Solana – which prides itself on being a decentralized censorship-resistant network – is, like any other blockchain, heavily dependent on cloud computing. As a result, it remains vulnerable to centralized providers, who can halt servicing the network at any time.
Yesterday, one of Solana’s main network providers decided to stop providing their services to entities running Solana nodes and took them all offline.
20% of Network State and 40% of Nodes Offline
Hetzner Online GmbH – the provider who took all Solana nodes offline – turned off more than 1,000 Solana nodes overnight. Although many are back up and running using the services of rival cloud computing providers, there is no guarantee a similar event won’t happen in the future.
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.
A thread 🧵
— Sam Padilla (@theSamPadilla) November 2, 2022
Hetzner’s decision did not impact Solana hard enough to take the network offline completely – but it was halfway there. In order for Solana’s consensus mechanism to stop working – effectively halting all activity on the blockchain – a total of 39% of the network’s stake would have had to disappear.
Hetzner’s decision took down 20% of the network – and if Solana’s other two main providers, AWS and Equinix, had joined in, 65% of its stake would have gone up in smoke.
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.
“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.”
Unfortunately, this Reddit post may not have been enough to get the message out to Solana node runners. If those in charge of the nodes had been warned in advance, this situation could have been prevented by switching to other cloud computing providers.
Even if the Solana node outage did not cause any permanent damage to the network, the event should be taken as a warning to the community that even if the blockchain is decentralized, it may still be susceptible to the interests of third parties.