Dapps, or decentralized applications, need a way to communicate with the blockchain. You can do this by running your own node or using the services of a node provider. For the majority of small businesses and startups, running your own blockchain node is just not an option.
It requires considerable technical expertise, equipment, and expenses just to set up, never mind maintain or scale. Node providers are therefore a much quicker, more cost-effective, and convenient way to launch and operate dApps on the blockchain.
To explain why node providers are the better option, we’ll look at what nodes are, how they work, and why a node provider is the best way to support your dApp.
In general terms, a node is a point of connection in a data communication network. Blockchain nodes are connected in a decentralized, peer-to-peer network where no single entity has full control of the data.
In other words, blockchain nodes are systems or devices in a distributed network. Each node works independently to verify and maintain a shared public ledger (the blockchain) and act as a communication point for various functions.
Depending on the blockchain, there are different types of nodes performing different roles.
For example, Bitcoin full nodes are responsible for verifying transactions using consensus algorithms, relaying the new transactions to blocks, and adding new blocks to the chain. Bitcoin archival full nodes can store a full copy of the entire blockchain history containing every single transaction and block from 0.
Whereas Bitcoin Light nodes don’t store a copy of the complete blockchain and only download the block header of the previous transaction to validate. Depending on the nature of you project, you will need a different type of node to communicate with.
Without going into detail into each type of node for every type of blockchain, we can summarize the basic functions of the majority of blockchain nodes with the following:
- Acceptance or disapproval of blockchain transactions
- Verification of transaction/data validity
- Keeping all data in cryptographically linked blocks
- Communicating with the other nodes within the network
In short, nodes are an essential component of the blockchain, allowing its decentralization and ensuring the integrity of the data.
If you want to make an application that lives on or feeds off of the blockchain, then you need a way for that application to communicate with the blockchain.
Say you want to build your own multi-currency crypto exchange that provides live and historical exchange rates for your users and gives them the ability to buy, sell, and trade their cryptocurrencies at the best rates.
In order to do that, you need to be able to access the data stored on the blockchains and be able to make transactions on them. Nodes are the only way to do that.
As mentioned before, you could interact with the blockchain by running your own nodes. But here are a few reasons why that may not be the best option for your dApp.
Nodes need regular maintenance with an upgrade every few weeks. There may be times when they have to be re-built from scratch, for example when there is a hard fork in the blockchain. Certain queries can involve millions of blocks and transactions which can cause a node to time out or crash, which will need de-bugging or re-syncing.
Different blockchains have different requirements when it comes to the strengths of hardware. Ethereum nodes need ultra fast processors, a minimum of 16 GB+ RAM and a fast SSD with at least 500 GB free space. Running a Bitcoin full node requires 7 GB of free disk space at a minimum read/write speed of 100 MB/s. You’ll also need fast Internet with a high download speed which can push up your costs.
Proper setup and synchronization require expert skills to ensure the smooth running of a node. The smallest mistake can result in an error that means re-synchronizing from scratch. Full nodes download every single block from 0 to the latest, replaying every block and every transaction ever submitted. For Ethereum mainnet alone, that's over 14 million blocks. Syncing that many transactions can take weeks.
A single node is fine for personal projects but if you’re a business trying to keep up with user requests things can get complicated. Even if you were to set up two nodes with a load balancer between them, you’d run into consistency issues. Users receiving inconsistent data can be the nail in the coffin for your dApp.
Plus, if you wanted to connect with multiple blockchains, you’d need to run nodes for all of them.
So what is the alternative?
Node providers offer easy access to blockchain information without the need of running your own node. Instead of setting up your own node and experiencing all the stress and expense that comes with it, you can send your dApp transaction requests via the internet to a node provider.
They provide an API key that you can use to communicate back and forth with fully-synced, up-to-date nodes that are available 24/7. You have all the perks of communicating with the blockchain and none of the engineering, maintaining, or managing headaches.
You don’t need to worry about bandwidth limits, guaranteeing uptime, providing consistency, or upgrading equipment. You also don’t need to worry about ensuring node security.
Node providers do all of that for you, so you can concentrate on spending your valuable resources on building and scaling your dApp and providing the best UX possible.
Crypto APIs provides businesses and institutions with reliable access to fully-synced nodes for top blockchains. With our Node as a Service you can make JSON-RPC requests to blockchain nodes using the official supported methods. With shared and dedicated nodes you can offload the development time and costs needed to setup and manage your own nodes. Our robust node services provide the security, scalability and flexibility any business needs.
In addition to uninterrupted node access, businesses can plug in our other blockchain products to their dApp. Our solutions are equipped with unified API endpoints, with 25ms processing speed and 99.99% uptime. With access to powerful developer tools in your preferred language from our SDK libraries, you can easily set up your dApp to communicate with the blockchain smoothly.
Take advantage of our MPC digital wallet solution, get push notifications for any blockchain activity you’re interested in, or get access to live and historical blockchain data in an instant. And with just one seamless integration, you can focus on creating the best user experience for your dApp.
Contact us to find out more about how Crypto APIs can ensure consistency, scalability, reliability and security for your dApp.