Computers and Internet

A SPDY end to web site content sharding?

With the advent of Google’s SPDY improvements to the HTTP protocol, could we see an end in sight to the practice of sharding content on web sites?

In the news today (from The Register) Google report a 15% increase in speed when using SPDY to communicate to their web services from Chrome browsers. The SPDY technology seems to establish a single TCP session in which multiple HTTP like requests are managed in an efficient manner. It means, for instance, that multiple requests can be processed concurrently rather than the two (or six in recent browsers) per domain limit.

The practice of content sharding is used, in part, to achieve a similar effect. It allows browsers to believe they’re downloading from different servers and so they can initiate more concurrent connections. Another benefit is in reducing the payload of cookies by using domains the cookies haven’t been set for.

SPDY should take care of all of this for us. And, in fact, using separate domains to serve images, CSS and Javascript will perform worse with SPDY as there will be multiple TCP sessions established. So, assuming this technology becomes more widely available on the server side, we should probably start selectively sharding content on the basis of the capabilities of the user agent.

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