What’s The Matter With Infura And Other Services?
Recently, we saw Infura and other ConsenSys-related services dominate the headlines. Long story short, ConsenSys announced that they would be collecting user IP addresses for compliance requirements. Naturally, this sparked a “centralization vs decentralization” debate in the crypto community.
In this article, we will see how Dash Platform mitigates the need for a centralized service provider like Infura, Kaleido, etc.
What exactly is Infura?
Infura is a web3 IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) product that provides a set of tools for anyone to connect their applications to the Ethereum blockchain. Infura lowers developers’ entry barriers by running nodes on their behalf. The idea is simple, right? Abstract away the complexities of the blockchain and empower developers to focus only on their product. Infura’s IPFS (Interplanetary File System) API provides distributed storage to applications of all sizes. Several popular services, like MetaMask and Truffle, use Infura.
So, what’s the problem here?
Ever since 2018, there has been an increased concern in the Ethereum community about Infura’s growing presence within the ecosystem. Afri Schoedon from Parity Technologies said that over-reliance on Infura will increase the centralization of the protocol.
“If we don’t stop relying on Infura, the vision of Ethereum failed. Or build a strong network of thin and light clients. There is no point in having d-apps connecting through MetaMask to a blockchain hosted by someone else.”
Plus, at the end of the day, Infura is maintained by a centralized company which makes its applications vulnerable to censorship and regulatory measures.
Infura and censorship
In March 2022, ConsenSys made their services unavailable “within the three contested regions of Ukraine.” This happened after the US, European Union, and others implemented strict sanctions on Russia following their invasion of Ukraine. Plus, due to an error, Infura accidentally blocked Venezuelan users from MetaMask, as well.
There are a few things to unpack here:
- Due to government sanctions, people living in certain areas were blacklisted from crypto services.
- A mistake from the service provider blocked crypto access for people from a completely unrelated region.
Now, with the latest announcement about IP address collection, there is a substantial risk that regulatory demands may get more overbearing, leading to more censorship.
These points raise a few important questions. Wasn’t crypto created to prevent these things from happening in the first place? Wasn’t the entire point of crypto to make a means of value transfer that didn’t depend on the whims or incompetence of an intermediary?
And, perhaps most notably, why are we still using web2 architecture to access web3 protocols?
Dash Platform fixes this
Dash Platform is a web3 tech stack that allows you to build decentralized applications on Dash’s network. Dash Platform uses two architectural components, Drive and DAPI.
DAPI – Decentralized API
DAPI is a decentralized API that allows developers to connect their apps with the Dash blockchain. Developers can connect to DAPI directly or use a client library. DAPI helps developers by:
- Using Dash masternodes as API providers, so developers don’t have to run nodes.
- Removing overall cost and maintenance overhead.
What makes DAPI interesting is that, unlike traditional APIs, there isn’t a single point of failure. Instead, clients may connect to different independently operated instances depending on resource availability in the Dash network. So, you are connecting to the protocol using a decentralized system instead of a centralized one. Although all the Dash masternodes provide the same services, they are run by independent operators rather than a centralized entity.
Drive – Decentralized Storage
Drive is Dash Platform’s storage component, allowing for consensus-based verification and validation of user-created data. Once user data is validated, it is submitted to Drive via DAPI and stored in the masternode network.
But how do you verify whether the data you get from the API is correct? After all, a truly decentralized system shouldn’t require trust to operate. To mitigate this, Drive uses GroveDB – a purpose-built database that provides efficient proofs with query responses. These cryptographic proofs help prove data authenticity.
With DAPI and Drive, Dash Platform provides the ideal decentralized portal for developers to connect to web3 without stumbling over the familiar roadblocks of web2 design.