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QT Archival: When a Full Node is Not Enough

QT Archival are fully-managed archival nodes and supporting systems—dedicated node infrastructure that provide a complete block-by-block record of historic data from 8 protocols.

QT Archival: When a Full Node is Not Enough

By Bison Trails · Nov 11 2020

Anyone building products and services with blockchain data needs access to reliable full read/write nodes, which is why we built QT.

QT’s full nodes are used extensively by exchanges and wallets to settle and confirm trades, check an address’s current balance, and get real-time information on the status of a blockchain. But for many companies, including data, machine learning, and financial services companies, a full node is simply not enough.

QT Archival nodes take real-time data one step further by providing a complete picture of the state of a blockchain on a block-by-block basis. Unlike a full node, which only records changes in the ledger, archival nodes provide a complete historic trace record of everything happening (or not happening) on a blockchain. This complete picture is invaluable for companies doing data analysis over a time horizon, or who have detailed reporting requirements.

QT Archival offers companies fully-managed, scalable, and highly resilient archival nodes and supporting systems without the hassle and expense of maintaining them in-house. QT Archival also includes Indexers and other sidecar software for many protocol offerings. Indexers create a card catalogue of transactions and other information contained in the blockchain archive, providing customers an easier querying process and faster response times. With QT Archival, customers can replay smart contracts, explore the balance of an address over time, and run complex multi-dimensional queries.


The Challenges of Archival Infrastructure

Managing infrastructure across multiple protocols is a time-consuming process, and the complexities of archival nodes make the process even more challenging. Archival systems contain significantly more data than full nodes, requiring multiple terabytes of storage for trace and index data. QT Archival is designed to address these challenges.

Deploying new archival systems, scaling capacity, and managing failure recovery is a resource-intensive and time-consuming process for in-house management. Take Ethereum, for example. Before a new Ethereum archival node can be useful, it has to sync a block-by-block record of the chain. Without Bison Trails, this process can take upwards of two weeks. With QT Archival, an Ethereum archival node is production-ready in under eight hours—42x faster!

Time and time again we see customers are really tired of running their own infrastructure, and this is especially true for archival nodes. We are always adding new protocol-specific tooling required to provide customization Archival customers need. Customers love that Bison Trails provide them with a path to not only reduce their operational pain, but add support for new protocols to their own products and services quickly and easily.

Rob Christensen Rob Christensen, Head of DevOps

Bison Trails overcame significant obstacles to release our innovative QT Archival product.

  • Archival data is big—really big
    Before developing QT Archival, our largest snapshot was a Bitcoin full node, which at 600GB or so was manageable. Introducing Archival support on established blockchains presented a challenge of scale for our snapshot and deployment systems. These archives can be huge—as much as 30TB for EOS, well beyond the capacity of existing tooling, and even the limits of some cloud providers. The systems we developed to support QT Archival made our entire deployment pipeline more robust.
  • Scaling archival infrastructure is tedious and expensive
    One of the largest challenges facing Bison Trails was how to bring scalability and failover protection to archival systems. The Bison Trails platform is built on a multi-cloud foundation with near-infinite resiliency, and QT Archival benefits from that work. Queries route through load balancers which control access and help distribute and authenticate requests before they hit customers’ nodes. These load balancers will automatically redirect requests if a node becomes unavailable. The platform can spin up new redundant nodes that are ready in hours, not weeks.

Advantages of QT Archival

QT Archival is built on the Bison Trails Platform, a leading platform for blockchain participation. Bison Trails removes the pain of managing blockchain infrastructure by helping teams reduce operational load and easily add support for new protocols to their products and services.

QT Archival provides:

  • Direct access to archival nodes’ native APIs
    QT Archival providers customers with direct, dedicated access to their archival nodes and supporting systems. There’s no rate-limiting or usage caps, meaning entrepreneurs and innovators can utilize the full power of QT Archival as their needs for archival data grow. QT is dedicated infrastructure, giving customers direct access to their nodes, and promising full availability even during periods of network congestion.
  • Fast deployment and seamless resiliency
    Through Global Blockchain Sync customers can launch production-ready archival infrastructure in a matter of hours. Infrastructure can scale up or down as needed, allowing for minimal downtime for upgrades and maintenance.
  • Specialized tooling to meet customer needs
    QT Archival was built to meet the needs of companies with radically different workload requirements and varying goals—like query throughput, or high-computation data analysis that can take minutes to complete. Today, QT Archival offers unmatched customization and protocol coverage, making it an ideal choice for teams building with archival data.
  • Extensive support for multiple protocols and systems
    We’re committed to expanding our protocol coverage for QT Archival and our protocol-specific tooling as well. For a number of protocols, such as TRON, Algorand, and Tezos, QT Archival supports running a chain indexing service attached to the node, or a MongoDB sidecar, so customers can more easily query the chain for information. This protocol-specific tooling is driven by the needs of our customers. Please reach out if there’s a service, plugin, or function you’d like to see us support.

The data a full node gives you, while very powerful, isn’t always enough for every customer. There’s different ways to slice, operate, and use blockchain data. This is why we built QT Archival. We provide optionality to serve the needs of even more companies working with blockchain data.

Aaron Henshaw Aaron Henshaw, Co-founder and CTO

QT Archival Protocol Support

  • Algorand: Supports running a chain indexing service attached to the node, so customers can easily query the chain for information.
  • Celo
  • Cosmos
  • EOS
  • Ethereum
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Tezos: Supports running a chain indexing service attached to the node, so customers can easily query the chain for information.
  • TRON: Supports a MongoDB sidecar in order to automatically index transaction events for a deeper historical picture of chain data.

For a full list of all 27 protocols supported by QT, visit bisontrails.co/qt.


Contact us to learn more about running dedicated archival infrastructure for your organization.


What is QT?

QT by Bison Trails is designed for companies and entrepreneurs building and scaling secure Web 3.0 applications today. We make it incredibly easy to have secure, highly available access to read/write node infrastructure on multiple blockchain protocols. QT provides a robust link between off-chain systems and blockchain networks; any off-chain system can use dedicated infrastructure to read and write data to the blockchain.

QT infrastructure processes billions of transactions per month, including QT Archival customers. Bison Trails is able to meet the demands of enterprise customers building applications that require consistent access to data, with high throughput, high availability, and dedicated resources.


About Bison Trails


Our mission is to provide superior infrastructure on multiple blockchains, to strengthen the entire ecosystem, and enable the pioneers of tomorrow.

Pioneering Blockchain Infrastructure®

Bison Trails is a blockchain infrastructure company based in New York City. We built a platform for anyone who wants to participate in 19 new chains effortlessly. We also make it easy for anyone building Web 3.0 applications to connect to blockchain data from 27 protocols with QT. Our goal is for the entire blockchain ecosystem to flourish by providing robust infrastructure for the pioneers of tomorrow.


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