Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, John Esposito

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
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited t...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profession...
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...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
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...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
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...