Internet security provider Cloudflare is introducing the Ethereum Gateway to its Distributed Web Gateway toolbox enabling users to interact with the Ethereum network without installing any software. This is part of Cloudflare’s Distributed Web Gateway project to expand the decentralized web ecosystem and enhance its reliability, speed, and ease of use.
Instead of downloading and cryptographically verifying hundreds of gigabytes of data — an impossible task for low-power devices and those with low technical barriers to entry — the gateway enables any device with web access to interact with the Ethereum network.
This setup will make it possible to explore the blockchain and add interactive elements to sites powered by Ethereum smart contracts. In fact, the gateway gives people the ability to put new contracts on Ethereum with having to run a node, because Cloudflare will take a signed transaction and push it to the network thereby allowing miners to cryprographicaly add it.
Despite the value Cloudflare brings to gateway clients, the service is completely free. Nick Sullivan, Cloudflare’s Head of Cryptography, explains that the program “leverages the existing Cloudflare network, which already provides a number of free services.”
Sullivan notes it’s too young a system to introduce costs, but there may be revenue opportunities down the line.
For now though, the company’s modus operandi is to expand access and utility of smart contracts to the uninitiated. In a sense, Sullivan suggested Cloudflare is doing it for developers and ecosystem at large. “To show computing can be done differently.”
“By providing a gateway to the Ethereum network we can help users make the jump from general web-user to cryptocurrency native, eventually making using the distributed web a fundamental part of the Internet,” Jonathan Hoyland wrote in a blog post.
Though Cloudflare sees itself as only one access point among “the constellation of gateways that already exist,” meaning that despite the added speed of its backchannel, it will not become a centralized authority on the chain.
Currently, newbie visitors to the gateway’s website can interact with an example app, but the ambitious should access the RPC API, where it’s possible to do virtually anything available on the Ethereum network itself, from examining contracts, to transferring funds.
Despite ambitions to break down the barriers to distributed computing, Sullivan said the majority of Cloudflare users are hobbyists. This is not to exclude the number of independent bloggers, image sharing websites, and technologists that leverage Cloudflare’s IFPS gateway.
“ETH and IPFS are big names in very small space — the crypto space. But in a broader audience they’re not very well known, not commonly understood,” said Sullivan. “Part of this announcement is to help elevate the profile of these protocols… to solve difficult problems with distributed computing.”
This announcement is part of Cloudflare’s Crypto Week.
Gateway image via ShutterStock