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Interop 2012: Mobile application delivery improved with SPDY protocol

Enterprises are demanding better mobile application delivery support. At Interop 2012, F5 answered the call with BIG-IP, a controller that supports Google's SPDY protocol.

LAS VEGAS -- With a growing population of mobile and remote workers, enterprise demand for mobile application delivery is also rising. Employees now use a variety of mobile devices and applications supported by different browsers, so enterprises need consistent application delivery across all devices, regardless of location or other variables that can interfere with mobile delivery.

Because of these enterprise needs, mobile application delivery support is the next logical step for many application delivery controller vendors, noted Cindy Borovick, program vice president of enterprise and datacenter networks at IDC. "[Vendors] are thinking about the explosion in mobile, and [an] enterprise needs to support all of its end users from a device standpoint."

Google has designed its SPDY application-layer protocol for minimal latency when transporting content over the Web via the typical HTTP protocol. The protocol -- which is enabled in Google 

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Chrome, Amazon Silk and Mozilla Firefox (version 11 and up) -- is a standard that is becoming especially important for remote users who need a more efficient traffic flow that consumes less bandwidth on their mobile devices.

F5 rolls out SPDY on BIG-IP for mobile application delivery

At Interop 2012, F5 Networks announced updates to Application Delivery Optimization, a new feature set on its BIG-IP Application Delivery Controller (ADC) products. It claims Application Delivery Optimization makes BIG-IP the first ADC on the market to support Google's SPDY protocol.

The Application Delivery Optimization is specifically geared toward remote and mobile users, said Jason Needham, senior director of product management for F5. "The offering provides a better mobile user experience and optimization image delivery and rendering of Web pages in a much quicker environment."

Mobile users can reap the lower latency benefits with quicker download times for Web sites and Web-based applications, and optimized and reordered images for their mobile devices, via the SPDY protocol. "With our BIG-IP application-delivery controller enabled with SPDY, our users can make one connection to a Web site instead of 30. That's a pretty big deal," said Patrick McFadin, director of systems and architecture at Hobsons, a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider for colleges and universities.

Optimized mobile application delivery can lower costs for the enterprise, said Needham, noting that F5 customers have been asking for BIG-IP support of the SPDY protocol. 

By supporting the SPDY protocol, F5 has reordered content and streamlined image-intensive Web sites by 40% on average, according to Needham. "From the perspective of the end user, the Web pages are loading faster," he said. "When there is less latency, there can be more traffic to a site," McFadin said.

Increased traffic to a site can translate into more revenue for the customer, noted Needham.

Vendors must adapt to SPDY protocol to support end users efficiently

The expansion of mobile workers and mobile customers has forced application-delivery controller vendors -- like F5 -- tofocus on mobile application delivery. "In keeping with mobility, vendors must continue to adapt and bring out new functionality to support the new end user -- the remote and mobile users within the enterprise," Borovick said.

Supporting Google's SPDY protocol is a good start, noted McFadin. "The HTTP protocol is really inefficient and very susceptible to high latency if you are on a mobile device."

Getting out ahead on the SPDY protocol is crucial for mobile and remote workers, said Joe Skorupa, research vice president for Gartner. But not every browser supports the emerging protocol yet. SPDY is more likely to be enabled on mobile devices and consumer computers than on enterprise computers, which typically use older versions of Web browsers. "Consumers and mobile users update their devices more with the latest browsers and applications. These devices will be enabled for SPDY," Skorupa said.

The SPDY protocol must be embraced in order for application delivery providers to offer Web acceleration and image optimization across mobile devices, Skorupa pointed out. "Users have more options on mobile devices," he added. "If a site is too slow, they will go somewhere else."

View all our Interop 2012 conference coverage from Las Vegas.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer

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