It makes it a lot harder for developers to go for a multi-vendors strategy where they use SMS from the CPaaS vendor whose price is the lowest.

Developer’s Benefits

Why would developers use these Engagement Cloud modules from Twilio?

Because they save them a ton of time and even a lot more in headaches.

Today, there are 3 huge benefits for developers:

  1. Logic – the logic in these modules is one you get for “free” here. No need to write it on your own and make the decisions on your own
  2. Best practices – I know that your contact center is unique, but it probably adheres to similar queuing mechanisms as all the rest. You end up using similar/same best practices as others in your domain, and having these already pre-built is great. Maybe you can even improve your own business simply by using best practices and not do it alone
  3. Multiple vendors – adding channels means figuring out the APIs and craziness of multiple providers. No fun. You get a single API to rule them all. What’s not to like?

These areas are usually those that developers usually don’t like to deal with. That third one especially is a real pain – after you did it for 2 vendors/channels – connected it to SMS and maybe Facebook Messenger, it feels boring to add the next channel. But now you don’t have to anymore. And don’t you get me started with how the APIs there deprecated and changed through time.

Machine Learning and its CPaaS Role

Twilio talked about Machine Learning in two new APIs that it is introducing: Speech Recognition and Understand

The Speech Recognition one is a bit less interesting. It is done in partnership with Google, using Google’s engine for it. The smarts on Twilio’s side here is the integration and how they are stitching these capabilities of text to speech throughout their line of products.

Here what Twilio is doing is acting in the most Twilio-like approach – instead of developing its own speech recognition tech, or using a 3rd party that gets installed on premise, it decided to partner with Google and user their cloud based speech recognition technology. And then making it easier for developers to consume as part of the bigger Twilio offering.

The real story lies elsewhere though – in Twilio Understand.

While Speech Recognition is a functional piece where you feed the machine with voice and get text, Understand is about modeling your use case and then having the machine parse text based on that model.

It is also where Twilio seems to have gone it alone (or embedded a third party internally), building its real first customer-facing Machine Learning based product.

In the past few years we’ve seen huge growth in this space. It started with Big Data, turned Analytics, turned Real Time Analytics, turned Decision Engines, turned Machine Learning.

Companies use this type of capabilities in many ways. Mostly internally, where Twilio probably had been doing that already. But embedding machine learning and big data, making products smarter is where we’re headed. And for me, this is the first instance I’ve seen by a CPaaS vendor taking this route.

It is still a small step, as Understand is another piece of API – a module – that you can use. And just like many of Twilio’s other APIs, you can use it as a building block integrated with its other building blocks. It is a move in the right direction to evolving into something much bigger.

LinkedIn shows that Twilio has several data scientists (the man power you need for such tasks), though none of them was “kind enough” to offer details of his role or doings at Twilio

Moving forward, I’d expect Twilio to hire several more people in that domain, beefing up its chops and starting to offer these capabilities elsewhere.

The only competitor at the moment who is seeing that is Cisco Spark – with their recent acquisition of MindMeld.

The great thing about machine learning? People feel and assume that it is super hard. Which means it is worth paying for.

The Enterprise

Here’s where enterprises find a home at Twilio’s Signal 2017 keynote. Best to just show it in slides:

Twilio’s API calls success rate. This goes on top of its 99.999% API availability and this is where Jeff wants you to focus – not on getting an API returning an error (would would still fall under availability) but rather on how many successful results you get from the APIs.

Since Twilio launched, none of its APIs was ever deprecated or killed (haven’t checked it myself but this is what Jeff wants you to remember).

Twilio has been working hard on reaching out to enterprises. It introduced an Enterprise plan last year. Implemented ISO 2700. Added Public Key Validation. Introduced support for Enterprise SSO.

All these are great, but what I think resonates here the most are the above two items.

99.999% Success Rate

Enterprises LOVE this.

SLAs. Guarantees. All the rage.

Twilio is operating at 99.999% uptime and is happy to offer a 99.99% guarantee in its enterprise SLA:

For an enterprise to go for Twilio requires two leaps of faith:

  1. Leaping from on premise to the cloud. Yes. I am told everyone’s migrating to the cloud, but this is still painful
  2. Picking Twilio as its vendor of choice and not its natural enterprise vendors (known as ISVs)

When you pick Twilio, who’s giving you any guarantees?

Well… Twilio does. At 99.99% while maintaining 99.999% across all of its services to all of its customers.

That’s a powerful message. Especially if you couple it with 30,000 deployments a year.

0 APIs Killed

This one is REALLY interesting.

In the world of APIs where everything is in the cloud with a single copy running (it isn’t, but bear with me a second), having someone say that they offer backward compatibility to all of their APIs is huge.

The number of changes you usually need to follow with APIs on the internet is huge. If you have a product using third party APIs, then every year or two, you need to make some changes to have it continue to work properly – because the APIs you use change.

