A decentralized version of Infura will launch by the end of the year, with major Web2 cloud providers set to become part of the network, the chief strategist of ConsenSys says.
“We’re looking to launch something later this year, but then there’s going to be what they call a federated phase that they’re expecting to like to last of the order of six months,” ConsenSys Head of Strategy Simon Morris told Cointelegraph at Korean Blockchain Week, referring to a trial period while the network was still under centralized control.
Infura is the access point for most DApps to access real-time on-chain data from the Ethereum blockchain, but given it is controlled solely by ConsenSys, it provides a single point of failure. In November 2020, the MetaMask wallet stopped working when Infura went down, and centralized exchanges and DeFi projects were affected too. Infura also came under fire from some users for complying with U.S. sanctions against Tornado Cash, but as a U.S.-based company, there is little else ConsenSys could do.
Infura launched in 2016 with one mission: to make it easy for Web3 developers to access Ethereum and build the future they want to live in.
Infura was the first blockchain API service of its kind.
— Infura (@infura_io) September 16, 2022
Work is well advanced on setting up a decentralized marketplace of up to five different data providers who can perform a similar role to Infura but are distributed around the world. Infura itself will become just one of the providers in the network.
This will make access to Ethereum more reliable and censorship-resistant, as DApps won’t need to rely on a single data service provider located in one jurisdiction, Morris said.
“If you have different people setting up their infrastructure in different ways on different cloud providers using different node software, then you can start to build antifragility into [the system].”
The end goal is to build a TCP/IP-like architecture that can’t be regulated, says Morris:
“You can’t regulate TCP/IP, but you can certainly regulate the providers. So we’re trying to create a new architecture of Web3 with how it can grow […] then our role within it […] is to drive that paradigm shift.”
Morris said both crypto native companies and large Web2 cloud providers were keen to join but did not expressly confirm that Google Cloud or AWS are in negotiations with ConsenSys.
“There’s interest from both of them [Web2 and Web3 providers]. I mean, they kind of see this as a novel, kind of potential source of a huge amount of business in the future.”
He added the federated stage was necessary to iron out the bugs and get the system working properly while still under centralized control — whether by Consensys or a new body is yet to be determined. It is expected to transition into a permissionless marketplace of data providers sometime in 2024.
Decentralizing Infura blockchain’s data providers is crucial because monopolies may be shut down by a single court order. For a Web3 wallet like MetaMask that relies on Infura for data, this could have serious repercussions.
The decentralized version of Infura could governed either by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) or a foundation, Morris added.