Google Cloud Platform (GCP) announced on Oct. 27, 2022, that it would introduce a crypto node-hosting service called Blockchain Node Engine.
GCP announced that it would initially support Ethereum node hosting, streamlining the tedious process of manually setting up a node.
How to deploy an Ethereum node on Google Cloud
Developers can deploy nodes in a single operation by specifying which network the node will run on, such as the testnet or the mainnet, and which cloud region they prefer.
Previously, they would have to deploy a compute instance, install an Ethereum client, such as Geth or Parity, and wait for the node to download all the blockchain data. This process could take many days. A compute instance is essentially a virtual machine hosted on the cloud. A virtual machine is a file that, when deployed, becomes a separate virtual computer with its own operating system.
Google will also hide nodes behind a Virtual Private Cloud firewall to prevent unauthorized access. Developers can also choose to help reduce denial-of-service attacks through Cloud Armor, a feature critical in ensuring that their node remains operational and does not suffer reduced performance. Google will restart a node and will restart them if an outage happens.
Ethereum centralization concerns
Running nodes on Google Cloud may immediately raise a red flag surrounding centralization. But nodes simply enable you to use Ethereum in a private and trustless way. It essentially allows you to verify data yourself instead of relying on the network. You can also use decentralized applications more privately without exposing wallet addresses and your crypto balance to other nodes.
Centralization concerns arise mainly when nodes choose to become validators by sending a particular transaction that locks up their ETH in a deposit. To become a validator requires locking up 32 ETH. But before the Ethereum Merge, decentralized protocols Lido Finance and Rocket Pool allowed some users to stake less than 32 ETH in a staking pool, where they could be part of collective validation efforts by a group of node operators. This method was criticized for centralizing validator resources, which threatened the security of Ethereum.
Google’s Web3 strides so far
Google has been making significant strides into Web3. In Jan. 2022, Google Cloud announced plans for a Digital Assets team. In Sep. 2022, the company partnered with the BNB chain to allow developers to build BNB products and services on their cloud.
It also recently partnered with Coinbase to host some of the company’s commerce-related applications and provide the crypto exchange with data analytics. Google also hosts the transaction history of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, and Dogecoin, accessible from BigQuery, a multi-cloud data warehouse. Developers can access the transaction histories through Coinbase’s Node technology stack.