Understanding Orchestrators: The Coordinating Force Behind Router Protocol’s Cross-Chain Interoperability

Router Protocol
4 min readApr 12, 2023

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Router Protocol is a pioneering force in cross-chain initiatives, creating a framework that allows blockchain networks to communicate securely and efficiently. Our Layer 1 blockchain, the Router Chain, uses Tendermint’s BFT consensus as a validation mechanism for cross-chain requests.

The architecture of the Router Protocol is designed to allow secure and decentralised validation for state transmission between contracts on different blockchain networks. To enable this seamless flow of communication, one of the key facets of our architecture are Orchestrators. In this article, we will give a brief explanation of what Orchestrators are and how they work.

What are Orchestrators?

In the world of computing, orchestration refers to the coordination and management of multiple systems or processes to achieve a specific goal. In the case of Router’s orchestrators, they are responsible for coordinating the flow of information between different blockchains.

Just like a conductor of an orchestra, Router’s orchestrators work to ensure that all the validators and relayers are playing in sync and that the information being passed between them is accurate and legitimate. They are essentially managing the flow of information and ensuring that everything is working as intended.

Speaking from a technical standpoint, orchestrators are those instances of validators that listen to incoming events from other chains, authenticating their validity before forwarding them to the Router chain. In addition, they play a crucial role in verifying the authenticity of outgoing requests before relayers can execute them. Besides, every validator within the Router chain must operate an orchestrator to participate fully in the ecosystem.

How do Orchestrators work?

Now that we have understood what Orchestrators are, understanding their work wouldn’t be complicated. As we mentioned before, they listen and validate events. To do so, an orchestrator uses a listener and dispatcher model wherein the listener module aggregates external events while the dispatcher module forwards these events to the Router chain. Simple!

Let’s break these functionalities down with an example we used earlier -

Imagine an orchestra where the conductor listens to the musicians and ensures that they are playing the right notes. Similarly, an orchestrator listens to events and validates them before forwarding them to the next step.

The listener module is like a group of musicians who listen to the conductor’s instructions. They listen to events from specific chains and subscribe to different types of events (like regular inbound requests, acknowledgement requests, CrossTalk requests, etc.,) Once they receive an event, they prepare it and add it to the message queue.

The message queue is like a music score that keeps track of the notes to be played. It ensures that messages are delivered in the right order and that duplicates are discarded.

The dispatcher is like a conductor who directs the musicians and ensures that they are playing in harmony. The dispatcher module streamlines incoming requests by listening to the message queue, signing the messages, and broadcasting them to the Router chain.

In addition to validating incoming requests from other chains, the Router orchestrators are also responsible for verifying outgoing transactions from Router chains to other chains. Before an outgoing transaction is transmitted by a relayer from the Router chain to some other chain, it has to be verified by the Orchestrators.

What are some of the benefits of Orchestrators?

Router Orchestrators are versatile components that enhance the functionality and usability of blockchain networks in various ways -

  1. Improved interoperability: Orchestrators enable the exchange of information and assets across different blockchain networks, promoting interoperability between them
  2. Enhanced security: As Orchestrators help to verify the authenticity of data and transactions, they improve the security and reduce the risk of fraudulent activity
  3. Increased efficiency: By maintaining separate queues for events from different chains, orchestrators help to prevent delays and errors, increasing the efficiency of blockchain-based applications
  4. Decentralisation: Every validator within the network must operate an orchestrator, and the more orchestrators there are, the more validators there are in the network. With more validators, the network becomes more decentralized

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Orchestrators play a vital role in the functioning of the Router Protocol ecosystem. They enable the coordination and management of information flow between different blockchain networks, enhancing interoperability, efficiency, security, and decentralisation of our interoperability framework. Their working model of listening, validating, and dispatching ensures that everything is in sync and working as intended. With the increasing demand for cross-chain interoperability, Orchestrators will continue to play a significant role in the blockchain industry’s evolution and will ensure that our infra is able to perform well even during times of high cross-chain traffic.

Lastly, do check our previous blogs for an in-depth explanation of our architecture, the underlying technology that powers our platform here -

Episode 1: Understanding Router Chain: An Overview of its Architectural Key Components

Episode 2: Gateway Contracts: A Key Enabler of Cross-Chain Action on the Router Chain

Episode 3: Application-specific Bridge Contracts: Building a Bridge to the Future of Blockchains

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Router Protocol

Router Protocol is an secure, composable, and modular framework for building interoperable applications. More at https://routerprotocol.com