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Aztec are implementing HTTP/2.0

Posted by Paul Randall on May 18, 2020

Transition to HTTP/2.0 on an Aztec Internet cloud server

Initial observations

We’ve been working hard to make the move to HTTP/2.0 from HTTP/1.1 and it’s been interesting to say the least. The first thing we noticed after initiating the new protocol was the asynchronous loading seemed to help pages secured with TLS certificates through https speed up somewhat. Overall, very impressed.

Once a server is HTTP/2.0 ready all of the websites that are protected with a secure certificate are supposed to be served through the new protocol however what I would was only those that were proxied through Cloudflare actually seemed to comply. If I turned off the Cloudflare proxy and just gave them regular old DNS they were reported not to.

HTTP/2.0 is based very much around the design of Google's SPDY which was deprecated a few years ago now. It is the current modern and stable alternative to HTTP/1.1. With HTTP/3.0 also a potential future successor there will soon be a far greater speed and efficiency to the web that will bring with it incredible web apps and far more capable applications in the cloud. Especially with the advent of 5G and gigabit broadband.

HTTP/2.0 was designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). If you look at the history of HTTP1.1 which was coded in 1999 it's not difficult to realise how more advanced this 2.0 version really is. It's a much needed upgrade, especially if you take into consideration the new technologies that power the web nowadays like PHP, Python, Ruby, SCSS, HTML5 etc have all been introduced since HTTP was crafted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Efficiency

Multiplexing

HTTP/2.0 has a particularly impressive advantage over it’s predecessor in that it utilises the bandwidth of the TCP/IP connection way more efficiently by allowing an asymmetric download of data packets instead of waiting for one packet to download before queueing up another one. As a result it improves the TTFB (time to first byte) and generally the load speed of web data. The benefit to you is that you have less of a wait for webpages to load.

Flow control

As HTTP/2.0 is more efficient and can deliver simultaneous streams of data it’s entirely possible for the protocol to overwhelm a browser or connection therefore flow control was implemented to keep a track of what’s being downloaded and take control of the flow of each packet when it’s ready for it.

Server push

HTTP/2.0 has so much efficiency that it can even push data to a browser before it’s requested allowing for preloading of resources and a faster download of webpages.

Speed

The Website ImageKit.io provided a clever demonstration of an image split into 100 smaller tiles and one of them was downloaded over HTTP/2.0 and the other one was downloaded with HTTP/1.1. The difference is remarkable especially if you download it on a slower connection.

Security

HTTP/2.0 is only available over TLS which superseded SSL. If you don’t have a properly set up secure connection over https with a TLS certificate you will not get the benefits of the enhanced speed and efficiency of HTTP/2.0. It’s a big improvement over the older HTTP/1.1 and totally leads the charge in eventually making the non-secure http protocol obsolete.

So all in all it seems that HTTP/2.0 is a welcome upgrade from HTTP/1.1 and as we are implementing it on our cloud servers you can take advantage of that yourself with one of our cloud server packages or hosting plans.

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