Bandwidth providers: Please follow Google’s lead in helping startups, the environment and yourselves

There’s a post on Hacker News today pointing to a few open source javascript libraries that Google is hosting on their content distribution network. ScriptSrc.net has a great UI that gives you an easy way to link to the libs from your web pages. Developers and companies can link to these scripts from their own websites and gain the following benefits:

  • Your visitor may have already cached the script on another website so your page will load faster
  • The script is hosted on a different domain which allows your browser to create more concurrent connections while fetching your content – another speed increase.
  • It saves you the bandwidth of having to serve that content up yourself which can result in massive cost savings if you’re a high traffic site.
  • Just like your visitor already cached the content, their workstation or local DNS server may also have the CDN’s IP address cached which further speeds load time.

While providing a service like this does cost Google or the providing company more in hosting, it provides an overall efficiency gain. Less bandwidth and CPU is used on the Web as a whole by Google providing this service. That means less cooling is required in data centers, less networking hardware needs to be manufactured to support the traffic on the web and so on.

The environment benefits as a whole by Google or another large provider hosting these frequently loaded scripts for us.

The savings are passed on to lone developers and startups who are using the scripts. For smaller companies who are trying to minimize costs while dealing with massive growth this can result in a huge cost savings that helps them to continue to innovate.

The savings are also passed on to bandwidth providers like NTT, AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Qwest and other bandwidth providers who’s customers consume less bandwidth as a result.

So my suggestion is that Google and bandwidth providers collaborate to come up with a package of the most used open source components online and keep the list up to date. Then provide local mirrors of each of these packages with a fallback mechanism if the package isn’t available. Google should define an IP address similar to their easy to remember DNS ip address 8.8.8.8 that hosts these scripts. Participating ISP’s route traffic destined for that IP address to a local mirror using a system similar to IP Anycast. An alternative URL is provided via a query string. e.g.

http://9.9.9.9/js/prototype.1.5.0.js?fallback=http://mysite.com/myjs/myprototype.1.5.0.js

If the local ISP isn’t participating the request is simply routed to Google’s 9.9.9.9 server as per normal.

If the local ISP (or Google) doesn’t have a copy of the script in their mirror it just returns a 302 redirect to the fallback URL which the webmaster has provided and which usually points to the webmaster’s own site. A mechanism for multiple fallbacks can easily be created e.g. fallback1, fallback2, etc.

Common scripts, icon libraries and flash components can be hosted this way. There may even be scenarios where a company (like Google) is used by such a large percentage of the Net population that it makes sense to put them on the 9.9.9.9 mirror system so that local bandwidth providers can serve up commonly used components rather than have to fetch them from via their upstream providers. Google’s logo for example.

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