0 APIs kills means that if an enterprise writes their code today for a project they have, it won’t need to worry about changes to it due to Twilio. Now, in many cases, enterprises develop a project, launch it and then are happy to continue with it as is without further investment (or budget). Which means that this kind of a soft guarantee is important.

How does Twilio do it?

They launch products in beta and run the beta for long periods of time. During that time, they get developers to use and tinker with the APIs, collect feedback and when they feel ready, they officially launch it – at which point the API is deemed stable.

It works well because Twilio has lots and lots of customers, some willing to jump on new offerings and take the risk of having things break a bit during those beta periods.

The end result? 0 APIs killed.

Will it Blend?

I believe it will.

Twilio has introduced a new paradigm for they way it is layering its product offerings.

In the process, it repositioned all of its higher level APIs as the Engagement Cloud. It stitched these APIs to use its lower Programmable Communications APIs, adding business logic and best practices. And it is now looking into machine learning as well.

It is a powerful package with nothing comparable on the market.

Twilio are the best of suite approach of CPaaS – offering the largest breadth of support across this space. And it is making sure to offer powerful building blocks to make developers think twice before going for an alternative.

Twilio isn’t for everyone. And other CPaaS vendors do have their place. But increasingly, these places become niches.

Is there more?

Yes.

This analysis is long, but by no means full.

There were a lot of other aspects of the announcements and Twilio’s moves that require more thought and details. The pricing model on group Programmable Video is one of them. Third Party Add Ons in certain domains (especially for analytics) is another. Or Twilio heading into the UI layer. And then there’s serverless via Twilio Functions. This isn’t even an exhaustive list…

I won’t be going into these here, but these are things that I am actively looking at.

Contact me if you are interested in understanding more about this space.

Want to make the best decision on the right WebRTC platform for your company? Now you can! Check out my WebRTC PaaS report, written specifically to assist you with this task.

The post Is Twilio Redefining CPaaS? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

Kamailio World 2017: Videos Online

miconda - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 23:52
Video recordings for all the sessions at Kamailio World Conference 2017 were made available on KamailioWorld YouTube channel next day after the event. You can see them at:The channel has now more than 120 videos from past Kamailio World editions, being a tremendous knowledge base showing various use cases for Kamailio and other VoIP platforms.The slides will be collected from speakers and made available in the near future.Enjoy!Thank you for flying Kamailio!

WebRTC for Business People – The 2017 Edition

bloggeek - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 12:00

WebRTC for Business People – The 2017 Edition

The revamped WebRTC for Business People report is now published.

I’ve been reviewing the stats of the content here lately, and noticed that people still find their way and download my WebRTC for Business People report.

My only problem with it is that it was already old – and showing it: There’s no serious mention of the advances made by Microsoft Edge towards WebRTC support, nothing about the difficulty of finding experienced WebRTC developers.

But most of all – the use cases it mentioned. Some of them were companies that got acquired. Others were shutdown. Some stagnated in place, or are now on life support.

That’s not a good way to introduce someone to the topic of WebRTC.

So a rewrite was in order here, which brought me to work with a few sponsors:

They were kind enough to make the investment needed for me to put the time and effort into it.

WebRTC for Business People – what’s in the 2017 edition?

Well…

First off – the report is still free. You can download it, print it, read it online – practically do whatever you want with it.

I’ve refreshed the visuals and updated the analysis part with data from 2015 until 2017 (the time that have passed since the last update to the report). Did you know that WebRTC is still growing linearly in all relevant parameters that you can check?

No hype here. Just solid, steady growth. The minor change in github projects trajectory? That started when Google moved their WebRTC samples and demos from Google code to github.

I wonder if this will change when Apple adds WebRTC to Safari and iOS.

I removed all the nonsense in the report about SIP and H.323. These protocols still exist, but more often than not, people don’t look at them and compare them with WebRTC – because WebRTC has gone way beyond these signaling protocols.

Oh – yes – and I completely rewritten all the vendor use cases and the segments I look at in this report. Here’s the new set of vendors in the report:

If you are interested in WebRTC, the ecosystem around it and understand how companies are using it today – in the real life – making real commercial use of it – then check out this report.

Download the report

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Two LTE modems with PC Engines APU3

TXLAB - Sat, 05/20/2017 - 02:21

PC Engines GmbH has recently released a new board, APU3. The difference from APU2 is that two mPCIe slots are suitable for 3G or LTE modems, whereas APU2 had only one such slot. This article explains how to utilize two HUAWEI ME909 LTE modems, and it’s applicable to other modems too.

One of the LTE modems has to occupy the slot which is otherwise usable for mSATA storage. So, the board has to use the SD card for booting, and Voyage Linux is designed for such setup. The scripts in this article are tested against Voyage Linux version: 0.11.0 (Build Date 20170122).

