Uptime at scale

For operators running hundreds of Ethereum validators, maintaining high uptime is not just a goal; it's a necessity. In this context, understanding and effectively managing failover and synchronization mechanisms are crucial.

Beacon Node Failover

  • What is Failover?

    Failover is a resilience strategy employed to ensure the continuous operation of the beacon nodes. In the event of a failure or downtime in the primary node, failover mechanisms automatically switch operations to a standby node to maintain uninterrupted service. Beacon nodes are pivotal in maintaining the network's consensus by aggregating and disseminating information about validators. Their uninterrupted operation is crucial for the consistent performance of validators.

  • Implementing Failover:

    • Infrastructure Setup: This involves setting up secondary nodes that are always in sync with the primary node, ready to take over instantly in case of a failure.

    • Automated Monitoring and Switching: Implement systems that continuously monitor the health of the primary beacon node and automate the switching process to the standby node in case of detected anomalies.

    • Regular Testing: Regularly test failover mechanisms to ensure they work seamlessly when needed. This includes simulating failures and monitoring the switch-over process.

Eliminating Single Points of Failure

For Ethereum node operators managing a large number of validators, high uptime is crucial. It is essential to eliminate as many single points of failure as possible. While performance is important, ensuring that validators remain online and operational at all times is paramount.

Redundancy in Validator Signers

Threshold Signing Setup: Threshold signing involves distributing the signing responsibility among multiple entities. A transaction or a block is only valid when a certain number of these entities (the threshold) agree and provide their signatures.

Best Practices:

  • Distribute signers across different physical and network environments to reduce the risk of simultaneous failures.

  • Regularly test the threshold mechanism to ensure it functions correctly under various scenarios.

  • Keep the threshold number optimal to balance between security and efficiency.

Validator Client Setup

Active/Passive (Stand-by) Client Setup: This setup involves having one active validator client and one or more passive clients. The passive clients remain in sync and are ready to take over immediately if the active client fails.

  • Slashing Protection:

    It's critical to implement slashing protection mechanisms to prevent the validator from being penalized due to accidental double-signing, which can occur if both active and passive clients become active simultaneously. Utilize built-in slashing protection features in client software and maintain a robust system for tracking and managing validator keys.

  • Multiple Beacon Node Connections:

    Some validator clients support connecting to multiple beacon nodes. This reduces reliance on a single beacon node and adds an extra layer of redundancy. Configure the validator clients to connect to several beacon nodes, ideally hosted in different locations or by different providers.

Cross-Zone and Cross-Region Redundancy

  • Geographical Distribution:

    Hosting infrastructure in multiple data centers, zones, or regions can safeguard against regional outages.

  • Balancing Factors: Operators must balance the cost, performance, and uptime benefits. Cross-region redundancy increases uptime but can add latency and costs.

Best Practices:

  • Evaluate critical points in the infrastructure and determine which components would benefit most from geographical redundancy.

  • Regularly review and update the disaster recovery and failover plans to ensure they are effective across different regions.

Exploring Distributed Validator Technology (DVT)

Distributed Validator Technology (DVT) offers a way to distribute the responsibilities of a single validator across multiple nodes. It could potentially provide extra redundancy with less slashing risk. Experiment with DVT in a controlled environment to assess its impact on redundancy and slashing risks. Closely monitor the performance and reliability of DVT setups and compare them with traditional setups. The current solutions available are Obol and SSV.

Achieving high uptime for large-scale Ethereum validator operations involves a multi-faceted approach that includes redundancy at various levels, careful infrastructure planning, and innovative technologies like threshold signing and DVT. Balancing cost, performance, and uptime is key, and regular testing and updates to the setup are crucial to maintain optimal operation.

Last updated