In brief

  • Web infrastructure firm Cloudflare has launched a distributed web gateway.
  • Cloudflare’s service will replace, operated by the Ethereum Name Service.
  • The new gateway will improve uptime and scalability for accessing distributed web domains.

American internet infrastructure company Cloudflare has announced its foray into the distributed web today, revealing a partnership with the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) that will make ENS and Interplanetary File System (IPFS) domains more widely accessible.

On January 18, the distributed web gateway service operated by the Ethereum Name Service at will transition to one operated by Cloudflare instead.

According to an ENS blog post, this collaboration has been in the works over the past year, and will result in improved uptime for ENS and IPFS domains as well as improved scalability for the future. Cloudflare’s gateway will bring hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) to such domains for improved security, as well.

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“We originally created the service with the help of Protocol Labs in 2019. Since then, usage has grown so much it’s gotten to be too much work for us to manage it,” reads the post from Brantly Millegan, ENS Director of Operations.

“If you use it regularly, you may have noticed we’ve had some down time in the last few months (sorry about that!). We’re focused on developing ENS, not running infrastructure, so we reached out to Cloudflare. We’ve been working with them to help them develop their own similar service to which we could point, and we’re pleased to see it come to fruition.”

The Ethereum Name System is a lookup service built on Ethereum smart contracts. It provides an easier way to access data on the blockchain by providing a human-readable domain for wallets and websites, rather than the garbled alphanumeric string that comprises Ethereum addresses. That makes it easier to share censorship-resistant information on the blockchain, and also helps avoid mistakes from mistyped addresses.

While the ENS addresses (like almonit.eth) are accessible via specialized distributed web browsers or those equipped with an extension like the MetaMask wallet, standard web browsers can’t access them as-is. However, appending “.link” to the end of the address (i.e. makes it visible to anyone. That’s where this new Cloudflare gateway will come in, replacing the current service operated by ENS.

“So are we distributed yet? No, but we are getting closer, building bridges between emerging technologies and current web infrastructure,” reads Cloudflare’s lengthy and technical description of the incoming service. “By providing a gateway dedicated to the distributed web, we hope to make these services more accessible to everyone.”

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Cloudflare Steps Into the Distributed Web with Ethereum Name Service

by Joe T. Stanley
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