Here’s a sequence of commands in an ssh session to an ESXi host that creates a VM backup without interrupting its work. Of course it’s only a snapshot of the disk, so there may be corrupted files as a result. vmkfstools command requires full file path for the source and destination VMDK files.# This lists all virtual machines and their IDs. # Further in this example, our VM is number 18 vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/VMNAME vim-cmd vmsvc/snapshot.create 18 mybackup mkdir /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME vmkfstools -i VMNAME.vmdk /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME/VMNAME.vmdk cp VMNAME.vmx /vmfs/volumes/nas1/backup/VMNAME/ vim-cmd vmsvc/snapshot.removeall 18
There’s an underlying theme to questions from those approaching me. They most often than not consider what to pick as their WebRTC development path.
Before we continue – there’s a huge discount on my WebRTC PaaS report this month – so make sure you don’t miss it.
About 10 years ago or so, a large LCD manufacturer came to the company I worked for. They wanted to build a monitor that has an embedded video conferencing endpoint in it. It was revolutionary at the time. Beautiful. Agressive. And we won the project. That was when the hard work started – we had to pick out a team to build it.
We had some of the best VoIP developers out there at the time. Our business unit licensed the technology to everyone and anyone who did anything with VoIP, so it made sense to self develop. And yet… we found ourselves hiring around 8 more developers for this project. All with skillsets different than the ones we already had. We were missing in the domain of media processing, codecs and hardware.
In almost any case, when it comes to WebRTC, the skillset you already have in place will not be exactly what is necessary to get the job done.
You will either have to hire the skillset, teach your current workforce new tricks or outright outsource the work.
Which means that when you start thinking about a product that needs real time communications, there are usually 2 routes you can pick when it comes to the WebRTC development part:
And in them, there are 2 additional aspects to decide upon:
This all leads to the following WebRTC development matrix:
There are 4 classic development paths that I see companies take with their projects.#1 – Hard Core
The Hard Core development model is all about control and core competencies.
At the extreme, these vendors will tend to “live off the land” and go as far as building their own SFU from scraps of code they cobble up around the web.
What they see as imperative in front of them is to be the best at communications – and to rely as little as possible on others.
For the most part, these would be companies with existing VoIP heritage who make the plunge towards a WebRTC project. At times though, they can be brand new to VoIP and for them, it starts as an adventure of sorts.
Another vendor type in this space would be the NIH type of a vendor. Where the Not Invented Here synrome is high, and trust on others to deliver what is needed is non-existent. These guys know better than everyone else how to put this type of an infrastructure in place and no explanation would deter them. Their best argument? CPaaS is too darn expensive when you start counting the minutes. And I already said – WebRTC is… free.#2 – IT Project
The IT Project development model is about ownership.
The end game here, is to own the infrastructure and the data flow. Companies will tend to go to this approach if they have a regulatory issue they need to deal with (such as “data can’t travel out of the country”), a need to serve a specific geography (China for example) or special requirements that translates into the need of using their own infrastructure since others won’t support it (real time video analytics in the backend comes to mind).
As with the Hard Core players, they will be those who simply fancy the idea of ownership.
Why is this an IT Project then? Because an external outsourcing vendor is taken to develop it for the company. Usually because the internal workforce doesn’t have the experience, overbooked, or just more expensive.#3 – Integrate
The Integrate develoment model is about getting things done.
You have the developers in place. They are already building your product/app/service/whatever. And you direct them to a CPaaS vendor of your choosing to work on top.
Why? Because communications isn’t your core business. Because it is cheaper. Because it gives you faster time to market. Have a pick of your reason for it – there are quite a few.#4 – Agency
The Agency development model is about the dream.
You have a dream. You want to get it done. But you don’t really have the experience or the manpower. But you have some budget for it. What do you do?
Find and outsourcing vendor to build the product for you. Use CPaaS to work on top, so ongoing maintainance will be kept at a minimum if possible. And have that delivered to you.
Simple. If you pick the right outsourcing vendor. And the right CPaaS vendor. And the stars align just the right way to give you the luck needed in any development project.How to choose your path?
I am in the process of updating and beefing up my WebRTC PaaS report, which is geared towards the vendor selection process of a CPaaS vendor. This time, I’ll be enhancing it to cover the IT Project, Agency and CPaaS quadrants.
Until I do, I am lowering down the price of the currently available WebRTC PaaS report from $1,950 down to $199. This should make it affordable to anyone who is planning on investing any kind of time or money in this space.