As with APU2, the Linux kernel assigns ttyUSB port numbers randomly, so two ME909 modems produce 10 ttyUSB devices with random numbers which change after a reboot.

The modems have identical serial numbers “0123456789ABCDEF”, and the only thing that allows distinguishing them reliably is the PCI slot number of the corresponding USB controller.

Luckily, APU3 board slots designed for LTE modems, J14 (mSATA/mPCIe 3), and J15 (mPCIE 2), are attached to different USB controllers. The third slot, J16 (mPCIE 1), shares the same USB controller with J15.

USB EHCI Controller at PCI device 00:12.0 is attached to J14, and the controller at 00:13.0 is attached to J15 and J16.

So, the udev rules require a small Shell script that translates DEVPATH variable into the PCI slot and function number, and the resulting string will persistently distinguish the devices attached to USB interfaces in J14 and J15:

cat >/etc/udev/devpath_to_pcislot <<'EOT'    #!/bin/sh echo ${DEVPATH} | sed -r \     -e 's,^\/[^\/]+\/[^\/]+\/[0-9af]{4}:[0-9af]{2}:,,' \     -e 's,\/.+,,' -e 's,\.,,g' EOT cat >/etc/udev/rules.d/99-wwan.rules <<'EOT' SUBSYSTEM=="tty", ATTRS{idVendor}=="12d1", ATTRS{idProduct}=="15c1", PROGRAM="/etc/udev/devpath_to_pcislot" SYMLINK+="ttyWWAN%c{1}_%E{ID_USB_INTERFACE_NUM}" SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTRS{idVendor}=="12d1", ATTRS{idProduct}=="15c1", PROGRAM="/etc/udev/devpath_to_pcislot" NAME="lte%c{1}" EOT

After rebooting, you can see “lte120” and “lte130” network interfaces, and devices suitable for configuring modems: “/dev/ttyWWAN120_02” and “/dev/ttyWWAN130_02”. There are few other TTY interfaces for various purposes, as explained in HUAWEI documentation.


Filed under: Networking Tagged: 3G, linux, lte, pcengines

Siremis v4.4.0 Released

miconda - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 22:12
Siremis v4.4.0 is out – the web management interface for Kamailio SIP Server.

There were few changes to mark the last release compatible with Kamailio v4.x series. Future development will focus on compatibility with Kamailio v5.x.

Step by step installation tutorial, screenshots and demo are available on the web at:



Siremis is used during Kamailio Advanced Training classes for management of SIP server, a good opportunity to learn about Siremis itself, see more details at:

Announcing my Virtual Coffee sessions

bloggeek - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 09:00

Time to start another ongoing project. This time – my Monthly Virtual Coffee sessions about WebRTC, CPaaS, APIs and comms in general.

Some time in 2015-2016, I decided to host Virtual Coffee sessions. Once a month, I’d pick a subject, create a presentation and host a meeting with my customers. All of them. It was open for questions and it was fun. It stopped because… I don’t know. It just did.

Ever since then, I wanted to do something similar. I found I like talking and interacting with people, and I want to do it more.

Which is why I am now announcing the new Virtual Coffee with Tsahi.

Here’s how it will go down:
  • The live sessions are free to join. For anyone
  • Recording of the session will be available to my customers only
  • Topic will be selected and announced a week or more in advance
  • This will happen once a month. Hopefully
How will this be announced?

I won’t be using this blog to publish future sessions – sorry.

The sessions will be announced through Crowdcast (the service I started using for such events lately), so follow me there. And through my newsletter, so if you’re not subscribed – do it now.

What topics will I cover?

I really don’t know…

If you want something specific – drop me a line.

Our 1st Virtual Coffee together

The first topic I want to tackle?

CPaaS, WebRTC, Differentiation and M&A

When? May 23 @ 15:30 EDT

There are over 20 different CPaaS vendors out there, and that number is growing and shrinking at the same time:

  • AT&T closing their Enhanced WebRTC APIs
  • Cisco acquiring Tropo
  • Vonage acquiring Nexmo
  • CLX Communication acquiring Sinch
  • RingCentral adding APIs to its UCaaS
  • TeleSign announcing self service CPaaS, only to get acquired

I want to take the time to review some of this M&A activities, as well as show how different vendors are trying to differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd.

Join me for this Virtual Coffee with Tsahi

Oh – if you you have questions for this already – just ask them on Crowdcast once you register.

See you there!

The post Announcing my Virtual Coffee sessions appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

Am I behind a Symmetric NAT?

webrtchacks - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 03:12

WebRTC establishes peer-to-peer connections between web browsers. To do that, it uses a set of techniques known as Interactive Connectivity Establishment or ICE. ICE allows clients behind certain types of routers that perform Network Address Translation, or NAT,to establish direct connections. (See the WebRTC glossary entry for a good introduction.) One of the first problems is for […]

The post Am I behind a Symmetric NAT? appeared first on webrtcHacks.

