F5 Friday. Speedy SPDY

#ADO, #Stirling, #fasterapp a SPDY implementation that is as fast and adaptable as needed.

**I originally wrote this more than a month ago… Coworkers have covered this topic extensively, but thought I’d still get it posted for those who read my blog and missed it.

Remember the days when Internet connections were inherently slow, and browser usage required extreme patience? For many people – from certain geographic regions to mobile phone Internet users – that world of waiting has come around again, and they’re not as patient as people used to be, largely because instant communication has become a standard, so expectations have risen. As with all recurring themes, there are new solutions coming along to resolve these problems, and F5 is staying on top of them, helping IT to better serve the needs of the business, and the customer.

In November of 2009, Google announced the SPDY protocol to improve the performance of browser-server communications. Since then, implementations of SPDY have cropped up in both Chrome and Firefox, which according to w3schools.com comprise over 70% of the global browser market. The problem is that web server and web application server implementations lag far behind client adoption. While the default is for SPDY to drop to HTTP if either client or server does not have a SPDY implementation, there are clear-cut benefits to SPDY that IT is missing out on. This is the result of a convergence of issues that will eventually be resolved on their own, most notably that it is easy to get two open source browsers to support your standard and attain market penetration, but much harder to convince tens of thousands of IT folks to disrupt their normal operations while implementing a standard that isn’t strictly necessary for most of them. Eventually, SPDY support will come pre-packaged in most web servers, and if it is something your organization needs, those webservers will be the first choice for new projects. Until then, clients with slow connections (including all mobile clients) will suffer longer delivery timeframes.

What is required is a solution that allows for SPDY support without disrupting the flow of normal operations. Something that can be implemented quickly and easily, without the hassle of dropping web servers, installing modules, making configuration changes, etc. And of course that solution should be comprehensive enough to serve the most demanding environments.

As of now, that requirement is fulfilled by F5. F5 WebAccelerator now supports SPDY as a proxy for all of the servers you choose to turn SPDY support on for. In the normal course of SPDY operations, the client and the server exchange information about whether they support SPDY or not, and if both do not, then HTTP is used for communication between the browser and the web server. BIG-IP WebAccelerator acts as a proxy for web servers. It terminates the connection, responds that the server behind it does indeed support SPDY, then translates requests from the browser into HTTP before passing them to the server, and responses from the server into SPDY before passing them to the client. The net result is that on the slowest part of the connection – the Internet and wireless device “last mile”, SPDY is being used, while there are zero changes to the application infrastructure.

And because the BIG-IP product family specializes in configurations per-application, you can pick and choose which applications running behind a BIG-IP device actually support SPDY, should the need arise.

Combined with the whole collection of other optimizations that WebAccelerator implements, the performance of web applications to any device can greatly benefit without retrofitting the entire network.

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Published Jun 01, 2012
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