Why Infura Is the Secret Weapon of Ethereum Infrastructure
Building a decentralized future is about more than tokenomics, cryptography, institutional adoption, or even regulation. For Ethereum and the entire blockchain ecosystem to grow, it falls on the community to build the infrastructure components that keep the network running. Across the Ethereum network, there is a need for utilities that lower the barrier of entry and simplify access to Ethereum data. Among the most essential of these are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) products. Leading the way is Infura, which offers developers, dapp teams, and enterprises across a range of industries a suite of tools to connect their apps to the Ethereum network and other decentralized platforms.
Facilitating Access to Web3
Many of Web3’s most remarkable projects—MetaMask, Aragon, Gnosis, OpenZeppelin, and more—utilize Infura’s APIs to connect their applications to the Ethereum network. In doing so, Infura provides the fundamental infrastructure required to handle both the short-term spikes that can often occur during token launches and essential, longer-term scaling solutions.
“Our mission is to facilitate access to Ethereum and the opportunities it provides,” says Infura Lead Systems Engineer Nicola Cocchiaro. “We’ve always believed that only through widespread adoption can the enormous potential of Ethereum be fully realized. One of the ways that we aim to help achieve that goal is by providing infrastructure as a service. Over the last two years, this has put us in a privileged position to witness the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem firsthand, and the growth has been explosive both for it and us.”
Some numbers on the rise of Infura: “In 2017 alone,” says Cocchiaro, “we relayed transactions that moved more than 7 million ether, with almost 9 million more so far in 2018. And most of this growth happened over the second half of 2017.”
“Infura essentially provides the necessary tools for any application to start developing on Ethereum immediately, without the need to run the complicated infrastructure themselves,” says Mike Godsey, Head of Product. “This is equally necessary for developers with no traffic testing on networks such as Kovan, Rinkeby, or Ropsten, or ones with tons of traffic running on mainnet. Infura provides a connection for all developers utilizing the Ethereum blockchain.”
The Infura API Suite: A Microservice-Driven Architecture
The most well-known portion of the Infura infrastructure is the network of hosted Ethereum clients that supports mainnet and testnets via client-compatible JSON-RPC, over HTTPS and WSS. And Ethereum nodes are only one part of the Infura stack: “We also set up one of the first public IPFS APIs and Gateway alongside our Ethereum API to build the foundation of our Web3 development suite. We’re in the process of building additional decentralized storage products that we will detail in the near future,” says Cocchiaro.
Powering an Ecosystem of Dapps
Infura’s modular scaling solutions unlock essential network capacity for any project that is or expects to be pushing large amounts of traffic through the Ethereum network. “With an ever-growing blockchain, keeping a local node synced and up-to-date has traditionally presented challenges that typically relate to a combination of storage, bandwidth, and memory usage,” says Cocchiaro. “Additionally, ICOs and other high-traffic dapps have concerns of scaling, sometimes transient, sometimes more permanent, that are not easily solved with local infrastructure.”
The range of projects that utilize Infura’s network is broad. For example, MetaMask uses Infura with a zero-client approach, connecting to Infura’s remote infrastructure in order to serve over one million installed users. Some projects—like Gnosis—utilize a hybrid approach that gives them the flexibility to verify their own transactions while also reducing the cost of infrastructure and increasing network stability. In cases where scale is the main concern, like that of CryptoKitties, Infura worked together with developers across the ecosystem to keep the network running smoothly.
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A Growing Platform of Utilities
Looking forward, Infura’s growing platform of utilities will include a developer portal to give insight and monitoring to developers using the Infura network as well as more advanced scaling solutions. “We are actively involved in the expanding landscape of Ethereum and plan to incorporate many of the new developments directly into our infrastructure services,” says Godsey. “We are very excited to see sharding, Proof of Stake, and advanced state channels start to come online, and will continue to watch those very closely.”