Tierion: Generating 100M+ Blockchain Proofs per Day in Production

Quick Look

Tierion uses CockroachDB to power its distributed blockchain ledger, generating over 100M proofs per day.

Industry

Blockchain

USE CASE

System of Record

Tierion is a blockchain company developing a “global proof engine”––a platform that relies on a distributed ledger to let end users anchor and verify the integrity of any type of data and provide them with a cryptographic proof of its existence at a point in time. To handle their current and projected workload, Tierion needed a system of record to store their ledger that was distributed, consistent, and could be easily scaled to let partners run their service.

Tierion began evaluating CockroachDB when investigating options for a consistent and scalable database for their ledger. After thorough testing and simulations, Tierion became convinced CockroachDB had all of the features it needed to support their most critical services.

By using CockroachDB, Tierion can trust that their mission-critical ledger has the strongest consistency available through SQL, can handle more requests as they grow, and is deployable by partners in any environment. CockroachDB now stores Tierion’s entire internal blockchain, as well as sharing a complete copy of its intermediary proofs with their entire system––in nearly real time.

Tierion needed a database with very strong consistency, scalable throughput, that could be deployed anywhere. We evaluated many options and CockroachDB was the clear winner. It’s the beating heart of our architecture.

— Glenn Rempe, VP of Engineering, Tierion

Challenges

Tierion’s blockchain implementation improves the limitations normally associated with blockchain networks, dramatically increasing the number of transactions per second they can process.

To handle this volume of requests, Tierion needed their internal blockchain (also known as a ledger) to operate on top of a database that could scale to meet demand while also offering strong consistency. They examined a number of potential solutions.

  • Those like Ethereum––built to support private blockchains––introduced an unattractive amount of complexity to their system, or required substantial adaptation to work with Tierion.
  • Cloud services like Spanner offered a better set of options, but tying the Tierion service to a particular environment meant that partners might not be able to run the service themselves, ultimately hindering Tierion’s ability to scale.

To provide consistent ordering when generating new blocks––a crucial feature that underpins the very notion of how blockchains operate––Tierion also implemented distributed locking mechanisms, which were operational but added operational complexity to their service.

To overcome these hurdles, Tierion realized they needed a tool that was forward looking as they are.

Solution

Tierion evaluated several databases and concluded that CockroachDB was the best tool to provide a consistent view of their ledger while still allowing them to operate at global scale.

CockroachDB’s serializable consistency guarantees that reading and writing the ledger is always correct, which is absolutely crucial for a blockchain. And because of CockroachDB’s cloud-native design, it lets Tierion scale their cluster by simply adding more nodes and––even more importantly––lets partners also run the Tierion service easily. By simply starting the service in their own environment, partners are immediately joined to the same ledger, and benefit from the same industry-leading consistency.

Once adopting it, Tierion also discovered CockroachDB could eliminate operational complexity by simplifying their stack in other ways:

  • When generating new blocks in their ledger, Tierion no longer required a complex locking service, and could instead rely on CockroachDB’s native support for ACID transactions.
  • Rather than store intermediate proofs in an unscalable, legacy relational database, Tierion now keeps the same data in CockroachDB––not only simplifying their stack, but also making the intermediate proofs available to all machines running the Tierion service.

Results

CockroachDB is now a key component of Tierion’s infrastructure. Scalability tests have shown CockroachDB is capable of over 4,000+ operations per second. This level of performance supports a distributed network of thousands of Tierion nodes, capable of generating hundreds of millions of blockchain proofs per day.

Tierion’s deployment of CockroachDB is straightforward but powerful, distributed across three distinct cloud zones, each with three nodes running on virtual hosts. If nodes go offline, Docker Compose simply performs a restart and the node gracefully recovers.

We’re excited to see CockroachDB powering Tierion’s ability to provide unparalleled simplicity to one of today’s most transformative technologies.