What is blockchain infrastructure?

Infrastructure (noun) in*fra*struc*ture |
\ ‘in-frǝ-,strǝk-chǝr:

1: the system of public works of a country, state, or region
  Also: the resources (such as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity

2: the underlying foundation or basic framework (as a system or organization)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Every complex system requires appropriate infrastructure, or resources and an underlying framework, to function. Just as a power grid, power stations, and pipelines comprise the energy infrastructure needed to provide electricity to a nation, nodes, software implementations, and cloud- or hardware-based systems are required to run a proof of stake network.

Blockchain infrastructure platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers coordinate and maintain access to the infrastructure that powers blockchains, such as dev tools and nodes, bundled with the underlying infrastructure needed to operate their systems, such as cloud storage and security.


The basic elements of blockchain infrastructure




Nodes + Clients

Nodes are the core components of proof of stake infrastructure. A node is a computer that carries out the key functions of the network, such as validating transactions, storing records of the blockchain, or submitting votes on network governance. The software that dictates how these key functions are performed is a client.

A decentralized network can support multiple software implementations, or clients, dependent on the network’s design. Clients can be built to leverage a variety of programming languages and can exist in a variety of implementations. For example, the Ethereum network consists of mostly Geth and Parity nodes, while eth2 will support a larger variety of clients including Prysm, Lighthouse, Teku, Nimbus, and Lodestar.



There are a few basic types of nodes that make up proof of stake networks; each node type is optimized to perform specific tasks. These node types include:


Clusters

At Bison Trails, we use the term cluster to describe a network-specific node (or a collection of nodes) and its supporting infrastructure, such as load balancing tools, monitoring, and alerting services.



Clusters are often made up of:


SECURITY INFRASTRUCTURE

Other important, but more technical, aspects of underlying blockchain infrastructure include key management, networking firewalls, and other security considerations.

Security maintenance can be performed by deploying updates and patches to the code implementations powering a user's blockchain infrastructure. Keeping up-to-date with the latest updates and releases helps to protect users from any vulnerabilities as they are found by protocol teams.


What a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider does

Participating on proof of stake blockchain networks requires a significant amount of technical expertise, time, resources, and resilient underlying technology—such as reliable and scalable hardware, updated software, and a stable internet connection to connect, communicate with, and participate in the blockchain network.



Blockchain infrastructure providers (IaaS) establish and provide direct infrastructure access to customers, such as by operating data centers, building security features, and maintaining servers. A blockchain infrastructure platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider coordinates and maintains access to those amenities while also developing the code to build on them, the platform to access them, development tools, metrics and analytics, container services, and community support—all together providing a simple way to deploy and manage the infrastructure that powers blockchains bundled in with the underlying infrastructure needed to operate their systems.

It’s difficult to become proficient in building for the abundance of protocols leading the ecosystem today, due to their widely varying governance forms, algorithmic mechanisms, and application interfaces. Some protocols require hands-on management and continuous engagement in order to keep their infrastructure functioning in a healthy manner. A blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider offers customers the ability to run secure infrastructure on multiple blockchains, without having to develop the technological capabilities in-house.

This service helps to close the gap between the blockchain networks, which can be complicated to build on and participate in, and the token holders and developers on those networks.


OPTIMIZE PARTICIPATION: HARDWARE, NODES, AND SOLUTIONS

Just as the ability to buy electricity from the grid removed the need for factories to build and maintain their own adjoining power plants, a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider like Bison Trails enables people to participate in blockchain networks without building and maintaining their own hardware and code bases.

PaaS engineers can program blockchain infrastructure to customer specifications to save customers the time and resources required to set up their own infrastructure, including executing custom custody needs, pool fees, delegation rates, and even custom cluster structures, such as the number of relay nodes connected to each validator node.

Being a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider also entails developing API solutions to help customers integrate blockchain resources into their existing products and services. For instance, the Bison Trails eth2 Validator Management API authorizes the secure and programmatic creation, management, and status review of eth2 validators and their underlying infrastructure, allowing users to easily generate Ethereum deposit contract transactions or scale validators.


ENTERPRISE-GRADE SECURITY AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT

As a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider, Bison Trails monitors the health of, and performs maintenance on, nodes and their supporting infrastructure. Bison Trails provides 24/7 monitoring of customers’ clusters with a cascading flow of on-call engineers and dedicated customer support specialists. Key metrics are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure the underlying infrastructure is functioning as well as possible. Customers are promptly informed of issues experienced by their nodes.

