WebRTC Media Servers Overview and Explanation What to Choose

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If your business needs to implement media streaming capabilities, there is an important component that needs to be considered without which this activity cannot be carried out. We are talking about the WebRTC server.

Since there are several types of such servers and even more offers on the market, it can be difficult to assess which one is right for you.

Our complete WebRTC server selection guide and list of the best available on the market will help you invest your time and resources in the right streaming software.

What is WebRTC server?

First, let’s start by defining what WebRTC is. It is a technology that enables a peer-to-peer connection in order to make video and voice calls using only browsers. Using WebRTC technology comes with many benefits, such as video streaming quality, security, and no need to install additional software. 

WebRTC media servers

In the basic use case, communication between browsers occurs directly, without the participation of a third-party server. However, establishing a connection with more advanced capabilities, such as group communication, recording a media stream, sharing or transcoding media, requires a more complex model using a WebRTC server.

A WebRTC server is a kind of software that resides between interacting peers. There are 4 types of servers with different functions to meet your needs for quality video streaming with all the features that come with it.

Types of WebRTC Server

WebRTC Media Servers

Media servers distribute the media stream between the participants of an online group meeting and transcode it for compatibility with different devices and networks of different bandwidths. As a result, an uninterrupted connection is established, which, even in the event of a load on the server or poor Internet, will provide high-quality streaming video, and secure data exchange and storage.

WebRTC Signaling Servers

WebRTC signal server is something like a coordinating center that provides communication between clients. Clients exchange messages containing SDP, ie. session data required for the connection. Using its own signaling protocol and signaling server, a WebRTC application signals another device to connect to a session.

WebRTC media servers signaling

The responsibility of the WebRTC signal server is to enable clients to find each other on the network, negotiate the connection, if necessary, reset the connection and close it.

WebRTC Application Servers

WebRTC Application Servers are servers for serving a web page when a website or application is opened. It contains HTML, CSS, JS files and images. WebRTC application servers are nothing special, but they are required.

NAT Traversal Servers for WebRTC

If the user’s ISP is using NAT, it means that the user’s device does not have a public IP address. From a security point of view, this is good, but it makes it difficult to establish a connection. Therefore, a method was developed to bypass network address translation. NAT Traversal Server uses ICE protocol through gateways to assign IP addresses to computers so that they can access the Internet.

How to get a WebRTC server?

There are several ways to get a WebRTC server.

  • You can make a WebRTC server yourself using an open API. The most famous of them is the Google c++ WebRTC API. You can hire qualified c++ programmers, but you have to be prepared that it will take a lot of time.
  • You can take a ready-made free server with open source. Such servers are a little clumsy and sometimes have bugs. They are only suitable for small businesses. However, if you hire qualified C++ programmers, they can optimize them for the needs of your business and tie a ribbon around it. Next, we will talk about the most noteworthy servers in the public domain.
  • The most expensive way is to buy a license for a paid server. As a rule, this is a more reliable, high-quality product with no need for further development or bug fixes.

6 Best WebRTC servers for business

Janus

Janus is an open-source WebRTC server developed by Meetecho. The server is designed to work with the WebRTC standard and transfers streaming audio, video data and content between browsers.

Janus media server

Any particular function or app is provided with server-side plugins that browsers can communicate with through Janus to take advantage of the features they provide. An example of such plugins would be implementations of apps or functions such as echo tests, SIP gateways, media recorders, conference bridges, and the like.

Janus is suitable for Linux systems and can be built and installed on MacOS computers. Windows is not supported, however, Janus runs on the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows 10.

Jitsi

Jitsi is an open source feature rich service that has been developing group calling solutions since before it was mainstream. It is written in Java, JavaScript. Jitsi is designed for secure communications and can provide strong end-to-end encryption. Jitsi has official apps for smartphones (for Android and IOS), and you can also make calls through computer browsers. Another trick: you can deploy your own server for greater security, but it is better and easier to entrust this to a reliable system administrator.

Kurento

Kurento is a free and open-source WebRTC media server. It distributes media streams between users, transcodes video, and makes a recording. Kurento server began to be developed at the University of Madrid Rey Juan Carlos in 2010.

A developer can write his own module and connect it to Kurento. 

it also includes a set of client APIs for managing a media server.

Kurento Media Server and its components are written in C/C++ and optimized in terms of system resource consumption. For filtering, the Gstreamer or OpenCV libraries are used.

Twilio

Twilio is a platform that allows you to easily integrate various communication methods and use your existing web development skills, code, servers, databases, and karma to quickly and reliably resolve communication problems.

The system is designed to make cheap phone calls, buy numbers for different countries, create calls between multiple phones from one account and start conferences. From here you can even create your own scripts for final customization.

Twilio is perhaps one of the most famous WebRTC servers, used by over 1100 companies including Uber, eBay and Reddit.

The server is a near-ready solution for businesses that require high-quality and trouble-free streaming for small online meetings with no more than 5 participants.

MediaSoup

MediaSoup is a relatively new server suitable for a variety of use cases such as group video chat, RTP streaming and real-time broadcast applications. It is written in C++ and provides a low-level API for managing media. The undeniable advantage of the MediaSoup server is the ability to choose between using the NodeJS package or the Rust crate.

Some of the features include: multithreading (multiple audio/video streams), support for simultaneous transmission and SVC, and sender/receiver bandwidth estimation.

openVidu

OpenVidu is an open “playground” for developers of video conferencing and calling applications. It is made up of many different components that work seamlessly together as a whole to provide your app with advanced video conferencing capabilities. The main modules of the platform are the OpenVidu signaling server and the multimedia server.

Of the advantages that OpenVidu has, it is necessary to highlight the possibility of simultaneous transmission. Due to this property, encodings that are sent within the same video stream have different quality, which allows the user to get the one that is best suited to their network speed. Thus, even though participants in the same conference have different network conditions, this does not affect the video quality in any way.

How to Choose a WebRTC server?

As we can see, there are different types of servers and their choice is quite diverse. Server choice should depend on your business needs and how well you or your team is versed in WebRTC technology. 

Since a lot of WebRTC servers are open source, which means that they are in the public domain and anyone can use them to develop WebRTC streaming solutions, not everyone is able to do this. Therefore, in order not to not to miscalculate the choice and not be distracted from your business by immersing yourself in the world of IT with its codes and topology, it is better to entrust this task to experienced streaming media solution developers.

The development team will assist you with issues such as choosing the language in which the code is written, scaling as your business grows, and recommendations for using the software.

When choosing a WebRTC server, pay attention to the following aspects:

  1. The complexity of implementation and further use, including fixing possible issues, by users without deep knowledge in this subject.
  2. Server code update at least once a year.
  3. Feedback from the experience of using a particular server, especially in an industry similar to yours.
  4. Comprehensible documentation from the developer, including an overview of the architecture, API reference, several examples of troubleshooting cases, as well as basic recommendations for configuration and installation.
  5. Ability to scale as your business grows.
  6. Appropriate code licensing.
  7. Availability of a support and maintenance system for a specific WebRTC server.

Considering the list of best servers above, Twilio is a great choice for a small business or startup as it offers quality turnkey solutions for streaming apps with up to 5 people.

If you need an enterprise level server, MediaSoup offers an excellent technical stack and API for developing large-scale streaming applications.

Conclusion

With the right approach to implementing WebRTC streaming technologies into your business, you can optimize your workflow, secure shared data, and, of course, increase revenue.

Many enterprise clients are already benefiting from our WebRTC development services. We are sure that cooperation with us will be beneficial for your business as well.

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