Technical Working Group: Node Providers

Hi all, we would like to announce a new technical working group:

Topic: IC Node Providers

DFINITY lead: @SvenF

Coordinator: @SvenF @louisevelayo @katiep

Communication Channel: Element and Forum

Meeting Notes: Gdrive, link will be provided

Cadence: Monthly on 3rd Tuesday of every month at 5:30pm CET

First meeting: May 15, 2024 at 14:15pm CET

The Internet Computer stands out as a blockchain, owing a part of its uniqueness to the infrastructure powering it. Node Providers play a crucial role in provisioning, scaling, and upholding this infrastructure, ensuring its reliability for ICP developers and users. The establishment of this working group signifies the community’s support toward discussing reliability engineering of the IC network and addressing broader Node Provider related topics.

Recognizing the shared tasks and interests among node providers, collaboration becomes imperative. By fostering collaboration, the group aims to:

  • Discuss reliability engineering of the IC network in general and what tasks can potentially be further decentralized.
  • Exchange best practices and improve operational efficiency
  • Address common challenges and improve business continuity
  • Improve the Node Provider experience and long term business case
  • Practical application of verification of node data
  • Explore how Node Providers can stimulate and support the utilization of the IC network

The list above represents an initial compilation of focus areas, crafted from interviews with a small sample of Node Providers. Keep in mind that this scope is flexible and can be adapted. The goal of presenting this list is to underscore that the Node Provider working group isn’t solely centered on technical matters like decentralizing elements of reliability engineering. While immediate action can already be taken there, this working group also embraces strategic and entrepreneurial endeavors aimed at securing the long term viability of the node infrastructure running ICP.

This working group acts as the initial catalyst to activate the node provider community. Its primary objective is to create a collaborative space where node providers, and other community members passionate about the topics related to Node Providers, can come together. Here, they can freely exchange insights, tackle common challenges, and collectively work towards solutions, all while upholding the fundamental principles of decentralization.

Please note that the working group is solely for collaboration and discussion purposes. Any actions or proposals agreed upon by the working group will be formally submitted as NNS proposals to the broader IC community.

The first working group will take place during the IC Lab for Node Providers on May 15th at the Dfinity Zurich office. The session will be streamed live where online participants can interact via the chat. There will also be a dedicated chat monitor. This is only for the first meeting - the following meetings will happen completely online

If you have any suggestions regarding key topics that should be addressed by the working group, please feel free to leave a reply in this forum thread.

Special thanks to @katiep for planting the seed of this idea, and to @louisevelayo for doing the work to drive this concept into reality. Additionally, thank you to the Node Providers who participated in the interviews, as their insights played a crucial role in shaping the initial vision for the working group.

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This is a welcome and important initiative for both the Node Provider and the wider IC community.
Thanks to @louisevelayo @SvenF @katiep and any else involved in making this a reality.

I propose that operational security be added as an important topic for discussion.
There are many aspects to the topic of security, both technical and non-technical, as it relates to IC server nodes and the node providers who own and operate them. I know from reading this forum and social media that there is significant and understandable concerns about how private and confidential data on the IC is protected by, and from, node providers.

As custodians of the physical infrastructure that supports the whole IC ecosystem, node providers are equally concerned with these security concerns and should be involved in pushing for security enhancements. This includes vetKeys in production and especially Secure Enclave/Trusted Execution Environment technology which would (almost) guarantee that IC replica data cannot be accessed by anyone with physical access to the server hardware. There are other equally important and effective technical measures we could deploy to guarantee the safety of data on the IC platform.

Many other blockchains rely on large numbers of anonymous, unverified replica node providers of varying quality to secure their blockchain data integrity. The Internet Computer is quite different. It relies on high quality server hardware, datacentre environments and operating system management to create a high-performance, cryptographically secured, globally distributed, decentralized World Computer without peer.
As IC Node Providers we have both the responsibility and incentives to operate openly and transparently for the benefit of the IC ecosystem. Working as a group in public to provide and promote ongoing verification of the security of IC subnets should be one of our goals here.

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Thats a great initiative. I am pretty sure it will bring the infrastructure provider much closer to share challenges and possible solutions to achieve a truly decentralize world computer. Great work @SvenF @katiep @louisevelayo

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Hi I have a question… how close are we to Gen 3 specs coming out? I’m about to spend a lot of money for a Gen 2 spec’d machine and be locked into a 2yr data center contract and I don’t want my machine to be outdated in a year from now. Is it safe for me to go ahead… will it still be accepted as a valid node on the network 2yrs from now? TIA

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I also have this same question. I had priced out a box, and the hardware in duplicate a while ago using this list.
I would like to know how long this will be valid.
I was also wondering how dfinity et Al would feel about something like Bare Metal for node providing assuming the sla was iron clad.

I am extremely interested in becoming a node provider when the topography allows and am quite flexible in location and structure.

Heh Henry… what kind of price did the give you for that setup? Mine was a Dell PowerEdge R7525 for like 22k with a 7313 cpu but thinking of a 7413. What do I do with a 22k server if ICP ups the specs and my node gets kicked off the network before I get a return on my investment? I think we need a more detailed plan when it comes to servers. Like Gen 2 good from 2022 to end of 2024 and Gen 3 good from 2025 to end of 2027 etc etc at least this way node providers know up front when they have to upgrade and/or when to wait to purchase a new server. To cover their costs node providers need to be able to maximize the lifespan of their machine so having set dates is really paramount… “and for that reason… I’m out”… till that is in place.

Hi Node Providers,

What a fantastic week it has been! On behalf of the Aviate Labs / Allusion Team and everyone from DFINITY, we sincerely enjoyed meeting all of you and appreciated your high levels of engagement!

To officially wrap up the week, I wanted to share a few resources with you:

1/ Slide Decks

2/ Recordings

3/ Getting in touch with ICP Hubs

All ICP hubs are on OpenChat. If you would like to get into this OpenChat community, please fill in the following form before the end of next week (24/05). You need to make sure that you have an open chat account, and that your notifications are enabled!

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What about something like bare metal?

Hi everyone,

Please find the meeting minutes from the first Node Provider Working Group meeting here. These notes also include notes from the morning session (strategic outlook), as some insights are particularly relevant to the working group.

Keep in mind that these are minutes, so the tone of voice may not be perfectly captured.

I welcome any feedback on the structure of the minutes document.

More to follow on the general organization of the working group such as the next meeting, tracking work items etc.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

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