ConsenSys is a venture production studio building decentralized applications and developer and end-user tools for blockchains. Their Infura platform is a core infrastructure pillar of Ethereum and IPFS, enabling decentralized applications of all kinds to scale to accommodate their users. Here’s how Fastly’s edge cloud platform helps them support ever-increasing scale and stay ahead of a rapidly growing new market.
In December 2017, CryptoKitties, a project born at the ETHWaterloo hackathon, was launched as one of the first online games to use the Ethereum blockchain. The “kitties” instantly went viral as people rushed to purchase the one-of-a-kind cryptocollectibles on Ethereum, an open-source platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications. Infura was the sole back-end infrastructure provider for CryptoKitties via the MetaMask browser plugin. This caused a sudden influx of traffic to ConsenSys’ Infura platform for building on Ethereum-based applications — their traffic spiked, doubling from two billion requests a day to four billion in the span of a few days. Infura’s daily traffic volume is now at ten billion requests per day.
ConsenSys is a venture production studio building decentralized applications and various developer and end-user tools for blockchains, primarily focused on Ethereum. Their Infura project is a core infrastructure platform whose primarily goal is to build scalable, global, reliable production-grade infrastructure to power reliable experiences for developers building on Ethereum.
As a critical platform for building blockchain applications, Infura was front and center to the initial coin offering (ICO) resurgence. An ICO is crowdfunding that’s centered around cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, like bitcoin or Ethereum. Although ICOs have been around since 2013, they’ve since seen a major resurgence. Part of this is due to sheer speed at which they gain value; Gnosis, a cryptocurrency prediction market, raised $12 million in 10 minutes, and Filecoin, a blockchain-based storage network, raised $200 million in 60 minutes. Infura went from 20 million requests a day at the beginning of 2017 to over 10 billion requests today. This staggering 500x increase naturally lead to questions of scale — Infura turned to Fastly’s edge cloud platform in order to continue supporting massive traffic while providing a reliable platform for developers.
The Ethereum chain grows approximately every fifteen seconds as new blocks are mined and added to the blockchain.
“With Fastly we can invalidate content within milliseconds — this lets us make sure the latest block number is available to our users.” Michael Wuehler, Co-founder
The Ethereum blockchain also reaches consensus far quicker than that of bitcoin — 15 seconds, as opposed to 10 minutes — which creates unique challenges in delivering up-to-date data globally. Fastly’s edge cloud platform empowers Infura to service their customers’ demands better by allowing them to make accurate queries in real time.
One of the major calls to their network is to determine what the latest block number is — they’re up to 6 million blocks, which come in every 15 seconds, and that number is always going up. Because Fastly’s Instant Purge feature lets them invalidate outdated content instantly, Infura can cache the block number with Fastly’s CDN without having to worry about stale content.
Infura also turned to Fastly in order to leverage their custom VCL for edge programming opportunities, allowing them to do more in the caching layer than they previously had been able to, such as caching static content and APIs. By caching their APIs via Fastly, Infura is able to achieve high cache hit ratios (approximately 91%), saving their origin from around 7-9 billion additional requests each day.
“The ability to purge the cache globally and have that be really fast is important, and is one of the performance metrics we used to decide to work with Fastly.” E. G. Galano, Co-founder & Chief Infrastructure Engineer
Infura was created with the goal of delivering stable and reliable Ethereum data access to the internal projects within ConsenSys. As the Ethereum network began to grab the majority of blockchain developer mindshare, they recognized that Infura would be of broad interest to the entire ecosystem.
They publicly launched at Devcon2 in Shanghai and have been growing ever since to meet the developer demand. Today, Infura is a core infrastructure pillar of Ethereum and is enabling decentralized applications of all kinds to scale to accommodate their users.
Fastly helps the world’s most popular digital businesses keep pace with their customer expectations by delivering fast, secure, and scalable online experiences. Businesses trust Fastly’s edge cloud platform to accelerate the pace of technical innovation, mitigate evolving threats, and scale on demand. Founded in 2011, Fastly powers online destinations including Airbnb, GitHub, Alaska Airlines, Pinterest, Vimeo, The Guardian, The New York Times, and Ticketmaster. Learn more at Fastly.com and follow us on Twitter @fastly.