Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Anders Wallgren, Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog, Automic Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Five Signs You Need HTML5 WebSockets

You can extend your SOA over the Web and in the cloud

HTML5 WebSocket is an important new technology that helps you build engaging, interactive, real-time web applications quickly and reliably. Sure, HTML5 WebSockets may be the best thing since sliced bread, but is this new technology right for you?

This article identifies five types of web applications that will benefit from HTML5 WebSockets. So, without further ado... give me five!

The Five Signs

  1. Your web application has data that must flow bi-directional simultaneously.
  2. Your web application must scale to large numbers of concurrent users.
  3. Your web application must extend TCP-based protocols to the browser.
  4. Your web application developers need an API that is easy to use.
  5. Your web application must extend SOA over the Web and in the Cloud.

1. Your application has data that must flow bi-directional simultaneously.
When the Web was first conceived, it focused on document retrieval. Users requested a URL and the server delivered an object (for example, a web page or an image file). Today, the Web also comes to us. Servers want to let us know when they have something for us, be it a stock update or a message from a friend. Unfortunately, due to current Web architecture, clients must initiate communication with the server using half-duplex (request/response) HTTP. Even relatively static applications need a way to communicate asynchronously between the client and the server for common tasks, such as spell-checking or search auto-completion.

Up until now, in an effort to simulate full-duplex communication over half-duplex HTTP, developers have contrived clever tricks and techniques using two connections: one for the downstream and one for the upstream. Many of these techniques use polling or long-polling (Comet) to simulate server-initiated push. The maintenance and coordination of two connections causes significant resource consumption overhead and adds lots of complexity. Furthermore, these techniques do not provide true full-duplex communication where data can be transferred between the client and the server simultaneously. Simply put, HTTP was not designed for real-time, full-duplex communication.

Now, HTML5 WebSockets deliver a full-duplex communication model for the Internet: communication between the client and server can now flow in both directions at the same time. For today's web application developers, this new concept opens up entirely new application models without the burden and overhead of earlier approaches.

If you are building a web application that has data that must flow bi-directionally and simultaneously, you need to use HTML5 WebSockets.

2. Your application must scale to large numbers of concurrent users
If you are building a web application for a large number of concurrent users, you are inevitably going to face resource contention, particularly when each of your users must establish a connection to your back-end server. Typically, each of those connections includes the overhead of HTTP's verbose request-and-response protocol, as well as the establishment and teardown of secure connections.

The HTTP request and response model suffers from a significant amount of overhead. When retrieving a large document from a server, a few hundred bytes of HTTP header overhead is not a big deal. Consider what happens, however, when each message sent to a client is only a few bytes, such as a stock price update or a chat message that is only 20 characters long. The majority of the data transmitted in this case is unnecessary HTTP header overhead (up to 2000 or even more bytes for the single message), making the communication highly inefficient.

HTML5 WebSockets specify a new, vastly more efficient way of communicating between clients and servers that is far less taxing on the application and easier for the underlying network infrastructure to handle. Replacing hundreds of HTTP header bytes with just two WebSocket frame bytes leads to a massive reduction in unnecessary network throughput (1000:1). In addition, the lack of continuous polling dramatically reduces latency. All of this means that a single WebSocket server can deal with many more users at once, reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO).

HTML5 WebSockets provide such a dramatic improvement from the old, convoluted hacks that simulate a full-duplex connection in a browser that it prompted Google's Ian Hickson, the HTML5 specification lead, to say:

"Reducing kilobytes of data to 2 bytes... and reducing latency from 150ms to 50ms is far more than marginal. In fact, these two factors alone are enough to make WebSockets seriously interesting to Google."

3. Your application must extend TCP-based protocols to the browser.
Many web applications need to connect end users to information from back-end, TCP-based services. These services are contained in legacy systems, or travel across enterprise message buses via APIs and protocols such as TIBCO EMS, JMS, RMDS, AMQP, XMPP, and Stomp.

Some applications may be composed of several subsystems, each using a different application protocol. For example, one subsystem may require a publish/subscribe programming model that listens and responds to the changing prices of inventory items, another subsystem may receive a large volume of database events pushed from a column-based persistence engine, and yet another subsystem may need to support chat and chat rooms.

By using WebSockets, your application can avoid siloed solutions for each subsystem. You no longer have to use hacks to push data to a browser or use CPU and network-intensive polling to simulate publishing and subscribing. With WebSocket, the W3C and IETF standards bodies have provided an elegant way to enable full-duplex network communication over the Web. In addition, since WebSocket traffic flows over standard HTTP ports (80 and 443), there is no need to open additional ports on corporate firewalls to take advantage of full-duplex communication.

