The announcement of Google Wave is a bold declaration of where Google sees the future of the web. Google, unsurprisingly enough, sees the future of the web as a server side paradigm, with dynamic updates being used to drive the thin client model to capture even more of tasks that where once done client side.  Google are extending the server side model of webmail to apply to applications that have been fundamentally client side, such as document authoring, IM and chat.

Some have said that Wave’s use of XMPP represents the death of HTTP, but I think they’ve got the wrong end of the banana! Wave is using XMPP to federate servers together, not clients.  When it comes to client/server communications, Wave is using GWT over good old HTTP, with some push extensions so that a client can get a dynamic view onto a Wave document, which is a fundamentally server side entity.  If anything, Wave has declared that HTTP is king and a near immortal one at that.

Google’s use of XMPP is roughly equivalent to the existing use of SMTP between mail servers. Instead of passing mail documents between servers using a store and forward model, Wave has the servers dynamically collaborating to maintain a live Wave document that contains content, style, history, permissions and private content. The protocols that Wave might put on the endangered species list are SMTP, POP and IMAP (but have any protocols gone extinct? Has a gopher been sighted in the wild recently or only in captivity?).

If Wave is successful (and it certainly looks pretty compelling), then more traditionally client side state is going to be captured on the server side.  This is a great model for google, as it lets them use their massive serverside databases to power their serverside robots like spelly and rosey, which access the vast databases of Google to do contextual spell checking and translation. You will never get such robots running client side and it is services like these that makes Google confident that they can offer better wave servers than anybody else – hence they do not fear opening up their Wave servers to competition.   So Googles’ webmail competitors had better start thinking of compelling reasons that people will want to host their waves on non-Google servers.

Of course for Jetty, Google Wave is just a brilliant story.  To implement a Wave server, you will need a flexible, performant web server that can well support dynamic push content and will affordably scale into your wave clouds (should they be called oceans rather than clouds now?)  Jetty is the ideal Wave server!  In fact because Wave uses GWT, Google AppEngine and links to shindig, it is already based on and/or using the Google services that are based on or use Jetty. 

For our other key project,, the picture is a little less clear.  Google Wave does it’s own comet implementation based on long polling using GWT RPC. But Wave reinforces that comet is now a core web paradigm. Any alternative implementations of Wave that do not use the google GWT code base, would do well to look to as a core technology.


Google Wave – A new paradigm?