3CX and WebRTC: An Interview With Nick Galea

July 9, 2015

WebRTC video conferencing for the enterprise.

I have been following 3CX for several years. They were one of the first in the enterprise communication solution vendors that offered WebRTC. Recently, they introduced a new standalone service called 3CX WebMeeting. It has all the expected features of an enterprise multiparty video calling service. And it uses WebRTC.

Nick Galea, 3CX

I had a chat with Nick Galea, CEO of 3CX. I wanted to know what are they doing with WebRTC and what are his impressions of it.

Here are his answers.

What is 3CX all about?

3CX provides a straightforward and easy to use & manage communication solution that doesn’t lack in functionality or features and is still highly affordable. We recognised that there was a need for a Windows-based software PBX and so this is where 3CX began.

Given the fact that the majority of businesses already use Windows, 3CX provides a solution that is easy to configure and manage for IT Admins. There’s no need for any additional training that can be time-consuming and costly. We also help businesses to save money on phone bills with the use of SIP trunking and free interoffice calls and travel costs can be reduced by making use of video conferencing with 3CX WebMeeting. As a UC solutions provider, we focus on cost savings, management, productivity and mobility, and we help our customers to achieve improvements in all four aspects.

Our focus is on innovation and thus, our development team works nonstop to bring our customers and partners the very best. We are always looking out for the latest great technologies and how we can use them to make 3CX Phone System even better and so of course, WebRTC was a technology that we just had to implement.

You decided to plunge into the waters and use WebRTC. Why is that?

To us, unified communications is not only about bringing all methods of communication into one user-friendly interface, but about making those methods of communication as seamless, enjoyable and productive for all involved, whether that be for the organisation that invested in the system, or a partner or client that simply has a computer and internet connection to work with.

Running a business is not an easy feat, and the whole purpose of solutions such as 3CX Phone System and 3CX WebMeeting is to make everyday business processes easier. So, for us, WebRTC was a no-brainer. We believe in plugin-free unified communications and with such technology available for us to leverage, the days of inconvenient downloads and time-consuming preparation in order to successfully (or in some cases, unsuccessfully) hold a meeting are over.

3CX WebMeeting screenshot

What signaling have you decided to integrate on top of WebRTC?

Signalling is performed through websocket for maximum compatibility. Messages and commands are enveloped in JSON objects. ICE candidates are generated by our server library while SDP are parsed and translated by MCU. This allows full control over SDP features like FEC and RTX in order to achieve best video performance.

Backend. What technologies and architecture are you using there?

The platform is based on a web application written on PHP. We developed a custom MCU service (actually it’s a Selective Forward Unit aka SFU). This service allows us to handle a very large number of media streams in real time. Performance is optimized to reduce latency to a minimum. Raw media streams can be saved to disk, then our Converter Service automatically produces a standard video file with meeting recording.

A key component of web application is the MCU Cluster Manager, which is able to handle several MCUs scattered in different areas, distribute load and manage user location preference.

Since you cater the enterprise, can you tell me a bit about your experience with Internet Explorer, WebRTC and customers?

So far most people are using Chrome without any complaints so it doesn’t concern me that WebRTC is not supported by Internet Explorer. We haven’t come across any issues with customers as they are aware that this is a limitation of the technology and not the software and actually our stats show that 95% of people connect or reconnect with Chrome after receiving the warning message, so for most users Chrome is not a problem.

Where do you see WebRTC going in 2-5 years?

I think that WebRTC will become the de facto communications standard for video conferencing, and maybe even for calls. WebRTC is a part of how technology is evolving and we may even see some surprising uses for it outside the realms of what we’re imagining right now. It’s incredibly easy to use and no other technology is able to compete. It’s what the developers are able to do with it that is really going to make the difference and I believe there is still so much more to come in terms of how WebRTC can be utilised.

If you had one piece of advice for those thinking of adopting WebRTC, what would it be?

That they should have adopted it earlier :).

Given the opportunity, what would you change in WebRTC?

Nothing really but the technology is still growing so I’m looking forward to see what’s in store for WebRTC and how it’s going to improve.

What’s next for 3CX?

We’re working on tighter integration between 3CX WebMeeting and 3CX Phone System and integrating our platform more closely with other vendors of third-party apps such as CRM systems and so on.

The interviews are intended to give different viewpoints than my own – you can read more WebRTC interviews.

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