Hackernoon logoOneLedger — A Uniquely Interesting Enterprise Blockchain Cross-ledger Solution by@HashSpike

OneLedger — A Uniquely Interesting Enterprise Blockchain Cross-ledger Solution

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@HashSpikeHashSpike

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way associated with the OneLedger team. Neither am I a financial advisor, nor is this meant to be financial advice. Whatever follows, just reflects my understanding of the project, and my personal opinion on its future outlook.

As global adoption of blockchain technology is beginning to gather pace, we are already glaring into some critical technological challenges, some of which are already limiting the scale of enterprise-level blockchain adoption. One such challenge is that today, blockchain interoperability is practically non-existent. Currently blockchains exist as isolated networks introducing two major restrictions, among others:

  • No practical way to transfer value directly between different blockchains. Today, if we want to transfer digital assets ‘across’ chains, we have to do so by transferring the assets to intermediary centralized exchanges, using their in-house wallets and ledgers to swap assets, and then transferring the new assets to their corresponding blockchains. This process is, of course, time consuming, costly and involves substantial third-party risks. Cross-chain atomic swaps, where digital assets can be moved across different blockchains without the need to trust a third-party, are being worked on, but are still far from being ready for widespread adoption.
  • Inability of businesses and individuals to easily deploy distributed applications (dApps) across multiple blockchain platforms. Today, to deploy dApps across multiple platforms, developers need to write smart contracts in multiple languages, depending on each platform of choice. This is, again, expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming, thereby making dApps practically infeasible, and largely ineffective for businesses.

There are a number of projects, such as Cosmos, Polkadot, Aion and Overledger, that are currently working on different aspects of blockchain interoperability, each proposing different mechanisms and solutions to facilitate cross-ledger operations.

However, there is one particular project that has taken a uniquely interesting route to making blockchains interoperable: OneLedger.

What is OneLedger?

OneLedger is universal blockchain protocol enabling:

  • Cross-ledger access through business modularization
  • High performance scaling using sharded and modified practical Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus mechanism

OneLedger aims to enable businesses and individuals to build applications through OneLedger’s modularization tools, which will then communicate with OneLedger protocol using its Application Programming Interface (API) gateway.

Overview of the high-level interactions of OneLedger protocol with applications and other public blockchains; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

OneLedger protocol communicates with the sidechains, which in turn could be synchronized with any other public distributed ledger (like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger etc.) that supports hashed time lock contracts (HTLC) and payment channels.

An interesting feature of OneLedger protocol’s consensus mechanism is that using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and identity management, business owners can launch their own permissioned or permissionless sidechains, with their own uniquely identified role-based network consensus.

OneLedger’s mission is to be the enterprise blockchain cross-ledger solution that facilitates businesses’ adoption of the blockchain technology, and enables them to integrate the technology into their specific business applications.

What Makes OneLedger Unique as a Blockchain Interoperability Solution

The three most intriguing features that set OneLedger apart from the other projects working in the blockchain interoperatbility space are:

  1. OneLedger allows anyone to launch permissioned or permissionless sidechains, that can be synchronized with other public distributed ledgers (like Ethereum, Bitcoin etc.) that support HTLC and payment channels, regardless of their consensus protocol. These sidechains can be configured with unique network consensus.
  2. OneLedger uses a Smart Identity Management System to allow configuration of unique role-based consensus for private sidechains for enterprises. Using the identity management system allows enterprises to control node participation in consensus, restrict read and write access of users on their network, and keep track of users’ assets on the network. This identity management is carried out across multiple distributed networks by assigning a master private/public key pair to each user, where the private key would be used to digitally sign all messages from a user on the network.
  3. Using OneLedger’s Software Development Kit (SDK), developers can write a ‘master smart contract’ for their dApp, and deploy the dApp simultaneously on multiple public blockchains. This eliminates the need for developers to write smart contracts in multiple languages, if they are to be deployed on multiple blockchains, as is the case today.

OneLedger Architecture

OneLedger architecture; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

The idea here is not to go too deep into OneLedger’s architecture, but rather to look at some of the key components in their architecture, and how they fit into the overall consensus scheme.

