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AWS expands Amazon Managed Blockchain with Access and Query

Today, we are happy to announce the general availability of Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB) Access and Query. These two services expand AMB’s capabilities to help developers seamlessly interact with public blockchains so they can build scalable applications quickly and securely. AMB Access provides a new serverless offering for non-mining, full blockchain nodes. With AMB Access, developers can instantly call standard remote procedure calls (RPCs) to interact with digital assets and distributed applications built on multiple blockchains, starting with Bitcoin, without specialized blockchain infrastructure. AMB Query delivers standardized and formatted blockchain data from multiple blockchains, starting with Bitcoin and Ethereum, which applications can consume quickly without having to perform complex data transformations or pay expensive storage costs. In this post, we share the developer problems AMB Access and Query can solve, the new service capabilities, and target use cases.

Background

Our journey started by working backwards with blockchain developers from enterprises integrating Web3 innovations into Web2 products and blockchain-native startups pushing the boundaries of Web3 innovation. Over the past three years, use cases for public blockchains have matured, allowing developers to create mainstream applications which enable new forms of value exchange with decentralized finance (DeFi), consumer engagement and loyalty platforms using non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and efficient payments with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and collateralized stablecoins. However, the emerging state of public blockchain tooling forces developers to spend time on undifferentiated work such as node operations and indexing data, instead of building value-added user experiences.

At a high level, there are three complex but undifferentiated tasks developers face with blockchain today:

Developers must maintain specialized blockchain servers, known as nodes, in order to submit transactions or read the latest state of the blockchain. Developers have to keep up with a stream of node software updates through a labor-intensive process or risk losing the transactions they send to the blockchain. Scaling the node infrastructure with application usage also introduces operational risks. For example, new nodes can take days and multiple tries to sync with the blockchain before they can be used.
Developers must maintain nodes for multiple blockchains to provide users with access to popular applications and cryptocurrencies on blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. This further complicates the developer task, because each blockchain has its own language, hardware requirement, and software upgrade cycle to manage.
Developers must transform raw blockchain data into formats that can be easily accessed by their applications to provide richer analytics for blockchain data, such as wallet balances and descriptions of NFTs. This is difficult because developers have to download terabytes of data from special archive nodes, standardize raw blockchain data with complex transformations, call smart contracts to get information such as token symbols, and store the data in application databases for fast querying. In addition, developers have to write special logic to handle historical data updates from the blockchain while new information continues to stream in.

Capabilities of AMB Access and Query

To help blockchain developers with their undifferentiated tasks, we prioritized simplifying access to the foundational blockchain infrastructure and data components with these capabilities:

Serverless access – AMB Access extends the existing dedicated node offerings from AMB with serverless, scalable, and secure access to blockchain networks. AMB Access makes it even simpler for developers with instant availability to standard RPCs, removing the undifferentiated effort to configure dedicated infrastructure for blockchain resiliency and scalability, maintain blockchain nodes, or patch blockchain server software. In response to the institutional and retail demand our customers are seeing, AMB Access will support Bitcoin as its first serverless blockchain network through non-mining, full Bitcoin Core nodes. Our dedicated node offerings will continue to be available for customers who need a more hands-on approach to meet their resiliency and compliance requirements.
Multiple blockchains – AMB Access and Query provide access to the most popular blockchains in one place, starting with Bitcoin and Ethereum. With the addition of Bitcoin, AMB introduces the ease and instant availability of serverless APIs to complement its dedicated managed public blockchain offering for Ethereum. We will continue to listen to our customers for additional blockchains to support with AMB Access.
Straightforward data access – AMB Query will provide common application APIs to make data from multiple blockchains quickly available with response times that can meet the needs of interactive consumer applications. The complicated infrastructure setups, data transformation processes, and query statements required to provide common application requests, such as getting the wallet balance of all cryptocurrencies for the supported blockchains, are abstracted behind simple API calls.
Predictable pricing – AMB Access and Query provide a simple and transparent pay-as-you go pricing structure charged per remote procedure call (RPC) or API call. There is no utilization minimum and no need to translate abstract units into dollar costs.

