The next generation of the web is here! We are excited to announce that KeyCDN has officially launched support for HTTP/2 (as of October 6th, 2015), and it has been rolled out to all customers at no extra cost. As a Content Delivery Network, our job is to speed up the delivery of resources all over the web, and HTTP/2 bring significant improvements in efficiency, speed and security.
We have worked closely with various industry leaders and are proud to be among the first CDNs in the industry to implement HTTP/2 across our entire global network. The long-awaited HTTP protocol doesn’t require any changes on the customer side, all content will be automatically delivered with the new standard and replaces the predecessor SPDY 3.1.
You will notice in your KeyCDN dashboard that HTTP/2 has now replaced SPDY. This feature is enabled by default on every account.
What is HTTP/2?
HTTP/2 is based off SPDY and is the first major protocol update since HTTP/1.1, which was released more than 15 years ago. It was developed due to the exponential growth of the web and the need to load even more data faster. HTTP/2 was officially released for NGINX in September and is designed to bring increased performance and security to modern web applications.
HTTP/2 is a protocol designed for low-latency transport of content over the World Wide Web
Downfalls of HTTP/1.1
- Browsers tend to use 4-8 connections, more are needed.
- One client-server request per TCP connection.
- Larger HTTP request headers, no header compression.
- People are forced to use domain sharding and concatenation to keep up.
Benefits of HTTP/2
- Binary: As opposed to HTTP/1.1, which is textual.
- Multiplexing: Allowing multiple requests and responses to be sent at the same time.
- Header compression: Headers are compressed using a new algorithm which in turn reduces the amount of data.
- One Connection: Allows a client to use just one connection per origin.
- Server Push: Avoid delays by pushing responses it thinks the client will need to cache.
- Addresses the head of line blocking problem in HTTP/1.1.
HTTP/2 Browser Support
Most all modern browsers already support HTTP/2 (at over 60% globally). If you visit a server running HTTP/2 in a non-supported browser it will simply fallback to HTTP/1.1.
The number of HTTP/2 connections in Chrome and Firefox already surpass those of SPDY/3.1.
New TLS + NPN/ALPN connections in Chrome (telemetry May 26, 2015)
- 27% negotiate HTTP/1
- 28% negotiate SPDY/3.1
- 45% negotiate HTTP/2
“9% of all Firefox (M36) HTTP transactions are happening over HTTP/2. There are actually more HTTP/2 connections made than SPDY ones. This is well-exercised technology.” – Feb 18, 2015 – Patrick McManus, Mozilla
The team at HttpWatch saw speed increases of 20% when comparing HTTPS vs SPDY/3.1 vs HTTP/2.
“We also found that HTTP/2 was consistently faster than SPDY even though its response messages were often larger. The advantage was probably due to the smaller GET request messages produced by HPACK compression.” – HttpWatch
See a full comparison of SPDY3.1 and HTTP/2.
Additional Benefit From HTTP/2
There are many additional benefits from HTTP/2 besides simply the new features of the protocol.
- A big advantage of HTTP/2 is the speed increase reduces additional round trip times (RTT), making your website load faster without any optimization.
- With KeyCDN launching HTTP/2 ahead of most other CDN providers, this will allow you to take advantage of the protocol right away without engineering and maintaining your own infrastructure, keeping you ahead of the competition. As content delivery gets faster and smarter, the new standard will ensure better conversion rates for e-commerce sites and lower operational costs.
- The new ALPN extension allows faster-encrypted connections since the application protocol is determined during the initial connection.
QUIC is Coming Next
After HTTP/2, QUIC (quick UDP internet connections) is coming next and aims to replace the TCP transport protocol on the internet. QUIC was developed by Google in an effort to reduce TCP web latency, and they have plans to propose QUICK as an IETF standard. This protocol has been supported by Chrome since version 29, and according to Google, about half of all requests from Chrome to Google web servers are served over QUIC.
We currently don’t have an ETA on when can make QUIC available on all our edge servers, but we have already started to engineer possible integration scenarios.
KeyCDN is proud to be among the first CDN providers around the globe to be able to offer HTTP/2 support. Speed, stability, and security are of utmost importance to us as we analyze the most efficient ways to better deliver your content. Does your server support HTTP/2? Quickly check it with our HTTP/2 test tool.
We would love to hear your feedback! If you have any questions regarding this implementation feel free to comment below our contact our support team.