- The IOTA Foundation (IF) replaces the Coordinator in Shimmer with a Validator Committee, a major move towards decentralization.
- The newly established system is set to bolster network resilience against outages by eliminating single points of failure.
Understanding IOTA’s Decentralization Evolution
IOTA, in a surprise announcement, revealed a crucial shift in its infrastructure. The Coordinator, a longstanding element within its ecosystem, has been replaced by a Validator Committee within its Shimmer network—a move soon to be mirrored on IOTA itself.
The News came as a surprise to most of us. So let's discuss decentralization & implications of this change.
— ID.iota (@id_iota) September 13, 2023
The term “Coordicide” has been floating around, and for a good reason. In essence, the Coordinator is now defunct, replaced by a collective of new coordinators. On a technical level, this transition is orchestrated through a distributed set of validators or coordinators. Their primary role? Agreeing on the next network milestone. And how do they achieve this consensus? By deploying an off-chain Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus mechanism.
For those new to the term, a Byzantine Fault Tolerant system is designed to function even when some components, or “nodes”, fail to respond or respond erroneously. Hence, all validators in IOTA’s revised structure will carry equal voting power. This significantly dilutes the influence of the IOTA Foundation, making it just one of the ten pivotal validators active in the network. The leap from a singular entity to multiple validators amplifies the decentralization aspect manifold.
However, there remain some unanswered questions. The identities of those operating these validators, even within the Shimmer network, remain undisclosed. A system’s trust quotient, especially in the realm of blockchain, often hinges on the credibility of its participants. With the revelation of Committee Members awaited, the network’s trust dynamics are poised to undergo a change.
Another noteworthy advantage of this transition is the enhanced resistance to outages. By negating the existence of a sole failure point, the network’s robustness receives a commendable boost.
Yet, is this the “Coordicide” many allude to? The eradication of the need for the traditional Coordinator does indeed suggest so. But there’s a catch. This evolved set of validators, though distributed, remains permissioned. Meaning, the IOTA Foundation handpicks the entities, from universities to corporations, who will be entrusted with running the validators.
Consequently, a semblance of centralization persists. And while transforming the network to a permissionless state promises profound ramifications, this journey of decentralization, it seems, is far from its conclusion.