Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Derek Weeks, Yeshim Deniz, Kevin Jackson, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

One Line of Code That Changed the Web Forever

What impact will the emerging WebSocket standard have on the Web?

After presenting to a partner of Kaazing last week I got asked what impact the emerging WebSocket standard would have on the Web, assuming we continue down the path that has already been laid out.

The impact could be the same, or even more profound, as when we were first introduced to HTTP as a means to share static documents. The difference is that this time the targeted market is already defined – it is called the Web. I have over the past several years, half jokingly and half seriously, compared the current static Web with a push to talk radio (aka Walkie Talkie) and the new living Web with a cell phone. You can get by with the WT and solve most of your problems; after all it’s been around for a while and it works. If you want to communicate with a friend in “real-time” you can solve it by getting two WTs, one to talk and one to listen. With a new Web standard, WebSocket, entering the market, Web developers now have access to the equivalent of a cellphone – one channel for “talk” and “listen”.

What would you choose if both push-to-talk and cell phone were  available to you? What would developers choose if both technologies were readily available to them (e.g.: browser support)?

Well, if you are uncertain and feel like WebSocket is an unproven standard you might want to relate to this; remember the first time your friends started pushing you to buy a cellphone although you already had a stationary phone at home and one at the office that worked perfectly? Now several years later we all have at least one cell phone, each, and we can’t (at least I can’t) live without it.

This is exactly the same impact the following line of code will have on the Web in comparison with the current HTTP communication we are so used and accustomed too.

var mySocket = new WebSocket("ws://websocket.org/");

If you do understand the profound impact this one line of code will have you are in good shape and most likely are already using, extending, or pushing this new standard solution from W3C and IETF. If you are not, then let me take a short moment to explain why it is so important:

  1. HTTP was designed to deliver static documents, not to deliver transactional, dynamic, and real-time data updates.
  2. HTTP is by design stateless, so session state needs to be artificially maintained. Traditionally this is done by a legacy Web-tier solution such as an application server like Oracle WebLogic Server or IBM WebSpere.
  3. In every environment developers have access to a “socket” interface, which enables them to communicate using any format (read protocol) over a full-duplex connection. Not on the Web.
  4. Not having access to a standard, Web-friendly, socket API forces us to create transformation layers when sending data from a Web client, using HTTP, to a backend system relying on a different full-duplex TCP protocol e.g. XMPP, STOMP, AMQP.
  5. The above line of code opens the floodgates to use any TCP-based communication format, which in turn enables developers to freely innovate and create new types of Web applications that previously have not been feasible over the existing HTTP infrastructure.
  6. WebSocket offers a far better use of bandwidth by getting rid of unnecessary HTTP headers when information is shared. The improvement is at a ratio of up to 1000x.
  7. The latency to deliver data is greatly improved by eliminating the round trip of the HTTP request-response model, and by using the bandwidth more efficiently.

With the explosive growth of Web-enabled devices (yes, I’m thinking about the iPhone, iPad, Android, Galaxy, etc…) and the demand for more and live information, communication and distribution of data over the Web is growing exponentially. At this rate the growth of data distributed over the Web will out pace the performance principals of Moore’s Law, which we depend on to ensure that our hardware can keep up with our needs.

WebSocket traffic vs. HTTP traffic

For individuals this may not be too much of a concern, but for companies providing online services it will be, and already is, a huge and costly issue since it requires a tremendous amount of resources to deliver on the increasing demand for live information over the Web (read about Google’s move and Facebook’s move).

For example, when a user enters a single character ‘a’ in a search engine, a drop down list appears automatically showing possible search results starting with letter ‘a’. Behind the scenes an HTTP request has been issued asking the server for the information displayed in the drop down list. For every new character entered a new HTTP request is issued to the server to request for more information. The same HTTP characteristics you can find in collaborative online documents such as Google Docs, where each character entered generates a POST to ensure that users editing or looking at the same document can see each other changes in real-time.

Now, what was sent, what was received, and what was really needed?