OneLedger Business Center

OneLedger Business Center contains the OneLedger Business Application Development Kit that would enable users to map their business modules onto the blockchain. Using OneLedger’s Software Development Kit (SDK), developers can write a ‘master smart contract’ for their dApp, and deploy the dApp simultaneously on multiple public blockchains.

It is here, in the OneLedger Business Center, where OneLedger aims to connect businesses with independent module developers to help develop software plug-ins to integrate multiple modules for the required business flows.

Identity Management System

OneLedger uses a Smart Identity Management System to allow enterprises to:

  • define roles and a trust hierarchy for nodes that participate in consensus on their permissioned network, and
  • control read and write access for node operators on their permissioned network.

This identity management is carried out across multiple distributed networks by assigning a master private/public key pair to each user, where the private key would be used to digitally sign all messages from a user on the network, thus linking users to their role in the business.

Business Logic Modularization using role-based consensus; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

Effectively, enterprises are able to configure role-based consensus methodology where each role is linked to an independent node that may or may not participate in consensus, depending on the pre-configured business logic.

OneLedger protocol also uses public key authentication to create:

  • highly configurable digital wallets for individuals and institutions,
  • credit scores for businesses and consumers based on transaction history and behaviour on the network, and
  • arbitration mechanisms for tighter consensus if disagreements arise.

Private and Public Sidechains

OneLedger consensus protocol communicates with sidechains that could be of two types:

  • Private sidechains: OneLedger allows businesses to launch their own permissioned or permissionless sidechains, that can be configured with unique network consensus.
  • Public sidechains: Private sidechains could be synchronized with public sidechains for any public blockchain (like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger etc.) that supports hashed time lock contracts (HTLC) and payment channels. Effectively, public main chains offload consensus to the corresponding OneLedger public sidechains, providing a scalable off-chain solution. OneLedger protocol users can perform an arbitrary number of transactions on the sidechains before a user chooses to withdraw their digital assets back onto the public main chain of their choice.

OneLedger Consensus Protocol

To integrate business logic with private and public sidechains, OneLedger uses a three-layered consensus concept.

OneLedger’s three-layered consensus protocol hierarchy; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

Consensus begins with Business Initialization, where a generalized smart contract, defining roles and their respective behaviours for consensus participation, is compiled by businesses or individuals. This generalized contract is then translated into a contract recognizable and executable for the public blockchains that the contract is expected to run on.

The next layer, Channel Consensus, aims to execute interactions between roles as defined in the contract. To achieve channel consensus, sidechain consensus based on Byzantine Fault Tolerant Partial Synchronization is conducted within the channel, among all its participants. Sidechain consensus is reached when more than two-thirds of the participating nodes have agreed. A channel can, of course, run through two different business models, in which case sidechain consensus is reached when both business models have reached consensus.

Once consensus is reached in a channel, data is written to the block, broadcasted to all nodes in the channel, and the corresponding state is stored.

The last layer, Public Chain Consensus, is required when a transfer between public chains is requested. This initiates the sidechain pre-consensus at the beginning of sidechain consensus.

OneLedger sidechain consensus in conjunction with public chains; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

The pre-consensus block drives a proposal to the relevant public chain where a vote is conducted by validators of the public chain to lock or unlock digital assets. If the public chain vote is successful, and more than two-thirds of the sidechain nodes agree, the pre-consensus block will be committed and added to the ledger.

Team and Advisors

OneLedger’s team has extensive cumulative experience in blockchain protocol and consensus algorithm development, high-performance computing, information security, cloud computing and business intelligence.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OneLedger, David Cao, is the Chairman of Canada China Blockchain Professional Association (CCBPA), and has over 13 years of cumulative experience in blockchain technology and enterprise architecture. Prior to being an active member of the Hyperledger and blockchain community, David has also worked at IBM Toronto Lab as a Java/WebSphere Commerce Developer, and at Xerox as a Lead Commerce Consultant.

