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Re: The HTTP vs SPDY debate

From: Henry Story <henry.story@bblfish.net>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:14:22 +0200
Cc: ietf-http-wg@w3.org
Message-Id: <7ABCC1A0-CCFD-4769-AB2A-A77D02221B85@bblfish.net>
To: Willy Tarreau <w@1wt.eu>
Hi Will,

your proposal sounds good to me. 

I should say I am a complete novice in SPDY and HTTP2.0 still. But I will be very
interested to try to get the WebID authentication 'protocol' [1] working 
with SPDY. (I put protocol in quotes, because it is such a simple protocol,
that really I even hesitate to call it a protocol: it's just using TLS the
way it was meant to be used, if you look at the history of X500 and directories.
We just use URIs instead of ldap names)

WebID enables authentication for distributed social networks. It works with HTTP1.0
and 10 year old browsers. It should work out of the box for SPDY too. 

I am in Paris so if people would like to chat about this a bit more to see
how this can tie into the authentication stack, I'd be very happy to exchange


[1] video and links on http://webid.info/
    spec at http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/webid/spec/
    community http://www.w3.org/community/webid/

On 29 Mar 2012, at 14:22, Willy Tarreau wrote:

> Hello,
> after seeing all the disagreements that were expressed on the list these
> days (including from me) about what feature from SPDY we'd like to have
> mandatory or not in HTTP, I'm thinking that part of the issue comes from
> the fact that there are a number of different usages of HTTP right now,
> all of them fairly legitimate.
> First I think that everyone here agrees that something needs to be done
> to improve end user experience especially in the mobile networks. And
> this is reflected by all proposals, including the http-ng draft from
> 14 years ago!
> Second, the privacy issues are a mess because we try to address a social
> problem by technical means. It's impossible to decide on a protocol if
> we all give an example of what we'd like to protect and what we'd prefer
> not to protect because it is useless and possibly counter-productive.
> And precisely, some of the disagreement comes from the fact that we're
> trying to see these impacts on the infrastructure we know today, which
> would obviously be a total breakage. As PHK said it, a number of sites
> will not want to afford crypto for privacy. I too know some sites which
> would significantly increase their operating costs by doing so. But
> what we're designing is not for now but for tomorrow.
> What I think is that anyway we need a smooth upgrade path from current
> HTTP/1.1 infrastructure and what will constitute the web tomorrow without
> making any bigbang.
> SPDY specifically addresses issues observed between the browser and the
> server-side infrastructure. Some of its mandatory features are probably
> not desirable past the server-side frontend *right now* (basically
> whatever addresses latency and privacy concerns). Still, it would be
> too bad not to make the server side infrastructure benefit from a good
> lifting by progressively migrating from 1.1 to 2.0.
> What does this mean ? Simply that we have to consider HTTP/2.0 as a
> subset of SPDY or that SPDY should be an add-on to HTTP. And that
> makes a lot of sense. First, SPDY already is an optimized messaging
> alternative to HTTP. It carries HTTP/1.1, it can as well carry HTTP/2.0
> since we're supposed to maintain compatible semantics.
> We could then get to a point where :
>  - an http:// scheme indicates a connection to HTTP/1.x or 2.x server
>  - an https:// scheme indicates a connection to HTTP/1.x or 2.x server
>    via an SSL/TLS layer
>  - a spdy:// scheme indicates a connection to HTTP/1.x or 2.x server
>    via a SPDY layer
> By having HTTP/2.0 upgradable from 1.1, this split is natural :
>        +----------------------------+
>        |       Application          |
>        +----+-----------------------+
>        | WS |     HTTP/2.0          |
>        +----+--------------+        |
>        |      HTTP/1.1     |        |
>        |         +-----+---+--------+
>        |         | TLS | SPDY       |
>        +---------+-----+------------+   server-side
>            ^        ^        ^  
>            |        |        |  
>            |        |        |  
>            |        |        |  
>        +---------+-----+------------+  user-agent
>        |         | TLS | SPDY       |
>        |         +-----+-------+----+
>        |  HTTP/1.1, 2.0        |    |
>        +-------------------+---+    |
>        |                   |   WS   |
>        |  Applications     +--------+
>        |                            |
>        +----------------------------+
> The upgrade path would then be much easier :
>  1) have browsers, intermediaries and servers progressively
>     adopt HTTP/2.0 and support a seamless upgrade
>  2) have browsers, some intermediaries and some servers
>     progressively adopt SPDY for the front-line
>  3) have a lot of web sites offer URLs as spdy:// instead of http://,
>     and implement mandatory redirects from http:// to spdy:// like a
>     few sites are currently doing (eg: twitter)
>  4) have browsers at some point use the SPDY as the default scheme
>     for any domain name typed on the URL bar.
>  5) have browsers at one point disable by default transparent support
>     for the old http:// scheme (eg: put a warning or have to tweak
>     some settings for this). This will probably 10-20 years from now.
> Before we get to point 5, we'd have a number of sites running on the
> new protocol, with an efficient HTTP/2.0 deployed at many places
> including the backoffice, and with SPDY used by web browsers for
> improved performance/privacy. That will not prevent specific agents
> from still only using a simpler HTTP/2.0 for some uses.
> So I think that what we should do is to distinguish between what is
> really desirable to have in HTTP and what is contentious. Everything
> which increases costs or causes trouble for *some* use cases should
> not be mandatory in HTTP but would be in the SPDY layer (as it is
> today BTW).
> I think that the current SPDY+HTTP mix has shown that the two protocols
> are complementary and can be efficient together. Still we can significantly
> improve HTTP to make both benefit from this, starting with the backoffice
> infrastructure where most of the requests lie.
> Willy

Social Web Architect
Received on Thursday, 29 March 2012 22:14:55 UTC

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