Welcome!

FinTech Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: FinTech Journal, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @DevOpsSummit

FinTech Journal: Article

HTTPS Is Not Faster Than HTTP | @DevOpsSummit #WebPerf #DataCenter

I have read no less than two contrived comparisons of 'HTTPS' and 'HTTP' in the last two weeks

Yes, Lori has been reading the Internet again. And what she's been seeing makes baby Lori angry. It also makes this former test designer and technology editor cry. Really, I weep at both the excuses offered for such testing and the misleading headline.

I have read no less than two contrived comparisons of "HTTPS" and "HTTP" in the last two weeks purporting to demonstrate that secure HTTP is inarguably faster than its plaintext counterpart, HTTP.

Oh, if only that were true.

See, the trick is that both comparisons (and no doubt many more will follow) are comparing secure HTTP/2 with insecure HTTP/1.1. From the aforementioned comparison: "Plaintext HTTP/1.1 is compared against encrypted HTTP/2 HTTPS".

As we are all already aware, HTTP/2 itself is faster (by design) than HTTP/1.1 for a variety of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with security. Multiplexing, ‘smart' headers, and a binary bitstream all combine to provide a faster and more efficient protocol, period. While it's likely the case that layering security (TLS or SSL) atop HTTP/2 will cause a slight degradation in performance (because math says it will), it's not enough to drive performance down the levels we are used to seeing with HTTP/1.1, even unsecured.

Unfortunately, these results are touting as inarguable proof that HTTPS is faster than HTTP. Which is simply not true. The argument against testing HTTP/2 secure against HTTP/2 plaintext is that browsers refuse to support HTTP/2 without security, and thus there is no way to perform such a test. So a test was contrived to pretend to illustrate the differences, but in fact does not do anything of the kind.

It's true that comparing secure HTTP/2 with insecure HTTP/2 would be passingly difficult, if not impossible. While HTTP/2 backed off its requirement for only secure connections and allows for plaintext, all the major browsers refused to support plaintext and have thus far only provided support for HTTP/2 over TLS/SSL. Even popular command line tools like curl refuse to allow insecure HTTP/2 connections. Which winds up making HTTPS the de facto standard, even though the specification doesn't. But that doesn't mean you can go ahead and compare the two and then make absolutely ridiculous claims based on that test that are disproven with simple mathematics.

See, let's pretend that a web page transferred via HTTP/2 plaintext took exactly 1.2 seconds to load. Now let's add TLS. The addition of TLS (or SSL for that matter) means there is more processing that goes on, specifically encryption and decryption of the data. Even if that takes only .3 seconds, it still means that HTTPS is a teensy bit slower than HTTP. Period. Math says so, and math is pure. It has no agenda, it doesn't care about the results, it simply says "here it is."

And math says if you do X and then add on Y you get Z, and Z will always be greater than X or Y.

I understand the desire to push folks toward HTTP/2, because it's faster and it's the first real "upgrade" we've had to HTTP in a really long time, but it takes time, especially when it requires a lot of upgrades and changes to infrastructure that will necessitate disruptions as everyone from app dev to ops to netops to security have to drop what they're doing and test, deploy, and test again. And that doesn't account for changes in modifying apps that have long been built around HTTP/1.1 and its protocol specification. HTTP/2 changes everything. And its impact spans the entire data center. While gateways mitigate the inherent difficulty and disruption stemming from migration, not everyone necessarily sees a driving need to hop on the HTTP/2 bandwagon.

The boost in performance organizations will see simply means HTTP/2 performs as its designers intended, with increased speed and efficiency. It means organizations should be planning on the app and network infrastructure upgrades necessary to migrate to support the new standard, whether that's through HTTP gateways or not. It doesn't mean that HTTPS is faster than HTTP.

Making demonstrably false claims to craft click bait like headlines regarding allegedly superior performance is simply unacceptable. Yes, you will almost certainly see a boost in performance if you're moving from HTTP/1.1 to HTTP/2, even with forced security. But that does not, in any world where logic and math exist, mean that HTTPS is faster than HTTP. If you want to help organizations, help them understand how to smoothly transition from the old to the new. Provide meaningful data for them to build a business case that enables them to upgrade to the latest and greatest. Provide them the means to show that the investment in moving from HTTP/1.x to HTTP/2 will pay off in the long run.

Offer guidelines and best practices, not punchy headlines and a buried lede.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
LogRocket helps product teams develop better experiences for users by recording videos of user sessions with logs and network data. It identifies UX problems and reveals the root cause of every bug. LogRocket presents impactful errors on a website, and how to reproduce it. With LogRocket, users can replay problems.
Data Theorem is a leading provider of modern application security. Its core mission is to analyze and secure any modern application anytime, anywhere. The Data Theorem Analyzer Engine continuously scans APIs and mobile applications in search of security flaws and data privacy gaps. Data Theorem products help organizations build safer applications that maximize data security and brand protection. The company has detected more than 300 million application eavesdropping incidents and currently secu...
Rafay enables developers to automate the distribution, operations, cross-region scaling and lifecycle management of containerized microservices across public and private clouds, and service provider networks. Rafay's platform is built around foundational elements that together deliver an optimal abstraction layer across disparate infrastructure, making it easy for developers to scale and operate applications across any number of locations or regions. Consumed as a service, Rafay's platform elimi...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...