Long before the dream of decentralization began the transition to being a reality through the birth of the blockchain, majority of technological connectivity is relied to a single powerhouse.
A single authority allow for service to be access.
A central control facility house and protect hardware equipments needed to gain such access.
A single establishment dictate and manage the use of electronic data of both machines and humans within their care.
This model has been the norms since the inception of electronic connectedness.
Luckily for the majority commoner, a new paradigm shift is forming through the introduction of the blockchain.
“Blockchain” a decentralized technology, functions through the assembled army of nodes – computer hardwares each situated at different locations which by their mutual agreement involving a series of process ensures every incoming input of data is accordingly referenced.
Each node in a blockchain system maintain a copy of the blockchain assuring none is indispensable in the network. This absense of a single authority commanding node distinguished blockchain system from existing systems where service enabling activities is served from a single station or a combine central station.
Although, each node in a blockchain system is general perceived to retain a copy of the blockchain but in reality not all blockchain node keeps a full copy of the blockchain, some even do not exhibit any storage function but are used in other system process according to the function and use of such blockchain.
How are Blockchain Nodes then distinguished from one another? How have their use change with time?
Let take a look at some of the common existing node type and the need that gave rise to their existence.
From the inception
Also know as full nodes are saddle with the responsibility of keeping the complete blockchain record right from when the genesis(first) block was mined. Full nodes ensures all the parameters of the blockchain are met and working right by the acting consensus rules – a mechanism of effective communication between nodes to know the current state of the network, ensure transactions are recorded accordingly, in the establishment of a trustless decentralized network.
Bitcoin blockchain was the first to introduce a decentralized network of full nodes which are strictly guarded and propagated by a consensus rule. Every functional node adhere to this rule to do things the right way and are objected to it’s principle even when they think an input is correct but which may have violated the consensus rule, rendering such input rejected.
Running a standard node can be done by any individual, who must be patience and dedicated enough to allow the full copy of the particular blockchain (which may take up a large disc space) to download onto his/her computer owing to the fact that such hardware meet the minimum requirements to run a copy.
Although running a full node can be easily set up with the right configuration and strong network connection, there is no means to reward such commitment rather than the good-will satisfaction of an individual to run such blockchain. This is one of the major reason why most people running the bitcoin node are mostly early enthusiasts, miners and all those who have in one way or the other benefited handsomely from the currency.
Full nodes may be responsible for keeping an active copy of the blockchain but they rely on the work of miners to confirm incoming transactions which are arranged in blocks and broadcasted to the whole network for record-keeping. Miners in this case get rewarded for completing one the most important function of the network which is verifying the authenticity of data. But as much as the their work is of utmost importance, they have limited power to influence (unless if a miner gain majority(51%+) of the network power) how order in the network are directed as the final stage of the consensus rule rely on the functionality of nodes to be completed.
Consensus rule is the most important implementation guiding blockchain full nodes and so requires a hardfork before any change or new addition can be made to the rules. This feature discourage frequent change in consensus rule and encourage well thought-out proposal for a potential future change in rules.
An easy alternative
Not everyone have the patience or the right technical know-how to successfully run a full Node. Running a part of the blockchain is the ideal solution for anyone who may be easily intimidated with the little stress involved in running a full node.
Lightweight node constitute a part of a particular blockchain which may be the record of transactions that occured in the last 2 months, a month or even few weeks of a blockchain existing for example, 10 years like that of the bitcoin blockchain.
Unlike how miners can hardly gain major power of full nodes and influence their activities, lightweight node are easily influenced by miners as they do not know the complete history of the blockchain and so may stop running the original chain in the event of a hardfork which will eventually have them migrate to the new forked chain.
A new evolution
As the use of blockchain grew so is the need to expand it further. Scalability in particular has been one of the major problem limiting the use of blockchain .
In order to tackle some of the blockchain challenges, a masternode was proposed by a cryptocurrency blockchain called Dash.
Dash masternode implementation saw many new advantages over a standard node.
Some of the features of a masternode includes:
• Enhanced Privacy: base on the use of the blockchain, masternodes have the ability to add extra layer of privacy or anonymity to the blockchain
• Faster Transaction: masternode are able to process transactions more rapidly unlike their precedents as new technology innovation, flexible consensus rule and knowledge gained through past experience open up an avenue for developers to create more improved work.
• Stability: in the bitcoin blockchain a miner or a node owner requires no staked coins before operation can begin. This encourage chasing profits in the case of a miner. Masternode in the opposite light requires the stake of the native coins before an interested candidate can begin participating. This model allow for more feasible stability as retention of the coin in encouraged.
• Decentralized Governance: the battle that erupted during the first bitcoin fork was an eye opener for a need of a decentralized or well structured governance. Masternode owners are perceived to have a strong interest in securing the network and so are allowed to vote or put forward a proposal to guide and determine the future direction of the system.
• Reward mechanism: running a masternode requires staked coins, this in turn generate gradual incentives base on the set values. This is very different from how full nodes give out no reward to those who run them.
Who can run a masternode?
Anybody who is interested in a project is allowed to run a masternode in as much as the person meet all the requirements to do so, such as having the minimum hardware requirement, meeting the minimum amount of coins to be staked, and providing the necessary hosting and technical implementations.
• a vps server to host the masternode 24/7
• a dedicated IP
• and a standby electricity supply.
The introduction of masternode provided more higher functionality to blockchain systems as they allow for improved performance and efficiency. It is even considered the new standard for nodes and is seeing explosive adoption in many blockchain start ups which is creating more chance to get many uplifting implementation come alive in the hope for a better blockchain systems.
Do you think masternode are well suited for blockchain tech? I would like to know your thought in the comment box
Credits: featured image modified from pixabay.com