What is WebRTC and What is it Good For?

bloggeek - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 12:00

What is WebRTC and What is it Good For? This 7-minute video provides a quick introduction to WebRTC and demonstrates why it is growing in importance and popularity.

Covered in this video:

  • What is WebRTC?
  • Current state of adoption of WebRTC
  • Why is it so much more than just a video chat enabler
  • The power of “Open Source” in WebRTC
  • How WebRTC works
  • Five reasons to choose WebRTC
What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is an HTML5 specification that you can use to add real time media communications directly between browser and devices.

Simply put:

WebRTC enables for voices and video communication to work inside web pages.

And you can do that without the need of any prerequisite of plugins to be installed in the browser.

WebRTC was announced in 2011 and since then it has steadily grown in popularity and adoption.

By 2016 there has been an estimate from 2 billion browsers installed that are enabled to work with WebRTC. From traffic perspective, WebRTC has seen an estimate of over a billion minutes and 500 terabytes of data transmitted every week from browser communications alone. Today, WebRTC is widely popular for video calling but it is capable of so much more.

A few things worth mentioning:

  • WebRTC is also completely free
  • It comes as open source project that has been embedded in browsers but you can take and adopt it for your own needs
  • This in turn has created a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem around WebRTC of a variety of open source projects and frameworks as well as commercial offerings from companies that help you to build your products
  • WebRTC constantly evolving and improving, so you need to keep an eye on it
So, how does WebRTC work?Code and API

It is important to understand from where we are coming from: If you wanted to build anything that allowed for voice or video calling a few years ago, you were most probably used C/C++ for that. This means long development cycles and higher development costs.

WebRTC changes all that: it takes the need for C/C++ and replace it with a Javascript API.

WebRTC comes with a Javascript API layer on the top that you can use inside the browser. This makes it far easier to develop and integrate real time communications anywhere. Internally, WebRTC is still mostly implemented using C/C++, but most developers that use WebRTC won’t need to dig deep into these layers in order to develop their applications.

Availability

WebRTC today is available in most modern browsers. Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge support it already, while Apple is rumored to be in the process of adding WebRTC to Safari.

You can also take WebRTC and embed it into an application without the need of browser at all.

Media and access

What WebRTC does is allow the access to devices. You can access the microphone of your device, the camera that you have on your phone or laptop – or it can be a screen itself. You can capture the screen of the user and then have that screen shared or recorded remotely.

Whatever WebRTC does that does in the real time, enabling live interactions.

WebRTC isn’t limited to voice and video. It allows sending any type of data any arbitrary data

There are several reasons WebRTC is a great choice for real time communications
  1. First of all, WebRTC is an open source project
    1. It is completely free for commercial or private use, so why not use it?
    2. Since it is constantly evolving and improving, you are banking on a technology that would service you for years to come
    3. WebRTC is a pretty solid choice – It already created a vibrant ecosystem around it of different vendors and companies that can assist you with your application
  2. WebRTC today is available in browsers and most modern browsers today support it
    1. This has enabled and empowered the creation of new cases and business models
    2. From taking a Guitar or a Yoga lesson – to medical clowns or group therapy – to hosting large scale professional Webinars. WebRTC is capable of serving all of them and more
    3. WebRTC not limited to only browsers because it is also available for mobile applications
      1. The source code is portable and has been used already in a lot of mobile apps
      2. SDKS are available for both mobile and embedded environments so you can use WebRTC to run anywhere
    4. WebRTC is not only about for voice or video calling
      1. It ss quite powerful and versatile
      2. You can use it to build group calling service, add recording to it or use it only for data delivery
      3. It is up to you to decide what to do with WebRTC
    5. WebRTC takes the notion of communication service and downgrades it into a feature inside a different type of service. So now you can take WebRTC and simply add communication in business processes you need within your application or business

So what other choice do you really have besides using WebRTC?

The idea around WebRTC and what you can use it for are limitless. So go on start building whatever you need and use WebRTC for that.

Embed this video on your own site for free! Just copy and paste the code below…

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/217448338" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

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Blog Tutorial: Kamailio And Siremis Installation

miconda - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 21:05
Recently I discovered a tutorial written on Medium blogging platform by Igor Olemskoi, published about two months ago, covering Kamailio and Siremis installation, named “Kamailio SIP proxy — installation and minimal configuration example“.It is a good reading for anyone fresh to Kamailio, providing guidelines to get started with a SIP proxy installation, along with Siremis web management interface.Click here for the link to the blog article.Should you write any tutorial involving Kamailio, we are more than happy to share it with the community via the website. Just contact us via mailing lists! Ping us also if you are aware of any other resource that worth sharing.Thank you for flying Kamailio!

