Over 60% of developers prefer to use a communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) or open source solutions for their embedded video work, according to a recent survey by Vidyo and WebRTC.ventures.  Why are these two categories the most popular, and which should you choose? That’s what we’ll examine in this blog post.

Most Popular Way to Video Enable Your App

Commercially available software and full internal development of a custom solution are significant, but much less favored.  Why the difference?

At WebRTC.ventures, our team builds custom video applications for our clients using a variety of implementation methods, most prominently CPaaS solutions such as vidyo.io, to embed video communications for our clients. Based on our conversations with our customers, I can provide some additional insight into why these CPaaS and open source solutions are so much more popular.

In our research study, full internal development refers to an application built from the ground up,  without leveraging the WebRTC standard, commercial products or open source libraries.  Full internal development is definitely becoming less popular as WebRTC based solutions abound, both as commercial libraries and as open source products. You need to have a pretty compelling reason to build something from scratch these days. The cost to completely customize development is simply too high for the vast majority of use cases.

Most cost effective way to video enable your app

It’s no surprise that internal development carries the largest up-front cost, since you have to “reinvent the wheel” for all aspects of video communications. Commercially available software may carry large license fees or other ongoing costs, making it less attractive.

Open source solutions obviously have a cost advantage because they are license free by definition, with no upfront purchase cost. However, you still need to invest in the infrastructure to host them, optimize them for your use case, and integrate them into your larger applications.

CPaaS has the lowest up-front cost for a few reasons. First, the CPaaS vendor is doing all the work around media servers, including call optimization, video quality, and much of the signaling work needed to establish the live video connection. Second, CPaaS solutions often provide sample code or demo applications that you can modify and use as a starting point for your custom application. which means a faster time to market.

Another insight into the popularity of CPaaS was the response to the question“What are the top features for a successful embedded video app?”

Top features for a successful embedded video app

The answers  indicate group video chat and recording functionality as top features required  to make applications  successful.  Recording capabilities are typically already built into CPaaS and open source solutions, providing yet another advantage over home-grown solutions. For example, the WebRTC standard does not specify how media servers should work, leaving that to the developer to figure out. While the features developers need will obviously vary by use case, the list described by survey respondents still indicates why CPaaS or Open Source solutions are popular.

The media server also comes into play on the topic of scale. Those familiar with the WebRTC standard know that it doesn’t naturally scale to support larger calls with many participants, an essential feature for many applications. Using an open source server or leveraging the media servers behind a CPaaS gives developers the ability to scale video calls.

Additionally, using a CPaaS may introduce further quality benefits. Vidyo, for example, made its name by developing the first commercial Selective Forwarding Unit (SFU) and scalable video codec. Vidyo placed a strong emphasis on quality in the development of their CPaaS video solution. Leveraging their knowledge in your app can get you a great head start.