Polkadot Summit 24' - Sustainable future for infrastructure

Hi all, please see below a write up from one of the Polkadot Summit sessions that was held in Bangkok in 2024.
You can use the polkadot-summit tag to see all the other posts, and navigate to the summary post for a recap of the event.

Session: Sustainable future for infrastructure: Coretime & builders voices

Host: Ainhoa - COO @ Zondax
Email: ainhoa.aldave@zondax.ch

Short summary of session:

Ainhoa ran a thought provoking workshop discussing sustainability for Infrastructure projects and ran a Q&A session with great audience participation. There were several surveys and discussions around what sustainability means to builders in Polkadot.

Survey: How long have you been building in Polkadot?

35% before 2020
47% between 2 and 4 years
6% 1 to 2 years
12% less than 6 months

Her talk discussed the four pillars of creating and running sustainable infrastructure:

  • Human
  • Social
  • Economic
  • Environmental

Main discussion points:

The main discussion of the presentation was between Ainhoa and guests from the audience, coming up on stage to discuss the questions posed. The format included 4 chairs on stage where people could rotate in and out of speaking at any point.

There are many factors to think about when calculating the infrastructure costs of operating on the polkadot network. Below are some of the questions and discussion points from the group.

Q. What are your expectations towards coretime?

  • Person #1 - Affordability - It would be great to see an options market for coretime
  • Person #2 - We need someone to establish the (options) marketplace. For an options market you need people to purchase that will expect the price to go either way.
  • Person #3 - Believes there will be 3rd parties coming in to help provide funding for Parachain teams needing to launch even if crowdloans won’t exist anymore.

Q. How do you expect infra costs to change?

  • #1 & #2 - believes price will decrease

Q. Would we need monitoring tools for measuring blockspace?

  • #1 - Yes! For utilisation there is a tool live now called, Region X Labs

What strategies can minimise infra operation costs?

  • #1 - collaborate better with others in the community.
  • #2 - Treasury funding but with more oversight.
  • #3 - Teams could look at moving to Tanssi - teams shouldn’t care about explorers or collators.
  • #4 - create efficient cloud providers. Being more efficient about where we build things - not everything needs to be a blockchain.
  • #5 - Doesn’t believe there is a big cost with infrastructure. Most projects waste money by treating collators as validators. People treat collators as “security” but the teams are getting the security from the Polkadot relay chain. Don’t treat your block production as proof of stake - it’s liveness only.
  • #6 - RPC service costs are too high from Polkadot providers.
  • #7 - Push more smoldot (lightclient) solutions as this should also bring down RPC costs.
  • #8 - Teams should work on optimising costs, not just reducing them. Coretime will help with scaling and providing blockchains for specific usecases.
  • #9 - Hiring talent that can optimise your infrastructure can be challenging. Coretime can help save costs from the labour side. Coretime is great for teams wanting to trial blockchain

Q. What tools are you using today to manage your nodes and infra?

  • #1 - We should consider devops as operational costs
  • #2 - With Polkadot, we haven’t yet achieved economies of scale. Currently all teams need to go out and look for their own block explorers, custodial solutions, wallet integrations etc. How are we going to do this with short term chains? System parachains will start to help e.g. if we can get Asset Hub listed on many CEXs - this will speed up the listing of Parachain tokens.

Q. Should infrastructure be considered a public good eligible for retroactive funding?

  • #1 - It’s not a one size fits all - depends on the infrastructure and what is being provided.
  • #2 - The treasury should be used for retroactive funding. Public goods are not “sexy” to receive funding. The treasury is there to address these projects. A lot of teams look at the polkadot treasury to fund everything, teams should look at their own treasury too, Polkadot isn’t there to fund everything. We require a more healthy look at the treasury.
  • #3 - We want to see teams coming to the treasury for funding create value back to the treasury / community.