Since Ontology launched in late 2017 it has received a large following. Along with this the Ontology Team has received quite a few questions about the public chain system, for example regarding how it realizes blockchain integration with real-world businesses. We have also had individuals express their wish for the Ontology team to share the design principles, ideas, and direction of the public chain infrastructure.
Public chain exploration
In early 2009 the Bitcoin network went online and so begun the first generation of blockchain technology, a virtual currency system with its records untamperable and circulation quantity defined by the network consensus protocol. In the years following, Bitcoin’s underlying decentralized technology – blockchain – caught the eyes of financial representatives of The Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, and other financial institutions. For them, the impact blockchain has on finance and other industries is as significant as the invention of double-entry bookkeeping. This led institutions one after the other to begin to look into public blockchain.
After 2014, business circles started to comprehend the impact blockchain technology would have outside of the cryptocurrency sphere, for example in the areas of distributed identity verification, distributed governance, and distributed domain name systems. During this period, Ethereum began to emerge as a public chain with smart contracts designed to support the development of dApps across industries.
It became common knowledge that blockchain improves trust and offers exciting business development opportunities. This consensus has been followed up with the adoption of blockchain technology. In the brief history of blockchain, public chains have been the cornerstone of the industry, however, the technical direction of public blockchains has reached a decisive crossroads.
Public chain development and its challenges
On existing public chain platforms, digital applications are largely supported by digital assets and have weak connections to our actual daily lives. However, a new technology/model that wishes to become the infrastructure of mainstream industries must reduce costs and improve efficiency. This is the sustainable development direction the blockchain industry needs.
Public chains should be at the forefront of real-world adoption, however, existing system public chains have encountered several challenges. Two of the key challenges arise at technical and architectural level:
1). Performance issues
In the case of blockchain networks such as Ethereum’s one, we all know congestion or concentration of transactions in a few applications can cause strain on the network performance (for example recently with “CryptoKitties”). Although Ethereum’s goal is to reach the world’s computers, a single public chain cannot support large-scale, broad applications and real-world scenarios.
Various technologies are being deployed to enhance the performance of the blockchain. Sidechains, lightning networks, state channels, and so on, have all helped ease the pressure on public chain performance and scalability. However, even with these, individual public chains can still experience performance issues. We therefore need to reconsider the development direction of the public chain architecture.
2). Physical business requirements
In addition to performance, another key challenge is meeting needs in practical scenarios. Different scenarios have their own unique governance models and access, privacy protection, compliance, and regulatory requirements. These needs vary in different systems, industries, policies, and legal models, and cannot be met in a single public chain with a fixed technical architecture and governance model.
These challenges must be fully addressed in the technical architecture and governance model of public blockchains. This is the core objective of Ontology’s public blockchain development.
Exploring a new generation for public blockchain
Starting from 2017, there has been a relatively clear and unified demand for a new generation of public chains in the fintech sector. To support this development strategy and address current public chain challenges, Ontology proposes a new public blockchain architecture which is not composed of a single chain, but instead multiple public service and application chains in a matrix model.
A chain network system can allow for specialized expansion, tasks to be divisively performed, and expansion through different protocol groups (different chains can use a series of protocol groups to support different chain network architectures). These protocol groups are not only for the data exchange system, distributed asset exchange protocol, but also for entity mapping, distributed data exchange, and so on.
Ontology has introduced its own public service chain, however, it can also provide a customizable blockchain framework. These chains are designed to meet specific industry and governance needs but can also be connected to Ontology to obtain basic services, modules, and other support. With this system there is improved independence, connection, and flexibility for business needs, governance models, and further expansion.
The chain network system will be the huge upgrade in performance and scalability the industry needs. At the same time, in the grand scheme of preparing the public chain for use by all entities, there will be a continued effort for greater versatility and industry model support.
In a single business scenario there are many universal logic modules such as requirements for identity management and account systems, data exchange, as well as specific requirements such as those from the financial sector. If entities developed and organized these basic modules and protocols themselves it would be a tremendous waste of time, not to mention the barriers created by isolated systems. Therefore, Ontology provides a series of universal modules and protocols that support a wide range of industry applications, such as distributed authentication frameworks, distributed data exchange protocols, and so on.
With this new generation of public chain platforms, teams across industries can quickly provide distributed or decentralized services without having previous knowledge in the technology, allowing them to focus on their core business operations. This lays a solid foundation for blockchain adoption in mainstream industries and will be the direction and key consideration in the development of the next generation of public chain platforms. Ontology will work hard with its partners to see this through.
Ontology: a new generation of public blockchain infrastructure
In the light of the diversity, complexities, and particularities of real-world businesses, single chains and chain networks cannot support the functionality, scalability, and practicability of all application scenarios. Therefore, Ontology has designed a hyper-converged chain group in the form of a matrix grid. This includes:
Public service chains
As mentioned above, Ontology will provide infrastructure for common services, such as entity mapping, data exchange, smart contract services, etc., through one or more chains. This will provide partners with blockchain services and other chains with basic service modules.
