Ravendex Stake Pool: Infrastructure
With the start of our ISPO, Ravendex had one mission in mind, to build a Cardano Stake pool infrastructure that’d be secure, reliable, and provide top-class performance.
Although the pool’s current main purpose is to support the project with the ISPO, the ultimate goal is to provide delegators with excellent service as we move past it. We also believe in contributing to the network, following all the available best practices.
With this goal in mind, Ravendex has invested in a redundant, high availability, high-performance infrastructure that is geographically distributed to reduce latency and exposure to data center incidents.
The result is a pool that is currently showing a very low number of missed slots (effectively 0 aside from the expected small number of missed slots during epoch transition).
As the amount of delegators grows and, with it, the active stake increases, assigned blocks will also increase, as will the respective rewards, making them also more stable on a per epoch basis.
The terms below are used in the following article:
- ● Block producer: the node that validates transactions and mints blocks;
- ● Relay: the node that propagates blocks to the block producer and the rest of the network;
- ● DS: dedicated server, an instance that is solely intended to run a Cardano node, not sharing resources with any other services;
- ● VPS: virtual private server, an instance that shares resources with other VPS instances, running on an underlying physical server.
The block producers and relays are deployed in instances across multiple cloud providers.
For the main instances, dedicated servers were chosen so as not to have unexpected impacts on the performance of the nodes, which sometimes happen when cloud providers over-allocate resources to servers running VPS instances.
This performance impact usually occurs at times when an increased computation power is required (epoch change, for example) which can then translate to inconsistent, unreliable performance.
The main producer and relay instances consist of DSs with 8 core Xeon CPUs and 64GBs of RAM, while secondary node instances are running on lower-cost VPS instances with at least 6 CPU cores and 16GBs of RAM.
The architecture comprises:
● One announced relay;
- ● Two unannounced relays (so as to mitigate any eventual DDoS attacks and improve resiliency);
- ● One online block producer and a standby block producer that is converted to main block producer in case the original is found to be offline for any given reason.
Several aspects are taken into consideration to make the operation as secure as possible:
- ● All nodes are running Debian Bullseye and all software packages are regularly updated so as to reduce the chances of running software with vulnerabilities.
- ● All nodes are firewalled, reducing incoming connections to those strictly necessary.
- ● Block producer instances are shielded from the public network, communicating solely with the relays. No files are kept in the BP other than the ones strictly needed for operation.
- ● All nodes are regularly backed up through the creation of snapshots with an appropriate retention period, which can be recovered in case of need. Nodes are also configured in a completely modular way, which makes it easy to spawn new instances in a matter of minutes in case of need.
When any necessary transactions are to be executed, they are always signed in an air-gapped offline instance, that is kept securely stored and backed up regularly. This includes the regular KES key rotation.
In this way, pool keys are kept secure and completely away from any network connection.
All relay nodes are regularly checked for any latency issues to connected nodes, and adjustments are made in case of need. All relays are kept with around 20 connections to other network nodes.
What comes next?
As the ISPO progresses and active stake increases, new pools can be deployed to avoid saturation and reduced rewards.
According to community feedback, Ravendex may decide to open additional 100% RAVE pools or 50% RAVE pools.
Going into the future, and as the ISPO comes to an end, Ravendex pools will strive to continue providing a competitive high-quality service with reduced fees, bringing value to delegators that choose to keep staking with us.
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