Tech Talks: Using WebRTC to Make Safer, Cheaper Web Phones

VirtualPBX Tech Talks WebRTCWe’ve been around for a long time and have collected some of the best minds from across several industries, and we think it’s high time they got their day in the spotlight. In this series of blogs we’ll be unearthing some of the technology and talent that power our hosted communications platform.

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking about our new and free to use VirtualPBX Web Phone. And why wouldn’t we? We’ve been getting blasted with positive feedback on the easy-to-use and powerful, browser-based VoIP phone. But what many people may not immediately realize is that, because it is a browser-based platform, the VirtualPBX Web Phone relies on relatively new and groundbreaking technology called WebRTC. WebRTC stands for Web Real Time Communications and to understand what makes it so revolutionary, we sat down with one of the chief architects of the VirtualPBX Web Phone and overall technology guru extraordinaire, Daniel Ruiz, the VirtualPBX Vice President of DevOps.

Okay, Daniel, for starters we’ve defined what the term WebRTC literally means, but can you add any other context to what it actually is and how it helped you make the VirtualPBX Web Phone?
Sure thing, WebRTC is a function of the latest developments of HTML5, which is basically the universal language for structuring and presenting content on the web. What WebRTC really does is that, because it’s built out of HTML5 it represents something that is universal for really any website from both a page and a browser standpoint. This is great because anything that’s built off of an open-source platform that is as widely recognized as HTML5 means that there are vastly fewer challenges than with other technologies. And then finally, the big thing about WebRTC is that because it’s inherently compatible with HTML5 web content, that means it can conduct browser-to-browser communications on a universal scale.

Okay there are two things to unpack there, one is about open-source and the other is about those more challenging technologies. Can we start by explaining what open-source is please?
No problem, open-source is the name used for software that has the original source code available for free to use and modify for anyone who wants it. That means that, for our VirtualPBX Web Phone for example, we got to use the open-source HTML5 software to build a WebRTC platform that supported all of the advanced features that any of our Dash Service Plan customers expect from their VoIP phones. Plus, then we were able to wrap it in an attractive exterior and present it with a simple, clean interface that is deserving of the award-winning UX/UI design of Dash itself. The big takeaway from launching Dash a few years ago was that customers loved how easy it was to intuitively navigate and how that didn’t come at the expense of any of the whiz-bang features of an enterprise-grade telephone system. We were highly motivated to ensure that was the same reaction that people had to any web phone we released and I’m proud that we accomplished that with the VirtualPBX Web Phone.

That’s very helpful, thanks. Now about the other options out there for building a web phone that weren’t quite as attractive, can you talk about those for a moment?
Honestly, that would be a really short conversation because there’s really nothing that can do what we’ve done with the VirtualPBX Web Phone that would also be as simple, and more importantly, as secure as this.

That’s a huge topic for our audience, what are the security concerns of non-WebRTC communications?
Previously, the only way to do something like an immediate browser-to-browser communications interface relied on any one of a few options, the most commonly known one being with a Flash plug-in. As you may have heard, Flash has been the bane of cyber security folks for ages. To sum it up, though, Flash and other plug-ins all suffer from the same few weaknesses that aren’t problems in WebRTC. First is that, unlike WebRTC, any plug-in requires a download. This is problematic because one, it can come with added malicious viruses or malware, and two, specifically for a business environment, not all users have admin permissions and therefore can’t allow downloads and installs onto their computers. Also, unlike WebRTC that is constantly monitored and updated in the cloud, any type of plug-in requires multiple patches and updates to be managed by the end-user. And as I know you’ve mentioned in previous blogs about cyber security, the common way endpoints are compromised is by not being diligent with updates and patches and whatnot. And not to beat a dead horse or anything, but again, none of that is a concern for the VirtualPBX Web Phone.

Ha, by all means, beat away! Okay so what else should we know about the web phone and is there anything else coming down the line for it?
Well as you know, we have a lot of great things on the horizon that all can be seen right now on the VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, but there are always even a few more surprises that don’t quite make it to the list until they’re launched. That’s because we like to keep some surprises truly surprising, of course. But that said, rest assured that the web phone is no different than any of our proprietary technology in that we’re never really satisfied with good enough and will continue to develop it to its greatest potential ad infinitum.

Wow, strong words from a strong DevOps leader.
You know it, buddy.

Regardless of what Daniel and the rest of the engineering talent at VirtualPBX is working on, you can rest assured that it will be designed to deliver the best features in hosted voice communications available. Additionally, all of the features of the VirtualPBX Web Phone are backed by the 24/7 support of our award-winning Customer Support Team so you never need to worry about going it alone. Plus, because we’re one of the only companies to include our Support Team at no extra charge, you can use their expertise any time you want, as much as you want. To get started with your new VirtualPBX Web Phone or Dash Plan simply click through and you can be up and running in literally a few minutes from right now. Otherwise, you can always join the Tech Talks conversation by suggesting topics on Twitter and Facebook, too!

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