What is a rollup-as-a-service?

What is a rollup-as-a-service?

Application-specific blockchains or appchains are a product of the modularity thesis that breaks down the tech stack into composable units and makes web3 development more flexible. Developers can pick and build a tech stack of their choice, bespoke to their needs and scale. 

Most appchains rely on rollups that provide off-chain computation along with on-chain validity for scalability. But, building and managing rollups is a major challenge for developers. If the need for vast technical resources is a burden, the complexities involved in building rollups are another key hindrance. 

This has led to the introduction of rollups-as-a-service (RaaS) providers who handle these burdens on behalf of projects and protocols.  

In this guide, we'll take a deep dive into appchains and Rollup-as-a-service (RaaS) and how they benefit developers building on-chain.

What are appchains?

Appchains, or application-specific blockchains, are specialized chains designed for individual applications. An appchain ensures optimized performance and flexibility by eliminating the competition for computational and storage resources inherent in public Layer 1 networks.

Major web3 players have launched frameworks for developing appchains atop their infrastructures.

Notable examples include Polygon CDK, OP Stack, ZK Stack, and Arbitrum’s Orbit.

Currently, appchain structures come in three main types:

  1. App-specific rollups that settle on a monolithic blockchain like Ethereum. These rollups leverage the security and execution of the monolithic chain while offloading transaction data to a separate rollup layer.

Ex: Arbitrum optimistic rollups that settle on Ethereum.

  1. App-specific sidechains that connect to a monolithic blockchain like Ethereum. Sidechains have their own independent consensus mechanism but enable two-way asset transfers with the monolithic chain.

Ex: Polygon or MATIC is a sidechain to Ethereum.

  1. Sovereign app-specific blockchains that operate independently without relying on any settlement layer. These are standalone blockchain networks tailored for a specific application or use case.

Ex: dYdX chain is a sovereign blockchain built specifically for its decentralized trading platform.


Each of these appchain structures offers different benefits and trade-offs in terms of security, scalability, autonomy, and complexity. When it comes to scalability, most appchains opt for rollups as their toolkit of choice.

What are Rollups?

Rollups are a scaling approach that operates by processing transactions off-chain in batches and proving their validity on-chain. They batch transactions off-chain which allows for data compression, leading to high transaction throughput. 

Two main implementations are optimistic rollups and zero-knowledge rollups.

Optimistic rollups presume transactions are valid, with a focus on cost-effectiveness but slower finality due to validation waiting times. ZK rollups, however, validate transactions quickly and privately using zero-knowledge proofs.

Rollups come in two forms: Optimistic and Zero-knowledge. Learn more.

But, how simple is it to build, deploy, and manage rollups?

It is not simple. The technical expertise and resources needed, coupled with the constant efforts to maintain the rollup, makes it a tedious pursuit.

Enter RaaS — rollups-as-a-service that promises to abstract the development process of rollups and ease developers' lives.

Exploring the Rollups-as-a-Service (RaaS) approach

RaaS — rollups-as-a-service — enters the scene with "off-the-shelf" options to enable developers to deploy rollups for their apps swiftly. RaaS providers abstract the complexities involved in using existing Appchain stacks. RaaS ecosystem ranges from rollup SDKs to fully customizable one-click rollup deployments.

For instance, Caldera, a one-click RaaS provider, supports stacks like OP Stack, Arbitrum Orbit, and Polygon CDK.

Projects looking to build their own appchain can select their preferred stack for development, making the deployment a straightforward, one-click process as the rest of the infrastructure is managed by Caldera.

What do Rollups-as-a-Service (RaaS) providers offer developers and enterprise?

