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Exploring ZK-Rollups As A Service

Fascinating New sub-sector of the Web3 Landscape

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Published on

7 Dec, 2023

An Introduction to ZK-Rollups as a Service

ZK-Rollups as a Service (ZKRaaS) is a fascinating new sub-sector of the Web3 landscape that is growing fast! This article will explore where ZKRaaS fits in the Rollup ecosystem, its benefits, use cases, and some major players entering the space.

ZKRaaS is an acronym that rhymes with SaaS (Software as a Service), but it refers to deploying ZK-Rollups as a Service. It's a Layer-2 scalability solution that does exactly what it says—it provides ZK-Rollups to customers who want to launch their own.

This Layer-2 solution is gaining popularity alongside the rapid growth of ZK-Rollups because it provides a managed solution for users who want to launch a ZK-Rollup without having to deal with the complexity. Being able to deploy in a few clicks is undoubtedly a "nice-to-have" option instead of the daunting task of coding one from scratch.

However, to better understand ZKRaaS, let's first look at ZK-Rollups and what they do. If you're already familiar with the subject, please skip ahead.

What Are Rollups?

High gas fees and congestion continue to plague the Ethereum blockchain as decentralized applications (dApps) compete for the limited amount of block space. But, thankfully, some sharp developers created Rollups to ease the pain of Ethereum's lumbering Transactions Per Second (TPS) rate. Like a highway bypass, Rollups divert traffic off the mainchain to improve traffic flow.

Specifically, Rollups are a Layer-2 scaling solution that moves transactions off-chain. Using Ethereum as the Layer-1 blockchain example, Rollups are the Layer 2 that reside on top of Ethereum. By executing multiple transactions off the mainchain, they reduce the load on Ethereum.

Optimistic Rollups vs. ZK Rollups

The two types of Rollup solutions are Optimistic and ZK. The crucial difference between these two is how they prove the validity of their transactions. Optimistic Rollups use fraud proofs to validate transactions, while ZK-Rollups use ZK-Proofs.

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It's helpful to know the difference between the two. However, since this article focuses on ZK-Rollups as a Service, we'll continue on that front. If you want to get ZK-Rollups explained in a simplified way, check out our educational piece.

Options for Deploying Decentralized Applications (dApps)

Now that you understand how Rollups work let's look at some of the options projects have for deploying their dApp.

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  1. Deploying on an Existing Layer 1 Some of the most successful dApps deploy directly to a Layer 1, and there are benefits to doing so. Firstly, there are network effects that dApps can accrue when launching on a major Layer 1 like Ethereum. For one thing, it's battle-tested and offers top-notch security.

On the downside, however, is the "noisy neighbor problem." Sharing blockspace with so many others inevitably leads to performance and scalability issues since all applications fight for limited space. Higher levels of competition ultimately lead to higher transaction costs and a degraded UX. Notably, whenever a hot offering on Ethereum hits—whether it be a raging memecoin or an over-hyped NFT—it can spike gas costs for everyone else using the chain.

  1. Deploying on an Existing Layer 2 Developers crafted Layer-2 solutions to mitigate these issues with Ethereum—and their efforts have paid off. It's far less expensive to transact on a Layer-2 Rollup than on the mainchain. Further, by deploying directly to Layer 2, you're no longer subject to the hard and fast rules of Layer 1. However, your dApp still enjoys the benefits inherent to its security features.

  2. Creating Your Own Rollup So, what if you like Option #2, but you're looking for more flexibility and customization for your project than what pre-existing Rollups offer? You may want to create a custom gas economy, a better TPS, or something more EVM-friendly. These customizations become possible when building it yourself.

Deploying your own Rollup comes with all the benefits of the 2nd option above, so it seems like an easy choice, right? But wait a minute! There are a few caveats to consider before diving into a DIY Rollup solution, as shown below.

Building a ZK-Rollup is Hard!

As you can imagine, launching a ZK-Rollup comes with its own set of complications, and listed below are just a few:

  1. Hardware and Software Setup Even when using templates, modules, and SDKs, there's still specialized hardware and software setup for developers to contend with. Setting up your ZK-Rollup can be costly and challenging.

  2. Rollup Configurations Configuring ZK–Rollups is a complex process. You need specific nodes and setup components. And without in-house talent, you'll have to hire an expensive DevOps team with experience in ZK-tech.

  3. Multi-Layered Infrastructure Depending on scalability requirements, a ZK-Rollup infrastructure can include multiple layers (L1, L2, or even L3). Managing all these layers to attain optimal performance while avoiding downtime is resource-consuming.

  4. Component Integration The list of ZK-Rollup components includes things like wallets, bridges, and nodes. Moreover, finding a way to keep them all working together and communicating seamlessly across multiple layers requires a DevOps skill set that your team may not possess.

