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Towards a Faster, Better Internet

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Posted January 15, 2016
Image credit: Rock1997 via Wikimedia, GFDL

Image credit: Rock1997 via Wikimedia, GFDL

The year 2015 is over, and we are glad to have ended that year with a several new technologies that will greatly benefit today’s connected environment. These technologies are aimed at helping address a host of connectivity and security issues that have been plaguing the Internet, for both businesses and individual users like Technologies alike. The most recent of these is HTTP/2, which was proposed in December 2014 and moved towards standardization throughout 2015.

Where HTTP/2 Plays Its Role

In the fall of 2015, both Apache and nginx – the two most popular platforms for web hosting – have released versions of their software with support for the new protocol. HTTP/2 improves upon its predecessor significantly, mostly due to changes it implements in the communication exchange between browsers and web servers.

For instance, during an HTTP/2 stream, data can be pushed without prior request. Rather than waiting for the client to request each individual element it needs to render a website, a web server can go ahead and send bundles of the data. In addition, browsers that support HTTP/2 will force SSL encryption from end-to-end, thus improving the level of integrity of connections.

HTTP 1.1 worked well in the days when elements took some time to load, but we are living in an era where 56 kbps is very far from the going standard. We no longer need all of these signals to be exchanged just in order for a browser to load one page.

An increased HTTP/2 adoption will lead to reduced bandwidth utilization and will ideally reduce browsing lag. At the end of 2015, most of the popular web browsers   have already implemented support for this protocol, making it easier for webhosts and publishers to consider shifting to HTTP/2. In the spirit of moving forward, in October 2015, 29 percent of the top 1000 websites using SSL also supported HTTP/2, compared to 8 percent of the top million sites. If you own a website, now is the time to ask your hosting provider if your website can already run on the protocol. It will not only minimize the amount of inbound bandwidth your servers have to handle, but will also make a visitor’s experience much smoother.

Other Technologies Moving Forward

The shift to HTTP/2 adoption didn’t happen in a vacuum. 2015 saw a great deal of changes, including the evolution of already-established technologies such as content delivery networks, which basically speed up access to content by distributing cached elements across servers in different parts of the world. CDN technologies don’t only speed up access and reduce bandwidth utilization on your webhosts. As an added benefit, for instance, Incapsula’s global network will also effectively add HTTP/2 support for your website.

Another concept that is continuing to make a big presence is the cloud. Businesses are abandoning on-premises infrastructure in favor of distributed ones, both public and private, due to the scalability and cost-efficiency. Businesses are moving toward a mobile-first and cloud-first environment in many of their business applications, be it for collaboration, business intelligence, enterprise management and customer engagement.

Among all the advantages, perhaps the largest leap made in 2015 was the increase in cost efficiency and operational fluency that businesses have achieved by moving towards the cloud. Sixty-four percent of businesses report to have improved agility by migrating to the cloud, according to an HBR whitepaper (PDF). Further, Microsoft reports that 62% of SMEs enjoy significant productivity benefits through the cloud.

To put the icing on the cake, mobile carriers have also been getting busy enhancing 4G connectivity in their networks. Google Fiber has started to make a stronger presence in the United States and the global average Internet connection speed has increased by 10 percent year-over-year according to a report in mid-2015. However, even with the growing network capabilities, businesses and individuals also have an increasing appetite for bandwidth, with video accounting for 50 percent of mobile data use in 2015. Thus, rather than becoming complacent, businesses should move toward a bandwidth regime that involves efficiency rather than superfluous usage.

Conclusion

It is possible to conclude that the trend for 2016 will be the same. This all depends on how quickly businesses will adopt technologies that make them operate more efficiently and how willing governments are to let this all happen without stepping in and wielding regulatory power on an industry that has been growing significantly.

Written by Oren Rofman

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