The Pocket Network is a decentralized network of blockchain node providers that launched last month, which helps to solve some of the more pervasive problems faced by teams developing decentralized applications. Right now, Pocket gives application developers access to the Ethereum and Pocket blockchains, but in the future it may support many more chains.

As we’ve discussed before, managing Ethereum nodes is hard. Managing a highly available cluster of nodes requires a lot of expertise, expensive hardware, and quite a bit of time. So many teams opt to outsource their node management to teams like Rivet. The Pocket Network bring a new option to the table, where application developers don’t need the headache of hosting their own nodes, but also don’t have to rely on a centralized service provider.

How It Works

Developers using the Pocket Network to access Ethereum node infrastructure start out by buying and staking POKT tokens. The number of POKT tokens you stake determines the number of requests you can make in a given period of time. Once you stake your POKT tokens, you can make a fixed number of requests to the network every day in perpetuity, without having to pay again.

When you establish a session, you will be randomly assigned 5 pocket nodes to relay your requests. You have several options on how to route your requests across those 5 nodes:

The nodes that handle your requests are rewarded with newly minted POKT tokens for handling the requests.

Comparing Rivet & Pocket

So you may be thinking “Hey, aren’t you a centralized service provider? Why are you telling me about this decentralized option? It sounds like a pretty good deal.”

Yes, Rivet is a centralized service provider, but we’re also a Pocket node operator. We view the Pocket network as a sales channel for Rivet’s services that reflects OpenRelay’s values for decentralization. We can earn POKT tokens by doing what we do best — providing highly available node infrastructure to people who need it, while letting those application developers avoid a dependency on any centralized provider.

So if you’re an application developer, how do you decide whether to go with Rivet or Pocket? There are several things to consider:

At the end of the day, the choice of Pocket vs. Rivet comes down to your project’s needs and priorities. If you’re sensitive to consistency and performance, need some of Rivet’s advanced features, or find monthly budgeting easier than long term investments, Rivet is a great option. If the APIs available through Pocket meet your needs, your application isn’t terribly sensitive to performance variability or consistency, and you can afford the up front investment, Pocket could save you a lot of money in the long run.

The Pocket Gateway

The Pocket team also offers an RPC Gateway that you can use to run requests against the Pocket network as though it were a standard Ethereum RPC provider. Your application makes requests against the Pocket gateway, which in turn runs those requests against the Pocket network. The first 100 apps that sign up for the gateway will get up to 1,000,000 free daily requests for the first year.

While the Pocket gateway is easier to use than integrating your application with Pocket, it combines some of the disadvantages of centralized and decentralized providers. The performance, features, and consistency of the Pocket gateway will be comparable to using the Pocket network, while from a privacy angle both the gateway and the Pocket node operators see your traffic. The free requests for the first hundred signups are compelling, but otherwise the biggest advantages to Pocket come from decentralization, and if you’re going to a centralized gateway we think Rivet will offer a better experience.

The ETH Online Hackathon

Pocket is the official node service for the ETH Online Hackathon. If you’re hacking on the hackathon it’s a great opportunity to give Pocket a try.

A Note for Pocket Stakers

As of today, only about a third of Pocket holders have actually staked their nodes. If you’re a Pocket holder interested in staking a node, but lacking the technical expertise to do it right, reach out to us at The Rivet team has expertise at running Pocket nodes backed by Rivet’s world class Ethereum infrastructure, and we’d be happy to work with you to help you stake your nodes successfully.