Subspace WebRTC-CDN Experiences. Where is Subspace taking us?

This article reviews what Subspace WebRTC-CDN offers to WebRTC; developers’ hands-on experiences with Subspace at TADHack; and what WebRTC-CDN means to enterprise communications.

What is WebRTC-CDN?

Subspace WebRTC-CDN is a WebRTC delivery network. Backwards compatible with the TURN protocol, WebRTC-CDN handles traditional TURN NAT traversal functions as well as improving network performance for all WebRTC traffic with Subspace’s dedicated global fiber-optic network, which is ranked the #10 most interconnected network on the internet. WebRTC-CDN interacts with WebRTC applications operating like a single TURN instance, abstracting away 120+ physical points of presence worldwide to cut down call-setup times and reduce hair-pinning for deployments as large as 10Tbps.

Making TURN Easy

To understand the history behind TURN and WebRTC, Subspace has an excellent review “As the World Turns: SIP, TURN, and What Comes Next.

Over my decades in programmable communications, a common success indicator is, “test often and early with the end-customer in the real world.” Not surveys or focus groups, rather put your service into the hands of a diverse mix of end-customers. It’s the acid test, a founding principle of TADHack when those end customers are developers, which delivers valuable and intense learning for everyone involved.

What impressed me with Subspace is not only WebRTC experts like Philippe Sultan and Dan Jenkins find it easy to use. Web developers like Jared Ashcraft and David Sikes, who used WebRTC for the first time at TADHack-mini Orlando at Avaya ENGAGE in Dec 2021, found using Subspace WebRTC-CDN easy. Easy is another success indicator.

Telepaper by Jared M Ashcraft and David Sikes, winner at TADHack-mini Orlando in Dec 2021, used both Avaya Spaces and Subspace WebRTC-CDN.

This hack augments the distance learning and collaboration experience by allowing users to seamlessly write notes to each other in real time with tablet and stylus. Each user would have a tablet, and the notes would appear between tablets in real time. Since the tablets are separate devices, no screen sharing would be necessary, and the face-to-face aspect of communication remains. Jared works with K-12 students to improve their math and literacy skills.

In the video below at 6:10 you can see David and Jared talking about their experiences with Subspace, “it literally took 3 minutes to set up.” And remember this was their first hack using WebRTC, we’ve come so far in empowering developers.

WebRTC-CDN Mix by Philippe Sultan, winner at TADHack Global 2021. This hack shows how to integrate WebRTC-CDN with the WebRTC library from Vonage (Tokbox). The hack also presents a Chrome extension used to display statistics about the published WebRTC stream in real-time so the performance of Subspace and Vonage (Tokbox) can be compared. Quoting Philippe at 1:30 in the video shown below, “It was surprisingly easy to glue Subspace with Tokbox, so I will show you what is probably the shortest hack in the history of TADHack.” Philippe has been part of TADHack since the beginning in 2014 as a sponsor.

There are many more hacks on Subspace from TADHack, I particularly like Dan Jenkins’ winning hack,  Open Source and Contributing Back. This is a Jambonz enhancement to allow Subspace SIP Teleport to be setup directly from within Jambonz. Here’s a longer video that provides much more context and details of Dan’s excellent contribution.

What Does making WebRTC Easy mean for Applications?

WebRTC has democratized real time communications, so many more organizations can use voice and video communications in their services. However, it’s fair to say WebRTC is not exactly easy compared to most web applications.

Building web apps is comparatively straightforward. You write something that will sit behind a web server. This may or may not have server-side logic. Once written, you deploy to your server. From a communications perspective you may forget to open the correct ports in the IPTables. Once you realize that, it’s a simple fix and everything works.

WebRTC is multi-layer, asynchronous, and impacted by many networks and network elements between the end-points. For example, fixed corporate networks and functions in those networks like Network Address Translation (NAT), gateways, firewalls; the type of mobile network (3G, 4G and now 5G); the end devices and home networks.

We’ve become accustomed to assuming the internet just works. But with real time communications our experience shows this is not the case. In gaming, my son and his friends are either complaining about hackers in the game killing them, or shouting ‘I’m lagging’ as they stall and get killed by another player. In video calls we all experience the video freezing or goes blocky, or video and audio pauses for a few seconds, or someone struggles to connect.

Cloudbees have a nice guide for debugging some of the WebRTC connection problems.  Once you have a connection, problems can still occur, e.g. hair-pinning. That is a peer connection path that uses a distant path with a large round-trip time, or limited performance, or worse variable performance.

The WebRTC connection process is a common element to many of these problems. As you saw in the above hacks at TADHack, the WebRTC connection process simply points to Subspace WebRTC-CDN and you’re done.

When WebRTC works it’s beautiful, which is often the case. However, when you need to offer an SLA (Service Level Agreement), e.g. remote contact center agents working from home, or the SLA a CIO offers to the business’s divisions for employee collaboration, something more is required than hoping for the best. Hence the need for WebRTC-CDN.

Business Benefits

These are just a few indicative business benefits, we are planning a whitepaper to work through the assumptions and models to better quantify the business benefits to the programmable communications industry and other real-time industries such as gaming.

With the rise of WFH (Work From Home), many more companies are hiring employees across multiple countries. Also employees are working outside the home office, whether at the customer’s premise, the local coffee shop, or even the beach. Subspace’s dedicated global fiber-optic network, which is ranked the #10 most interconnected network on the internet, enables WebRTC-CDN for all your WebRTC traffic around the world for one consistent fee

Because many countries are cabled for high speed access to/from the US, often businesses in one country, e.g. Sri Lanka or the Philippines, find their communications traffic hairpinning through the US rather than in-country. This is expensive for the national carrier, and results in a highly contended international cable for general internet access, degrading video and audio quality when in-country there is more than enough capacity.

There are significant benefits for carriers in partnering with Subspace to solve such issues. There are also multiple connections to/from a country, depending on the service provider the internet performance can vary significantly. The BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) only optimizes when a connection is cut, Subspace is optimized on real-time performance, hence finds the best paths for your WebRTC traffic across your global footprint.

The impact of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) in 2021 was severe for many businesses. For example, the DDoS attack on in 2021 cost them nearly $12 million. Ransom requests depend on the size of the business, for a large enterprise it can be $2M, and that’s not accounting for the actual disruption, lost business, and service credits. Subspace provides end-to-end inline security and always-on DDoS protection.

Consistency and manageability. That is, minimizing the impact of a layer your business cannot control, the internet. A contact center has SLAs to meet, with work from home likely to remain to some degree, remote agents need to be able to consistently meet those SLA. This is beyond the standard 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds, this is call quality through a call. For banking, financial services, and other high value transactions like car sales, delivering a quality experience throughout the voice / video conversation is becoming standard.

MPLS (MultiProtocol Label Switching) or SDWAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) are too expensive for most WFH scenarios, they are best used between business premises.  WebRTC-CDN provides the consistency and economy for all your WFH WebRTC traffic across the internet for one consistent fee.