|By Lori MacVittie||
|June 16, 2012 09:00 AM EDT||
A recent post on the HTTP 2.0 War beginning garnered a very relevant question regarding WebSockets and where it fits in (what might shape up to be) an epic battle.
The answer to the question, “Why not consider WebSockets here?” could be easily answered with two words: HTTP headers. It could also be answered with two other words: infrastructure impact.
But I’m guessing Nagesh (and others) would like a bit more detail on that, so here comes the (computer) science.
Different Solutions Have Different Impacts
Due to a simple (and yet profound) difference between the two implementations, WebSockets is less likely to make an impact on the web (and yet more likely to make an impact inside data centers, but more on that another time). Nagesh is correct in that in almost all the important aspects, WebSockets and SPDY are identical (if not in implementation, in effect). Both are asynchronous, which eliminates the overhead of “polling” generally used to simulate “real time” updates a la Web 2.0 applications. Both use only a single TCP connection. This also reduces overhead on servers (and infrastructure) which can translate into better performance for the end-user. Both can make use of compression (although only via extensions in the case of WebSockets) to reduce size of data transferred resulting, one hopes, in better performance, particularly over more constrained mobile networks.
Both protocols operate “outside” HTTP and use an upgrade mechanism to initiate. While WebSockets uses the HTTP connection header to request an upgrade, SPDY uses the Next Protocol Negotiation (proposed enhancement to the TLS specification). This mechanism engenders better backwards-compatibility across the web, allowing sites to support both next-generation web applications as well as traditional HTTP.
Both specifications are designed, as pointed out, to solve the same problems. And both do, in theory and in practice. The difference lies in the HTTP headers – or lack thereof in the case of WebSockets.
Once established, WebSocket data frames can be sent back and forth between the client and the server in full-duplex mode. Both text and binary frames can be sent full-duplex, in either direction at the same time. The data is minimally framed with just two bytes. In the case of text frames, each frame starts with a 0x00 byte, ends with a 0xFF byte, and contains UTF-8 data in between. WebSocket text frames use a terminator, while binary frames use a length prefix.
WebSockets does not use HTTP headers, SPDY does. This seemingly simple difference has an inversely proportional impact on supporting infrastructure.
The Impact on Infrastructure
The impact on infrastructure is why WebSockets may be more trouble than its worth – at least when it comes to public-facing web applications. While both specifications will require gateway translation services until (if) they are fully adopted, WebSockets has a much harsher impact on the intervening infrastructure than does SPDY.
WebSockets effectively blinds infrastructure. IDS, IPS, ADC, firewalls, anti-virus scanners – any service which relies upon HTTP headers to determine specific content type or location (URI) of the object being requested – is unable to inspect or validate requests due to its lack of HTTP headers. Now, SPDY doesn’t make it easy – HTTP request headers are compressed – but it doesn’t make it nearly as hard, because gzip is pretty well understood and even intermediate infrastructure can deflate and recompress with relative ease (and without needing special data, such as is the case with SSL/TLS and certificates).
Let me stop for a moment and shamelessly quote myself from a blog on this very subject, “Oops! HTML5 Does it Again”:
One of the things WebSockets does to dramatically improve performance is eliminate all those pesky HTTP headers. You know, things like CONTENT-TYPE. You know, the header that tells the endpoint what kind of content is being transferred, such as text/html and video/avi. One of the things anti-virus and malware scanning solutions are very good at is detecting anomalies in specific types of content. The problem is that without a MIME type, the ability to correctly identify a given object gets a bit iffy. Bits and bytes are bytes and bytes, and while you could certainly infer the type based on format “tells” within the actual data, how would you really know? Sure, the HTTP headers could by lying, but generally speaking the application serving the object doesn’t lie about the type of data and it is a rare vulnerability that attempts to manipulate that value. After all, you want a malicious payload delivered via a specific medium, because that’s the cornerstone upon which many exploits are based – execution of a specific operation against a specific manipulated payload. That means you really need the endpoint to believe the content is of the type it thinks it is.
But couldn’t you just use the URL? Nope – there is no URL associated with objects via a WebSocket. There is also no standard application information that next-generation firewalls can use to differentiate the content; developers are free to innovate and create their own formats and micro-formats, and undoubtedly will. And trying to prevent its use is nigh-unto impossible because of the way in which the upgrade handshake is performed – it’s all over HTTP, and stays HTTP. One minute the session is talking understandable HTTP, the next they’re whispering in Lakota, a traditionally oral-only language which neatly illustrates the overarching point of this post thus far: there’s no way to confidently know what is being passed over a WebSocket unless you “speak” the language used, which you may or may not have access to.
The result of all this confusion is that security software designed to scan for specific signatures or anomalies within specific types of content can’t. They can’t extract the object flowing through a WebSocket because there’s no indication of where it begins or ends, or even what it is. The loss of HTTP headers that indicate not only type but length is problematic for any software – or hardware for that matter – that uses the information contained within to extract and process the data.
SPDY, however, does not eliminate these Very-Important-to-Infrastructure-Services HTTP headers, it merely compresses them. Which makes SPDY a much more compelling option than WebSockets. SPDY can be enabled for an entire data center via the use of a single component: a SPDY gateway. WebSockets ostensibly requires the upgrade or replacement of many more infrastructure services and introduces risks that may be unacceptable to many organizations.
And thus my answer to the question "Why not consider WebSockets here” is simply that the end-result (better performance) of implementing the two may be the same, WebSockets is unlikely to gain widespread acceptance as the protocol du jour for public facing web applications due to the operational burden it imposes on the rest of the infrastructure.
That doesn’t mean it won’t gain widespread acceptance inside the enterprise. But that’s a topic for another day…
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
Oct. 28, 2016 07:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,112
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Oct. 28, 2016 07:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,117
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
Oct. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,170
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
Oct. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 586
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Oct. 28, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,748
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
Oct. 28, 2016 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,262
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
Oct. 28, 2016 06:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,305
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Oct. 28, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,198
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, discussed how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from millio...
Oct. 28, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,200
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Oct. 28, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,159
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Oct. 28, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,561
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Oct. 28, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,795
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Oct. 28, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,197
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Oct. 28, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,400
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Oct. 28, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 34,375
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Oct. 28, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,214
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Oct. 28, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,538
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Oct. 28, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,463
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Oct. 27, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 9,817
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Oct. 27, 2016 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,848