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HTTP/2 Will be Automatically Enabled by Default on the Akamai Intelligent Edge Platform

Users demand digital experiences that are fast, secure and visually engaging. To deliver on user expectations, companies craft web experiences that are richer and more interactive with the goal of driving more engagement. The result is increasingly complex websites that are comprised of high resolution images, heavy javascript, videos, personalization, and other third-party content.

HTTP, the foundation for data communication over the web, wasn't designed for delivering the rich content that is common in today's websites. HTTP/2, which represents a major update to the HTTP network protocol, has been introduced to deliver such websites and provides a significant improvement in the performance, security and privacy of today's web.

We are excited to announce that Akamai plans to automatically enable HTTP/2 by default for all eligible traffic on Akamai's Intelligent Edge Platform. This will reduce friction to adopt HTTP/2 and will allow you to take full advantage of HTTP/2 benefits. If you do not qualify for HTTP/2 on by default, you can turn it on with a single step.  

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One of the key capabilities of HTTP/2 is resource prioritization, which allows higher priority requests to be downloaded prior to lower priority requests. Prioritizing resources correctly can make a huge difference in page load time and user experience. The first row in the filmstrip-visual below shows a test page loaded from a site using the Akamai Platform, and the second row shows the same page loaded via another service. As you can see, the page loads much faster on Akamai's platform (1 second for Akamai vs. 4 seconds for the other service). This significant performance difference is due to the correct implementation of HTTP/2 on our platform. Check out this blog from Andy Davies, a web perf guru, that provides more insight into HTTP/2 resource prioritization.

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Filmstrip illustrating the performance benefits of Akamai's (top) HTTP/2 prioritization. Both pages were tested with WebPageTest in the Dulles VA USA test location, using Chrome 71 and the Cable network profile.

With HTTP/2, you also get access to Adaptive Acceleration that intelligently caches content that viewers will likely need ahead of when it's actually needed. This approach shortens delivery times, reduces the load on the network, and renders web pages faster. Adaptive Acceleration is also receiving enhancements as part of this release, adding preloading of fonts and usability improvements for the user of the CLI.

Akamai's engineers were deeply involved in the IETF HTTP Working Group and played an instrumental role in defining the HTTP/2 protocol. Akamai was one of the first CDNs to support HTTP/2  and has invested significant resources to ensure a successful implementation of HTTP/2 on Akamai's platform. In the past few years, we have helped hundreds of customers to deliver HTTP/2 enabled websites. Today, over 26% of all the traffic on our platform is on HTTP/2. With easy access to HTTP/2, Akamai enables organizations to build and deliver experiences that reach their full potential, furthering our commitment to a better internet.

 

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