Using WebSockets with CloudFront distributions - Amazon CloudFront

Using WebSockets with CloudFront distributions

Amazon CloudFront supports using WebSocket, a TCP-based protocol that is useful when you need long-lived bidirectional connections between clients and servers. A persistent connection is often a requirement with real-time applications. The scenarios in which you might use WebSockets include social chat platforms, online collaboration workspaces, multi-player gaming, and services that provide real-time data feeds like financial trading platforms. Data over a WebSocket connection can flow in both directions for full-duplex communication.

WebSocket functionality is automatically enabled to work with any distribution. To use WebSockets, configure one of the following in the cache behavior that's attached to your distribution:

  • Forward all viewer request headers to your origin. (You can use the AllViewer managed origin request policy.)

  • Specifically forward the Sec-WebSocket-Key and Sec-WebSocket-Version request headers in your origin request policy.

How the WebSocket protocol works

The WebSocket protocol is an independent, TCP-based protocol that allows you to avoid some of the overhead—and potentially increased latency—of HTTP.

To establish a WebSocket connection, the client sends a regular HTTP request that uses HTTP's upgrade semantics to change the protocol. The server can then complete the handshake. The WebSocket connection remains open and either the client or server can send data frames to each other without having to establish new connections each time.

By default, the WebSocket protocol uses port 80 for regular WebSocket connections and port 443 for WebSocket connections over TLS/SSL. The options that you choose for your CloudFront Viewer protocol policy and Protocol (custom origins only) apply to WebSocket connections as well as to HTTP traffic.

WebSocket requirements

WebSocket requests must comply with RFC 6455 in the following standard formats.

Sample client request:

GET /chat HTTP/1.1 Host: Upgrade: websocket Connection: Upgrade Sec-WebSocket-Key: dGhlIHNhbXBsZSBub25jZQ== Origin: Sec-WebSocket-Protocol: chat, superchat Sec-WebSocket-Version: 13

Sample server response:

HTTP/1.1 101 Switching Protocols Upgrade: websocket Connection: Upgrade Sec-WebSocket-Accept: s3pPLMBiTxaQ9kYGzzhZRbK+xOo= Sec-WebSocket-Protocol: chat

If the WebSocket connection is disconnected by the client or server, or by a network disruption, client applications are expected to re-initiate the connection with the server.

Recommended settings

In order to avoid unexpected compression-related issues when using WebSockets, we recommend that you include the following headers in an origin request policy:

  • Sec-WebSocket-Key

  • Sec-WebSocket-Version

  • Sec-WebSocket-Protocol

  • Sec-WebSocket-Accept

  • Sec-WebSocket-Extensions