Case studies

Strengthening Aleo's Products

How Equilibrium brought Scalability and Reliability to Aleo's snarkOS and Leo

Strengthening Aleo's Products

Introduction

Aleo engaged Equilibrium in September 2020 to apply our extensive experience in blockchain technologies and Rust development to the snarkOS and Leo projects. This case study will review the improvements Equilibrium has contributed to Aleo's products. These improvements have enabled Aleo to bring its technologies to market quickly: from a proof-of-concept to a scalable public release in under a year.

Aleo's Platform

Aleo is a platform for secure, private execution of programs, such as smart contracts. Aleo stands apart from other distributed exchanges and blockchain technologies by offering robust cryptographic privacy through zero- knowledge executions.1 Equilibrium's development priorities focuses on snarkOS, a decentralized operating system for private applications, which forms the backbone of the Aleo platform, and Leo, the programming language developed for the Aleo platform.

Opportunity

Equilibrium's efforts on the snarkOS and Leo projects include significant refactoring of the core networking components, and implementing industry best practices across the product development lifecycle. Our team is providing expert guidance regarding cryptographic networking protocol design, development best practices and infrastructure build-out. These efforts have enabled Aleo to boost network performance dramatically, optimize memory consumption and exceed their node scaling targets.

Timeline

Beginning in late September 2020, Equilibrium reviewed the codebase and began making improvements to metrics and logging, while working with Aleo to identify priorities and develop a roadmap. Our team worked quickly to develop and test a comprehensive refactoring of core networking components to hit Aleo's scaling targets by late November. We made significant memory optimizations and implemented protocol security measures by early December.

Improvements Achieved

Network Refactor
Our team took a close look at snarkOS's core networking components as a priority, and coordinated with Aleo on a fundamental refactoring. Equilibrium recommended and implemented a protocol change to secure the handshake2 between nodes. We developed a full simulated network environment to ensure the stability of each new change, and were able to achieve robust node connectivity under disruptive network conditions. We carefully analyzed the network activities related to blockchain transactions and made several improvements to blockchain synchronization.

Performance Analysis
Development efforts have been guided by scenario testing and routine performance analysis. Data from these tests allowed us to resolve a number of out-of-memory conditions, and to optimize total memory consumption over the lifetime of a node.

Continuous Integration
Equilibrium has improved the continuous integration and testing environments with additional scenario testing covering scalability, fuzzing, code linting, and other best practices.

Impact Review

Immediate Engagement
Equilibrium's team regularly contributes to industry-leading blockchain technologies and was able to get started right away contributing code. Working with the Aleo team, Equilibrium identified development priorities, established a project roadmap, and assigned dedicated internal resources.

Industry Best Practices
Equilibrium established a solid development foundation based on industry best practices quickly and efficiently in an active codebase. We stabilized and extended the continuous integration, adding automatic code linting with Clippy, benchmarking, and scalability analysis. Our team quickly began providing code review of open source community contributions to snarkOS while coordinating all development progress closely with the Aleo team.

Conclusion
Equilibrium's expertise in developing distributed systems gives Aleo the strong foundation it needs to compete in today's ultra-competitive layer one blockchain markets.

About Aleo

Aleo is a platform for secure, private applications. Using blockchain technology and zero-knowledge cryptography, Aleo offers users a world of applications that are both personal and private.

About Equilibrium

Equilibrium designs and builds core infrastructure for the decentralized web. We love hard engineering problems in decentralised technologies and we get stuff to production.

Footnotes