In the initial days of the web, when the internet existed as a collection of static webpages with hyperlinks connected, people predicted the beginning of an age of the decentralized web. In this new era, people expected information to not be restricted to the hands of a few but to be freely available to people across the globe.
But this is not what ended up happening with the internet. Web 2.0 (the current version of the internet) ushered in an era where large corporations driven solely by profit control the internet. It drastically failed to live up to the ideals the original flagbearers of the internet promised.
However, Web3.0 aims to change this. Web3.0, or Web3, is the next stage in the evolution of the internet, with the synthesis of blockchain and other decentralized technologies. It traced back its origins to the invention of Bitcoin back in 2008. Bitcoin paved the path for an age of blockchain and other decentralized technologies centered around modern cryptography methods.
Those who dreamt of a decentralized internet are finally optimistic that the forgotten vision of an open internet, one where individuals rather than corporations hold power, is at last here.
Cloudflare is a CDN or Content Distribution Network. Cloudflare creates multiple copies of websites and distributes the copies on several servers spread across the globe (rather than hosting them on a central server.) When a user requests access to a webpage, the CDN retrieves it from the server closest to the user and guarantees faster data transmission between the website and users.
Cloudflare is the most widely used CDN service. As of 2020, 15% of all websites on the internet use Cloudflare. These include renowned websites such as Medium, Discord, and Canva.
For the everyday user, migration from Web2 to Web3 is not feasible. Because it requires the creation of nodes in specific networks. This, in turn, requires monetary investment.
That is why Cloudflare brings its scalable infrastructure for its users to help them transition from Web2.0 to Web 3.0. It provides easy access to IPFS and Ethereum, two commonly used decentralized technologies. With Cloudflare, users can create new gateways to access data hosted in these two networks.
Before we take a closer look into how Cloudflare enables Web3 development services, let us first look at IPFS and Ethereum and their role in decentralized technologies and the web.
IPFS, or Inter-Planetary Storage System, is a storage protocol for distributed digital storage. It stores data in a peer-to-peer network. This is how it works:
Once a user uploads data into IPFS, the file is split into multiple smaller chunks; at the same time, the file is also given a unique CID or Content Identification. Different nodes within the network will host the pieces, along with information on where the other nodes that host the chunks that make up the whole file are to be found.
Once another user wants to access the data, the data is collectively downloaded from these multiple nodes as opposed to a single server in the traditional method. This makes the whole data transmission process faster, and more reliable as spreading it across multiple nodes reduces the susceptibility to data breaches.
Ethereum is an open-source, decentralized network and blockchain. It allows the execution of smart contracts (smart contracts are auto-executed contracts within the blockchain that executes once a set of pre-set conditions or rules are met.)
Ethereum is the preferred blockchain of dApp developers (dApps are applications that run the server side of the code on a blockchain rather than a centralized server). The reasons are the scalability and overall reliability of the platform.
Many of these dApps have smart contracts as part of the core functions. As a result, numerous tech experts view dApps as the next natural evolution in web and mobile application development.
The role Cloudflare plays in the Web3 ecosystem is simple but significant. It bridges the Web2 with Web3 infrastructure by providing an HTTP interface for IPFS and Ethereum networks.
There are several advantages users gain from this:
Both Ethereum and IPFS require users to have their nodes. Some users might be unable to meet this requirement. Such people can use Cloudflare as a replacement because the service gives their own nodes within these networks.
A DNSLink is a protocol that links an IP address to a domain name. This turns IP addresses that are hard to remember number combinations into human-readable text strings.
In IPFS, users can link their CIDs to a DNS and give others access to the resulting DNS link. Users can similarly create their domain and provide access to Ethereum as well.
Cloudflare operates by caching information closer to the user’s location. For IPFS and Ethereum, the CDN replicates the same approach. Hence, performance is better, and data retrieval is faster.
Cloudflare is a robust network. Unlike when hosting in one’s nodes, Cloudflare eliminates the need to do routine maintenance and monitoring to check if everything is running as planned. Instead, Cloudflare will take care of it as part of its service.
Cloudflare is a valuable tool. It already has a significant presence in the current version of the Web. The recent strides the CDN has made are signals that it aims to spearhead the upcoming Web3 revolution.
In the hands of the right developers, Cloudflare’s Web3 gateways are the right tool. It is a robust infrastructure that aids users in traversing from Web2.0 to Web3.0 with Ethereum and IPFS.
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