Decentralized systems like blockchains depend on nodes to be run by the network participants. Nodes administer access to the network and secure its existence by maintaining copies of the database and verifying data (transactions and blocks) on it according to a set of rules.
Incentives to run a node differ on every blockchain protocol. What are the critical reasons for anyone to run a node?
The reasons to run a node differ a bit for every protocol. With Bitcoin, the main incentive to run a node is to eliminate your dependency to trust a 3rd party. Furthermore you will be able to verify transactions directly with the Bitcoin blockchain. Another motivation is to transact as cheaply as possible in combination with a suitable wallet where satoshi/byte prices can be set manually. Many commonly used wallets don't support this function, which leads the user to overpay transaction costs. In the case of corporate service, these unnecessary transaction costs can sum up to significant amounts.
Ethereum is the second most widely used public blockchain, prominent for issuing tokens (initial token and security token offerings) and running decentralized apps (DApps) on it. Most functionalities rely on "smart contracts" that are based directly on the blockchain.
The Ethereum network has a history of being overloaded (clogged) with requests. If you depend on a secure, verifiable, and fast access to Ethereum, you have to run a node.
Switzerland gained a reputation as the home of the "Crypto Valley" boasting well over 300 startups in the crypto/blockchain sector, including the famous Ethereum foundation. Have you ever asked yourself how many companies operate their nodes to gain direct access to Ethereum (and the "world computer" it provides)? According to node crawling services, there is something north of 7700 Ethereum nodes run globally (a steep decline from the almost 10K nodes that ran at the beginning of 2019). Switzerland only hosts around 60 Ethereum nodes (some crawlers show less)! A shockingly low number compared to the number of startups that interact with, rely upon, or develop on Ethereum.
You can check in real time how many Ethereum nodes are running per country on (link etherscan).
Along the setup and running of a node comes constant maintenance and guaranteeing uptime. Some public blockchains are notorious for their time-intense maintenance and instability of the node. Professional nodes as a service-providers can take care of this cumbersome procedure.
For a blockchain node, you need dedicated hardware and storage (Ethereum: 170+ gigabytes for a full node and three terabytes for an archive node. Bitcoin: 130+ gigabytes). That might be outside of your company's scope or core competence. For creating and verifying transactions on Ethereum, for example, there are several web-based services. But only when you run your proper node, you can profit from the fully trustless nature of the blockchain. In most cases, a pruned (standard) Ethereum node is sufficient. But in case your company depends on detailed state history on the Ethereum blockchain, an archive node is the only solution for the trustless verification of chain-wide states throughout the Ethereum chain.
In the case of Hyper Ledger Fabric, KORE offers the ultra-secure IBM Linux One server environment (see the press release here) for running your Hyperledger Fabric nodes.
When running a mining operation or when you are part of a mining pool, you need to run your node, or best have access to one to verify data on the blockchain. The most secure and hassle-free way is to use a professional provider with an ultra-secure setup that takes care of that for you.
Other advantages include:
Large scale centralized services such as AWS run the bear share of nodes. That is a "necessary evil" for the fast scaling of Ethereum (or other blockchains), yet it also creates a cluster risk: in the case of a policy change or a breach of AWS security, all nodes on the AWS platform could stop working at once.
Also, AWS and other widely used providers do not provide the highest security solutions possible, such as a hardware security module (HSM) to store keys the securest way possible.
When you run a node with KORE Technologies, we can offer you boutique-style, personalized consulting, and maintenance with a focus on blockchain and DLT services. We are a tangible company with experts in all fields.
KORE Technologies offers Nodes as a Service (NaaS) for corporate scale operations. We are facilitating almost all desired public protocols (including Hyperledger Fabric). We guarantee 99.99% uptime and use military-grade security on our server infrastructure, including the NIST certified Securosys Primus HSM. All data is kept on geo-redundant data centers that are subject to the ultra-strict Swiss data security laws.
At KORE, we are keen to equip you with the best stack possible to have the highest performing, securest solution for corporate node solutions.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you wish to learn more about your needs to run a node!