Click here to close now.


SAP HANA Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Teresa Schoch, Gregor Petri

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://");

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, 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
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, will provide an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.