Cloudinary Blog

Cloudinary now delivers images and videos over HTTP/2

Cloudinary now delivers images and videos over HTTP/2

Even though websites have changed dramatically over the years – from simple text-based pages to advanced in-browser apps full of images and videos – the underlying HTTP protocol really hasn’t changed - until recently, with the approval of the HTTP/2 protocol by the IETF. Today Cloudinary is proud to announce, as part of a CDN infrastructure upgrade, general availability of HTTP/2 support in our image and video management solution. This will help you optimize the user experience on your app or website even more.

The benefits of delivering your site images and videos over HTTP/2 are: improving website performance; reducing the amount of bandwidth required by supporting header compression; improving latency and making it easier for developers to use optimized connections, by eliminating the need for domain sharding and other subtle performance tricks.

As more and more sites begin to adopt the technology, HTTP/2 is generating a lot of buzz in the industry. Most browsers already support HTTP/2 (though some only do so through over HTTPS) and it is designed to be backwards compatible with older versions.

Webinar
How to Optimize for Page Load Speed

While the adoption of HTTP/2 was slow initially, since January 2016 more sites have announced plans to move to HTTP/2 or are offering true support of the protocol. For example, at the beginning of May 2016 both Wikipedia and Blogspot announced that their sites were now supporting HTTP/2.

HTTP/2 adoption over time
Source: http://isthewebhttp2yet.com/measurements/adoption.html

The highest gains in performance for those moving to HTTP/2 will be those with image heavy pages. And the more images on a single page, the more improvement that will be seen. The reason: With HTTP/2, instead of requesting images sequentially or creating many parallel connections, the browser makes a single connection to the server and optimizes the requests to all images over a single connection. A great (although extreme) example of the performance differences between HTTP/2 and its predecessor HTTP/1.1 can be found in this demo on the Akamai website.

HTTP2 vs HTTP1
Source: https://kinsta.com/learn/what-is-http2/

We began beta testing HTTP/2 about six months ago, and the results are impressive. Based on our measurements, the average improvement in page load time is close to 10%.

Ok, I want it - how do I get it?

For current Cloudinary users, there’s nothing you need to do to benefit from our HTTP/2 enhancements. As of today, we've upgraded our CDN integrations, so that every url delivered from Cloudinary's standard CDN layer (using hostnames res.cloudinary.com or cloudname-res.cloudinary.com), in the HTTPS protocol, offers HTTP/2 as a default connection method to the browser that calls it.

Even if your website's HTML itself is not delivered via HTTP/2, you will still gain a performance boost, as all the images on your site that are delivered via Cloudinary will be now pipelined through a single optimized connection.

To check whether your images are delivered via HTTP/2 install this Chrome extension, which indicates the newest protocols.

If you have a specialized or private CDN setup, contact your account manager or support@cloudinary.com to discuss your options.

Obsolete optimizations

There are two optimizations that Cloudinary supports that HTTP/2 makes obsolete: domain sharding and sprites.

If your site is delivered via HTTPS and you are using one of our client libraries, consider turning off CDN subdomains in your Cloudinary configuration (stop setting secure_cdn_subdomain to true).

If you use sprites for performance reasons, you may see a benefit in using separate images, as multiple images will re-use the connection to load faster (but not as fast) as a sprite, but caching can improve as replacing a single image doesn't require generating a new sprite.

To sum it up

Content delivery is an important part of Cloudinary's end-to-end image and video management solution. We constantly upgrade and monitor the CDN-based delivery of assets, and HTTP/2 is the latest feature we've added. Keep watching this blog for further announcements regarding the CDN layer in the future.

Recent Blog Posts

A New, Simple Tool for Creating Text Overlays for Images

Many Cloudinary users desire a UI for tasks like creating text overlays for images, which they then embed on webpages or download for marketing campaigns. Generating such overlays with the Cloudinary Media Library UI involves a bit of a learning curve, especially if they require multiple fonts or text lines, which even experienced users might find challenging to implement.

Read more
Transitioning JPEG-Based to JPEG XL-Based Images for Web Platforms

When the JPEG codec was being developed in the late 1980s, no standardized, lossy image-compression formats existed. JPEG became ready at exactly the right time in 1992, when the World Wide Web and digital cameras were about to become a thing. The introduction of HTML’s <img> tag in 1995 ensured the recognition of JPEG as the web format—at least for photographs. During the 1990s, digital cameras replaced analog ones and, given the limited memory capacities of that era, JPEG became the standard format for photography, especially for consumer-grade cameras.

Read more

Amplify Your Jamstack With Video

By Alex Patterson
Amplify Your Jamstack With Cloudinary Video

As defined by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amplify is a set of products and tools with which mobile and front-end web developers can build and deploy AWS-powered, secure, and scalable full-stack apps. Also, you can efficiently configure their back ends, connect them to your app with just a few lines of code, and deploy static web apps in only three steps. Historically, because of their performance issues, managing images and videos is a daunting challenge for developers. Even though you can easily load media to an S3 bucket with AWS Amplify, transforming, compressing, and responsively delivering them is labor intensive and time consuming.

Read more
Cloudinary Helps Move James Hardie’s Experience Online

While COVID has affected most businesses, it has been particularly hard on those that sell products for the physical ‘brick and mortar’ world. One company that literally fits that bill is our Australian customer James Hardie, the largest global manufacturer of fibre cement products used in both domestic and commercial construction. These are materials that its buyers ideally want to see up close, in detail. When customers have questions, they expect personal service.

Read more