The Chief Technology Advisor (CTA) of OneLedger, Alex Todd, is the Founder and CEO of Trust 2 Pay, a blockchain startup developing a blockchain-enabled social credit rating system for the world. Alex is also the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of PRESTO, a smartcard-based fare payment system for public transit systems in Ontario, Canada.

The Lead Engineer of OneLedger, Stephen Li, has previously worked as a Senior Consultant at Morgan Stanley and Deutsch Bank, and as a Software Engineer at IBM and Microsoft. Stephen is an expert in distributed application innovation, and Solidity smart contract development.

OneLedger also has a strong advisory board, instilling confidence in the future direction of the project. Some of the most prominent names on the advisory board include Matthew Niemerg — a former IBM Center of Excellence Post-doctoral Fellow in High Performance Computing, Trevor Koverko— CEO at Polymath, and Jor Law — Co-founder of VerifyInvestor.com and founding shareholder of Homeier Law PC.

OLT Token Usage and Distribution

OLT is OneLedger’s native token that would be utilized by three main participants in the OneLedger ecosystem:

  1. Users: Businesses and individuals would pay OLTs as a transaction fee to the nodes to use any services on the OneLedger platform.
  2. Nodes: Participating nodes will receive OLTs as network fees. OneLedger would allow everyone to run a node initially. However, as the ecosystem matures, an OLT staking amount would be required to establish nodes in order to maintain network integrity.
  3. Developers: Developers need OLT tokens to deploy their modules and code to OneLedger Marketplace with a smart contract defining the terms of sale.
OLT token usage between network users, nodes and developers; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)
OLT token distribution; taken from OneLedger whitepaper found here (PDF)

100 million OLT tokens will be premined, with a token sale hard cap of US$ 15 million for 35% of the tokens.

25% community reserved tokens will be utilized for developer grants and community engagement.

Apart from the tokens distributed in the token sale, all tokens have predefined lockup and vesting periods as detailed in OneLedger’s whitepaper.

Roadmap

OneLedger is still in the early phases of its development roadmap, with a lot of significant milestones planned in the next couple of years. Some of the most important milestones are the launch of Ethereum and Bitcoin sidechains, MVP launch for crosschain consensus, launch of API gateway, and the launch of Alpha version and the first version of OneLedger’s platform.

Following is the roadmap that OneLedger is going to follow through 2018–2019:

Q3–Q4 2017

  • Final whitepaper
  • Theoretical Proof of Concept

Q1-Q2 2018

  • Launch Ethereum sidechain testnet
  • Synchronize Ethereum sidechain with OneLedger protocol engine
  • Implement and optimize cross-chain consensus
  • Add more public chain support
  • Launch MVP with crosschain consensus

Q3-Q4 2018

  • Enable Bitcoin sidechain to allow for cross-chain support
  • Complete decentralized cross-chain exchange protocol
  • Complete implementation of modularization tools and compilers
  • Implement OneLedger’s Identity Management System and Smart Contract Authorization System
  • Launch API gateway
  • Launch Alpha version of the OneLedger platform

2019+

  • Release first version of the OneLedger platform
  • Integrate with more blockchain protocols
  • Expand business network

Conclusion

Opportunities

  • OneLedger seems to offer a very practical and scalable approach to enable businesses to operate in a blockchain-agnostic fashion.
  • OneLedger would allow dApps to run on multiple platforms with one master-contract, which is a huge improvement on the way dApps function today.
  • Because of the unique elements of OneLedger protocol, it is in a unique position to explore uncharted territory in the blockchain interconnectivity space.
  • OneLedger has a very modest token sale hard cap of US$ 15 million, which means that the project is not over-valuing itself at this stage of platform development.
  • OneLedger has a very experienced team and advisory board led by David Cao.

Concerns

  • OneLedger is still in the early phases of its development, with the Alpha version of the platform planned for Q3-Q4 2018. How the team delivers on its ambitions, remains to be seen.

Bottom Line

OneLedger is a blockchain infrastructure project with a very experienced team and advisory board, a strong use case, and a modest token sale hard cap of US$ 15 million. I am optimistic on the future outlook of OneLedger and will definitely keep an eye on it!

Further Reading on OneLedger

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