While the internet is decentralized, the service providers are not.
While the network is decentralized, the service providers are not.
While Solana touts itself as a decentralized network that is resistant to censorship, it is actually heavily reliant on cloud computing. This makes it vulnerable to centralized providers who could halt servicing the network at any time.
It's a dark day for the Solana network. One of its main service providers has decided to stop providing its services to entities running Solana nodes, taking them all offline. This is a huge blow to the network, which was already struggling to gain traction. It's unclear what the future holds for Solana, but it's hard to see it surviving this setback.
20% of Network State and 40% of Nodes Offline
Although Hetzner Online GmbH's decision to take all Solana nodes offline was disruptive, it highlights the resiliency of the Solana network. By quickly moving to other cloud computing providers, the Solana network was able to minimize the impact of the outage. However, this event underscores the need for decentralized networks to have multiple providers to ensure uptime in the event of an unexpected outage.
Okay, we need to talk about Hetzner banning @solana nodes.
I monitored the infrastructure decentralization of Solana throughout all of August via a tool that I built.
~40% of Solana validators live on hetzner, adding up to ~20% of total network stake.
— Sam Padilla (@theSamPadilla) November 2, 2022
As Hetzner's decision only impacted Solana's network partially, it was not enough to take the network down completely. In order for Solana's consensus mechanism to fail and stop all activity on the blockchain, a total of 39% of the network's stake would have had to disappear. Thankfully, this did not happen and Solana's network remains operational.
Hetzner's decision to take down 20% of the Solana network highlights the need for decentralized infrastructure. If Solana's other two main providers, AWS and Equinix, had joined in, 65% of its stake would have gone up in smoke. This underscores the importance of having a diverse set of providers for critical infrastructure services.
Hetzner's Opinion of Blockchain Was Known in Advance
Although Hetzner gave node runners no warning before taking them offline, the firm's sentiment towards blockchain networks had, in fact, been made public earlier this year. In a Reddit post on the network provider's official subreddit, a company spokesman confirmed that running nodes on Hetzner bandwidth is not allowed. This decision by Hetzner is unfortunate, but not surprising. As blockchain technology continues to grow and evolve, we can expect more and more companies to take similar stances. This is likely due to the fact that blockchain networks can be quite resource-intensive, and often require dedicated infrastructure in order to run smoothly. In the end, this is just another example of the challenges faced by those looking to build and maintain decentralized applications. While the technology continues to develop, it's clear that we still have a long way to go before mass adoption is achievable.
“Using our products for any application related to mining, even remotely related, is not permitted. This includes Ethereum. It includes proof of stake and proof of work and related applications. It includes trading. It is true for all of our products, except colocation. Even if you just run one node, we consider it a violation of our ToS.”
It's unfortunate that the message didn't get out to Solana node runners in time. If they had been warned in advance, this situation could have been prevented. Switching to another cloud computing provider would have been the best course of action.
The recent Solana node outage highlights the importance of decentralization in the blockchain community. Even though the network was not permanently damaged, the outage should serve as a warning that centralized entities can still exert influence over the network. This emphasizes the need for continued development of decentralized solutions that can resist the interests of third parties.
As a cloud provider, we have decided to ban Solana nodes from our platform. This decision was made in order to protect the 40% of our users who are still offline.