If only I had a satoshi for everytime someone told me “That’s just the way cryptocurrency mining is”. One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced was entering the cryptocurrency mining industry with a conventional hosting background. I went from an industry filled with professional software tools, good automation, and 99.99% uptime to an industry filled with questionable equipment, poorly built software, no automation, and 90% uptime if you are lucky. I was frustrated because the lack of quality was there and all of my customers were unhappy because of it. Telling a customer in this decade that downtime on a tech product is acceptable, is well not acceptable! This frustration is what inspired me as an entrepreneur to build Stratumsphere.
There is no man-made item in this world that can run at 100% capacity 24/7/365 and not encounter some sort of issue. This is one of the reasons why downtime is bad on mining equipment, it’s running at 100% load all the time to mine as much coin as possible. When this equipment fails or degrades in performance, your customer is going to contact you whether it’s business hours or 2AM Christmas Day. Money is going out the window for them and they want some if not all of their money back. Now you have to sit there and explain your Terms of Service at 2AM and how they signed on the dotted line, which is never a conversation you want to have with any customer. I can’t blame them, they paid for a service and it’s not working but the reason they came to you as a mining rental customer is because they don’t have the knowledge you do to pull off mining for themselves. Trying to explain “That’s just the way it is” isn’t going to justify anything to them. If you paid a contractor to fix your roof and it leaked 5–10% of the time you’d be livid, right?
Nobody gets into crypto mining without mining for themselves a bit. This is what’s going to happen when equipment fails and you are a mining business operator. You’ll get sick of the customer complaints and start allocating your personal mining rig(s) over to them for the few days while you sort through their problems. Now you have an issue with assigning this miner here, that equipment there, and your personal miners are doing everything else but mining for you. Asset tagging and inventory management becomes a nightmare. You have pieced together rigs that belong to Customer A but then you had to switch out some of Customer B’s and your personal miners. A lot of convolution that leads to headache, increased labor costs, difficult bookkeeping, and poor customer service.
We fixed this in conventional IT
If you’ve been anywhere near conventional IT in the past 10 years you’d know that High Availability or what is often referred to as cloud technology has completely transformed reliability. Gone are the days of renting individual dedicated servers when you can spin something up in under a minute on AWS, Digital Ocean, or one of the many providers. Server failure? No issue, the hypervisor takes care of it and the customer never notices it. Not only the benefit for the customer, but the monitoring and provisioning tools for the business side of things are phenomenal. Want to list servers for sale on your website? Not an issue, there’s 100’s of different professional software tools out there ready to do the task with no coding skills required. None of which work for cryptocurrency mining!
So I went ahead and thought, how can I bring that level of automation to cryptocurrency mining? I browsed the tools out there, and they were alright. A lot of them are focused on pure hardware performance like overclocking while some are focused on profit switching. They do the tasks they are designed for quite well, but none of them seemed like a solution to the problem I was facing as a provider. Monitoring on the hardware level is also flawed because of the way that mining actually works, but I will save that discussion for another article.
Finding the Solution
I’ve been working on mining pools as a systems engineer for well over 5 years now. So I knew I had the know-how to automate the stratum protocol in a way to benefit my mining operations. I knew that building some hardware level software to do it was a waste of time because the hardware reports are inaccurate and not a measure of what the customer is actually receiving at the pool. I needed to build a system that knew what was going on at both the miner and at the mining pool.
This is where Stratumsphere’s HASH Scheduler, short for High Availability Stratum Hub & Scheduler idea came into play. I would measure the miner’s performance entirely on share submission just like a mining pool. Then I would base failover and defined worker statuses based off this share submission over an adjustable period of time. The team and I started working on the HASH Scheduler and we had to of course integrate a frontend and API into the mix so that is how Stratumsphere started out and molded into the current service that you see today.
You could say that my experiences as a cryptocurrency mining provider have definitely drove me to build the B2B service that is Stratumsphere. Is every problem solved by it? No, I think more entrepreneurial members of the mining community need to start developing professional tools and services. If we want to entice new customers as mining providers and keep Proof-of-Work on the table within the crypto community then we need to deliver higher standards of service. In closing, Charles Dudley Warner once wrote, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”