Mission-critical systems use high availability clusters. They make systems resilient and robust, adding redundancy and scalability. Because of this, they’re perfect for managing blockchain services. Or at least, they should be.
Despite their potential benefits, HA clusters can struggle with distributed systems. Maintaining synchronicity across the entire cluster is far from trivial.
As the leading blockchain infrastructure provider, Blockdaemon understands these technical challenges. We know blockchain better than anyone. We also know the benefits that HA clusters can bring to our customers. Fortunately, we have been able to solve the challenges with our Ubiquity HA clusters.
Blockdaemon Ubiquity HA Clusters give you a robust, scalable and consistent Ethereum service.
HA Clusters – A Brief Introduction
HA clusters are groups of computers that provide a resilient, consistent service.
HA clusters can quickly add redundant machines to the group. This allows them to handle node failures, rises in demand or other unforeseen circumstances with ease. Equally, HA Clusters can quickly release machines if demand falls.
In a centralized system, high availability systems share a central database. This keeps all of the individual machines aligned.
A blockchain ledger is less predictable, at least in the short term. Keeping your nodes in sync with the network is a technical challenge.
To understand how HA clusters can help blockchain services, we need to understand the challenges of blockchain architecture.
There Are 3 Main Challenges when Deploying and Maintaining Blockchain Architecture
Your first forays into blockchain were probably on a small scale. You had a manageable number of nodes. A few nodes don’t take too much maintenance effort away from your core development activities.
Pretty soon though, your distributed applications and services start to grow. All of a sudden, things aren’t so easy. The more nodes you add, the bigger these problems become:
Challenge 1. Maintaining Your Node Health
Nodes, just like any other machine, can fall over for several reasons. In fact, due to their constant and consistent high use, nodes are often more likely to fall over than traditional centralized servers.
You may have experienced some of the following. If not, one might not be far away:
- Node crashes due to load spikes
- Nefarious action (hacking)
- Software crashes
- Component failure
- Human error
Even the most bulletproof kit has weaknesses. So, what would happen if your node infrastructure did fail?
You could see a loss of earnings or users. Then there’s the hassle of putting things right. Plus, after that first failure, the threat will never fully leave your mind. You may also suffer additional slashing penalties and a loss of reputation.
Worse still if you’re an institutional blockchain organisation. A sustained outage has intrinsic issues, plus there’s negative press. This alone could shatter your reputation, and lead to severe financial implications.
To compound the impact, you might not realise you’re offline until it’s too late. Ignorance is bliss, until reality bites.
Challenge 2. Scaling Your Infrastructure
In addition to resilience, your blockchain solution needs to be dynamic. Blockchain is an ever-expanding area. There’s higher usage than ever and new protocols are being added regularly. Your infrastructure needs to scale quickly, to meet demand.
Adding, configuring and aligning new nodes will quickly eat up all of your time.
Whenever you add a new node, it needs to be in sync with the network. You need to ensure the new node’s ledger matches with peers on the blockchain. This could take minutes, or it could take hours, depending on protocol and method of synchronization.
A delay of this size could impact your ability to scale in time. You would not have the necessary services to meet load requirements.
Challenge 3. Maintaining Consistency Across Your Nodes
At any given time, blockchain nodes are ‘non-synchronized’. That is, nodes on the same blockchain might have slightly different versions of the ledger.
This is expected behavior. It’s a byproduct of distributed, independent nodes working together to come to a consensus. Additionally, within a network, there can be different node versions and forks to contend with.
These variations can be a challenge to the applications and services built on top of distributed networks. Inconsistent query results and failed transactions can occur when querying a cluster of servers that are not in sync. This will ultimately lead to a poor customer experience.
It is critical that all nodes within a cluster are synchronized with each other. You need consistent results when servicing calls and queries.
HA Clusters Provide a Potential Solution… But It’s Complicated
HA clusters are your answer, at least in theory. When implemented correctly, they address all of the challenges above. But it’s not as simple as that.
Web 2.0 has enabled easily configurable, high availability services for most applications. But bringing this level of reliability and scalability is more challenging within a decentralized environment.
Standard high availability approaches can’t handle distributed systems.
Web 2.0 servers generally rely on a cluster of databases under control by a centralized party. In these systems, HA tasks are straightforward. Synchronization, keepalives, and convergence are easy when you have full visibility and control across all system components.
In a distributed environment things are different. There is no central position like a database. The data across nodes can be unsynchronized until consensus is achieved. Even then, consensus takes time to truly solidify.
Standard HA clusters can’t:
- Ensure your nodes are healthy
- Ensure all your nodes are in sync with each other, and the network
- Enable rapid demand-based scaling, up or down
These challenges create a much greater technical problem than with normal HA clusters. They also require a higher level of monitoring and synchronization within the cluster.
Blockdaemon Ubiquity HA Clusters Solve This Problem
Ubiquity HA clusters are designed specifically for distributed systems.
Blockdaemon is the leading blockchain infrastructure provider. We have more node management experience than anyone else. We have leveraged our expertise to implement HA clusters for distributed systems.
Our Ubiquity HA Clusters provide you with a consistent, scalable, single, cross-blockchain API service. We have now begun the process of rolling out Ubiquity HA Clusters across supported protocols.
You don’t have to worry about maintaining node infrastructure. Ubiquity provides your entire blockchain service through a single RESTful API.
Prevent Service Failures
As with most issues in life, you can’t control everything. Ubiquity HA Clusters have redundant nodes for high availability. This provides consistent and resilient service for your apps or services.
Enable Rapid and Easy Scaling
Ubiquity HA Clusters support horizontal scaling. That is, adding new nodes, rather than increasing the power in current nodes (vertical scaling). Horizontal scaling ensures healthy, synced nodes are always available when needed.
Essential Node Tools And Utilities
Blockdaemon has a rich suite of tools and utilities to ensure nodes are healthy and all working off the latest block.
Consistent Blockchain Service: Why You Need HA Clusters
If blockchain services are critical for your business, you need a bulletproof solution. You need a consistent service. You can’t afford failures.
HA clusters provide resilient and robust solutions. They’re used in critical systems, adding redundancy and scalability. Unfortunately, standard HA clusters are not suitable for blockchain services.
Ubiquity HA Clusters are Essential for Institutional Blockchain Operators
Ubiquity HA Clusters have been developed specifically for blockchain networks. Ubiquity provides all of the benefits of HA clusters, without the drawbacks.
You can depend on Ubiquity HA Clusters to:
- Improve service consistency and availability
- Use a single, common set of APIs across all protocols
- Support easy and rapid scaling across all protocols
Nothing else gives you the uptime and assurance. To keep your blockchain business running, use Ubiquity HA Clusters.
Blockdaemon operates thousands of nodes across 40+ blockchain protocols. When it comes to blockchain infrastructure, nobody has more experience.
Ubiquity HA Clusters are backed by our security-first approach. This includes our 99.9% uptime guarantee and full customer insurance against slashing.
Contact us today. Speak to one of our experts. Simplify your blockchain services.