There are a few caveats:
Those who purchase the report now will be given a discount later on if they wish to go for the 1-year update package. Which means there’s nothing for you to lose when grabbing the report now at a huge discount.
Making a CPaaS platform is not easy. Making one that is differentiated? That’s even harder.
Vidyo announced their new CPaaS called vidyo.io last week. It has been around for some time now – I covered it a couple of months ago on SearchUC – Vidyo migrating from enterprise video conferencing to video APIs. Now it is officially out, and I want to take a closer look at it.
Vidyo is/was an enterprise video conferencing company. Their focus throughout the years has been around software based solutions that make use of Scalable Video Coding – SVC. Its main competitors were probably Cisco, Polycom and Avaya – all operating in the same space.
But now, things are rather different. Vidyo has decided to go after two adjacencies at the same time – UCaaS as CPaaS:
CPaaS isn’t something new. I have been covering the WebRTC part of it for quite some time in my own WebRTC PaaS report. And there are lots and lots of companies in that space already. So why bother with yet-another-one in 2017?
That’s a question for the vendors who join the market, but I’d say this. You can be one of two types of companies:
Vidyo took the latter approach with vidyo.io, going for differentiation.
What is it that can make vidyo.io so enticing to developers and differentiate them from the crowd? Here’s what I came up with.#1 – Razor focus on video
Vidyo does video. Not much more. There aren’t many players in this specific category besides maybe TokBox. ooVoo might be considered as another such player, at least to some extent.
This resistence to fill in the legacy gaps of voice and SMS probably isn’t an easy one. There’s a need to maintain a lead in the technology and the capability of the IP based video communications and at the same time believe that that lead is warranted and perceived by customers as an advantage.
Would you source your video from a second vendor or just take what Twilio or any other CPaaS player you’ve picked up for your phone calling do the video part for you as well? Maybe. Maybe not. Depending how critical video is for you and what features are you looking for. For mission critical applications such as healthcare, financial services or even customer engagement, you might not want to take the risk when you don’t have to.#2 – Enterprise Savviness
Everyone wants to go after the enterprise these days.
Developers are hard to work with when it comes to developer tools:
Mitigating that gap with the longtail world of developers is hard. So once a platform goes there, it will usually try going upmarket to get enterprise customers. This is one of the reasons that Twilio launched an enterprise plan last year.
Vidyo comes from the enterprise world, boasting as its customers government agencies, financial institutes, healthcare providers and contact centers. In all cases, big names who adopted Vidyo technology in one way or the other to add video to their business needs.#3 – SVC, in all its glory
There’s a notion that SVC is necessary for multiparty video conferences, and while the answer is that it is, SVC done right also improves video quality in mobile devices over error prone networks.
You see, SVC enables you to create different layers:
The sender sends all layers and the server then peels the layers it thinks are the best that can fit to the device they are intended for. So if we send to multiple devices – we can just fit for each device his own view at a lower cost to our server. Which is why SVC is so good for multiparty calls.
For mobile? If I can split a stream into several layers, I can decide to “protect” the lower more important layers by increasing their probability of being received. How do I do that? I add Forward Error Correction. This means you can improve video quality in really bad networks – Vidyo has that in their platform for quite some time, making it one of the few players today with WebRTC that can do that.
There’s a lot more to it than that, as Vidyo has been making use of SVC longer than anyone else out there in the industry. Vidyo is also the only CPaaS vendor in the market who offers that as far as I know. You can read more about it in their technology overview on vidyo.io.
Which brings us to the Google angle.#4 – The Google angle
We’re now in a world of VP8 and H.264 in WebRTC. That’s the video codecs you see deployed in the market. Will this trend continue? Unlikely. Technology waits for no one. H.264 is old. Its first version was officially released in 2003. It has improved, but it is time to start the transition as an industry to a new video codec. VP8 was meant to be on par with H.264. Its successor is VP9 or H.265).
In all browser based WebRTC implementations we either already have VP9 support or will have VP9 support. And VP9 is where scalability will happen for WebRTC. A great deal of that is taking place by a cooperation between Google and Vidyo – one that I am not privy to.
The end result? Vidyo will probably have the first SVC-enabled video routing infrastructure that works with Chrome’s VP9 implementation. And this, in turn, can give Vidyo a huge headstart over other platforms.Can Vidyo succeed with vidyo.io?