What to Expect when Deploying WebRTC in Contact Centers?

bloggeek - Mon, 05/08/2017 - 12:00

Contact centers are the main adopters of WebRTC still. This is clearly reflected by my infographic of the WebRTC state of the market 2017.

Motto:“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

Western Union telegraph company memo, 1877.

Think you know how WebRTC fits in a contact center? Check out with The Complete WebRTC Contact Center Uses Swipefile

Get the swipefile

Recently, Jaroslav from iCORD, told me the stats they now see from the contact center deployment they have in O2 Czech Republic, who also happen to be their parent company.

How is O2 CZ making use of WebRTC in their Contact Center?

What they did isn’t the classic approach you will see to WebRTC in contact centers, but rather something slightly different. If you are a customer of O2 CZ and you are thinking of making a purchase on their website, you have the option to leave a number for them to immediately get back to you:

And yes – there is also an “exit intent”  on that sales page, so if try to leave this page, it will appear as a popup.

How is a phone call related to WebRTC you ask? Well… it isn’t. Unless you factor in the fact that we now know what web page the user is on.

What happens next, is that a contact center agent will call back to the user, and the user will see something new on his browser – a shared space between him and the agent that just called him.

This shared space will enable the agent to browse the same page the customer was on, and move on from there elsewhere. It also includes annotations – the agent can draw or mark things on the screen. One last thing – the user will see the video of the agent, but will not share his video.

See? They even haggle and write down discount prices right on the webpage.

Now, if the interaction started with a phone call, the agent in the contact center can instruct the customer to go to the O2 CZ website and enter a PIN code there – and magically get to the same experience.

Here’s a diagram to show the communication channels we now have between the customer and the contact center agent:

Why this approach?

  1. Customers continue using the phone. Same way they did in the past
  2. There’s no reliance on the customer’s camera, microphone or muted speaker volume
  3. It got stitched right into the existing contact center O2 CZ already had in place
The results

But was this effective? Was it worth the effort?

O2 CZ have been running this contact center service throughout 2016, and took the time to analyze the results. They did so only for sales related calls – the money makers.

Here’s what they found out:

Using this approach is much more efficient than a simple phone call.

Let’s stop right here for a second and soak that statement.

We’re talking about a contact center.

Of a mid-sized European carrier (4 million subscribers).

The type of those where I am told over and over would NOT adopt WebRTC because it does not support Internet Explorer 4. Oh. And this specific service falls back to Flash if the customer’s browser doesn’t support WebRTC and even decreases further in feature set to static screenshot and PDF file sharing for those who don’t even support Flash.

And they are already doing it for a full year.

Successfully.

In production.

In front of live customers.

Who would have thought a non-startup company that isn’t located in Silicon Valley and operated by 16-year olds would be able of doing such a ridiculous thing like deploy WebRTC in production directly to where money gets negotiated with customers.

— end of rant —

Back to the results.

Call length on average dropped

It takes 30% less time to negotiate and close a deal than a regular phone call and considerably shorter than text chat. This may seem a bit backwards – the fact that chat takes the longest and a video session the shortest, but that’s the experience of this contact center.

How about succeeding to close a deal and make a sale? WebRTC gets closed deals 25% more than regular phone calls. Chat is slightly less successful than WebRTC but more successful as phone. These values were measured on session landing at sales agents’ desk once those irrelevant and redirected were filtered out.

And the customer satisfaction? Over 20% rate the service 5 stars at the end of the interaction and 7% left positive textual evaluation of the service. Compared to the traditional IVR system that’s really high.

Where does this lead us?
  1. There are many ways to deploy WebRTC in a contact center
  2. WebRTC is already being used by contact centers – successfully
  3. Done right, there’s huge value in adding WebRTC to your customer engagement. It adds efficiency and improves customer satisfaction, resulting with higher value to both sales and care
Want to learn more of the various ways WebRTC fits in with contact centers?

Get my free WebRTC Contact Center Uses Swipefile

And if you are looking for more information about the O2 CZ deployment details – especially the technical ones, Jaroslav will be happy to have a conversation with you.

