Solana Devs, Here’s What You Need to Know About extrnode Open-Source Load Balancer for RPC Nodes
While this November has been difficult for many, we have good news for the Solana community.
Firstly, developers are not going anywhere despite the recent events. Solana developers know the platform well and continue working on the infrastructure and building dApps for users.
Secondly, we’re thrilled to release an open-source load balancer that enables developers to reroute requests automatically from Solana’s delinquent public RPC nodes. We invite anyone interested to download and test it and share feedback on our Discord. Developers can build a Docker image from scratch using the source code or take advantage of a ready-made image available on Docker Hub.
Why are RPCs so instrumental to Solana?
A cryptocurrency wallet is not connected to the blockchain. Instead, it turns interface actions into code that is then sent to a node. From there, the code is executed and included in the blockchain.
If the RPC nodes chosen by wallets and other applications stop responding or accepting requests, the applications won’t work.
Because hosting an RPC node costs at least $1,000 per month, dApp developers often use public RPC nodes instead. The downside to public RPCs is that they are usually hosted by centralized entities, such as Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Hetzner.
For example, Hetzner, one of Solana’s main network providers, recently banned Solana nodes from its platform. This resulted in over 22% of Solana’s nodes going offline, causing dApps to crash as their selected RPC nodes also became unavailable.
The Hetzner ban teaches that relying on only one RPC on a centrally hosted service is dangerous. A dApp developer can reduce the likelihood of failure by creating a script, module, or standalone app that switches to a spare RPC endpoint automatically if the issue occurs. But if the other one also fails, they have nowhere to go. Our load balancer intends to solve this problem.
What is extrnode open-source load balancer?
extrnode open-source load balancer is designed to distribute requests amongst a cluster of Solana’s public RPC nodes. It is able to reroute requests to another active RPC endpoint automatically if the node currently in use goes down. Thanks to extrnode, dApps will not experience any failure or delay since there are backups in place to maintain service availability.
extrnode has many advantages, the most prominent being that it provides reliability. But there are other benefits as well:
- With extrnode, you can use the open-source load balance for free. Run it using Docker, connect to it, and all is set up.
- The open-source load balancer is designed to detect the closest remote procedure calls (RPCs) and prioritize them based on speed.
- extrnode is driven by the Web3 community. Users can contribute ideas, improve the product, and add to the project’s source code.
Other solutions on the market generally fit into one of three categories:
- Decentralized load balancers that require payment in volatile project tokens.
- Centralized but accessible balancers. Users can only access an RPC from a single provider, making the solution less reliable in case of attacks.
- DIY load balancers. Developing a load balancer yourself is complex and expensive, as it would involve a team of people and a specific infrastructure to host the solution.
Ultimately, developers have to decide whether to pay to use a load balancer or use a public RPC but worry about sudden shutdowns, such as the Hetzner incident. However, developers can work without having to make that choice if they use extrnode open-source load balancer.
extrnode load balancer is designed to distribute requests across a network of nodes ensuring that your dApp is working without any delays or errors.
How can extrnode load balancer help dApp developers?
By using extrnode, developers can be sure that their applications will always have access to an RPC. Developers don’t have to ask their users anymore to switch manually to other RPCs because their nodes have failed. The other alternative is to build a custom load balancer by yourself, but that can be expensive and time consuming. You will need a huge team with the necessary funds and expertise. Not to mention a network of validators and infrastructure providers to work with.
Devs can use the current version of extrnode load balancer to test applications on the mainnet. We recommend that you do not use this load balancer for consumer-ready applications.
We are releasing a free public load balancer driven by Everstake, as well as a Premium solution for production use. To use the free public load balancer, developers must send requests to extrnode’s RPC endpoint. The load balancer will then reroute their requests automatically.
The Premium version will have only battle-tested validators in the RPC cluster, such as 01node, Chainflow, Imperator, Chainode Tech, Stakin, Staking Facilities, and Triton One. This is to ensure faster speeds and reliability for clients.
After trial extrnode open-source load balancer on the Solana blockchain, we hope to expand it to other networks soon. We firmly believe that starting with Solana and receiving feedback from such a popular Web3 platform will be critical to scaling the product to other networks. We are also encouraged by the Solana community who remains confident in Web3 despite such challenges as the market downturn and the Hetzner ban.
Is using a load balancer safe?
The extrnode open-source load balancer will have a fail-safe request rerouting mechanism, but we would appreciate your help testing it and giving us feedback.
An enterprise-level solution for extrnode is currently in the works. It will accept the most reliable and fastest validators only. With this higher version, we hope to achieve complete decentralization while protecting clients against unexpected events.