The WAX Guilds - What are they, and what do they do

At the time of writing this, running a Guild on WAX requires you to have a full team of skills, high end hardware and a lot of specialized skills. In this lesson I am going to break down the core requirements of a guild, and what they do for the WAX Blockchain. The main responsibility for a Guild is to validate all transactions and blocks, but their tasks go further than that. Many of the topp applications and tools that the users of WAX interact with are built by these Guilds. 

The guilds are paid directly by the WAX Blockchain, this is done by inflation of the WAX Token. This is great, since the inflation rate is locked, and the Office of Inspector Generals are validating the work and ensuring that each guild are delivering as much value as they can to the WAX ecosystem. You learnt more about the job of an Inspector General in the last lesson.

For Guilds, the top 21 ranked teams are the Active Producers, they are the ones actively validating the Blockchain. Outside of the top 21 we have the StandBy producers, which are also validating the Blockchain with their active nodes and awaiting a rotation into the top 21 incase needed. This ensure that even if one of the top 21 teams have any technical issues, the WAX Blockchain experience no issues. 

The scope of this article is mainly to give you an idea of what type of operation a Guild runs, and if you intend to start a guild yourself, you can look at this for an idea of what your team will require.

What is required of a Guild?

Running a Guild operation requires a team to maintain many machines for different purposes, let's break them down a bit for you to better understand what work they are doing. 

Block Producing - Validating the Blockchain

The core focus of a guild is to validate the WAX Blockchain, this is done by running high performance Block Producer nodes. The hardware requirements of these machines are evolving at the rate of the growth of the WAX Blockchain, where they need fast CPU Processing, fast harddrives and plenty of RAM. For simplicity, you can think of these machines as high end gaming rigs without graphic cards. For every new Account, smart contract, table entry, minted NFT and new user, these requirements are increasing. Although slowly, it's a steady increase, which means these teams not only need to have the requirements of what the Blockchain needs now, but also plan for the future. 

For a team to do this properly, you need to have highly skilled System Administrators that love to tweak and optimize the Linux environment as well as constantly researching and testing current and new hardware. Some teams are taking a big lead here and doing a lot of these testings that other teams can benefit from. 

These Block Producing nodes also need 100% uptime, to ensure that the WAX Blockchain function as it should, to achieve this each team run multiple passive Block Producer nodes that are awaiting awakening in case the main producer is faulty for some reason. These nodes also need to be spread out at different geolocations to ensure that the entire infrastructure is not affected by outage in either power or internet. 

In case any of these Block Producer have a major outage, there are also StandBy Guilds outside of the top 21 waiting to get into rotation incase needed. These rotations can be because there is a change of votes, or one of the Active Producers temporary unregister to allow for some kind of maintainance or deal with tech issues outside of their control. 

The other Guilds and the Inspector Generals are constantly monitoring all the nodes of the WAX Blockchain to noticing and fixing any issues at a rapid pace. This means that the Guilds are required to have System Administrator Employees at a 24/7 call, with a response time of minutes. 

Peering nodes - Connectivity of the WAX Blockchain

On top of the Block Producer nodes, which should be kept behind closed walls without any type of external access, each team also need to operate multiple peering nodes. These nodes enable not only other Guilds, but also other node operators such as teams behind DAPPs, Marketplaces and other services to connect to the Blockchain. The Peering nodes are relaying the information and state of the WAX Blockchain to create this vast network that is required for any public Blockchain. 

The Peering nodes don't require the same level of hardware as the Producer nodes. However, they require a lot of high speed bandwidth that are capable of a constant and high throughput of data. They should not be run on any metered bandwidth services, as this would become to costly. 

API Nodes - Accessability to the WAX Blockchain

Without a powerful network of public and easily accessible API nodes that enable users to get data and push transactions, there can be no public blockchain. As a requirement set by the OIG, running API push nodes as well as history nodes is something all guilds should be doing. 

To run a proper API setup, a team is required to be highly skilled System Administrators with firewall(s), proxy and load balancer as well as multiple single purpose WAX node instances to handle specific requests. The History solutions also require a high speed, high load database to enable proper querying of data. Currently, the WAX State History nodes require the state (61gb at the time of writing, 2022-01-14) to be loaded in extremely fast harddrives or directly into RAM. It also require high speed bandwidth or it can not keep up to speed with the growth of the WAX Blockchain. On top of that, A complete block log is multiple TB of data. 

One of the common History solutions is to use Hyperion, built by the eosrio guild, to query data from Elasticsearch. So if a guild intend to operate a Hyperion History, they need to understand and optimize the ELK stack as well. Here you need to have all the data indexed into elasticsearch, plus replicas of that data in case you have any data errors. Currently, our team, use over 11TB of high quality enterprise SSDs to manage this data. 

With the high read and write of data in this operation, normal consumer disks won't have a long lifespan. 

Normally, just the API operation will require a fulltime system administrator, specially if you are serving a lot of requests. Anyone can manage an API that has no abuse, but running one that efficiently can handle a lot of traffic, that require a lot of time and expertise. 

Building Products, Creating Content or adding benefit to the Ecosystem in other ways

The core operation of any guild is to operate the infrastructure of the WAX Blockchain, but on top of that they also are the best positioned teams to add further value to the ecosystem. They properly understand the Blockchain tech and the current state of the community and environment. Each team don't have to do everything, but as a collective they have all the tools required to push WAX further. 

Some teams are focusing on content, some are building products, and some teams are doing a bit of everything. There is no real template of what a guild should focus on outside of the Infrastructure, but they need to do something that reach users or node operators and benefit them. 

Some of the Guild created products are, but not limited to: Bloks.io, Atomichub.io, NFThive.io, Simplemarket.io, Alienworlds.io, Anchor Wallet, eosauthority.com, Token Gamer App, Tokenhead app and many more.

And, this course and my content is technically also a product by a guild. 

Summary

Operating a Guild is not something to take lightly, it require a lot of time and dedication, as well as investment to buy or rent the hardware required. It will require the team to stay ontop of their game to continue to get proper rating and continue to be rewarded for their work. It can be rewarding, but it's a business directly affected by the market movements of the crypto market. If the WAXP token is reduced in value, so is the guilds pay. If the WAXP token increases in value, so does the guilds pay. Yet, they have expenses ongoing for every month. 

The guilds on WAX are the pillars of our Infrastructure, they are servants of the network and here to validate, educate and expand the WAX ecosystem. There are way more to running a guild than mentioned above, so take this mostly as a way to get more of an idea of the requirements and work they do. 

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