Google’s SPDY protocol is all about accelerating the web, with one major caveat. SPDY only works with Google’s Chrome browser. SPDY also benefits from SPDY protocol support on web servers, which is where a new offering from site optimization vendor Strangeloop comes into play.
The SPDY optimization reside on Strangeloop’s site optimizer appliances which leverage Linux as the underlying operating system.
“We implement a proxy that speaks SPDY to the Chrome browser and http to the server,” Strangeloop President, Joshua Bixby told InternetNews.com. “We also layer on specific layer 7 optimizations that complement SPDY.”
Bixby noted that SPDY on the Strangeloop Site Optimizer does not work on any browser except for Chrome. Bixby was also unable to comment on whether or not a Microsoft Internet Explorer user running Google’s Chrome Frame would benefit from Strangeloop’s SPDY implementation. Chrome Frame embeds a Chrome rendering engine inside of IE, enabling IE users to get the benefits of Chrome without actually switching browser.
For the hundreds of millions of web users that run IE, Firefox or Safari, Bixby noted that they won’t get the benefits of SPDY with Site Optimizer, but they will get the other optimization benefits provided by Strangeloop.
“SPDY won’t connect in anything but Chrome, actually for most of our customers their main browser is not Chrome,” Bixby said. “So you’ll get the Site Optimizer benefits but you won’t get the SPDY benefits of multiplexing of streams, request prioritization and the things that Google has done in their rethinking of how TCP should work.”
Google first announced SPDY back in November of 2009 and it has been integrated into Chrome since then as well. Bixby noted that he sees SPDY as being an important element in the current battle of the browsers.
The way that Strangeloop Site Optimizer works is it re-writes the HTML that comes out of a website in order to optimize it for delivery. A Site Optimizer appliance is deployed alongside a web server and is specifically tasked with web site optimization. The Site Optimizer appliance is asymmetric and does not require an appliance at both ends of an optimized connection.
Strangeloop does not optimize XML or Web Services that may be part of a web page. The Site Optimizer technology is not a WAN optimization tool in the same sense as are products from Riverbed for example.
“SPDY is just an interesting turbo boost,” Bixby said.” It layers on top of TCP, and it works at the protocol level. We had our own layer 7 accelerations on top of SPDY.”
Bixby explained that Strangeloop’s own intellectual property is working at a different level then Google’s SPDY. He noted that Strangeloop’s job is to show a webpage as fast as possible. In contrast, the SPDY component is tasked with getting the objects across the wire as fast as possible.
In a different respect, Google also has its own efforts to improve web page delivery with their mod_pagespeed Apache module. The mod_pagespeed technology is already widely deploy on GoDaddy, and helps to optimize HTML output.
Bixby noted that there is some minor feature overlap between what Site Optimizer offers and what mod_pagespeed provides.
“Mod_pagespeed will actually be in our next major release which is coming up in the summer,” Bixby said. “We see that open source community really working on page-by-page optimization, in contrast we really think of ourselves as a platform for optimizing websites.”