In the early days of Twitter, occasionally when you tried to log in you got a “fail whale” – a picture of a whale held up by a flock of birds — as a way of telling you the system was overcapacity, and you should simply try again later.
We tolerated it then because, after all, it was only social media. But there are certain types of services, for example, financial exchanges, where you never want a fail whale. So if you have thoughts of building a Bitcoin exchange, where people can buy and trade the popular virtual currency in real-time, you want an infrastructure that can handle high volume trading spikes without going down.
That's the point Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub, drives home when he talks about his company’s latest prepackaged solution: a toolkit for building Bitcoin exchanges. For those unfamiliar, PubNub offers data push and other building blocks for real-time apps through its PubNub API. (Another similar service is Pusher.)
Greene says that PubNub got the idea for its latest kit when it noticed Bitcoin exchanges launching in local markets everywhere. Financial exchanges have unique challenges. They need to be able to handle real-time prices and trades as they happen. With its 13 data centers relaying messages from different apps around the world, PubNub says its service is uniquely designed to handle those types of challenges.
PubNub says its Bitcoin kit offers everything developers need to build a reliable, scalable exchange. “The kit is simply a way that we have taken core building blocks of PubNub and added the visual components needed for a trading exchange. Our solution allows developers to easily bring to market a solution that is going to be rock solid," Greene said.
The visual components in the kit show Bitcoin current, high, and low prices, along with a graph of price fluctuations over time. One widget shows the most recent trade and social widgets allow for interactions with other exchange users. All of the visuals in the template are powered by PubNub building blocks.
Among those building blocks are data push for delivering real-time numbers and the PubNub Access Manager for streaming private trades to individual traders. Another building block, storage and playback, lets users store streams of data for reviewing trade histories and see price change histories of individual currencies. (For example, the price history of a Bitcoin against the ruble, dollar, yuan and so on.) And finally, the last PubNub building block, presence, lets exchange users see how many people are currently trading, or if you have social features on your trading site, such as chat or customer support, it shows you who is signed on so you can interact with them.
PubNub's Bitcoin solution is one of many the San Francisco startup is releasing in an effort to target various markets. Last month, for example, PubNub released a WebRTC solution for creating Skype-like voice and video in the browser.
“We solve a huge number of business problems,” said Greene. “By putting together kits, we make it easier for developers to connect the dots themselves."