Accessing blockchain data
Across Web3, node infrastructure follows a predictable lifecycle.
The core tenet of a decentralized web is that every individual should run their own node to validate state and send transactions to the blockchain. As Vitalik wrote, today this idea is closer to a “weird mountain man fantasy” than it is reality. In search of more scalable solutions, users moved to rate-limited public endpoints, altruistically provided by chains themselves. The drawbacks of this include persistent throttling issues and a tragedy of the commons problem where usage is adversarial and downtime is common.
Trusted third party node operators filled the gap, providing a crucial service. However, although useful, the limitations of centralized providers are clear. In early 2022, Venezuelan users were censored from accessing MetaMask after their node operator accidentally blocked IP addresses in the area. Moreover, concerns over data integrity have led many developer teams to use multiple node providers at once, cross-referencing responses in an impractical attempt to verify data is accurate and fresh.
This should not be the case.
As the drawbacks of centralized node infrastructure become more apparent, other parts of blockchain infrastructure are progressing towards decentralization. Middleware services like data indexing and storage are powered by peer-to-peer markets coordinated by code and cryptoeconomics – game theoretic incentives, disincentives and cryptography – similar to those which govern block building and validation. Using cryptographically signed messages for accountability and token-aligned incentives, we can create trustless markets connecting applications with reliable, robust and decentralized middleware. We call these decentralized coordination systems for public infrastructure: cryptomarkets.
Today, we introduce the Lava Protocol, the cryptomarket which powers a decentralized RPC layer for Web3.
Lava powers a trustless market for RPC data access. The protocol governs over peer to peer and private Provider-Application pairings, ensuring high quality RPC service while creating consensus around data served. Payments are conducted off-chain and settled on-chain in aggregate for efficiency. Node runners earn income by providing RPC service and contributing towards decentralization; developers access accurate blockchain data, without fear of scalability issues, privacy exploitation or censorship.
Decentralized, performant infrastructure
A key belief of Lava is that decentralizing public infrastructure is not antithetical to performance or reliability. The network encourages high quality node service by holding providers to account using cryptographically signed messages and aligned token incentives; removes censorship concerns, by eliminating trust requirements and using an open source protocol; and introduces robustness and uptime by incentivizing network redundancy. Consensus is created around data integrity, ensuring accuracy and freshness.
It has also become apparent in recent times that Web3 is not yet ready for mainstream adoption. Poor UX and unclear regulations in a very nascent field make it difficult even for the crypto-native. How do we bring Web3 to the next billion users?
Scalability is at the heart of this conversation. Much research and development has gone into building modular layer 2 solutions for improving blockchain throughput and latency, so that usage can scale without downtime or high gas fees.
One area which has not received due attention is the middleware layer. Middleware infrastructure is the set of protocols and services which allow applications to connect to and use blockchains. For Web3 to scale, this layer must scale with it. Lava implements novel innovations such as its Lazy Blockchain configuration to create technological scalability, while the protocol’s cryptoeconomic incentives ensure node runners provide the same high level of service, at scale.
Starting with Cosmos
The Cosmos ecosystem is particularly underserved by RPC providers and today, it is the chains themselves which are altruistically providing their own public endpoints. On the application side, developer teams we spoke to highlighted the limitations of public RPCs, which often throttled traffic. The result of this situation is unnecessary DevOps resource consumption for chains and a poor experience for Web3 users as public endpoints go down under a tragedy of the commons. To address these issues, the Lava team is initially focusing on serving Cosmos chains and has already begun working with top teams in the ecosystem.
Vision and Mission
The problem of RPC level censorship and third party control has been a major point of discussion for nearly a decade in the blockchain community. Picking up the gauntlet, the Lava team shares a core set of beliefs which drive our actions. These are outlined in our vision and mission statement.
We believe blockchain data should be accurate. We believe access to this data should be scalable, private, and uncensored.
Our mission is to power a market for blockchain data with aligned token incentives and an open-source protocol for RPC nodes and APIs.
Community and Roadmap
Lava is over 6 months old now and has starting working with many top partners across all of Web3. While our initial focus is Cosmos, we are speaking to new chains every day.
Ultimately, the RPC support provided by the protocol is only limited by the range of chains Lava providers choose to run nodes for. We are building a fully decentralized, peer-to-peer RPC network supporting all of Web3.
Follow our progress on Discord and Twitter to stay up to date. The technical breakdown of the protocol can be found in our litepaper.
- Private testnet: Now! You can apply here.
- Public testnet: Q4 2022 until mainnet launch
- Mainnet: H1 2023
Lava is a public good, creating a Web3 accessible to all.