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Lori MacVittie

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The HTTP 2.0 War Has Just Begun

Microsoft takes on Google as the war to win the standard for an overdue overhaul of HTTP starts to pick up steam

RFC 1945 – “Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.0” – was published in May 1996. In June of 1999, RFC 2616 – “Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1” was published. In the ensuing 13 years there has been no substantial changes to the HTTP standard. None. Nada. Zilch.

Even as the size and number of objects has ballooned over that time, and the overall composition of web pages grown increasingly complex, still there’s been no substantial efforts to improve upon the now entrenched HTTP standard. Even as sites struggled to maintain availability and performance in the face of exploding usage growth – fueled by mobile device proliferation, increasingly affordable access enabling everything from plants to cows to users to “get online” – HTTP 1.1 remained the standard for web-everything, despite the growing fact that it simply wasn’t the most optimal means of connecting users with the resources they expect and increasingly, demand.

internet usage growth 2000 to 2011

AJAX and Web 2.0 gave us better interactive models that alleviated some of the pain associated with performance problems, but as that model took hold and video became the medium du jour even it’s advantages have become unable to produce the acceptable results.

And then Google introduced SPDY. The first shot in the HTTP 2.0 war. Now Microsoft has fired back with “Speed+Mobility” and the battle appears about to be fully engaged.

Although SPDY has been out and about for some time, it only recently made it to the status of “Internet-Draft” in the RFC system, being officially published in Feb 2012. Along comes March 2012, and Microsoft has (sort of) countered with Speed+Mobility.

What will be interesting as the battle progresses is to see which other organizations and vendors will side with which version (if not both). Invariably other organizations will want to be able to claim to have been co-authors of whichever standard becomes, well, the standard but choosing sides so early in a war is hardly appropriate, especially when the technical details are still (as of this writing) missing from Microsoft’s proposal.

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Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.