Crypto infrastructure company Infura, known for being a key service provider for Ethereum, is initiating steps to decentralize its core components. This move comes in response to longstanding criticism that Infura represents a “single point of failure” for the Ethereum network.
Infura’s parent company, ConsenSys, has collaborated with over a dozen Web2 giants, including Microsoft and Tencent, to contribute to the decentralization of the Ethereum network. This effort aims to mitigate potential outages for the companies that rely on Infura’s technology stack.
Among the services affected is the ConsenSys-owned MetaMask wallet, a highly popular Ethereum/Web3 wallet with over 30 million users. The push toward decentralization is seen as a step to enhance the resilience and reliability of the Ethereum network.
Andrew Breslin, senior product manager at ConsenSys, explained to CoinTelegraph, “The cost and complexity involved with running a service like Infura was kind of limiting in terms of who we could partner with to serve this traffic. Now there’s this huge flourishing ecosystem of Web3 infrastructure providers that can provide a service that’s complementary to Infura.”
Infura had initially announced its plans to decentralize its service over a year ago. In August 2023, the company detailed in a blog post how its Decentralized Infura Network (DIN) would commence by federating its RPC layer, directing requests “based on a federated system of providers with distinct offerings.”
DIN is designed to provide “failover support” for Ethereum and its layer 2 Polygon network. This means that in the event of an outage, Infura can reroute traffic to its partners, ensuring a more resilient and reliable service.
Infura’s Centralization Problem
While Infura is not essential for the core functioning of Ethereum, many popular Ethereum applications depend on its service for reliable uptime and accurate data. Applications like Uniswap, Compound, and Brave are among those utilizing Infura’s services.
Infura faced a significant outage event in April 2020, impacting the functionality of various apps, including MetaMask.
Critics of Infura have expressed concerns that a well-orchestrated attack or substantial legal action, especially from government entities, could potentially disrupt the functionality of the networks it supports. This perceived vulnerability has been a point of contention within the Ethereum community, leading to the push for decentralization of critical infrastructure components. The ongoing efforts to decentralize Infura’s services aim to address these concerns and enhance the overall resilience of the Ethereum network.
With the launch of the Decentralized Infura Network (DIN), users will have the opportunity to access Ethereum decentralized applications (dapps) in a more censorship-resistant manner. This initiative aims to move away from reliance on a single provider in a specific location.
Andrew Breslin stated, “Infura and these 18 partners are now participating in this federated phase of DIN, which means that we work as equal partners.”
It’s worth noting that, in comparison to Ethereum, running a full Bitcoin node is generally less resource-intensive for average users to undertake independently. However, Ethereum is often considered to be more programmable than the Bitcoin network.