Another function of working as a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider is to deploy updates and patches to those code implementations powering a user's blockchain infrastructure. Updates and patches are deployed in a timely fashion to ensure that clusters are always operating on the most recent version, and the updates are executed in a way that ensures the node experiences the least amount of downtime possible.




COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Just as integral to being a successful blockchain infrastructure PaaS as providing high-quality tech, Bison Trails is an active member of protocol communities. From working closely with protocol teams to support mainnet deployment to working with other validators to maintain network health, we understand our work not only benefits our customers but the community as a whole. Bison Trails also operates nodes on all of the protocols that we support, lending our teams the hands-on knowledge needed to provide clients superior service across multiple protocols.

A key facet of working as a blockchain infrastructure PaaS company is sharing expertise and resources in order to build up the blockchain ecosystem and foster wider adoption; hosting informational events, acting as judges in dev competitions, and publishing informational content are just a few non-technical ways they support the broader blockchain ecosystem.

Engineering teams submit contributions to open development projects via pull requests to help the protocols grow and improve. Leveraging their own expertise and close relationships with protocol teams, as a blockchain infrastructure PaaS provider Bison Trails also votes on governance measures and helps customers to vote as well.


How can I get involved?


As a large token holder

If you’re a large token holder of native tokens for a proof of stake network, Bison Trails can get you started running your first node. Build stronger networks and earn participatory rewards by helping to secure one of the 20+ networks we support. Bison Trails is noncustodial, so you retain control of your digital assets while we take care of your infrastructure with 24/7 monitoring and industry-leading engineering response times. Contact us to get started.


As a small token holder

If you don’t have enough tokens to run your own node, you can delegate (i.e. stake) your tokens to Bison Trails’ public validators, and earn participation rewards while you help to secure these networks. On many protocols there is no minimum number of tokens required to delegate to an active validator node. Therefore, even digital asset holders without many tokens can participate in a network through delegation.

With proper consideration of the risks and trade-offs involved, delegation can be an opportunity for token holders to support and participate actively in blockchain networks and to earn more digital assets while doing so. As an institution


As an institution

Technological and regulatory advancements are accelerating the pace of institutional adoption of crypto. The increasing prevalence of proof of stake based blockchains, which are now powering a combined market cap of over $200 billion in assets, presents a novel opportunity for institutions to grow and expand value-added services to their customers.

Developing and maintaining blockchain infrastructure in-house is high cost and resource intensive. Bison Trails can provide non-native crypto native companies the tools to easily participate in proof of stake blockchains. Bison Trails is the leading enterprise-grade infrastructure as a service provider to the top custodians, exchanges and providers in the space. We offer multi-cloud, multi-region and redundant blockchain infrastructure for read/write and participation nodes across 30 of the leading protocols.

With Bison Trails, you can offer and expand your services at a faster pace and reduced cost, without compromising your security and reliability needs. Contact us to learn more.


As an employee

If you’re interested in building platforms for blockchain infrastructure, consider joining the Bison Trails herd. Bison Trails is a team of diverse, fun, and open-minded people working together to build the decentralized future. We’re based out of Tribeca, NY and have been globally distributed since March of 2020.

The herd is growing fast, and we are frequently hiring for roles in engineering, operations, sales, marketing, and customer success. As a company, we believe diversity drives innovation. We are committed to building an inclusive workplace and culture based on our values. Empathy informs how we work together as a team, how we serve our customers, and how we approach the products we build. We believe empathy extends beyond our company to how we interface with the world. It’s a value to uphold in all areas of life and is deeply connected to the future world we envision.

In January, 2021 we announced that we’re joining Coinbase! Bison Trails will accelerate its mission to provide easy-to-use blockchain infrastructure, now as a standalone product line as part of Coinbase.



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About Bison Trails


Enterprise infrastructure to power the crypto ecosystem.

Pioneering Blockchain Infrastructure®

Bison Trails is a blockchain infrastructure platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company based in New York City. We built a platform for anyone who wants to participate in 20 new chains effortlessly.

We also make it easy for anyone building Web 3.0 applications to connect to blockchain data from 30 protocols with QT. Our goal is for the entire blockchain ecosystem to flourish by providing robust infrastructure for the pioneers of tomorrow.

In January, 2021, we announced Bison Trails will be joining Coinbase to accelerate our mission to provide easy-to-use blockchain infrastructure, now as a standalone product line as part of Coinbase. The Bison Trails platform will continue to support our customers. With Coinbase’s backing, we will enhance our infrastructure platform and make it even easier to participate in decentralized networks and build applications that connect to blockchain data. Read more.

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