 

The post What to Expect when Deploying WebRTC in Contact Centers? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

Kamailio World 2017 – Ready For The Show

miconda - Wed, 05/03/2017 - 22:01
Just few days and the 5th edition of Kamailio World Conference & Exhibition starts. Two days and a half full with technical tutorials, presentations, open discussions and demos. With more participants than the previous edition, the event consolidates the ecosystem around Kamailio and other VoIP related projects and products such as Asterisk, FreeSwitch, Janus, Jitsi, OpenBaton, CGRateS, Homer Sipcapture, SIPVicious, RTPEngine, Zoiper or SEMS.Along the event, Obihai, Telnyx, Digium, NG Voice, Core Network Dynamics and FhG Fokus will be present in the exhibition area showing demos of their services and products.The topics span from VoIP/SIP-based platform scalability and security, to next generation emergency services, usage in broadcasting industry, 5G and IMS/VoLTE, IoT and WebRTC:With the great help of our sponsors, FhG Fokus, FhG Forum, Flowroute, Telnyx, Sipwise, Asipto, Sipgate, Simwood, Obihai, Digium, NG Voice, Core Network Dynamics, VoiceTel, Evariste Systems, Pascom and VUC, we are ready for another amazing edition of Kamailio World!See you in Berlin next week!

6 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Hiring a WebRTC Outsourcing Vendor

bloggeek - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 12:00

How do you find good WebRTC outsourcing talent?

At least once a week.

That’s about the current rate in which I bump into a hiring or talent question related to WebRTC.

Recently, I got a few calls with companies that went through the process of working with an outsourcing vendor who developed their app and got stuck.

Sometimes it was due to bad blood going between the two companies. But more often than not it was because the company that approached me wasn’t happy with the delivered results. The application that was developed just didn’t really work as expected. Looking at some of these apps, it was easily apparent to see that the developers were clueless about WebRTC. Things like wrong NAT traversal configurations (or none at all), or the use of mesh media delivery for large multiparty video sessions are the most obvious warning signs here.

If I had to think why this is so, my guess it boils down to three reasons:

  1. WebRTC is still rather new. 5 years. So there’s still not enough mileage on it for most developers
  2. It isn’t Web and it isn’t VoIP. But it is also Web and VoIP together. Which means many seem to misunderstand it
  3. Skilled WebRTC developers are hard to find. Less than 12,000 profiles with that term on LinkedIn’s now 500 million profiles

When you go and ask from an outsourcing vendor to build you a service, the answer you will get is “sure thing”. And then a price and a timeline. That’s their business, and most would often use that project as their jumping board towards another domain of expertise for them. Many of these outsourcing vendors won’t invest in learning new technologies without a customer paying for that investment.

This means that a lot of the market for WebRTC outsourcing is a market of lemons. Which is why it is so important you check and validate your prospective WebRTC outsourcing vendor before signing an agreement with him.

Picked a WebRTC outsourcing vendor? Here are a few quick telltale signs that will help you determine just how knowledgeable he is about WebRTC:

Get the WebRTC Outsourcing Vendor Signals swipefile

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself before you hire a WebRTC outsourcing vendor.

#1 – Do I know my own requirements?

There are two parts to knowing your requirements from the product:

  1. Knowing and understanding your business and the interactions you want for it
  2. Understanding what’s realistic for you with WebRTC to set your expectations accordingly – this also means understanding the costs of certain features versus how important they are for you

For that, I suggest you use something like my WebRTC requirements template.

#2 – Am I their first WebRTC customer?

This is a biggie.

Try. Not. To be. Their FIRST. Customer. That does. WebRTC.

Don’t be their first customer doing WebRTC.

Make sure you’re not the first one they build a WebRTC product for.

Their first WebRTC project? You shouldn’t be the one they do it for.

Got the point?

One more time if you missed it:

I knew that picture (and font) would come in handy some day.

#3 – Is the team working for me built a WebRTC product before?

This one is somewhat tricky, and I must say – a bit new in my list of top questions to a WebRTC outsourcing vendor.

If you’ve been reading this from the start instead of skimming through, you might have seen the number 12,000. This number is higher than the number of profiles in LinkedIn that have the term WebRTC in them anywhere. It means that with some of these WebRTC outsourcing vendors, the people put in place on your project might not be the ones who know WebRTC – these are already fully booked by other clients – or they might have gone elsewhere (with the demand of WebRTC developers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them learn the trade in one vendor and move on to the next).

I’ve seen it happen once or twice before.

So make sure that not only does the vendor knows WebRTC well – he is also placing the right people on your project. And understand that there are times when not the whole team must know WebRTC to develop a successful project.

#4 – Can I validate what they build for me?

Developers who don’t know and understand WebRTC won’t be able to deliver a commercial product for you.

If they don’t understand the server side of WebRTC and its implications (check my free mini course on WebRTC server side), then the end result will run great between you and your pal sitting next to you, but when you take it to production it will fail spectacularly.

Things to look for:

  1. Not configuring NAT traversal properly (public STUN servers, no TURN servers, no TCP or TLS configurations for TURN)
  2. Using mesh instead of mixing or routing the media (see here) – in plain English, not using a media server in scenarios that beg for it to be used
  3. Not testing for scale (see here)
  4. Not checking the result in varying network conditions

While some of these can be solved just by more testing (and focused testing – one where the tester actually knows what to look for), there are times when the architecture selected for the product is just all wrong. It should have been apparent from the get go that it won’t hold water.

