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[EME] HTTPS performance experiments for large scale content distribution

From: Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:46 -0700
Message-ID: <CAEnTvdDoE2apXbat_3X6NEN_es+YgRkXNyP72FvEcarXd=zu_w@mail.gmail.com>
To: "public-html-media@w3.org" <public-html-media@w3.org>, www-tag <www-tag@w3.org>
All,

We have done some testing
​on the Netflix CDN ​
with HTTPS
​. We dedicated several servers to serving only HTTPS traffic and directed
traffic from our Silverlight clients to those servers in order to measure
the serving capacity, as compared with similarly situated servers serving
over HTTP.

We​
discovered that with our existing hardware/software stack
​[1] ​
we would incur a capacity hit of between 30-53%
​ using HTTPS​
depending on the server hardware/software version. This is due in part to
the computational overhead of encryption itself (despite use of Intel hw
acceleration) and in part to the unavailability of optimizations that, with
HTTP, can avoid data copies to/from user space. This is not a capacity hit
we
​c
ould absorb in the short term and we estimate the costs over time would be
in the $10’s to $100’s of millions per year.

Our current rough estimates indicate that, over the coming year we could
implement additional software optimizations which could potentially reduce
​the size of this
 overhead
​by around​
 30%
​
and with modified hardware (over the next several years)
​by around
 70-80%.
​We have not decided to do this, it's just an illustration of technical
feasibility.

​I think it's unreasonable to expect that standards action alone can be
successful in the face of such costs​. What is needed is a collaborative
discussion to work towards solutions and on timeframes that are not
cost-prohibitive.

...Mark

PS: For the avoidance of any doubt, I am talking here only about delivery
of content that is already encrypted at rest on the server. We have many
mechanisms in place, including HTTPS, to protect sensitive user data such
as account details, credit card information etc.

[1] See https://www.netflix.com/openconnect for an overview, although this
does not cover more recent designs
Received on Friday, 24 October 2014 18:01:14 UTC

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