We talked to Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic of bloXroute Labs on how to utilize a global network of servers optimized for network performance and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: Under the circumstances, I think we are doing pretty well. Initially, things looked quite hectic but have improved rapidly since. My kids are enjoying the opportunity to play games more than before the pandemic. We are all eagerly waiting for this situation to end.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded bloXroute Labs.
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: I am the Co-Founder and Chief Architect at bloXroute Labs. I am a Net Neutrality expert and a Full Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Northwestern University. My work has included writing the TCP-LP protocol deployed in Linux that allows bulk data transfers without compromising performance and developing DDOS countermeasures deployed by Akamai, the world’s largest cloud provider. I have also co-founded Google’s Measurement Lab initiative for monitoring global Net Neutrality, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded me an NSF Career Award for my work on Net Neutrality.
bloXroute began when my former networking PhD student, now bloXroute’s CEO, Dr Uri Klarman, and I researched blockchains. At some point, it became clear to us that a networking infrastructure is going to be necessary for blockchains to fulfil their full promise.
How does bloXroute Labs innovate?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: The limiting factor of cryptocurrencies is that they employ a trustless P2P network model to propagate transactions and blocks, which doesn’t scale as transaction volume increases and doesn’t employ an optimized topology.
The networking layer, or Layer-0, is the key to solving this particular problem. bloXroute has built a Blockchain Distribution Network (BDN), a high-capacity, low-latency, global network of servers optimized to propagate transactions and blocks for blockchain systems quickly.
Fast propagation enables blockchains to scale on-chain and powers fast data and tools to help blockchain network participants, such as DeFi (decentralized finance) traders, DeFi hedge funds, and DApps (decentralized applications) make more strategic and profitable decisions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: Like other businesses, our main challenge was ensuring our team could effectively stay connected without being physically together. As a project maintaining an advanced network, collaborating is of the utmost importance. We prioritize fostering a close and friendly work culture and initially were concerned that a remote setup would take away from that.
Fortunately, we have found that working from home has several benefits! Many of our employees have reported that they can stay more focused while at home. We showed ourselves that we could be more productive than ever as we continually accomplished huge milestones, such as extensive system upgrades and developing new products. Communication tools, like Slack and Google Hangouts, have been critical to our collaboration. Our company culture has gotten creative with virtual happy hours, team events, and even Slack plugins to connect employees for “water cooler” talk.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: Ultimately, we decided that our team’s physical office space doesn’t make sense in the current environment. It was a difficult choice because we greatly value the in-person connection. But after a lot of discussion around safety in addition to seeing our team thrive remotely, we decided to forgo it for the time being.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and bloXroute Labs in the future?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: Stress and anxiety are necessary for any profession and any business in these challenging times. My personal “cure” for stress and anxiety is not to give it any time and focus on constructive things I can accomplish, no matter how small they may be.
In the future, bloXroute will continue to strengthen our robust network and grow our blockchain product offering. Ultimately, we see our data and tools reshaping the entire DeFi trading environment by enabling new and more profitable strategies. We also expect additional blockchains to integrate with us to leverage our fast network and Layer-0 scalability.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: bloXroute is the first optimized blockchain network of its kind. Other blockchain systems, such as mempool or node providers, attempt to improve data propagation. However, their problem is that they do not effectively address the underlying network bottleneck. Through transaction caching, cut-through routing, optimized dynamic scale topology, and dynamic route selection, bloXroute has been able to do just that – and offer speeds unrivalled by any competitors. Just as importantly, bloXroute gets support from a strong company with 11+ full-time senior developers maintaining and consistently improving the network.
Your final thoughts?
Prof. Aleksandar Kuzmanovic: I am an optimist by design — I am sure the pandemic will soon be over, and I believe things will get even better than they were before.
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