Chainflow Cosmos Validator Network Architecture

This post describes the Chainflow Cosmos Validator architecture. You can learn more about the validator, its core principles and delegating to it here.

The Chainflow Cosmos Validator's address is -

cosmosvaloper1j0vaeh27t4rll7zhmarwcuq8xtrmvqhudrgcky

Bootstrapping for Independence

There are a few important things to know from the start. The first is that I'm bootstrapping the Chainflow Cosmos Validator. This means I'm paying for everything from my own pocket. I haven't raised any outside funds to cover CAPEX or OPEX costs.

Freedom and independence are core values of the validator's (and my!) operation. Not being accountable to investors helps preserve these values.

Balancing Operational Excellence and Cost

Since I started validating in October 2017, I've worked to strike a balance between operational excellence and cost. This means I've scaled the validator network to meet operational needs as they emerge.

It also allows me to maintain competitive fee levels. My intention is to continue this approach into the future.

The architecture I'm about to describe strikes that balance for current Mainnet operation. To get here, I upgraded my Game of Stakes architecture to support Mainnet launch. Since Mainnet launch, I've upgraded it again, to improve performance.

This architecture feels performant, stable and secure, based on current network conditions. That said, I'm operating within a cycle of constant improvement. You can read about updates as I make them here.

The Cosmos Validator Network Architecture

This architecture draws on my 20+ years of experience designing large, global and mission critical network and data center architectures. I've done this for large telco's, government security agencies and commercial financial institutions. Now I'm applying what I learned to running the Chainflow Cosmos Validator.

In describing the architecture, I again am trying to strike a beneficial balance. This balance is between providing transparency, while not compromising operational security. Past experience working where I have still leaves me a bit paranoid about the latter 😅

Here are some key characteristics.

Servers -

The Cosmos Chainflow Validator architecture runs on a VPS architecture. The VPS provider is a well-respected provider of high performance computing platforms. The systems sit in data centers operated by companies like Equinix and Level(3).  The provider offers 100% server uptime and 0% packet loss network guarantees.

The validator itself is a high-powered bare metal server. The sentries run on shared VPS platforms. They're configured with appropriate specs I've refined since October 2017.

Architecture -

The Cosmos Chainflow Validator architecture is a multi-tier architecture. The validator is behind multiple layers of public and private sentry nodes. I'm also private peering with multiple large and well-know validators.

The network is spread across multiple geographic locations. The systems sit in data centers operated by companies like Equinix and Level(3).

External and internal connectivity is as fast as you'd expect running in data centers like this.  VPNs secure all connections, other than the required public connections to public sentries.

Availability and Security -

I'm running multiple public and private sentry nodes. The private sentry nodes private peer with multiple trusted partners. The validator connects directly to multiple private sentries. There is no single point of failure among them.

Firewalls and DDoS protection are running on all servers, among other security measures. Regular back-ups run on key systems.

I'm currently investigating the use and cost effectiveness of a Hardware Security Module (HSM). Ledger signing is also on my list to implement.

My hope is that once the validator is generating fees, I'll be able to fund these upgrades with the fees I collect. For now, I feel confident about the security measures that are in place.

Operational Support Systems -

At the moment, I'm doing much of the operational monitoring manually. Implementing automated monitoring and alerting tools is a high priority.

Work is underway on this and I hope to have the tools running within a week. In the meantime, I'm absorbing their absence by dedicating my time and attention as needed to do this manually.

Open Source -

The Chainflow Cosmos Validator Architecture runs on open source software. I default to using open source tools when a viable alternative exists.

I believe supporting open source software is important. Doing so contributes to manifesting a decentralized future.

Conclusion

My hope is this post has helped you -

  • Better understand the Chainflow Cosmos Validator architecture
  • Gain confidence that some smaller validators are quite capable of running a production-grade validator
  • Learn about the challenges and trade-offs smaller validators are faced with on a regular basis

P.S. - Are you ready to delegate to the Chainflow Cosmos Validator?

Please use this address to delegate to me -

cosmosvaloper1j0vaeh27t4rll7zhmarwcuq8xtrmvqhudrgcky

These instructions walk you through the delegation process. Or click the "Delegate Now" button here to delegate using your Ledger Nano S.

Contact me if you'd like help with the process.

With my gratitude 🙏

Chris

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