Now, apart from the ease of development and integration of rollups, these RaaS platforms also offer the following benefits:

  1. Optimal Stack Selection Guidance: Developers receive assistance in choosing the most suitable rollup stack, such as Arbitrum Nitro, the OP Stack, or the Polygon CDK. This ensures applications are built on foundations that align with their specific requirements for performance, security, and functionality.
  2. Customizable sequencer options: Access to a variety of sequencers, like Schnorr and Espresso, allows for tailored transaction processing. This customization improves efficiency and reliability, with options for shared or decentralized sequencers to best fit the application's needs.
  3. Reduced operational costs: Leveraging data availability solutions and gas token selection significantly lowers transaction fees and operational expenses. This economic efficiency makes blockchain applications more accessible and appealing to a broader user base.
  4. Flexible economic Models with gas token selection: RaaS enables dApps to utilize an ERC20 token as the native fee-paying token, providing flexibility in crafting economic models and potentially enhancing user engagement.
  5. Technical support and maintenance: Continuous technical support and maintenance from RaaS providers, including updates and troubleshooting, relieve developers of the burden of managing the rollup infrastructure. This ensures smooth operation and longevity for applications.

How to choose a Rollups-as-a-Service (RaaS) provider?

When selecting a RaaS provider, developers should consider a mix of technical capabilities and strategic benefits.

The key points to look for are:

  • Scalability infrastructure
  • Compatibility with existing tech stack
  • Supported rollup types
  • Security features in place
  • Fee structure and other costs
  • Technical support and maintenance

Apart from this, a key choice to make is the DA layer for your appchain to ensure peak performance and efficiency. RaaS providers often collaborate with data availability solutions to avoid the high and unpredictable costs associated with traditional Ethereum DA.

Prominent DA solution are:

  1. Celestia offers a ready-to-use DA solution with features like Data Availability Sampling (DAS) and Namespaced Merkle Trees (NMTs). Celestia enables secure, trust-minimized verification for light nodes without full block downloads.
  2. EigenDA is an Ethereum-focused DA layer which bases its operations and data integrity around the restaking primitive. Node operators who have staked their ETH on EigenLayer are assigned DA tasks like storage, retrieval, and validation of data.

Different RaaS providers leverage different DA solutions to save significant costs for the chains in their ecosystem.

For example, Caldera is using Celestia and Near as their data availability (DA) solutions for the chains operating within the Caldera ecosystem.

Prominent RaaS providers

Although RaaS is a new component in the web3 tech stack, there are a few RaaS providers like:


Caldera is a RaaS provider offering users options to build rollups using Arbitrum Nitro, OP Stack, or Polygon CDK. Developers can opt for shared decentralized sequencing, reduce fees significantly via Celestia, Eigen, or NEAR for data availability, and choose any token as the native chain's currency.


Conduit supports OP stack and Arbitrum Nitro and allows anyone to deploy a rollup in a matter of minutes, no code required. They provide the all-in-one infrastructure that enables their customers, like Zora and Gitcoin, to rapidly deploy on the mainnet or testnet. 


AltLayer is a decentralized protocol that facilitates the launch of native and restaked rollups with both optimistic and zk rollup stacks. The restaked rollups framework combines the power of various rollup stacks to launch appchain. It offers an SDK for hands-on management of rollups.


Zeeve is a RaaS platform for setting up and managing enterprise-level L2 or L3 rollups. Additionally, Zeeve's extensive partnership network enhances the capabilities of Optimistic or ZK rollups.

What lies ahead for RaaS providers?

Appchains are a growing thesis. They are shifting the mindset of developers from compromising their tech stack, due to the limitations of general-purpose blockchains. With this growth, the reliance on rollups also seems to go up as they offer performance boost without increasing costs.

Hence, rollup development and management needs to improve, by a mile. The challenges of developing rollups from scratch — such as complex infrastructure and high costs — are directly addressed by RaaS providers. They improve the developer experience which is critical for the growth of web3.

Moving ahead, RaaS providers and their integrations with different tech stacks and improved security are things to look forward to. But, there is no doubt that RaaS will be a key component in the web3 developer stack.

thirdweb: The complete web3 development platform
Build web3 apps easily with thirdweb’s powerful SDKs, audited smart contracts, and developer tools—for Ethereum & 700+ EVM chains. Try now.

If you have any questions, join 40,000+ other builders in our Discord community or reach out to the team directly for more info on how to get started with building in web3.