Yes. It will be a question of execution, as the path isn’t an easy one.
There are two challenges here that Vidyo is taking upon itself:
The first point is something that Vidyo has already committed to with VidyoCloud. It is a shift that is happening – with or without the developers angle. This means that management and shareholders are already bought into the cloud strategy and will have the patience to wait until Vidyo shifts and sees enough success in this “new” market.
The second point is where the real challenges will occur. There are different things that take place when you work with developers and on a managed service. Marketing works differently. Documentation and support are also handled differently. The sales processes are different. Vidyo will need to fill in these gaps and learn fast while maintaining its position in the enterprise. Being able to do that will mean being able to win more enterprise customers with vidyo.ioCPaaS Differentiation in 2017
As we enter 2016, differentiation in the CPaaS space will be important.
The notion of “cheaper than X” will not work. It leads to a price war where nobody wins. These managed services require scale, but the market is still new and nascent, so real scale isn’t here just yet for the most part. Reducing prices and going down to AWS levels make no sense. Especially if you consider the investment in ongoing development that is required in this market.
Vendors are finding their way in this market, each trying to differentiate and carve its own niche. Vidyo may well have found its own where their strength in multiparty quality over mobile can be a differentiator. Time will tell how successful they will be.
For developers? This is definitely a big win, as there are more alternatives on the table, with Vidyo joining in and adding their enterprise video tech into the mix.
Join me and Vidyo for a 2017 WebRTC State of the Market webinar - registration and attendance is free.
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Yap. It is that time of the year for me.
In the past two months there have been lots and lots of summaries, predictions and even reports thrown around about different markets. That’s what you get at the passing of a year.
I had my share of such articles written recently as well:
But it is now time for something that will become a tradition here I hope, which is the yearly WebRTC Start of the Market infographic. I did one last year, so why not this time around as well?
Yes. I know. This one is almost a month into 2017, and I’ve written 2017 and not 2016 on it. In a sense, it was about practicallity – we care about what comes next more than what happened. To some of us, 2016 is almost a long forgotten memory already.About the Infographic
What’s different this year in the infographic?
Vidyo and BlogGeek.me will be hosting a webinar on 2017 WebRTC Market Outlook. I’ll be joining Nicholas Reid, which will make this all the more fun (doing a webinar solo is… lonely).
We will be covering the various stats in the infographic, go over trends and see how we think they will develop into 2017. We will also discuss the just announced Vidyo.io CPaaS and see how it fits into this outlook.
2017 is bound to be interesting and dynamic, so join us.
2017 WebRTC Market Outlook
When? Tuesday, February 7, 2017; 3 pm eastern / noon pacific
Where? OnlineThe Numbers
That’s the big question, and one I’ll be focusing on a lot this year.
Here’s what you can do next:
Thanks again for Vidyo for sponsoring this infographic.
If you think WebRTC is free, then think again.WebRTC is free
I see it everyday and it is glaringly obvious. I probably haven’t made things any better myself with this slide of mine:
WebRTC is free. But lets consider what exactly is free with this technology:
It is a hell of a lot to give for free. Especially if you went to sleep ten years ago and just woke up.What’s missing in WebRTC?
But that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Or as another slide in my deck usually states:
There are loads of things in WebRTC that you need to do in order to get a service to production. Here’s a shortlist of things that just came to mind:
All these complementary solutions come in different shapes and sizes:
The funny thing is, that whenever you talk to one of the companies developing with WebRTC, they believe everything in WebRTC should be free.
The thing is that building these things on your own will take time and money. Lots of both to be exact.
Same thing about how you end up testing it all or monitoring it. I’d say this is how the market looks like when it comes to testing WebRTC:So what?
If you are planning a product that needs communications, you should definitely consider WebRTC first. Before anything else. It is probably going to be the cheapest technology for your needs but also the best one.
That said, you shouldn’t consider it all free. Plan it. Budget it. Write down your requirements. Decide on your architecture. Figure out who your partners should be in this road.
This is why I decided to start off the year with a giveaway. $1,000 worth of credits on VoxImplant. And all you have to do is signup for it. It just might get you started on your road with WebRTC. And who knows what will happen later on?
If you got until here and haven’t entered your email yet, then you should definitely go back up.
I decided to kick off 2017 with a few interesting initiatives. And the first one is this giveaway – a first that I am doing on my website.
