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Last update: May 10, 2022

Overview

Enterprises that want the trustlessness and transparency of blockchain technology for their multi-party business processes want to focus their time on developing Web3 applications—not on implementing and supporting the underlying infrastructure. Quorum Blockchain Service (QBS) takes the “ops” out of DevOps by providing a fully-managed platform as a Service (PaaS) that eliminates the burden of infrastructure management.

This overview explains how QBS is deployed in your Microsoft Azure environment in a robust, secure manner, so you can spend your time where you want to: developing world-class Web3 applications.

Important

QBS is currently listed as a private offer in Azure Marketplace. You can request access on the Quorum Blockchain Service website.

Architecture

QBS is deployed in your Azure subscription, using the Azure Managed Applications framework, which provides the same experience as any PaaS service in Azure.

When you deploy QBS, you’re deploying an Azure Managed Application into your Azure subscription, referred to as a Member. A QBS member includes several dependent Azure services, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking, all configured to be a fully-functioning GoQuorum Ethereum private blockchain network.

Managed resource group

Selecting Managed resource group shows you all the Azure services provisioned as part of your QBS deployment. These resources are pre-configured by QBS and, as such, the configuration can’t be changed by the end user. Rather, ConsenSys monitors and manages these resources for you, including updating the version of GoQuorum running on the nodes, applying patches for security vulnerabilities, and configuring networking to ensure your resources are secure. You can view the configuration of these resources and monitor your nodes.

Managed resource group details

Tiers of service

Whether you’re a developer, just getting started with blockchain, or ready to deploy a production solution, QBS offers three tiers of service to meet your needs:

  • Development is a cost-optimized tier of service targeted at getting started with your Web3 application. Using low-cost B2ms Series VMs in Azure, one transaction node and one validator node are provisioned for your QBS member which provides all the functionality needed to start your journey, including support from ConsenSys with a one business day response time.

  • Business and Enterprise are tiers of service targeted at production Web3 applications. Using enterprise-grade, SLA-backed D2a V4 Series in Azure, one transaction node and two validator node are provisioned for your QBS member which provides the performance and reliability needed for your Web3 applications, including support from ConsenSys with a four business hour (Business tier) or one hour, 24/7 (Enterprise tier) response time.

Transaction and validator nodes

QBS introduces the concept of dedicated nodes (VMs) for interacting with the network (transaction nodes) and performing network consensus (validator nodes).

QBS Architecture

Transaction nodes provide the RPC interface to the blockchain network for sending transactions, or reading data on the ledger. Transaction nodes also run the Tessera private transaction manager, which enables you to send private transactions from one QBS member transaction node to another.

By default, one transaction node is provided for your QBS member, but you can add additional transaction nodes (Business and Enterprise tiers only) for load-balancing or additional privacy.

Validator nodes have a copy of the public state of the ledger, and are primarily responsible for performing network consensus. QBS uses the IBFT proof-of-authority protocol.

You have one validator node in the Development tier, and two validator nodes in the Business or Enterprise tier.

High availability, data durability, and security

While the VMs available in Azure are resilient to failures, there are cases where nodes may crash and need to be restarted.

To ensure that a crashed node doesn’t corrupt the data, both ledger data and configuration data related to your QBS member are stored in Locally-redundant Azure Files storage.

The QBS control plane listens for a heartbeat from each running VM. In the event that a heartbeat is not received from the VM, the QBS DevOps team is alerted and will resolve the issue by either restarting the VM, or provisioning a new VM to replace the failed node.

In the event that a new VM is provisioned to replace the failed node, the configuration from the failed node is applied to the VM, the DNS assignment (if a transaction node) is mapped to the new VM, and ledger data storage is attached to the VM.

See data security for more details.

Network security

Your QBS member is pre-configured with a Network Security Group that restricts access to the nodes in your QBS member by only allowing ports necessary for GoQuorum to function. In addition, you can configure firewall rules to further restrict access to your QBS member.

Consortium management

Blockchains are designed for multiple parties who share a common business process to securely transact with one another in a private manner.

Once you provision a QBS member, you can invite other parties (Azure subscriptions) to participate in your blockchain network.

Upon accepting the invitation, the other party provisions a QBS member in their Azure subscription, uses the invite code during provisioning, and the QBS service configures the secure networking between both QBS members to transact with one another.

Consortium management offers the ability to not only invite other members to join your consortium, but also the ability to remove members.

Members removed from a consortium retain their QBS member and ledger data, but they no longer sync with the other members on the network, and can no longer send or receive transactions from other members.

See consortium management for more information.

Pricing

The pricing for QBS is based on the tier of service chosen when you deploy your QBS member.

Pricing can be broken down into two categories:

  • QBS software and support price is price of the management of the service by ConsenSys, including the level of support provided for the tier of service.
  • Azure infrastructure price is the price of the underlying resources for your QBS member, which are visible in your Managed resource group. These charges are set by Microsoft, and show up on your Azure bill as they normally would from Microsoft with no markup from ConsenSys. The benefit of this is predictable pricing, as well as taking into account any price discounts you may receive from Microsoft, such as Azure reserved VM pricing.

Important

The pricing example below is illustrative, and doesn’t take into account the Azure region your QBS member is deployed or any discounts you may receive from Microsoft.

Development tier Business tier Enterprise tier
Environment Dev/Test Production Production
# of nodes and Azure infrastructure 2 nodes, B2ms 3 nodes, D2a V4 3 nodes, D2a V4
Support package included Bronze Silver Gold
Initial response time 1 business day 4 business hours 1 hour 24/7
QBS software & support price $0.035/h $1.350/h $2.720/h
Azure infrastructure price $0.216/h $0.371/h $0.371/h
Estimated total hourly price $0.251/h $1.721/h $3.091/h
Estimated total monthly price $182.97 $1256.62 $2256.62
Development tier Business tier Enterprise tier
Additional storage (per gigabyte) $0.16/gb $0.16/gb $0.16/gb
Additional transaction node (per hour) N/A $0.574/h $1.030/h

Notes

  • The estimated monthly cost is calculated at 730h per month.
  • QBS is purchased through Azure Marketplace and invoiced monthly directly from Azure.
  • No separate agreement with ConsenSys is required.
  • Pricing is subject to change with 30 day notice.
  • Standard terms and conditions apply.

Try Quorum Blockchain Service

When you’re ready to get started with your blockchain journey using QBS, contact the QBS team and we’ll get you set up!

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