Automate Avalanche node operations: avalanche-ops

Who am I?

Vision #1

If we are to develop a reliable and faster way to validate a fix without impacting the stability of the live backend, then we need to start up the entire stack sandboxed.

Vision #2

If an instituition needs to keep its blockchain application private until the release, then it needs its own sandboxed, isolated network for testing.

Vision #3

If we are to decentralize a blockchain network, then anyone should be able to run a node, in the most affordable way possible.


  • Understand what it takes to run an Avalanche node
  • Formulate Day-1 user experience: set up a node
  • Formulate Day-2 user experience: node operation
  • Implement command-line interface for automation

News: avalanche-ops (AWS)

  • Single command to set up nodes (and clean up)
  • Single command to set up subnet
  • Supports main/test/custom network
  • Fault tolerant (higher uptime, more staking rewards)
  • Static data volume for faster recovery
  • Static IP for monitoring consistency
  • Minimize cloud/infra costs
  • Automated load/failure injection testing

Avalanche node infrastructure

Requirements to be an Avalanche validator

Typical validator setup (AWS)

  • Host machine (AMD64, 8 CPU + 16 GiB RAM)
  • Dedicated disk/volume (SSD, 1 TiB)
  • Staking certificate (X.509 certificate)
  • Health checks
  • Logging
  • Metrics
  • (Optional) Static IP/DNS

Avalanche validator security

  • Staking certificate maps to a unique Node ID
    • Only one Node ID can be connected to network
    • Two nodes can't join network with same Node ID
    • DO NOT SHARE your staking certificate
    • DO NOT SHARE your Node ID
  • Your signing key DOES NOT live in the node
  • Staking port open to internet for p2p network
  • HTTP/SSH port restricted to your workspace IP

Set up Avalanche node


Case #1. Create isolated network

  • Entirely self-contained stack
  • No production state dependency
  • Useful for private testing/experiments
  • Requires anchor(seed) and non-anchor nodes
  • Anchor nodes must be bootstrapped first
  • Non-anchor nodes later join anchor nodes
  • Genesis can be generated from anchor nodes
  • Requires control plane for anchor node discovery
Case #1. Create isolated network

How does avalanche-ops automate custom network

  1. Launch anchor nodes first (before non-anchor)
  2. Each anchor node launches and waits for others
  3. Each anchor node publishes its node info to S3
  4. Each anchor node discovers each other by polling S3
  5. Poll until target number of anchor nodes are ready
  6. Anchor nodes writes genesis with themselves as initial stakers and uploads to S3
  7. Non-anchor nodes downloads genesis from S3
  8. Non-anchor nodes discovers anchor nodes by listing node info via S3, to join the network

Case #1. Create isolated network

Example implementation in avalanche-ops

avalancheup is control plane, avalanched is daemon

Case #2. Join public test network

  • No need to set up seed anchor nodes
  • Just connect to well-established seed anchor nodes
  • Public network closely simulates main network
  • Useful for your app staging environments
  • Provides built-in subnet explorer integration
  • Request funds from faucet for test transactions
  • Take a few hours for initial state sync

Case #2. Join public test network

Example implementation in avalanche-ops

Case #3. Join public "main" network

  • No need to set up seed anchor nodes
  • Just connect to well-established seed anchor nodes

Day-1 best practices

  • Encrypt staking certificate for backups
  • Static EBS volume creation
    • Map a node and its state to an availability zone
    • Do not use ephemeral instance storage
    • Provision a separate EBS volume (cheaper)
    • On EC2 termination, let EBS volume be detached
    • Do not delete the EBS volume
    • Reuse volume to reload previous certs/chain state

Day-1: single-command

Day-1: create nodes

Day-1: backup/encrypt certs

Operate Avalanche node


Day-2 best practices

  • Reuse static EBS volume
    • Reuse the detached EBS volume
    • Useful when running Spot instance
    • Reload the chain state for faster bootstrapping
    • Reuse the staking certificate for maximum uptime
    • avalanche-ops remaps available volumes (reuse)
  • Monitor critical metrics

Day-2: fault tolerant infra + monitoring

Day-2: monitoring

Define scrape rules with regex

Kubernetes (EKS) vs. avalanche-ops

  • avalanche-ops is a command-line interface
  • avalanche-ops is a self-service tool
  • avalanche-ops does not to replace K8s-based infra
  • Kubernetes makes sense iff you manage >100 nodes
  • If you run a node as a hobby, K8s is overkill/costly
  • Container-based stateful application is still early
  • With K8s, you may face some issues with CSI driver
  • "volume's been terminating for hours"
Cloud bill: cost of running a node
  • c5.2xlarge alone costs >USD$ 3,000 (yearly)
    • Doesn't include EBS volume costs and others
  • Staking 2,000 AVAX rewards ~USD$ 3,000 (8%/yr)
  • With AVAX price USD$ 16.5, you are losing money
Cloud bill: cheapest way
  • avalanche-ops supports spot instance
    • Remaps EBS volume + EIP on spot instance termination, with minimum uptime impact
  • avalanche-ops supports ARM64 (Graviton)
  • Spot instance + ARM64 saved >40% in cloud bills
Automatic subnet installation

avalanche-ops implements transaction issuer + remote command execution for subnet installation!

  • Takes VM/chain parameters
    • VM binary path
    • Chain genesis file
    • Subnet/chain config (optional)
  • Issues CreateSubnetTx, CreateBlockchainTx
  • Add subnet ID to track-subnets flag (via SSM)
  • Download VM binary in remote machines
  • Download subnet/chain config in remote machines
Automatic subnet installation
Automatic subnet installation

Works with any custom VM

Examples can be found hypersdk#94

"avalancheup-aws install-subnet-chain"

  • VM binary path
  • Chain genesis file
  • Subnet/chain config (optional)
  • Target node + instance IDs

Extending avalanche-ops

  • avalanche-ops is a command-line interface
  • Uses AWS Cloudformation for resource creation
  • avalanched agent is downloaded in the user script
  • Can be easily integrated with other tools


  • Identified AWS infrastructure components for running an Avalanche validator
  • Showed AWS best practices to keep your Avalanche node safe and reliable
  • Introduced avalanche-ops that can launch a node with a single command, in most cost-effective way
  • Proposed future integration paths with CDK and avalanche-cli