But anyways – make sure you’ve got a plan in place on what and how to test to validate that that thing that was given to you as the finished good is actually the finished good and not finished for good.

#5 – Should I ask for something On Premise or CPaaS based?

This goes back to #1, but slightly different. Probably should have placed it as #2.

Developing your own product from scratch will be more expensive than using a CPaaS vendor. CPaaS vendors are those vendors that take the whole hassle of real time communications, wrap it with their nice API and manage it all for you (and yes, I wrote a report about them).

Whenever I sit down with an entrepreneur that wants a product I start there when it comes to vendor and technology stack selections. Trying to understand his restrictions and requirements. Oftentimes, entrepreneurs are deterred by the seemingly high pricing of CPaaS vendors. Especially at the beginning – when they believe they will get to a million monthly active subscribers within a month. Well… it won’t happen to you. And if it does, a VC or two will probably be happy to foot that bill, understanding you probably found a real boon.

What should you do?

  1. Read this one. And then read this one from Chris Kranky
  2. Make your  decision on that build vs buy decision (in both you will be building – don’t worry)
  3. Revisit your initial requirements
  4. Revisit that vendor you plan on working with
#6 – Who is the owner of this project on my end?

Someone needs to be the owner of this project on your end.

Yes. You have a WebRTC outsourcing vendor developing this thing for you, but you need someone to have that vendor behave and deliver.

That someone needs to understand WebRTC well enough to handle the requirements, the discussions with the vendor for all the issues that will arise along the way.

I’d also recommend having that someone on the payroll and not external.

If you don’t have such a someone then you effectively selected you for that job. Congrats!

Do Your Homework

If you plan on starting a project that makes use of WebRTC, and you plan on using a WebRTC outsourcing vendor for it, start by doing your homework.

Make sure you have the answers to the questions above.

And if you need help along the way – with the requirements, the architecture, the vendor to select, the process – you know where to find me.

Picked a WebRTC outsourcing vendor? Here are a few quick telltale signs that will help you determine just how knowledgeable he is about WebRTC:

Get the WebRTC Outsourcing Vendor Signals swipefile

The post 6 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Hiring a WebRTC Outsourcing Vendor appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

cpio: cap_set_file error when installing httpd RPM inside an LXC container

TXLAB - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 01:04

My physical machine runs Debian Jessie, and it has several LXC containers (mostly Debian and Ubuntu). Now I needed to test some software under CentOS, and I bumped into the following error when installing Apache HTTP server:

Downloading packages: httpd-2.4.6-45.el7.centos.4.x86_64.rpm                                                                        | 2.7 MB  00:00:00      Running transaction check Running transaction test Transaction test succeeded Running transaction   Installing : httpd-2.4.6-45.el7.centos.4.x86_64                                                                                1/1 Error unpacking rpm package httpd-2.4.6-45.el7.centos.4.x86_64 error: unpacking of archive failed on file /usr/sbin/suexec;590112cd: cpio: cap_set_file   Verifying  : httpd-2.4.6-45.el7.centos.4.x86_64                                                                                1/1 Failed:   httpd.x86_64 0:2.4.6-45.el7.centos.4

The thing is, that by default “/usr/share/lxc/config/centos.common.conf” defines the following capability drops:

lxc.cap.drop = mac_admin mac_override setfcap setpcap lxc.cap.drop = sys_module sys_nice sys_pacct lxc.cap.drop = sys_rawio sys_time

So, setfcap capability is required in order to install Apache. Use the following lines in your “/var/lib/lxc/NAME/config” to drop previously defined drops and set up a new list:

# flush all defined drops and define a new list lxc.cap.drop = lxc.cap.drop = mac_admin mac_override setpcap lxc.cap.drop = sys_module sys_nice sys_pacct lxc.cap.drop = sys_rawio sys_time

then restart the container, and “yum install httpd” should run as expected.


Filed under: Networking Tagged: debian, hosting, linux

Should Browser Vendors be Responsible for their User’s WebRTC Actions?

bloggeek - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 12:00

Security is… complex. Even with WebRTC.

I’ve always been one to praise the security measures placed in  WebRTC.

While WebRTC is a secure protocol by nature, it seems that browsers take different approaches to who needs to take responsibility of any additional means of security.

The gist of it:

  • WebRTC is secure by default
  • Whenever a developer’s mistake can be thwarted by tweaking WebRTC – it gets tweaked
  • Whenever a security hole is found, it gets fixed and deployed by the browser vendors faster than most other companies in the industry can even perceive the notion of a threat

Seriously – what’s not to like?

Recently though, I started thinking about it. How do browser vendors think about security? How much do they take it upon themselves to be the guardians of their users? His trusted guide in the big bad world that is the Internet?