  5. ZK Proofs Since ZK-proofs are cryptographic mathematical proofs, they require complex calculations with a specialized hardware setup. This domain is not for those unfamiliar with ZK-based development.

The ZK-Rollup as a Service Solution

As you can see, these projects can quickly spiral out of control without an in-house DevOps team specializing in ZK-Rollups. That's where ZKRaaS providers come into play. They help users deploy and maintain their ZK-Rollups by providing multiple services from no-code deployment to Rollup management.

The ZK-Rollups as a Service solution preserves the primary purpose of implementing a ZK-Rollup in the first place. The goals of enhancing the dApp's performance, security, scalability, and interoperability throughout the computation phase off-chain remain intact. ZKRaaS solutions empower you to build your own customized Rollup quickly. So, if you’re looking to bypass the complexities mentioned above, ZKRaaS makes a lot of sense. Below are some other benefits.

The Benefits of Using ZKRaaS

ZK-Rollups as a Service providers offer a valuable service by taking on the extra workload of developing the Rollup and increasing the range of products that devs can build into it. This feature is especially beneficial for a team with great ideas but needs more developer talent to execute such an undertaking. ZKRaaS also takes care of ZK-Proof implementation and management. It's all done automatically, so you don’t need to manage anything.

Further, ZKRaaS solutions provide flexibility when selecting an infrastructure. For example, you could deploy your ZK-Rollup on a Layer-1 (like Ethereum) or a Layer-2 (like Polygon). When deploying to Layer 1, your Rollup will serve as a Layer-2 solution. But when deployed to Layer 2, it will serve as a Layer-3 solution as it adds an extra layer to the chain. When you do so, ZKRaaS providers work to ensure the proper performance of these multiple layers.

So, ZKRaaS platforms offer full customization along with your preferred execution environment. ZK-Rollups as a Service also provides monitoring features and alerts to check your Rollups for critical performance parameters to keep them secure and up-to-date.

Moreover, as your Rollup ecosystem expands (and hopefully it does), ZKRaaS allows you to scale your project. Most importantly, for the "tech-averse," you can use a simple dashboard to deploy ZK-Rollups with custom configurations. These solutions operate via a "one-click" or "few-clicks" deployment approach, a far cry from coding everything from scratch.

In sum, ZK-Rollups as a Service is a complexity-free platform for those looking to launch their custom Layer-2 Rollup. The best part is that you can complete the process in minutes rather than hours.

ZKRaaS Use Cases

ZK-Rollups as a Service work well for many projects, including:

  1. DeFi With ZKRaaS, DeFi projects can deploy ZK-Rollups to take advantage of lower transaction costs, higher throughput, and better security while avoiding negatives like censorship and maximal extractable value (MEV) exploits across DeFi networks.

  2. Web 3 Gaming Costly transaction fees, particularly hobble gaming companies, and can send players scrambling for exit doors. But with ZKRaaS solutions, gaming companies can offer cheaper or even gasless transactions.

  3. Payment Services Web3 payments beg for low transaction fees, high-level security, and interoperability between dApps—not to mention fraud resistance. Fortunately, ZKRaaS can offer all these.

Pricing in the ZKRaaS Space

With all the benefits ZK-Rollups as a Service affords, it's no surprise that more projects are showing interest. Regarding what users can expect to pay for such services, pricing will largely depend on the requested customizations, the cost of running the infrastructure, and how long the integrations take. Fortunately for those looking to launch their own ZK-Rollup, newer competition should help keep prices lower, at least in the short run.

Conclusion - ZK-Rollups as a Service

It's no secret that Web3 projects are growing weary of competing for limited block space on Layer 1s with their higher transaction fees. So, it's only natural they will want to explore more of what Layer-2 solutions offer. Further, with more projects looking to create their Rollups, we will likely see an increasing number of providers providing ZKRaaS solutions.

Larger companies already positioned in the space might hold the initial advantage. But smaller entrants poised to win the UX battle while offering more customization features will undoubtedly give them a run for their money. It will be exciting to see which newcomers join the ZKRaaS space.

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About Luganodes

Luganodes is a world-class, Swiss-operated, non-custodial blockchain infrastructure provider that has rapidly gained recognition in the industry for offering institutional-grade services. It was born out of the Lugano Plan B Program, an initiative driven by Tether and the City of Lugano. Luganodes maintains an exceptional 99.9% uptime with round-the-clock monitoring by SRE experts. With support for 40+ PoS networks, it ranks among the top validators on Polygon, Polkadot, Sui, and Tron. Luganodes prioritizes security and compliance, holding the distinction of being one of the first staking providers to adhere to all SOC 2 Type II, GDPR, and ISO 27001 standards as well as offering Chainproof insurance to institutional clients.

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