Getting Up to SPDY on the Web

Michael Vizard

Although it's unclear just yet whether the world will take it, there is a new protocol that is designed to accelerate the transportation of Web content across the Internet. There clearly is a need for a better approach to delivering Web content across bandwidth-constrained networks.

Designed primarily by Google to address that issue, SPDY is a Web protocol that reduces Web page load latency by reducing network latency using compression, multiplexing and prioritization schemes.

At the Interop conference today, F5 Networks became one of the first major networking vendors to add support for SPDY. According to Jason Needham, senior director of product management for F5 Networks, the company's new SPDY gateway reduces the size of Web images by 50 percent. Needham says SPDY overcomes inefficiencies in the HTTP protocol that result in organizations spending countless hours trying to tune the performance of applications, especially those running on mobile computing devices.

At the moment, SPDY is only supported in Google Chrome, Firefox and Amazon Silk browsers but, as Needham notes, that's already 50 percent of the browser market. Google is expected to submit SPDY to various standard organizations as an extension to HTTP that not only makes Web applications faster but also more secure.

Given the fact that mobile computing devices in particular are starved for network bandwidth, anything that more efficiently transports images across the Web is going to be a welcome new addition to the Internet. That is, assuming all the major vendors involved can overcome their inclinations to undermine each other in favor of doing something truly positive for the entire Web community.

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