When new nodes are launched, they have to catch up to the rest of the network before they can begin performing useful work. Newly launched nodes must sync from the genesis block, which can take hours to months to be fully synced, depending upon the protocol and node type. Blockchain snapshotting has existed for some time as a way to address this challenge, but snapshotting does not provide sufficient safeguards for enterprise applications because the image’s authenticity cannot be confirmed before deployment.
Bison Trails’ Global Blockchain Sync (GBS) uses blockchain imaging technology to expedite the syncing of a node on any protocol. By maintaining verified and secure images of multiple blockchains and making them available to newly launched nodes across multiple cloud providers and regions, Global Blockchain Sync decreases this initial sync time over 100x. Instead of syncing the entire chain from genesis, newly launched nodes on Bison Trails load in 99.99% of the chain and only need to sync from there to catch up to the current state of the network.
The ability to launch new production-ready nodes quickly means customers can dynamically scale their infrastructure in response to demand, significantly reducing operational costs for QT customers. Global Blockchain Sync also reduces the risk of downtime slashing for Participation and delegators. Global Blockchain Sync plays an important role in Bison Trails’ platform uptime agreements, and ability to recover from the complete failure of a cloud provider in minutes.
Reducing the time to launch new production-ready nodes is especially important for reducing risk and optimizing rewards on block-producing validator nodes. Many proof of stake protocols penalize validators for downtime, because this behavior degrades overall network performance.
The slashing penalties for extended downtime can be severe depending on the protocol: the repossession or destruction of a portion of a validator’s stake. The challenge for node operators is these penalties can kick in significantly faster than a new node can sync up to the network—a crucial step that must be completed before block production can begin.
With Global Blockchain Sync, Bison Trails’ Participation Clusters can recover from the complete failure of a cloud provider in minutes, significantly reducing the risk of downtime slashing or missed rewards.
This same technology also gives Bison Trails new ways to optimize customer participation on several protocols. For example, Polkadot requires more active management than other networks, due to its nominated proof of stake design. Bison Trails offers Polkadot managed controllers that automatically distribute stake among multiple validators, launching and destroying validators as active set thresholds change.
Today Bison Trails can launch a new Polkadot validator in roughly 20 minutes, compared to the 30+ hours it would otherwise typically take. This kind of active management allows us to further optimize customers’ participation, in a way that would not be cost-effective without Global Blockchain Sync.
Global Blockchain Sync also allows for dynamic management of QT read/write infrastructure used by leading custodians, exchanges, wallets, and others to build products and services that connect to blockchain data. Without Global Blockchain Sync, these organizations face a difficult choice: pay for peak-capacity infrastructure 24/7 or accept service degradation during high-traffic times.
Today QT customers are able to scale up or down infrastructure in a matter of minutes, allowing them to respond to demand in near real-time. In this way QT customers can maintain an exceptional level of service for their customers, while reducing operational costs through scalable infrastructure.
Global Blockchain Sync with QT Archival enables companies to add support for new protocols quickly and easily. Archival nodes provide a complete record of everything happening on a blockchain on a block-by-block basis. Because of this added layer of information, EOS’s 30+ terabyte archival node takes three months—an entire quarter—to be production-ready.
With QT Archival and Global Blockchain Sync, an EOS Archival node can be ready within 72 hours, compared to what would normally take upwards of 6 months. Likewise, an Ethereum archival node takes 14+ days to be production-ready without Global Blockchain Sync. Bison Trails has reduced this time to 12 hours for a new Ethereum archival node and we are looking for ways to reduce these times even further in the future.
Global Blockchain Sync enables us to respond quickly to customers, changing network conditions, and adverse situations. Being able to bring new nodes up quickly improves the user experience across every part of the platform, and lets us offer protocol-specific tooling, like managed controllers on Polkadot.Aaron Henshaw, Co-founder and CTO
As a feature of the Bison Trails platform, Global Blockchain Sync was carefully designed to ensure the stability and security of blockchain images. Images are automatically updated from Bison Trails nodes, verified for authenticity, uploaded into our system, verified again, and distributed to every region on the Bison Trails platform. This fully-automated process ensures Bison Trails customers can launch new infrastructure quickly and efficiently.
There were many technical considerations the team had to design around while building Global Blockchain Sync:
To develop a system flexible enough to meet the needs of multiple protocols, support multiple node types, and be easily operable across multiple cloud providers, Global Blockchain Sync must support images ranging in size from several gigabytes to 30+ terabytes of data for archival nodes. Frequent syncs and verification ensure the latest images are replicated across cloud-providers and regions.
Blockchain snapshotting is a technique used for years (Geth’s fast sync is one example). But snapshotting does not provide sufficient safeguards for many enterprise applications because the image’s authenticity cannot always be confirmed before deployment. We carefully designed each component of Global Blockchain Sync with security and verification in mind to meet the demanding requirements of our enterprise customers.
Global Blockchain Sync stores and updates images in every region supported by the Bison Trails platform. In addition to providing faster sync times, this design ensures the Global Blockchain Sync feature will remain operational even if an entire cloud provider goes offline. Building systems to move, synchronize, and verify this much data between cloud providers and regions was a significant operational lift.
Contact us to learn more about Global Blockchain Sync and how the Bison Trails Platform can help your organization.
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 22 new chains effortlessly.
We also make it easy for anyone building Web 3.0 applications to connect to blockchain data from 30 protocols with Query & Transact (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 joined Coinbase to accelerate our mission to provide easy-to-use blockchain infrastructure, now as a standalone product line. 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.
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