Using one or multiple public service chains, different industries, regions, and business scenarios can develop their own application chains in accordance with different admission, compliance, governance, and consensus requirements. Application chains can join Ontology’s chain network in accordance with their needs as specified below.
Through basic services: Application chains can have access to core services via Ontology’s public service chain, such as entity verification, data exchange, etc., and also collaborate.
Through collaboration with applications chains: Application chains can collaborate with other application chains from both inside and outside their industries. Ontology can design small-scale public chains/alliance service chains to facilitate professional collaboration support for smart contracts and business logic services.
High-performance blockchain framework
Ontology blockchain is a high-performance blockchain infrastructure that is modularized and designed with a customizable structure. While providing high-performance public chain infrastructure, Ontology supports customized development of all application chains in the chain network.
Ontology provides and develops interactive protocols based on different business scenarios, industry features, and compliance and governance requirements. The purpose of Ontology’s protocol groups is to combine and adopt as many existing protocols and standards as possible (even under same scenarios) to allow for better compatibility and scalability. In the light of this, Ontology has designed a series of protocol groups, which are introduced below.
1). Ontology identification protocol
Ontology uses “ONT ID” for labelling and managing digital identities of all entities. One entity can hold multiple identities (while each of the identities are not connected to each other). The first version of ONT ID fully realizes the W3C DID protocol and will support further protocols according to the ecosystem’s requirements.
2). User authorization protocol
In Ontology users hold complete control over their own data. All data access and exchange requests involving the data owner require their authorization. For this Ontology has designed a series of user authorization protocols to protect user data privacy. Through verifiable claim technology protocols can complete asynchronous and verifiable authorization whilst offering authorization trusteeship and fine-grained access control.
3). Distributed data exchange protocol
Ontology designed a series of standards for data exchange between entities – the DDEP (Distributed Data Exchange Protocol). The decentralized system acts as a guarantor/escrow during the exchange process to assure payment is only made when delivery is complete.
4). Cross-chain asset exchange / business collaboration protocol
Ontology provides protocol support for cross-chain scenarios. Users can select different cross-chain protocols according to different business collaboration requirements.
5). More specific business protocols
As new collaborations within Ontology’s chain network or with traditional IT systems emerge, Ontology will develop new protocols to accommodate these industries.
With the support of protocol groups, Ontology’s public service and application chains will co-construct a hyper-converged chain group in the form of a matrix grid. This allows for customizable collaborative chains, which builds new business model and collaboration opportunities.
Ontology’s public chain infrastructure business support
The Ontology Team values its application ecosystem development. To better serve as the underlying infrastructure and connector for all applications, Ontology designed its public service chain, which includes but is not limited to:
Real-world businesses have a high demand for common services such as multi-source identification verification, distributed data exchange, and so on. In the light of this, Ontology’s public service chain has designed a series of fundamental modules.
The Example of Data Exchange. The data exchange module designed four common modules:
1). Identity management module: Identification management for all participants in the data exchange
2). Data resource management module: Binding access control of data resources and data ownership
3). Smart contract trading module:
Smart contract lock-position management: After confirming an account balance through a smart contract, the account of the data requester will be locked until the trade is complete or cancelled.
Smart contract trade completion management: The data requester confirms the trade completion with the trade contract and the funds are transferred to the account of the data provider as specified by the contract.
4). Peer-to-peer contact module: Peer-to-peer data exchange avoids data monopolization on an exchange
The data exchange module can be applied to various industries including finance, copyright, law, etc., while providing support for all types of applications.
To meet the needs and requirements of different industries and applications, the public service chain can be customized with different protocols and modules. Ontology’s public service chain includes but is not limited to:
1). Loose coupling design
Ontology’s public service chain structure is modularized, pluggable, and has a loose coupling design to address the needs of different industries and provide flexible support for all applications. Meanwhile, the system and modules can develop and scale together with the constant technology and business functionality development.
2). “Single Module, Single Function” design
Ontology’s public service chain coordinates with various modules including the cryptography security module, user authorization module, and so on, to provide flexible support for different scenarios.
3). Horizontal scalability
Ontology’s chain network functionality development and ecosystem expansion is not performed by one blockchain, but by collaborating with several public service and application chains to assure the high performance of the entire chain network.
Taking into consideration the challenges existing blockchains systems, Ontology has designed the new generation of public blockchain infrastructure. However, the establishment of the ecosystem is a huge and arduous task. Therefore, Ontology hopes all kinds of technology partners, application partners, contributors, and volunteers will actively join in and contribute what they can to the public platform. At the same time, Ontology hopes with the joint efforts of its ecosystem partners that trust through distributed systems will be made accessible to all.
You can read more about Ontology at https://ont.io
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