- Solana’s ease-of-use, market-leading TPS and low fees are formidable qualities
- On the flipside, the latest shutdown marks eighth outage this year
- How deep is this problem, and what does the future hold?
If I had a dollar for every time Solana has shut down this year, I’d be able to afford a 500g of cashews at the local supermarket (that’s $8, for those unaware of how bizarrely expensive nuts are).
In what has become a disconcertingly familiar story, Solana shut off again last week. It wasn’t to observe the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations either, but rather because the mainnet lost consensus protocol for seven hours. In a cruel twist of irony, it comes not long after Solana co-founder gave an interview to CNBC asserting that Bitcoin needed to change to Proof-of-Stake in order to remain relevant. Woops.
Earlier today a bug in the durable nonce transactions feature led to nondeterminism when nodes generated different results for the same block, which prevented the network from advancing.
— Solana Status (@SolanaStatus) June 1, 2022
Solana reminds me of the last pair of earphones I had. They were perfect – boasting a smooth sound, the microphone was crystal clear, and they sat securely in my ears during exercise. But for months the sound kept glitching out in the right earphone and I couldn’t figure out the reason. Sometimes it would last for five minutes, other times over an hour.
When they worked, Bruce Springsteen blared out loud and clear, and it was glorious. But what good is a pair of earphones that don’t allow you to play music whenever you want?
The market has realised that this is a big problem (the Solana outages, not my musical struggles), as Solana’s price has been in freefall this year, shedding three-quarters of its value since New Year’s Day. And yeah – all assets are down, but plotting Solana’s price action against Bitcoin’s shows the scale of the slide here has been uglier than even the ghastly price falls across the rest of the crypto market.
What it Means Going Forward
I don’t have a computer science background. I have played around with R, Matlab and Python, but I’m simply not qualified to opine on the intricacies of the challenges currently facing Solana developers. Everywhere on the Internet, you will see average Joes and Janes give their emotional opinions on why or why not these problems are small hiccups or insurmountable challenges – I have no interest in offering a speculative opinion on this topic, as it wouldn’t be worthy of the ink it’s written in (or perhaps it wouldn’t be worth the wear-and-tear on the keys of my laptop, to use a more modernised analogy?).
But what I will do is take an analytical angle and use some basic logic to assess the situation. This is a blockchain with immense potential – capable of a higher transaction per second (TPS) than any other major cryptocurrency. But what good is a blockchain if it has an off button? And to be honest with you, I’m getting a little tired of using the words “potential”, “could” and “perhaps” when discussing Solana.
This was actually a rather benign stoppage on a quiet day for crypto, which is good news in one respect, but also quite scary when you think about it. What happens if the next Solana power cut occurs during an explosive charge upwards in the crypto markets or a violent crash day? Investors won’t be able to transact, buy or sell any Solana products, and that, for lack of a better expression, just isn’t cool.
As I said, I’m becoming a little tired of writing about Solana outages. While it has all the potential in the world, that means precisely nothing if it can’t sort out these chronic flaws. It feels like we are in a critical period now – a slowdown (or even a plateau) in development while the macro environment is so ghastly, not to mention the big competitor that is Ethereum moving ever closer to its potentially industry-changing Merge, could be a devastating blow to Solana.
Solana is an incredible blockchain when it’s “on” – cheap to use, smooth, quick and frictionless. Then again, I ended up buying a new pair of earphones after months of promising myself they would fix the glitching issue.
If these issues persist for Solana, investors retaining the faith will continue to thin out and the future will appear increasingly dark.
But let’s hope the flipside is true – that one day we will look back upon these hurdles as minor challenges that were overcome during the beta phase, as the formidable Solana blockchain bootstrapped its way to widespread adoption.
They say a cat has nine lives – well, maybe it’s the same with blockchains. In that case, after eight outages this year, Solana is in the last chance saloon.