Michael Godsey is the GM and Head of Product for Infura, previously a Producer and Product Manager in the video game industry working on Call of Duty, Need for Speed, and EA Sports franchises. Educational background in Mathematics and Game Design.
What is the genesis story behind the launch of Infura?
Ethereum was created to be an open source programmable network, built by developers for developers. Like any open source platform, it offered builders the opportunity to create and maintain all the infrastructure components that keep the network up and running. Ethereum quickly became the number one, smart contract based blockchain and its growth would be critical to the expansion of the broader blockchain market. That saddled Ethereum developers with an enormous responsibility.
There was a need for utilities that provided simplified access to Ethereum data and lowered the barrier to entry for developers to get more people building on the network.
We publicly launched Infura in 2016 at Devcon2 in Shanghai. Funded by Joseph Lubin and ConsenSys, our mission was to take up the Ethereum infrastructure challenge: to remove the burden of running and maintaining Ethereum nodes by providing free, public APIs. We also perceived the potential for future integration between Ethereum and the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and set about providing a simplified access path to IPFS alongside.
Infura launched four years ago (only a year after Ethereum launched) and recently passed an impressive milestone of 100,000 developers on the platform, can you tell us a bit more about what services Infura provides?
Infura is a hosted Ethereum and IPFS API service that lets your developers run their applications without requiring them to set up their own Ethereum node. Infura provides the tools and infrastructure that allow developers to easily take their blockchain application from testing to scaled deployment – with simple, reliable access to Ethereum and IPFS. Infura powers the biggest applications on Ethereum such as Uniswap, MetaMask, Compound Finance, and many many others.
Infura provides API access to Ethereum and IPFS networks. I think most of our readers are familiar with Ethereum, but can you explain what the IPFS (Interplanetary File System) network is, and why Infura chose this network.
The InterPlanetary File System is a protocol and peer-to-peer network for storing and sharing data in a distributed file system. IPFS uses content-addressing to uniquely identify each file in a global namespace connecting all computing devices. IPFS began in 2015 as an effort by Protocol Labs to build a system that could fundamentally change the way information is transmitted across the globe and pave the way for a distributed, more resilient web. IPFS has grown to support an array of different use cases and is improving information management for industries across the spectrum: from disintermediating the music industry to unblocking weather risk protection for agribusiness. Currently, Protocol Labs’ projects include IPFS, the modular protocols and tools that support it, and Filecoin, among others.
During Infura’s four-plus years, we have worked to provide developers with a simplified access path to Ethereum and IPFS. By setting up the first public IPFS APIs and Gateway alongside our Ethereum API, we built a foundational Web3 development suite for building decentralized applications. By supporting IPFS as part of our infrastructure offering, we’ve enabled the storage of documents, art assets, music, videos, social network information, photos, and more for thousands of users, not to mention distributed, secure storage for the front-end of some of the earliest dApps. Our IPFS service supports pinning and accessing pinned content directly via the Infura API and allows users to access data pinned across the IPFS network via the Gateway.
Here are some other advantages that come with using Infura:
- Large amounts of data can be stored on the IPFS, and just the hash of the file can be stored on Ethereum.
- Infura provides secure, reliable, scalable, and easy to use APIs to access the Ethereum network and the IPFS. Developers do not have to worry about the infrastructure of an Ethereum node or an IPFS node. That is taken care of by Infura.
- Infura provides TLS enabled public endpoints.
- The code is portable on Ethereum’s interface using JSON RPC, Web3.
- Infura is practically a developer’s Swiss Army knife, and also saves the deployment team from the challenge of scalability issues.
Does Infura plan to support other blockchains in the near future?
Currently, Infura’s APIs support the Ethereum blockchain (including mainnet and Ropsten, Rinkeby, Kovan, and Görli test networks) and other Web3 platforms such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Our mission is to support developers building decentralized applications, if developers show growing demand for other networks we will very seriously consider them. It would be great to know if your readers are demanding Infura-like services for other networks.
Can you tell us what your vision for Web 3.0 is?
The beauty of how Infura looks at Web 3.0 is we want to provide the millions of developers in the world with the tools to answer the question of how can a decentralized layer on the internet change how we interact with each other. We are seeing use cases emerge that have big potential and we will continue to make the tools as good as possible to improve the chances of success for each of our developer’s visions. Web 3.0 will be a very broad concept, but at its core, we believe it will give more power and autonomy to the end users of modern applications.
What benefits does Infura have over competitors?
Infura is the most trusted web3 infrastructure platform in the Ethereum ecosystem. The current competitor landscape is made of other companies offering APIs and other companies offering nodes as a service. The added participants in the space is validation that there is a real need for products and platforms that simplify access to Ethereum. Infura is unique in that we can expertly scale to handle unexpected swings in user traffic or transaction volume and we have proven to be a more reliable and consistent connection to Ethereum than most 3rd party platforms. Check out this post to learn how Infura has supported some of the largest sites and applications in Web3 and DeFi, including MetaMask Uniswap and Cryptokitties.
We also provide developers with a reliable IPFS gateway, a slick Eth2 API to connect validators to Eth2, Ethereum’s first Gas optimization feature to take the hassle out of transaction management, and support for the Filecoin network. In short; Infura offers the only full featured Web 3.0 platform for Ethereum developers.
What dApp trends do you see taking off in 2021?
- For Ethereum, we expect continued overlapping exponential growth trajectories: proof of stake and layer 2 scalability (rollups and state channels), improved usability and security, more value in Open Decentralized Finance, and increased adoption of Enterprise Ethereum as more and more institutions participate in Web 3.0.
- I think we may see some big established companies enter the space based on the work we are doing. Similarly, the tools and companies entering the space will lead to an overall improvement in the usability of decentralized applications.
- DeFi will continue to improve and become more accessible to a wider user base, and will start to interoperate with traditional finance.
- DeFi and miner-extracted value (MEV) will continue to keep fee pressure high and force other applications like voting (DAOs), auctions (NFT) and even payments onto layer-2 rollup systems. Within the next four years, we envision Ethereum becoming a very competitive payment rail in general.
- I think we’ll see more stablecoins emerge and a surge of activity around them in general. We could see the introduction of low volatility coins emerge which are not pegged to a single asset, but try to maintain a stable value via balancing across many assets.
- We imagine Bitcoin will look very much like Bitcoin for the near future. The store of value narrative will likely strengthen further and it will be a recommended asset for portfolio managers to include.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about?
Earlier in December we acquired any.sender a team of two very talented engineers, Patrick McCorry and Chris Buckland, who built an Ethereum transaction relaying service that not only makes the transaction sending process much easier for developers and end-users, but also prevents them from overspending on network fees by actively managing the gas involved in sending their transactions.
With this acquisition, we launched a private alpha of Infura Transactions (ITX), a simplified way to send Ethereum transactions. Using ITX removes the need for developers to deal with the complexities around gas fee management, and you can request access here.
Developers will be able to:
- Send transactions without having to worry about setting the right gas price
- Benefit from the ITX monitoring infrastructure that ensures transactions are re-published with competitive gas prices rather than getting stuck or dropped from the network pool
- Submit transactions to Ethereum only once and pay the minimum gas possible required by the current network conditions to ensure transactions are successfully mined.
- Pay for the gas of a transaction on behalf of their users.
Links for developers:
- Eth2 API is live on mainnet, contact Infura for Beta access
- Join the waitlist for Infura’s Filecoin API.
- Submit a request for early access to Infura Transactions.