There is a great article on websocket.org, called a “Quantum Leap in Scalability for the Web” that is outlining the difference between HTTP and WebSocket in terms of bandwidth utilization. In this article the sample application is a simple trading solution, but the math can be applied to any HTTP-based dynamic and transactional Web application.

In the article we have 0,665Gbps in header traffic to respond to 100,000 users per request.

What is the impact of using WebSocket technology? There are no sizable headers involved passing information between a client and a Websocket Gateway. Let’s apply the above math example to WebSocket technology as described by the article:

100,000 visitors receiving an update every second.  (WS wireframe = 2 byte) * 100,000 * 8 = 1,600,000 bps (0.001526Gbps).

Results from this easy math:

HTTP:// = 0,665Gbps versus WS:// = 0.001526Gbps.  In the above sample Websocket communication is 436 times more efficient. 436 times! We are talking about a gigantic leap of improvement, and that assuming that your cookies are not adding more data than this sample.

WebSocket is not a better Ajax!

Not only is the new standard improving bandwidth utilization it also gives us the ability to use any TCP-based high level communication format for our Web applications. This part of the HTML5 WebSocket standard has still yet to be fully appreciated. Right now most solutions and developers tinkering with the WebSocket APIs are looking at the new standard as merely a better replacement of XHR, or Ajax, when in fact it is a quantum leap forward in communicating over the Web that cannot be compared to XHR. With WebSocket we can now build client libraries in any Web technology supporting any TCP-based protocols. A simple example would be to extend the now widely used chat protocol XMPP to the Web (here is a demo site that lets you log in to Google Talk using XMPP over WebSocket) by providing a client-side implementation on top of Websocket APIs, or an advanced example would be to extend Java Message Service (JMS) over WebSocket such as the Kaazing WebSocket Gateway.

Scaling a WebSocket Solution

Web developers have been trying to work around the limitations of HTTP since the early days using techniques such as Comet, Reverse Ajax, or HTTP Streaming. With a move to persistent connections, or a stateful Web, server scalability of concurrent connections has been, and still is, a serious concern. Holding on to a thread on the server while the thread is not in use, combined with an Web-tier and infrastructure that was not designed for this, is not necessarily a scalable combination. Now, great strides have been made to ensure better scalability across technology stacks such as the use of NIO in Java.

At Kaazing we have always taken scalability and performance extremely serious and focused on making sure that our software is not in the way of scale or performance. As a matter of fact, we did a benchmark over the new year 2008/2009, to prove that scaling a WebSocket solution with persistent connections was not an issue, so we brought in a Java performance expert – Kirk Pepperdine – to help us and by the first weeks of Jan 09 we were running 1,000,000 concurrent connections on one single server. Now, is this practical? A more realistic scenario is running 1,000,000 users on a single rack or half a rack. This would enable us to have failover and high-availability, while still providing great performance and scale. So, last year we ran new tests together with DELL and Tibco to ensure not only great scale but also outstanding performance: DELL, Tibco, and Kaazing enable ‘The Fastest Million’ to revolutionize real-time data delivery over the Web.

In Conclusion

The simplest design ideas are often the innovations with the most impact. WebSocket as an idea and design is extremely “simple” and its impact on our industry will be profound. Of course, with simple ideas you also get the “doubters”. I remember one time when my co-founder John Fallows and I met with a renowned VC in Silicon Valley and he asked us:

“If this is such a great idea why has no one come up with this idea before?”

I guess you could ask humanity a similar question about why it took several thousands of years to invent the wheel – after all it’s so obvious and simple.

What is important to understand is that we now have at our disposal a very powerful tool that will enable us to communicate securely with anything over the Web, and that it is only our own imagination that will limit our ability to fully exploit the WebSocket standard to its full potential.

If you are having performance and scalability issues with your current Web solution then it is time to look at an enterprise WebSocket platform, such as the one Kaazing provides. To round off I’m just going to ask you one short question:

If you had a choice between building a Web application using HTTP and Websocket, and both were readily available to you, which one would you choose?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kaazing Blog

Kaazing is helping define the future of the event-driven enterprise by accelerating the Web for the Internet of Things.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...