4. Your application developers need an API that is easy to use.
To deliver a compelling, usable application, developers rely on rich client platforms such as Adobe Flex (Flash), Microsoft Silverlight, Java/JavaFx, and JavaScript. However, connecting these rich clients to real-time data over the Web can be challenging. Developers often have to create their own client- and server- side communication libraries, essentially reinventing the wheel to overcome some of the inherent limitations of HTTP.

Consider how much time and effort is required to create a reliable two-way communications protocol and to connect an application server to back-end systems. Testing and securing applications built on top of this protocol is difficult, because it is harder to pinpoint the problem in a proprietary protocol. Moreover, the work is application-specific, thwarting all attempts to re-use it.

HTML5 WebSockets offer a single, standard interface against which to develop. This means developers can spend less time building and testing communication protocols and more time designing a superb client-side experience - without having to redo the back-end work. HTML5 WebSockets eliminate much of the custom development work that engineers have to do to create a fast, secure, full-duplex application.

5. Your application must extend SOA over the web and in the cloud.
Your enterprise service-oriented architecture (SOA) application or SOA product works well on an internal enterprise network, but you now have to deploy your high-performance distributed software over the web - and through the quagmire of firewalls and proxy servers along the way - to leverage all the advantages of a web infrastructure for your demanding customers and even more-demanding management.

With WebSockets, your applications can open a standardized, full-duplex connection over the web. Developers can leverage this connection to extend messages from a SOA inside the firewall to an external SOA, such as a high-performance Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) or a web-based Supply Chain in a cloud environment.

HTML5 WebSockets are more efficient than current architectures, and WebSocket applications can handle more concurrent users and a greater message volume, with less infrastructure. This ability is good for any application that has to deal with capacity constraints, as the number of servers required is lower. Where this really makes a difference, however, is in on-demand computing environments in public and private clouds. In a cloud-computing model, capacity is elastic: you pay for what you use.

Traditionally, there are two ways of handling growing demand. The first is to scale "vertically," which involves buying a bigger machine, adding RAM, and so on. Modern web applications do not use this approach; however; they scale "horizontally" - that is, to handle an increasing load, you add more machines at each of the tiers in the application.

Web applications deployed on elastic computing platforms must be especially aware of their resource consumption. In a cloud, the addition of machines is often automated, so there is no upper limit on resource consumption. Now, inefficient code translates directly into a higher bill at the end of the month, because more virtual machines were spun up to handle the traffic. In these environments, the efficiency of HTML5 WebSockets is particularly compelling.

Summary
This article showed you five reasons why you should be using WebSockets for your web applications. You learned that HTML5 WebSockets can enable true full-duplex communication, can handle large numbers of concurrent users, can extend TCP-based protocols to the browser, is easy to use, and can extend your SOA over the Web and in the cloud.

More Stories By Peter Lubbers

Peter Lubbers is the Director of Documentation and Training at Kaazing where he oversees all aspects of documentation and training. He is the co-author of the Apress book Pro HTML5 Programming and teaches HTML5 training courses. An HTML5 and WebSocket enthusiast, Peter frequently speaks at international events.

Prior to joining Kaazing, Peter worked as an information architect at Oracle, where he wrote many books. He also develops documentation automation solutions and two of his inventions are patented.

A native of the Netherlands, Peter served as a Special Forces commando in the Royal Dutch Green Berets. In his spare time (ha!) Peter likes to run ultra-marathons. He is the 2007 and 2009 ultrarunner.net series champion and three-time winner of the Tahoe Super Triple marathon. Peter lives on the edge of the Tahoe National Forest and loves to run in the Sierra Nevada foothills and around Lake Tahoe (preferably in one go!).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
As someone who has been dedicated to automation and Application Release Automation (ARA) technology for almost six years now, one of the most common questions I get asked regards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Specifically, people want to know whether release automation is still needed when a PaaS is in place, and why. Isn't that what a PaaS provides? A solution to the deployment and runtime challenges of an application? Why would anyone using a PaaS then need an automation engine with workflow ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
The cloud competition for database hosts is fierce. How do you evaluate a cloud provider for your database platform? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Chris Presley, a Solutions Architect at Pythian, will give users a checklist of considerations when choosing a provider. Chris Presley is a Solutions Architect at Pythian. He loves order – making him a premier Microsoft SQL Server expert. Not only has he programmed and administered SQL Server, but he has also shared his expertise and passion w...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that (ISC)²® (“ISC-squared”) will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Two leading non-profits focused on cloud and information security, (ISC)² and Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), developed the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification to address the increased demand for cloud security expertise due to rapid growth in cloud. Recently named “The Next...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...