‘Distributed Validator Technology’ Marks Last Key Milestone in Ethereum $ETH Blockchain’s Current Era
DVT (Divide and Verify Technology) involves spreading out validator’s private keys across multiple node operators to increase network resilience while protecting individual validators by decreasing single points of failure.
Decentralization is one of the pillars of blockchain’s philosophy, and developers of Ethereum are prioritizing an upgrade that could take this principle even further.
BeaconScan lists 606,947 validators nodes as part of Ethereum blockchain network to confirm transactions, yet each individual one may represent a point of failure in terms of security.
Validators themselves can face severe financial penalties when they go offline for extended periods, encouraging them to strengthen their resilience and increase resiliency.
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Therefore, the idea is for validators positions themselves to become decentralized.
Vitalik Buterin has consistently prioritized distributed validators as one of the blockchain’s top priorities since at least 2021 when he wished Beacon Chain happy birthday and provided an updated roadmap for the second largest blockchain by market capitalization known for its smart contracts.
DVT has recently seen increased debate and development focus among entrepreneurs and crypto analysts at firms like Messari, Coin Metrics, Bankless, Wu Blockchain and Pantera Capital.
Under this technology, a validator’s private key – used for signing on-chain operations such as block proposals and attestations – can be distributed among several node operators, effectively spreading out his duties and responsibilities across a cluster instead of being limited to just one node operator.
Distributed validator technology “enables multiple parties to share one validator,” said Steven Quinn of P2P Staking Service’s head of Research to CoinDesk. From a technical standpoint, this allows geographical distribution of machines.
The 2021 roadmap represents Ethereum’s development as it stands today and into its future, outlining different eras of development over time.
At present, Ethereum remains in its first era, known as “The Merge,” even though it has successfully transitioned to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and completely revised its system for processing transactions.
What remains among the major milestones in today’s era is the deployment of distributed validators, facilitated by two open-source networks such as Obol and SSV.
Obol Network “is responsible for encouraging multi-operator validation as an application of Distributed Validator Technology,” as its homepage states, while SSV.Network “enables distributed operations of an Ethereum validator across varying operators,” according to its blog post.
Obol and SSV both consider it problematic that each Ethereum validator runs on one node, which they consider a single point of failure in the validation process. If a node operator goes offline due to an infrastructure bug in their client or for whatever other reason becomes unavailable for any reason whatsoever, that validator would no longer be able to fulfill its duties of proposing blocks and attestations.
Obol and SSV aim to mitigate this single point of failure within the validation process by eliminating this single source of penalty for staked ether.
CoinDesk – Unknown Illustration showing setup where three to four node operators would be necessary in order to cast validator votes (leoglisic.eth).
Messari research analyst Stephanie Dunbar was most enthusiastic about DVT when speaking to CoinDesk: “What excites me most about DVT is its promise of increasing Ethereum’s resilience – and in time perhaps other blockchains too – in an effective and cost-efficient way.
DVT plays an essential role in making Ethereum blockchain resilient – defined as being able to withstand external and internal disturbances like geopolitics, regulation, markets or less intuitive disruptions like fires or earthquakes – explained Walter Smith from technology-driven investment firm Galaxy via email to CoinDesk.
With multiple clients and node operators operating a single validator across geographic regions, even if some node operators experience downtime due to malicious actors or bugs in the codebase, the entire validator would remain up since a significant portion of its network uses distributed validator technology.
“EVen when approximately 33% of nodes in a DV cluster go offline, the remaining active nodes can still come to an agreement on what signatures to create for their stake duties, according to Obol documents.”
Distributed validator technology represents one of the last significant advancements of Ethereum’s Merge era before “The Surge,” with Obol and SSV both working towards bringing distributed validators onto its mainnet.
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SSV has begun preparations for its mainnet launch by unveiling public testnet Jato in March and has begun installing distributed validators on Ethereum mainnet in April.
DVT “is designed to enhance Ethereum as the core of the crypto universe by making it more robust, decentralized and credibly neutral; opening its protocols and uses up for wider adoption,” according to Smith.
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