The Intersection of Eth 2.0 Validating and Cloud Computing Explained


In this week’s episode, CoinDesk’s Christine Kim and Consensys’ Ben Edgington discuss the security and running costs of CoinDesk’s Ethereum 2.0 staking operations with special guest, CoinDesk Director of Engineering Spencer Beggs. They also explain the main features of Eth 2.0’s first major backwards-incompatible upgrade, Altair, which is tentatively scheduled for release in July.

This episode is sponsored by📷 and The Sun Exchange.

In February, CoinDesk activated an Eth 2.0 validator, nicknamed Zelda, by staking 32 ETH, worth roughly $52,000 at the time, on Ethereum’s parallel proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain network.

Since then, Zelda has been participating in network consensus by helping produce and validate blocks. In return, Zelda’s operations have earned CoinDesk a total of 0.62 ETH over the past three months, worth about $2,600 at time of writing.

Unlike other validator set-ups, Beggs explained that CoinDesk’s staking operations don’t require any hardware.

“Our Eth 2.0 validator is set-up in cloud computing so we’re not running our validator locally. We’re running it inside of our multi-tenant environment,” Beggs said. “This produces some challenges regarding the security infrastructure setup because we’re just not able to … unplug it or log into it. We have to account for many users being able to access the same environment that our validator is running.”

On the flip side, one of the main benefits to running Zelda on the cloud is its accessibility to a remote workforce. Due to the restrictions and concerns caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most offices, including CoinDesk’s in New York City, were forced to temporarily close. In lieu of a physical space, Beggs turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a safe alternative to host Zelda.

Beggs is presently looking into the costs associated with running an Eth 2.0 validator on the cloud.

“The server itself, just running it, we know costs about $200 a month thereabouts, but there’s network charges in and out. So that’s what we’re waiting to learn … because that can be a lot of data or a little data depending on how the network is running. So it’ll be interesting to see how that’s actually playing out,” said Beggs.

Looking ahead to the future of Zelda and all Eth 2.0 validators, Edgington noted that a mandatory software upgrade was in the works by protocol developers.

“It’s time to take off the training wheels,” said Edgington. “We’ve still got some stabilizers on [Eth 2.0] but eventually we’ll be able to put in the full crypto economically correct amounts for these penalties and slashing penalties. So it’s a good sign that we’re moving in the right direction.”

For the entire explanation of what Eth 2.0 validators can expect to change about the network after the Altair upgrade, listen to the full podcast episode with Edgington and Kim.

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