How WebRTC Can Benefit the Department of Defense

November 8, 2018

Using open-source code to connect unified communications systems

When the Department of Defense (DOD) launched its “Everything Over IP” initiative nearly 10 years ago the focus was to bring traditional telecommunications technology – phone calls, streaming video, and even faxes – to the digital world.

At that time, unified communications (UC), especially in the government workplace, was a relatively new concept (remember, this was a time when VoIP phones were still seen as cutting-edge). Now, though, UC has become not just a business tool, but a strategic offering that can connect employees in disparate locations, including the frontlines.

The DOD has started to integrate UC into its “Everything Over IP” strategy, but there are challenges. Like any large organization, the DOD uses a wide-range of computing platforms, telecommunications systems, and other collaboration technologies, resulting in a “web” of solutions that cannot integrate or interoperate.

The Value of WebRTC

How WebRTC Can Benefit the Department of Defense

The DOD should consider another “web” to help address this situation. Web Real-Time Communications, known better as WebRTC, is an open-source project that connects disparate web browsers and mobile applications with an application programming interface (API) to allow different systems to communicate with one another.

By connecting messaging applications and platforms, WebRTC eliminates the need to install additional plugins or download native apps. Organizations that use WebRTC benefit from a more centralized UC platform. WebRTC eliminates technology barriers that can block or slow communications, including breaking down interoperability barriers and allowing for secure communications across multiple platforms.

For the DOD, WebRTC can help improve communications and collaboration between different bases, command posts, or forward locations around the globe. It makes it easier to connect not only users on their primary workstations, but on mobile and Internet-of-Things (IoT)-enabled devices as well.

Unified Communications in the Cloud

The DOD is on the verge of awarding a 10-year contract that will overhaul how the Pentagon uses cloud computing. This cloud structure will serve as the base infrastructure for defense technology moving forward. UC, especially Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), fits in perfectly with this strategic transition. Instead of hosting UC solutions on-premise, the DOD will be able to transition to a cloud-based model that streamlines operations, provides enhanced capabilities, and saves money.

By widely-adopting UC, the DOD can give warfighters a consistent experience across all communications and collaboration capabilities. Collaboration platforms will be integrated, giving a consistent experience for voice, IM, presence, conferencing, and other communications applications.

WebRTC acts as the glue to ensure all these systems work together, no matter what vendor, system or technology is being used. In fact, large enterprises in the commercial sector have already turned to WebRTC to provide that interoperability between already deployed UC technologies.

WebRTC also fits into the DOD’s push for open-source technology. First developed seven years ago, WebRTC has become the standard for peer-to-peer communication. All the major browsers and devices support WebRTC, including Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera. It is standardized through the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), proving that it is a secure and reliable option for the DOD and other government agencies.

A Go Forward Option

WebRTC is a capability that aligns perfectly with the DOD’s larger technology plans for cloud computing, collaboration and adoption of more open-source platforms. The original “Everything Over IP” initiative was aimed at improving base communications technologies. As things like VoIP and presence have become ubiquitous it is now time for the DOD to look at the next-generation of UC capabilities in the cloud. No matter what technology they have implemented, or plan to implement, from on-premises to the cloud, WebRTC can serve as the open-source technology that brings it all together.