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Blockchain.com banks on Google cloud to support growth of cryptocurrency management platform

Blockchain.com reveals details of how it is ramping up its use of the Google Cloud Platform as the range of cryptocurrencies it supports grows, along with the size of its user base

Cryptocurreny management platform Blockchain.com has revealed details of how it is ramping up its reliance on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to manage its growing user base and data processing needs.

The company has used GCP since its inception in 2011, and draws on the cloud platform to supplement the work its on-premise datacentres do to keep the cryptocurrency wallets of its 39 million users operational and accessible from the 140 countries they are located in.

Blockchain.com started out supporting bitcoin, but has since moved to expand the number of cryptocurrencies it supports, include ethereum, bitcoin cash, stellar lumens and the paxos standard, which has led to a concurrent increase in the number of datasets the company has to support.

Each of these cryptocurrencies is underpinned by sizeable, decentralised ledgers, from which Blockchain.com’s products must access data efficiently in order to work.

“Accessing that data requires complex domain knowledge, technical infrastructure and development effort, not to mention time to process the entire data chain,” said the company in a blog post, outlining the work it does with Google. “This became a major undertaking that required significant in-house IT resources and overhead.”

To ease some of the management burden, Blockchain.com’s tech team began hosting some of its IT infrastructure within GCP Compute Engine instances, and adopted Google’s Cloud Spanner database server technology, along with its Cloud SQL and Stackdriver tools.

According to the company, replacing its previous database with Cloud Spanner has generated operational overhead savings of about 30%.

To safeguard the funds its users have stowed away within its platform, the company has also adopted Google Cloud’s identity access management tools and firewall technology.

“GCP makes it easy to get the basics of security right,” said Lewis Tuff, head of platform engineering at Blockchain.com. “Cloud Identity Access Management [Cloud IAM] and VPC firewall allow Blockchain to lock down access to resources according to the least privilege principle and implement defence in depth within our environment.

“Leveraging Stackdriver’s logging and monitoring capability enables us to be alerted to any unusual activities in real time.”

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The company also uses Google’s Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy (Cloud IAP) for user identity verification purposes, within the customer-facing part of its platform, and also within its back-office application environments.

“It’s really easy to authenticate and activate applications based on G Suite accounts,” said Tuff. “That’s huge for us because we have a number of internal and back-office applications that can now be managed through granular, role-based access rights.”

The company has now set its sights on incorporating microservices more widely into its IT infrastructure, and ramping up its use of 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 and failover strategy,” said Tuff.

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