Google Cloud on Thursday unveiled Blockchain Node Engine -- a fully managed service for Web3 developers that want to build and manage products for blockchain-based platforms. Cryptocurrency giant Ethereum will be the first platform supported by the new service.
"Blockchain is changing the way the world stores and moves its information," Google's Amit Zavery and James Tromans wrote in a blog post, explaining the company's interest in supporting Web3 developers.
To understand the service, it's worth reviewing a few terms. First, Web3 simply refers to the next iteration of the World Wide Web – one based on decentralized platforms. Blockchain, meanwhile, is a technology pioneered by Bitcoin that could prove to be the foundation for Web3.
Blockchains consist of transaction data that is permanently stored and encrypted. Instead of relying on a central entity to validate and store data, a blockchain is made up of nodes – a device, like a computer or server, that contains a full copy of the blockchain's transaction history. Nodes on a blockchain form a peer-to-peer network, with all of the nodes up to date and in sync. This gives everyone on the blockchain control over the veracity of the data – making it a decentralized network.
"Much of the important data we need to run our businesses will increasingly be kept in more private and protected places, stored in blockchain and other types of distributed ledgers," he wrote. "A rising share of our applications over time will be more akin to open-source projects and run using smart contracts that all stakeholders can transparently view, verify, and agree to."
However, Google notes that blockchain nodes are often difficult to deploy and require constant management – problems that the Blockchain Node Engine service are designed to solve.
With Blockchain Node Engine, developers will be able to deploy a new node with a single operation, and they can specify the desired region and network. By comparison, manually deploying a node requires provisioning a compute instance, installing an Ethereum client and waiting for the node to sync with the network. "Syncing a full node from the first block (i.e., "genesis") can take several days," Google's blog post said.
To ensure availability, Google Cloud actively monitors the nodes and restarts them if anything goes wrong -- DevOps teams don't have to stand by for outages. The service also offers security assurances, placing nodes behind a VPC firewall and using Google services such as Cloud Armor to protect nodes from DDoS attacks.