I’ve been following the CPaaS space for quite some time now, and have focused on WebRTC PaaS. CPaaS, PaaS and other XaaS acronyms are confusing. For the laymen, if you want to develop something that needs communication capabilities but don’t want to host the communication service itself – that’s what you end up using. And if this is your case, then why not try out one of the interesting vendors out there?
VoxImplant was kind enough to offer $1,000 in credits for one person.
To enter, all you need to do is place your email in the large giveaway box at the top – and that’s about it.
Be sure to share this giveaway with others using that URL you’ll be getting, as that will increase your chances of winning – and if enough people join the giveaway – will get you a nice bonus as well (even if you don’t win in this giveaway).
What do you have to lose?
Join now, and maybe it will get you a bit faster to your application goal with the help of VoxImplant.
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How many WebRTC RTCPeerConnection objects should we be aiming for?
This is something that bothered me in recent weeks during some analysis we’ve done for a specific customer at testRTC.
It all started when a customer using Tokbox came to us. He was complaining he couldn’t get the product he built stabilized enough and due to that, couldn’t really get it launched. The reason behind it was partially his inability to decide how many users in parallel can fit into a single session.
So we took that as a side project at testRTC. It is rather easy for us to get 50, 100, 200 or more browsers to direct towards a single service and session and get the analysis we need. So it was easy to use once we’ve written the script necessary. While we have Tokbox customers using our platform, I never did try to go deeper into the analysis until now for such customers. This time, it was part of what the customer expected of us, so it got me looking closer at Tokbox and how they implement multiparty sessions.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve done our digging and got to conclusions of our own. I haven’t meant to write about them here, but a recent question on Stack Overflow compelled me to do so – Maximum number of RTCPeerConnection:
I know web browsers have a limit on the amount of simultaneous http requests etc. But is there also a limit on the amount of open RTCPeerConnection’s a web page can have?
And somewhat related: RTCPeerConnection allows to send multiple streams over 1 connection. What would be the trade-offs between combining multiple streams in 1 connection or setting up multiple connections (e.g. 1 for each stream)?
The answer I wrote there, slightly modified is this one:
Not sure about the limit. It was around 256, though I heard it was increased. If you try to open up such peer connections in a tight loop – Chrome will crash. You should also not assume the same limit on all browsers anyway.
Multiple RTCPeerConnection objects are great:
That said, they have their own challenges and overheads:
A single RTCPeerConnection object suffers from having to renegotiate it all whenever someone needs to be added to the list (or removed).
I’d like to take a step further here in the explanation and show a bit of the analysis. To that end, I am going to use the following:
But first things first. What’s the relationship between these multiparty video services and RTCPeerConnection count?WebRTC RTCPeerConnection and a multiparty video service
While the question on Stack Overflow can relate to many issues (such as P2P CDN technology), the context I want to look at it here is video conferencing that uses the SFU model.
The illustration above shows a video conferencing between 5 participants. I’ve “taken the liberty” of picking it up from my Advanced WebRTC Architecture Course.
What happens here is that each participant in the session is sending a single media stream and receiving 4 media streams for the other participants. These media streams all get routed through the SFU – the box in the middle.
So. Should the SFU box create 4 RTCPeerConnection objects in front of each participant, each such object holding the media of one of the other participants, or should it just cram all media streams into a single RTCPeerConnection in front of each participant?
Let’s start from the end: both options will work just fine. But each has its advantages and shortcomings.Opentok: RTCPeerConnection per user
If you are following the series of articles Fippo wrote with me on testRTC about how to read webrtc-internals, then you should know a thing or two about its analysis.
Here’s how that session looks like when I join on my own and get testRTC to add the 4 additional participants into the room:
Here’s a quick screenshot of the webrtc-internals tab when used in a 5-way video call on the Opentok demo:
One thing that should pop up by now (especially with them green squares I’ve added) – TokBox’ Opentok uses a strategy of one RTCPeerConnection per user.
One of these tabs in the green squares is the outgoing media streams from my own browser while the other four are incoming media streams from the testRTC browser probes that are aggregated and routed through the TokBox SFU.
To understand the effect of having open RTCPeerConnections that aren’t used, I’ve ran the same test scenario again, but this time, I had all participants mute their outgoing media streams. This is how the session looked like:
To achieve that with the Opentok demo, I had to use a combination of the onscreen mute audio button and having all participants mute their video when they join. So I added the following lines to the testRTC script – practically clicking on the relevant video mute button on the UI:
After this most engaging session, I looked at the webrtc-internals dump that testRTC collected for one of the participants.
