Blockchain.com: Streamlining infrastructure for the world's most dynamic financial market

About Blockchain

Blockchain is connecting the world to the future of finance. It's one of the fastest growing and most trusted digital assets company, helping millions across the globe, from individuals to the largest institutions, get easy and safe access to digital assets. Blockchain has raised more than $70 million in funding from leading investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures.

Industries: Financial Services
Location: United Kingdom

Leading cryptocurrency software company Blockchain achieved savings of 30% by replacing its database layer with Google Cloud Spanner, as it moves to managed services on Google Cloud.

Google Cloud Results

  • Restores entire database in nine hours instead of one week, enabling flexibility to test code against production data
  • Replaces one third of entire infrastructure with a single managed service using Cloud Spanner
  • Sets granular, frictionless internal security settings with Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy

Saves 2 days a month in SRE management

In its first decade of existence, the rise of cryptocurrencies has led to the creation of thousands of new currencies and at least as many platforms on which to use them. Blockchain has established itself as one of the leading providers of cryptocurrency software, supporting more than 38 million accounts in 140 countries worldwide. Blockchain started out focusing on Bitcoin, before growing into a digital asset company.

"Security is our number one priority. Google Cloud goes above and beyond to protect data, infrastructure, and services from external threats, while internally, the permission model integrated with G Suite gives granular control over access rights."

Lewis Tuff, Head of Platform Engineering, Blockchain

The company's primary products, Blockchain Wallet and Blockchain Explorer, require complicated calculations on hard-to-access data across very large databases. As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity and the company has expanded to cover other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Stellar Lumens, securely maintaining those databases has become a major undertaking with significant resource overheads. To manage these challenges and continue to deliver a peerless user experience across all products, Blockchain has evolved its approach to managing its infrastructure to help ensure secure, reliable, and accurate information platforms.

"Security is our number one priority," says Lewis Tuff, Blockchain's Head of Platform Engineering. "Google Cloud goes above and beyond to protect data, infrastructure, and services from external threats, while internally, the permission model integrated with G Suite gives granular control over access rights."

Replacing one third of infrastructure with a single managed service

Blockchain has been using Google Cloud services from the beginning and adding services wherever it has seen opportunities. While Blockchain maintains some of its own hardware and data centers, it recently saw an opportunity in migrating to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and running its infrastructure on Compute Engine instances.

"Our Blockchain ingestion services previously ran on a distributed database that had to be maintained internally, in its entirety," says Lewis. "This led to major operational overheads at significant cost and a limit to our ability to scale."

The company built the Ethereum Blockchain Explorer with Cloud Spanner and used managed services on GCP.

"With Google Cloud Spanner we're confident that we can add nodes as and when required, with high availability, strong consistency, and a globally distributed database. When we needed advice, the Google Cloud Spanner team talked through our ideas so we could build the right architecture for us."

Lewis Tuff, Head of Platform Engineering, Blockchain

"For the Ethereum Blockchain Explorer, we ingest raw blocks from Ethereum nodes in real time, transform that data, and persist in Google Cloud Spanner. This provides quick read access to large volumes of data, and significantly reduces our resource commitment."

For such dramatic results, implementation was remarkably simple. "We simply switched out our database layer for Google Cloud Spanner, and it was ready at the touch of a button," says Lewis. "It scales on-demand or to match volumes, and it's much more cost-effective in comparison to running the database ourselves."

Blockchain's team also leverages the import and export functionality of Google Cloud Spanner to perform a full restoration of the database in nine hours, instead of one week.

"With Google Cloud Spanner we're confident that we can add nodes as and when required, with high availability, strong consistency, and a globally distributed database," says Lewis. "When we needed advice, the Google Cloud Spanner team talked through our ideas so we could build the right architecture for us."

Building out with managed services

Now Blockchain is focusing on building more microservices with GCP managed services. "It makes sense to see what we can do with GCP products, instead of spinning up our own VMs and managing the whole backup, failover strategy," says Lewis. The company is already expanding its use of Cloud SQL as a managed database with strong consistency at scale, and Stackdriver for logging metrics and analysis.

"So many companies would benefit from Google Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy," he adds. "It's super powerful, and makes it really easy to authenticate and activate applications based on G Suite accounts. That's huge for us because we have a lot of internal and back-office applications that can now be managed through granular, role-based access rights."

"We're a fast-moving company, so our relationship with Google Cloud has been invaluable. The team is experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated to finding the right architecture for your use case. When you come to Google Cloud with a challenge, the team puts all its talent behind finding the best solution."

Lewis Tuff, Head of Platform Engineering, Blockchain

Meeting the pace of change in the world's most dynamic financial market

By migrating to Google Cloud Spanner, Blockchain reports a 30 percent reduction in the comparable costs of running the database, which comprises a full third of the company's infrastructure. "That's a massive cost saving, but it's also a step-change in the way our engineers work," says Lewis. "Now they can spend less time maintaining and managing this huge infrastructure, and more time on domain specific challenges."

Moving forward, Blockchain's team is preparing for the future of a dynamic market in strategic ways that Lewis hopes will drive the use of data in decision-making across product and engineering.

"We're a fast-moving company, so our relationship with Google Cloud has been invaluable." says Lewis. "The team is experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated to finding the right architecture for your use case. When you come to Google Cloud with a challenge, the team puts all its talent behind finding the best solution."

About Blockchain

Blockchain is connecting the world to the future of finance. It's one of the fastest growing and most trusted digital assets company, helping millions across the globe, from individuals to the largest institutions, get easy and safe access to digital assets. Blockchain has raised more than $70 million in funding from leading investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures.

Industries: Financial Services
Location: United Kingdom