General availability features

AMB Access and Query offer the following features in our initial release:

AMB Access for Bitcoin – Developers can connect to mainnet as well as testnet non-mining full Bitcoin Core nodes to access 28 commonly used JSON RPCs from the Bitcoin Core Client. AMB Access is available over the internet via the public endpoints or privately from their virtual private cloud (VPC) using AWS Private Link. Refer to our documentation for additional details.
AMB Query for Bitcoin and Ethereum – Developers can access commonly requested on-chain current and historical data for address token balances and transaction history. With AMB Query’s six initial APIs, developers can get data from Bitcoin and Ethereum mainnet in a standardized format. Refer to our documentation for additional details.

Use cases

As foundational components, AMB Access and Query can help developers with every public blockchain use case. The following are two examples:

Custodians and wallets – These applications can be considered the Web3 equivalent of traditional banking applications. Users of these applications expect similar experiences to their traditional banking applications, such as having their current and historical balances as well as transactions available at their fingertips. Regardless of whether they are centralized and operated by licensed operators or decentralized and self-managed by individual consumers, these applications serve the same basic purposes to store and transfer cryptocurrencies. While developers would still have to manage their own security to store cryptocurrencies, developers can have their applications interact with the blockchain RPCs through AMB Access so to transfer cryptocurrencies and read data from the blockchain quickly with AMB Query to display in the application.
Consumer engagement – The use of NFTs as a way to connect and increase engagement with consumers by enterprises such as Nike and Starbucks continues to grow. These NFTs serve as gating tokens that unlock exclusive benefits for the holders (such as access to real-world events), which can be used to incentivize specific actions (such as purchasing physical goods), and increase collaboration across brands (such as unlocking in-game digital goods from a popular brand). To enable these actions, applications must create, manage, and transfer NFTs using the RPCs on AMB Access, as well as quickly check ownership information with AMB Query. For example, to unlock an exclusive NFT for high-value customers, an application may need to check user wallets for ownership of an existing NFT issued on Ethereum and have holdings of greater than 1 BTC on Bitcoin.

Amazon Managed Blockchain Access and Query provide friction-free access to blockchain networks and their data so developers can easily create their Web3 applications,” said Saman Michael Far, VP of Financial Services Technology, AWS. “I expect this easy to incorporate functionality will enable new mainstream applications ranging from interacting with digital assets to creating new ways of engagement consumers and their brands.

AMB Access and Query are being used today by leading institutions for their digital initiatives.

“Brazil is one of the world’s fastest growing cryptocurrency markets, with interest from the retail sector and among institutions, as well as supportive regulation from our government. Itaú is at the forefront of meeting this need as a trusted, and regulated entity, with a comprehensive cryptocurrency initiative. By using AMB Access we have accelerated our time to market by months which holds great strategic significance for Itaú’s continued leadership across multiple businesses within a rapidly evolving market. Further, we are able to focus on delivering innovative products with the assurance of AMB’s scalability, security, and reliability supporting our efforts. After seeing the benefits of AMB Access, we are looking at AMB Query to help us more quickly get the critical balance and transaction information that is stored on the blockchain.”

– Caio Cesar Lopes Gomes, CIO of Itaú digital

Summary

AMB Access and Query demonstrate the ongoing investment of AWS to help our customers in the growing Web3 and blockchain industry. Our initial offerings address the most common needs of customers for their foundational components with the performance, scalability, security, and reliability they expect. This foundation allows us to keep releasing new features regularly that simplify access to blockchain technology for enterprises and startups.

AMB Access and Query can be accessed by customers using the AWS SDK, AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), AWS Management Console, or REST APIs. To get started, refer to our AMB Access and AMB Query product pages. The existing dedicated AMB services for Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum will be available under AMB Access.

We will explore in more detail the use cases and capabilities of AMB Access and Query in our upcoming deep-dive series.

About the authors

John Liu is the Head of Product for Web3 / Blockchain at AWS. He has 13 years of experience as a product executive and 10 years of experience as a portfolio manager. Prior to AWS, John spent 4 years leading product and business development at public blockchain protocols with a heavy focus on cross-chain technology, DeFi, and NFTs. Prior to that, John gained financial expertise as Chief Product Officer for fintech companies and portfolio manager at various hedge funds.

Paul Fullarton is the GM for Web3 / Blockchain at AWS. Paul has led Blockchain managed services for AWS for the past 3+ years. Prior to Web3 / Blockchain, he spent 6+ years leading AWS SNS and AWS Pinpoint as well as teams in Amazon Stores. Prior to Amazon, Paul was a technology leader for 18+ years at companies such at Cisco, Motorola, and multiple start-ups. He holds 20 patents and BS & MS degrees in Computer & Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.

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