Improving your WebSocket stack

If you’re running a WebSockets stack, it’s time to consider moving to a better and easier solution. And if you’re not running one, you can now get into stateful real-time communications without all the overhead.

The internet changed communication forever. What previously took hours, days, and weeks can now be accomplished in minutes. As various internet applications expanded, the need for shorter latency grew and in 2008, WebSockets helped solve real-time messaging by offering a persistent line between two or more parties, and enabling true, real time communication. 

Limitations of WebSocket

The out-of-the-box application remains limited. Existing WebSockets solutions let you push content in real-time, but require you to build and maintain a separate tech stack in addition to your HTTP infrastructure. The result is a solution that can be expensive in a few different ways. 

  1. Real-time communications without real-time purging means you can send bad information instantly, but not revoke or retract it as quickly

  2. Inconsistent and poor user experiences occur when some things are instant and some things are not – users get frustrated or think something is broken if some elements of their experience are accurate while others are not, leading to friction or failures in their experience

  3. The need to implement and maintain a separate tech stack as well as the increased complexity of the overall solution can have a negative impact on team productivity.

  4. As WebSockets maintain a persistent connection between the client and the server, they can strain server resources when dealing with many concurrent connections. As such your hardware cost can easily spiral out of control.

Real-time communications require real-time purging

The WebSockets limitations listed above probably make intuitive sense, but the importance of real-time purging alongside real-time communications deserves more explanation. 

As more and more businesses move their storefronts online, competition is heating up. This makes it imperative to offer the best user experiences possible to those visiting. To support this level of responsiveness, Fastly recently announced the availability of Fanout WebSockets on our platform. This integration is particularly powerful as it combines real-time data with Fastly's unique ability to instantly invalidate and remove (stale or outdated) content on a global scale.

Eliminated are situations where a potential customer adds merchandise to their cart only to later discover that the item isn’t actually available. Purging out-of-date data immediately, and being able to distribute real-time updates efficiently gives you advantages and functionality that have never been possible before – all while saving you time, money, and resources. Just as important: while real-time communication and being able to assist while an interested party is looking for merchandise is crucial, being able to display factual real-time information, such as current inventory, can really set your business apart and improve loyalty, minimize churn and secure the sale through a superior customer experience. 

One can of course argue that purging old data is overkill in some situations, but getting the most out of real-time communications means being able to use it everywhere – even in places where you need instant and responsive control after it’s distributed as well.

Real-time application benefits across industries 

We believe that the combination of WebSockets and Fanout is highly applicable in several industries. Here are some examples where real-time applications and instant purge can significantly enhance the user experience and set your business apart:

Ecommerce: Real-time price adjustments based on demand and campaigns, showing actual inventory in real-time, being able to alert customers as soon as an item becomes available, and live support via chat.

  • Up-to-date inventory minimizes the risk of disappointing customers in those situations where something in their cart sells out

  • Secure the sale with the help available with a prospect is ready to buy

Media & Entertainment: Real-time polls during live content, better support for online sports betting, in-app messaging for live support.

  • Increase viewer engagement by offering real-time services such as sports betting 

  • Instantly support your live audience for uninterrupted experiences

Gaming: Real-time leaderboards, in-room chats, team roster. Live stats and results.

  • Engage gamers with real-time stats, scores and leaderboard

  • Provide real-time in-app communication and support

Fintech: Real-time fraud detection, up-to-date market data, instant transaction notifications, and alerts based on real-time changes. 

  • Provide better customer experience with instant transaction confirmations

  • Build customer trust with up-to-date and reliable market data

Online Education: In-app chat, real-time leaderboards during tests and quizzes.

  • Increase engagement with real-time scoring and results

  • Provide instant help when needed and before moving on to a new topic

Travel & Hospitality: Accurate and real-time inventory, live and up-to-date pricing, live support via chat.

  • Gain a competitive advantage by having accurate inventory and pricing

  • Provide real-time help before a prospect moves on to a competitor

Enhance your online experiences with real-time capabilities

Real-time capabilities enhance user experiences and engagement and are crucial when it comes to delivering excellent customer service. The immediacy and responsiveness contribute to a seamless and interactive user experience. Whether instant messaging, live updates, or dynamic inventory data, these capabilities keep users informed and engaged, fostering a sense of connection and professionalism. Moreover, real-time features are essential for applications requiring timely actions, such as collaborative workspaces, gaming, and live events.

Check out our previous Fanout blog post - Fastly Fanout makes stateful real-time communications easy - for additional information on the combination of Fanout and Instant Purge as well as our continued support of real-time messaging.

John Agger
Principal Industry Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment

4 min read

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John Agger
Principal Industry Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment

John Agger is Fastly’s Principal Industry Marketing Manager, Media & Entertainment. He has been involved with digital media for more than two decades with a strong focus on publishing and streaming media workflows.

In his role, John works with key strategic accounts to bring awareness of Fastly’s increasing product line as they relate to M&E. Over the course of his career, John has also worked for Adobe, Dolby, IBM, and Ericsson on go-to-market strategies, awareness and sustainability.

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