Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz

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
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze 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. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, provided tips on how to be successful in large scale machine learning...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.