Let’s start with what testRTC has to offer immediately by looking at the high level graphs of one of the probes that participated in this session:
What we will be doing, is ignore the outgoing media and focus on the incoming one only. Remember – this is Opentok, so we have 5 peer connections here: 1 outgoing, 4 incoming.
A few things to note about Opentok:
For this test run that I did, I had “Conn-audio-1-0 (connection 363-1)” up to “Conn-audio-1-0 (connection 363-5)”. The first one is the sender and the rest are our 4 receivers. Since we are interested here in what happens in a muted peer connection, we will look into “Conn-audio-1-0 (connection 363-2)”. You can assume the rest are practically the same.
Here’s what the testRTC advanced graphs had to show for it:
I removed some of the information to show these two lines – the yellow one showing responsesReceived and the orange one showing requestsReceived. These are STUN related messages. On a peer connection where there’s no real incoming media of any type. That’s almost 120 incoming STUN related messages in total for a span of 3 minutes. As we have 4 such peer connections that are receive only and silent – we get to roughly 480 incoming STUN related messages for the 3 minutes of this session – 160 incoming messages a minute – 2-3 incoming messages a second. Multiply the number by 2 so we include also the outgoing STUN messages and you get this nice picture.
There’s an overhead for a peer connection. It comes in the form of keeping that peer connection open and running for a rainy day. And that is costing us:
Now, this overhead is low. 2-3 incoming messages a second is something we shouldn’t fret about when we get around 50 incoming audio packets a second. But it can add up. I got to notice this when a customer at testRTC wanted to have 50 or more peer connections with only a few of them active (the rest muted). It got kinda crowded. Oh – and it crashed Chrome quite a lot.Jitsi Videobridge: Shared RTCPeerConnection
Now that we know how a 5-way video call looks like on Opentok, let’s see how it looks like with the Jitsi Videobridge.
For this, I again “hired” the help of testRTC and got a simple test script to bring 4 additional browsers into a Jitsi meeting room that I joined with my own laptop. The layout is somewhat different and resembles the Google Hangouts layout more:
What we are interested here is actually the peer connections. Here’s what we get in webrtc-internals:
A single peer connection for all incoming media channels.
And again, as with the TokBox option – I’ll mute the video. For that purpose, I’ll need to get the participants to mute their media “voluntarily”, which is easy to achieve by a change in the testRTC script:
What I did was just was instruct each of my automated testRTC friends that are joining Jitsi to immediately mute their camera and microphone by clicking the relevant on-screen buttons based on their HTML id tags (#toolbar_button_mute and #toolbar_button_camera), causing them to send no media over the network towards the Jitsi Videobridge.
To some extent, we ended up with the same boring user experience as we did with the Opentok demo: a 5-way video call with everyone muted and no one sending any media on the network.
Let’s see if we can notice some differences by diving into the webrtc-internals data.
A few things we can see here:
To make sure we’ve handled this properly, here’s a view of the video channels’ bitrate values:
There’s the obvious initial spike – that’s the time it took us to mute the channels at the beginning of the session. Other than that, it is all quiet.
Now here’s the thing – when we look at the active connection, it doesn’t look much different than the ones we’ve seen in Opentok:
We end up with 140 incoming messages for the span of 3 minutes – but we don’t multiply it by 4 or 5. This happens once for ALL media channels.Shared or per user RCTPeerConnection?
This is a tough question.
A single RTCPeerConnection means less overhead on the network and the browser resources. But it has its drawbacks. When someone needs to join or leave, there’s a need to somehow renegotiate the session – for everyone. And there’s also the extra complexity of writing the code itself and debugging it.
With multiple RTCPeerConnection we’ve got a lot more flexibility, since the sessions are now independent – each encapsulated in its own RTCPeerConnection. On the other hand, there’s this overhead we’re incurring.
Here’s a quick table to summarize the differences:What’s Next?
Here’s what we did:
I have only scratched the surface here: There are other issues at play – creating a RTCPeerConnection is a traumatic event. When I grew up, I was told connecting TCP is hellish due to its 3-way handshake. RTCPeerConnection is a lot more time consuming and energy consuming than a TCP 3-way handshake and it involves additional players (STUN and TURN servers).download the RTCPeerConnection count deck here.
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