HTTP is reaching the end of its shelf life and will have to go soon, a Microsoft .Net architect has warned.
Don Box, an architect for Microsoft's .Net Developer Platform team, said the crumbling architecture will eventually cause too many problems for web services, peer-to-peer applications and even security.
He said a replacement for HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) will eventually have to be found - but what it will be and how it will be implemented could take some time.
Box added that HTTP's ubiquity and high dependability mean it is the only way to make a reliable connection over the internet.
Describing HTTP as the "cockroach of the internet" because "after the holocaust, it will be the only protocol left standing", he said that the world could not stay on the protocol forever.
Its main problem is that HTTP is a Remote Procedure Call protocol which requests a service from another program located on another computer in a network, such as the server, without having to understand the network.
He said that this works for small transactions, but that bigger ones tend to fall over.
"If it takes three minutes for a response, it is not really HTTP any more," Box said.
"We have to do something to make [HTTP] less important. If we rely on HTTP, we will melt the internet. We at least have to raise the level of abstraction so that we have an industry-wide way to do long-running requests - I need a way to send a request to a server and not have to wait five days for the result."
"It's all hackery," he added, "it's all ad-hoc, and none of it is interoperable."
There are efforts to address the shortcomings of the protocol. Microsoft is one of several companies working on the problem, although Box said the software giant is unlikely to succeed alone.
"Microsoft has some ideas [on how to break the dependence on HTTP], IBM has some ideas, and others have ideas," he said. "But if one vendor does it on their own, it will simply not be worth the trouble."
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