Which brings me to the big one –

Are browser vendors responsible to the actions of their users when it comes to WebRTC?

It seems that they have different approaches and concepts to this one.

Google Chrome

Moto: Users are stupid and should be protected

That’s how I’d put their mindset to words.

getUserMedia

Chrome has long been one to clamp down on where and when can WebRTC be used.

They started off with voice and video working on HTTP and HTTPS, while HTTP access granting to the camera and microphone were forgotten, and required a user’s approval each and every time.

They shifted towards HTTPS only. You can’t access the microphone or the camera in an HTTP page.

Persistence

The decision a user made is persistent. If you granted a domain access to your microphone or camera – Chrome remembers it – for eternity. Your only way of revoking that is by clicking the camera icon on the address bar (if you can even notice it):

Oh, and for persistency – Chrome offers you two choices:

  1. Ask when there’s a need (and Chrome will remember the answer for that domain for you)
  2. Never ever share your device

No middle-ground here.

Screen sharing

You can share your screen with Chrome.

But it will ask the user each time for his permission.

And to enable screen sharing, you will first need to create a Chrome Extension for your web app and have the user install it. Not a biggie, but a hurdle.

Now, to publish a Chrome Extension on the Chrome Web Store, you’ll need to pay a small $5 fee.

Why? Fraud – obviously:

You see, screen sharing is considered by Google (and most other browsers) as more of a security threat than camera and microphone access.

By forcing the Chrome Extension, Google raises the bar against abuse, and can theoretically remove any abusive accounts and extensions with better tracability to their source.

The only real downside of it? I have over 10 icons on my toolbar now in Chrome, and most of them are for screen sharing on different services. Once a move I remove a few of them to declutter my browser. Yuck.

Mozilla Firefox

Moto: Users are intelligent

Maybe. But not all of humanity. Or even the billion or two that use browsers.

getUserMedia

In Firefox, getUserMedia will work in HTTP.

Not sure if persistence can be configured for Firefox for HTTP websites. I guess it is akin to herd immunity in vaccination. Since Chrome is THE browser, developers make sure their WebRTC service works on Chrome (lets call it Chrome first?) so their service starts by running only on HTTPS anyway.

Persistence

Anyways, Philipp Hancke wrote a great post about getUserMedia and timing with browsers. Here’s how timing looks for appear.in from the moment getUserMedia is called and until it is completed:

Firefox tend to take longer to complete its getUserMedia calls. Philipp attributes it to this little UI design in Firefox:

In Firefox, if you want to decision (allow/disallow) to be persisted, you need to opt in for it. And for appear.in, most people don’t opt in.

This is great, especially for the Don’t Allow option (it is quite a hassle to remove that restriction from Chrome once you decided not to allow such access in a session).

Screen sharing

For screen sharing, Firefox used to have a whitelist of domains you had to register on to get screen sharing to work.

From Firefox 52, this restriction has been removed. Mozilla wrote a post about it, explaining their millions of users around the world about the dangers.

I am not sure about you, but I’ve learned early on as a developer catering to developers that other developers are stupid (if you are a developer, then I am sorry, but bear with me – and read this one while you’re at it). So when I wrote code for developers, I made sure that if they screw things up, we crash spectacularly. The reasoning was, the sooner we crash the faster our customers (who are developers) will fix their bugs – and do that during development – so they won’t get into deadlocks or weird crashes in production that are way harder to find. These were the good old days of C programming.

Now… if developers are stupid, then what would mere users do about their understanding of security and threats?

In Firefox, they need to read and understand that yellowish warning when all they want to do is share their screen now – after all – people are waiting for them to do so in the session already.

With such a warning… I am not sure I am going to be in a trusting mood no matter the site.

While I mostly prefer Firefox approach for getUserMedia permissions, I think Chrome does a better job at it with the extensions mechanism.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge has started to support WebRTC (finally).

While I a, in the process of installing my Creators update (where I am promised proper support for WebRTC), this will take more time than I have to get some nice screenshots of what Edge is doing.

So I asked Philipp Hancke (like I do about these things).

Here’s what I got:

  • Edge enable persistence for getUserMedia
  • It has a model similar to Firefox – you need to opt-in for persistency
  • It doesn’t support screen sharing yet

Download the WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet to learn more on how to get WebRTC to as many devices and environments as possible.

Are Browser Vendors Responsible for Our WebRTC Actions?

Yes they are.

In the same approach that browser vendors are taking in HTTPS everywhere, removing Flash from the web, protecting against known phishing sites, etc; they need to also protect users from the abuse of WebRTC.

The first step is by not allowing developers to do stupid (by forcing encryption and DTLS-SRTP for example). The second one and just as important is by not allowing users to do stupid.

 

The post Should Browser Vendors be Responsible for their User’s WebRTC Actions? appeared first on BlogGeek.me.

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