I am a researcher and writer interested in new technologies that contribute to the social good
The internet is currently centralized. Centralization refers to a structure where one or a small number of entities control an entire network. At the moment, a small number of technology companies exert the most control over the internet and are powerful enough to set industry standards. Smaller entities are forced to use similar methods of operation. This is one way the current internet is centralized.
Blockchain technology has been touted as the solution to centralization. A decentralized internet based on blockchain would rely on a network of many devices, as opposed to large corporate servers. Each device connected to the blockchain would contribute to the distributed storage network system without any centralized servers. Indeed, it would have no centre(s) at all.
Decentralizing the internet with blockchain technology could lead to a more secure and fair internet than we know today. Yet there are barriers to the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. For starters, building decentralized applications is currently very complex and resource intensive. The expertise and infrastructure required represent significant barriers to entry.
Infura is what is known as "Infrastructure-as-a-Service" (IaaS). It is an underlying service provider for the Ethereum network that gives developers a set of tools designed to help launch new dApps. Its purpose is to help overcome the high barriers to entry to the blockchain space. Infura increases the Ethereum network’s capacity for high-traffic dApps by letting projects to deploy their software without worrying about scaling or node maintenance. This lets developers spend time focusing on perfecting dApps instead of building complicated supporting infrastructure.
However, one concern with Infura is centralization. While Ethereum is a decentralized network, Infura represents a middle layer between developers and the base network. If Infura lost access to the Ethereum blockchain, it would affect over 35,000 dApps and 10 billion daily requests. Moreover, Infura also relies on Amazon’s cloud servers. What would happen to these Ethereum dApps if Amazon decided to stop working with Infura?
If these concerns aren't enough, there’s also the philosophical issue of decentralization as a value in the blockchain world. Ethereum hard fork coordinator Afri Schoeden expressed the view this way:
“if we don’t stop relying on Infura, the vision of Ethereum failed.”
A new solution has been developed by Blocknet, which is truly decentralized and enables different blockchains to communicate and exchange information directly, without depending on any intermediary layer. Through its various components, Blocknet creates broad, generic interoperability that developers can use to connect different blockchains, no longer confining them to one single platform. This model can be described as an “internet of blockchains.”
The Blocknet Protocol is powered by 3 key components.
XRouter is a communication layer for Blocknet's interoperability protocol. It consists of an inter-blockchain “light wallet” (i.e. a simplified payment verification backend) that verifies blockchain records without downloading the full chain.
XRouter is similar to the TCP/IP level the internet is founded on and is compatible with any blockchain network, including distributed ledger technologies, like IOTA and Hashgraph, as well as private chains, such as Hyperledger and R3. XRouter can also interact with non-blockchain systems such as oracles and allows interactions between any smart contract platform and other blockchains, even those that do not have smart contract capabilities.
Most recently, Blocknet added the Ethereum & EOS blockchains, which can now be accessed in their entirety by developers, organizations, DeFi, smart contracts, and more using the Blocknet Protocol.
XRouter uses the Blocknet service node network of approximately 500 nodes spread around the world to direct service requests to the respective blockchains and node operators receive 100% of fees generated from use of the network's service.
XCloud is a decentralized cloud network powered by XRouter. This tool lets developers put both blockchain and non-blockchain microservices on a “public cloud” decentralized network. XCloud allows for interaction with microservices, blockchains and APIs. This means a service can be monetized using XCould without having to re-code or change the existing applications.
XBridge is a distributed hash table-based peer-to-peer network with nodes that are integrated with nodes on other networks. Nodes on any blockchain can broadcast between each other using XBridge as an inter-chain network overlay. Cross-chain atomic swaps can be performed between any digital asset that supports CLTV and JSON RPC.
Together XRouter, XCloud, and XBridge provide decentralized, total blockchain interoperability across ALL blockchains, creating an Infura-like, but completely decentralized API ecosystem. Developers can create architectures that use protocols and services from various blockchains. Smart contracts from different chains can be mixed and matched without rewriting them from scratch.
The first app built on the protocol was a Block DX, a decentralized exchange that enables wallet to wallet trading. Blocknet used this to showcase how the protocol enables inter-blockchain services and data transport.
The Blocknet protocol does not have a chain of its own. It creates interoperability by enabling data transfer between different blockchains. It is a truly decentralized agnostic connector. Potential uses cases include a decentralized marketplace, infrastructure for the IoT, a permissionless ICO platform and more.
The only limitation is the developer's imagination. For example, perhaps a developer wants to create a decentralized p2p storage system using Ethereum. Ethereum doesn’t intrinsically handle storage functionality very efficiently but XRouter makes it possible for Ethereum to interact with storage blockchains such as Storj, Filecoin or Swarm. In this example Sia was used. There is already a long list of XRouter calls that developers can begin to use knowing the underlying infrastructure is truly decentralized (APIs can be viewed here).
Blocknet has just released its latest update, Blocknet Comet. This update uses the Bitcoin codebase which benefits XRouter, XCloud, and XBridge by improving network security and scalability.
DNS support has also been integrated into this release in preparation for an Enterprise Nginx Reverse Proxy Server that is specifically designed to interface with XRouter. When paired with Enterprise hardware it enables the handling of millions of requests per second resulting in highly scalable services.
As blockchain technology pushes into the mainstream, projects are tackling scalability and interoperability challenges. The risk is that decentralization will be sacrificed as these challenges are overcome.
The Blocknet Protocol offers a decentralized alternative that is blockchain-agnostic. Its platform is designed for developers to build new applications using features from any blockchain.
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