Ethereum’s Ecosystem is Riddled with Centralized Products but Decentralization is Ready To Replace
The release manager for the Parity Ethereum client, Afri Schoedon had a few things to say about Infura, Etherum’s most famous tech. He stated:
“If we don’t stop relying on infura, the vision of Ethereum failed. So let’s either decentrlize infura-like services as denode or dappnode does. Or build a strong network of thin and light clients. There is no point in having d-apps connecting through metamask to a blockchain hosted by someone else.”
Building a decentralized future is about more than tokenomics or cryptography, institutional adoption or even regulation. For Ethereum and the entire blockchain ecosystem to grow, it falls on the community to build the infrastructure components that keep the network running. Across the Ethereum network, there is a need for utilities that lower the barrier of entry and simplify access to Ethereum data. Among the most essential of these are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) products.
Many of the blockchain space’s most remarkable projects — Metamask, CryptoKitties, UJO, Radar Relay, Cipher Browser, uPort — utilize Infura’s APIs to connect their applications to the Ethereum network. In doing so, Infura provides the fundamental infrastructure required to handle both the short-term spikes that can often occur during token launches and essential, longer-term scaling solutions.
An average of 6.5 billion JSON-RPC requests per day on the Ethereum network is channeled through Infura infrastructure, making the project an essential pillar of the ecosystem. They claim to be handling 13 billion code request per day.
Although there is a huge problem about centralization in Infura. The entire operation of Infura is just handled by one provider, ConsenSys. The cloud server they rely on is hosted by Amazon. This essentially means there is a single point of failure.
Michael Wuehler, the co-founder of Infura said:
“If every single dapp in the world is pointed to Infura, and we decided to turn that off, then we could, and the dapps would stop working. That’s the concern and that’s a valid concern.”
Forthmentioned Schoedon is not the only one who holds similar views. Many feel that their has to be something done to decentralize similar product which can act as alternatives. And, Infura is not the only product. Products like light clients, Turbo Geth and Infura are questioning the very basis of decentralization of Ethereum.
“One of the issues that we’re facing in the space today is that decentralized application development is happening through centralized services,”
Yalor Mewn, communications officer for Dappnode added.
Even though there is a problem with centralization, it doesn’t say that currently, Infura nodes are not reliable. They handle somewhere between 5-10% of Ethereum’s 11,803 full nodes.
There is a risk of single point of failure with Infura. Operating a full node permits clients and developers to have highly confidential activity local. However, Infura accumulates data from their customers.
There are alternatives
Taking an example of Parity Technologies, they have launched a code library for development of light clients which is called Light JS.
Parity Bitcoin is published under a GPLv3 open-source license which encourages developers to contribute new features to the rustlang-based software stack. The strict copyleft license does not only allow organizations and companies to use and modify the code but also enforces code changes to be contributed back to the open source community. Parity Bitcoin does not favor any scaling approach or any chain fork rule over another; at the same time, users of Parity Bitcoin can decide which version of Bitcoin they wish to run.
Even Michael Wuehler realizes that the popularity of his product is at stake. Although he defends Infura by saying these problems are inherent to Ethereum. He says:
“We didn’t create the problem, we are just a Band-Aid on the problem. We are just providing a solution that is needed.”