Three years after its 2015 release, the lightweight application protocol HTTP/2 is still growing in usage and increasingly being supported by major cloud computing providers. (What’s HTTP?).
The Current State of HTTP adoption
Perhaps an important first question is ‘Is HTTP/1 still around?’, to which the answer is yes; however, HTTP/2 usage is gaining traction, with an almost 15% increase from January 2017 through to January 2018.
The use of proprietary vendor protocols and in-house protocols is steadily decreasing, confirming that the industry at large tends to favor open standards over closed solutions, a survey by the Eclipse Foundation showed said in late April.
Interestingly, traditional servers are not the only candidates for a HTTP/2 upgrade, with Microsoft announcing HTTP/2 support for its Azure platform last month. Notably, as the cloud service provider commented when announcing this release, HTTP/2 compatibility is its top customer request.
“The Azure App Service team is happy to announce the global deployment of support for the HTTP/2 protocol for all apps hosted on App Service. HTTP/2 has been the top customer request we have received, and we are excited to light up support!”.
This news is indicative of the continuing demand of the new protocol, despite the time that’s elapsed since its release.
What’s Changed in HTTP/2
Of the many updates to the protocol, perhaps the most noteworthy is the use of multiplexing which reduces the overhead of transporting data over the web by merging streams (requests for things such as images, or text) into one request, reducing 10 interactions between a client (mobile phone, tablet, etc) and server to one request.
Network optimisation provider Cloudflare said of the upgrade (referring to the growing complexity of internet applications): “HTTP/1.1 wasn’t designed for this kind of complexity. HTTP/2 is optimized for the modern website, improving performance without complicated hacks like domain sharding and file concatenation”.
Furthermore, developers are now able to deploy applications without investing as much time optimising performance, this is because HTTP/2 comes with many of these features out of the box. With this in mind, it is clear why both customers and cloud vendors such as Microsoft’s Azure and Cloudflare (who can better help their users) are benefitting from HTTP/2.