SPDY is not hard. Securing the Internet is.

The F5 folks wrote a little about SPDY a few weeks ago. It’s a nice write up. But I want to challenge one particular point of it which I commonly hear:

“The most obvious impact to any infrastructure between a SPDY-enabled client and server is that it drives intermediate processing back to layer 4, to TCP”

This isn’t actually true. SPDY is not what makes load balancing or hierarchical caching difficult. SSL is what makes these hard. But even blaming SSL is a bit unfair – any protocol which introduces encryption to avoid 3rd party tampering of the data stream is going to have this problem.

In other words, it’s not deploying SPDY that is hard, it’s securing the web that is hard.

To the contrary, SPDY actually makes deployment of secure content easier. One of the common complaints against using SSL is that of performance – both in terms of client latency and also server scalability. When SSL is combined with SPDY, the performance objection is substantially lessened.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am sympathetic to the difficulty of securing the web, and we need a lot more tools, debugging, and effort to make it simpler and cheaper for everyone. This will be especially difficult for infrastructure solutions which leverage the fact that HTTP is unsecured to do L7 packet analysis. But that doesn’t change the fact that we live in an electronic world full of bad guys. Whenever we ultimately decide to protect the web, it’s going to be hard. SPDY doesn’t create this problem at all.

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