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Distributed Validator Technology (DVT) is similar to multisig for validators, as it distributes validator keys among multiple distinct nodes. DVT enables several nodes to share the responsibilities of an Ethereum validator, boosting fault tolerance and resiliency. In doing so, it increases validator uptime and reliability by decentralizing failure points and decreasing the likelihood of slashing events. With DVT, solo-stakers no longer need to worry (as much) about maintenance concerns that might reduce their long-term gains. SSV, Obol, and Diva are the three leading DVT options, and both are live on testnet.
Obol Network (Obol) represents an innovative protocol that facilitates the operation of distributed validator (DV) clusters on Ethereum. This protocol is the brainchild of Obol Labs, an entity co-founded by Collin Myers, the CEO, and Oisin Kyne, the CTO. The diverse Obol Labs team encompasses 23 full-time members and 15 advisors, mostly based in Europe and North America.
Myers, prior to the establishment of Obol, has had a prolific tenure at ConsenSys, where he spearheaded global DeFi product strategy for more than three years. A significant portion of his role involved collaborating with the Ethereum Foundation and Chris Battenfield, the then head of product at ConsenSys, currently fulfilling the same role at Obol Labs. Together, they were integral in the development of the ETH Staking Launchpad, a widely utilized resource for validator creation.
Kyne, on the other hand, leveraged his experience as a full-stack developer at ConsenSys to lead the development of Blockdaemon's enterprise-grade Ethereum staking infrastructure, after starting his own software development business in 2020.
Key Innovations by Obol Labs
Obol Labs has engineered four complementary pieces of software that are central to Obol:
- Charon: a middleware client that empowers validators to operate in a distributed and fault-tolerant manner. It is the most sophisticated software being developed by Obol Labs.
- DV Launchpad: a user interface designed for the establishment and management of DVs.
- Obol Managers: a collection of Solidity libraries crafted for the creation of DVs, customized for different use cases, such as DeFi, liquid staking, and fractionalized deposits.
- Obol Testnets: a suite of incentivized Ethereum testnets open to the public, allowing operators of all sizes to assess their deployment.
Currently, Obol does not have a token, setting it apart from networks like ssv.network. Nevertheless, there is anticipation that a token will be announced in the late part of this year or early next year. The essence of Obol is rooted in minimizing trust, hence Obol Labs relinquishing control over the protocol by launching a token aligns with this philosophy.
Obol's inaugural DV cluster was launched on the Ethereum mainnet earlier this year, consisting of four nodes operated from home, spread across three countries: Ireland, Estonia, and Canada. More recently, another DV cluster came to life across Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Korea.
These launches signify the alpha phase of Obol. The forthcoming beta phase, expected after Obol Labs brings another 23 DVs on board over the next few months, will transition to Obol V1 by the end of the year. It is anticipated that at least one liquid-staking protocol will integrate Obol's DVT during the beta phase.
Research on Obol V2 is already in progress, with a focus on enhancing the trust-minimization of DVs via advanced applied cryptography and cryptoeconomics. Additionally, expansion plans are being explored for Ethereum layer-2 solutions and Cosmos.