XRouter: an Internet of Blockchains vs. an Intranet of Blockchains
With the recent release of XRouter – the world’s first blockchain router, Blocknet has enabled a huge step for blockchain interoperability.
Various projects are creating their own interoperability platforms, but herein lies a problem. True interoperability should not even require a “platform”. When businesses and developers choose a single platform to build on, this typically precludes the use of other technologies.
XRouter mitigates this risk because it is the only chain-agnostic interchain solution, and nothing prevents it from interoperating with any and all other blockchains and blockchain interoperability projects, allowing the creation of a real internet of blockchains.
Currently, there are various Blockchain based networks all trying to solve the issues surrounding interoperability – the ability for blockchains to interact and “talk” to one another. The reason this is important is that currently blockchains are siloed off from each other, they cannot communicate, and this will hold back mass adoption by consumers and businesses until this problem is solved.
Because most blockchains are very specific in their aims, such as storage, trading, making payments and so on, they have become very insular, only adopted by their respective communities in its own microcosm, and only providing for the specific use cases that a single-chain scenario allows for. While the solutions they provide are useful, you can’t simply take some features from one platform and combine them with features from another. You have to select a single platform and succumb to vendor lock-in.
Internet vs. Intranet
These limitations have caused blockchain developers to tackle the issues surrounding blockchain interoperability, with various projects creating their own interoperability platforms, but herein lies a problem. True interoperability should not even require a “platform” and as such, most interoperability projects are still limited in their scope. A typical limitation is for an interoperability platform to only interoperate with custom chains built from its own codebase; in this respect, they are more like an intranet of blockchains rather than an internet of blockchains.
The difference between the two, to be clear, is that an intranet is a private network or system siloed off from the public that requires special access to use or build on and typically uses Local Area Networks. The internet on the other hand, uses the TCP/IP protocol and is publicly accessible and usable for anyone. Just like internet routers define paths for users to receive information over the internet from different websites, XRouter also utilizes the TCP/IP network to connect paths between different blockchains so that data can be freely exchanged between them, regardless of the platforms interoperating.
Interoperability And Misunderstanding
Many projects reference interoperability but in truth, what they are achieving are only internal blockchain ecosystems, and they are doing so in ways that centralize interchain communication around “hubs”. Yes, these systems allow blockchains to communicate with each other but ONLY if these blockchains are built inside this pre-existing ecosystem or around a hub. Aion, for example, is centralized around their base chain, which means all other chains and assets are forced to centralize around the Aion base chain. In addition, scalability may become an issue due to blockchain bloat on the Aion chain.
Cosmos operates in a similar manner. Users must rely on chains centralized around Cosmos hubs. Additionally, Cosmos requires smart contracts for assets representing coins on other chains to be built only on a Cosmos hub. Cosmos is also creating “zones” to peg value between coins on other chains and colored coins on Cosmos-compatible chains. However, this is not to enable the coins, contracts, dapps, and protocols native to a chain to interoperate directly with another chain, it is merely to virtualize them on a Cosmos hub. Moreover, these hubs may face issues regarding trustless inter-chain communication because each hub is likely to have different security requirements, which cannot be addressed in a trustless way. Finally, some projects must rely on “wrapped” Bitcoin. This is an unnecessarily complicated workaround that derives from building on intranet platforms.
XRouter, on the other hand, is an open, unopinionated interchain standard and does not require building on a platform to utilize the individual attributes of other chains. It does not privilege any one chain over another, in the same way that TCP/IP does not privilege any website over another.
XRouter services are decentralized by a network of over 450 Service Nodes across the planet. Unlike “hubs,” this is decentralized because users do not have to trust service nodes to act honestly. Moreover, it permits arbitrary levels of security (that is, certainty about chain state) by enabling users to construct strong SPV proofs from their queries to service nodes to achieve a desired level of consensus.
Consensus in this model is the number of Service Nodes the user wishes to receive information from. The larger the number of Service Nodes responding to a request, the higher the level of certainty the information being delivered is factual. This is different from the Quant project, for example. Quant runs centralized servers that users have access to, whereas Blocknet XRouter services are decentralized across hundreds of “Service Nodes” owned and operated by people and projects around the world. This maximizes uptime as well as security through decentralized consensus per the user’s liking.
Blocknet’s XRouter allows Service Nodes to create and offer custom API endpoints for users in a completely permissionless fashion. For example, if you were wanting to provide the ability to launch an asset on the Syscoin blockchain, with XRouter you could spend 2 minutes creating a custom plugin to provide this service via your own Service Node. For Quant, you are forced to ask the Quant project to add this feature to their product offering.
Put more simply, XRouter “just works” out of the box with any and all blockchains whereas Quant and others require permission. XRouter also negates the need to use “wrapped” Bitcoin (wBTC) as a solution. Imagine being able to run Ethereum or NEO smart contracts from Bitcoin, build complex multi-chain trades, run a decentralized exchange, create a blockchain microservice that other chains can consume, all while remaining 100% trustless and decentralized. The Blocknet and XRouter enable all of this right now.
Working Together For Blockchain Interoperability
However, partially centralized-hybrid projects like those mentioned above are still free to run their own Service Nodes via XRouter with custom plugins and provide services to customers who only wish to deal with them specifically. This allows them to have the freedom to do as they please without needing to worry about the network upkeep, security, and overhead that is provided by Blocknet. In choosing XRouter, companies gain an entire ecosystem, rather than a single platform or siloed solution. Put differently, XRouter permits one to benefit from all other blockchain interoperability platforms without becoming confined by their intrinsic limitations.
The Internet Of Blockchains Is Here Now – No Need To Reinvent The Wheel
The head of tendermint recently admitted that interoperability on Cosmos is still a few years away, but the good news is that there is no need to wait! The internet of blockchains is already here and can be accessed by any developer using XRouter! There is no need to build a new chain from scratch or on top of another project. Many fine blockchain solutions already exist such as Storj for storage, LBRY for video, or Syscoin for marketplace services. Using XRouter, developers can simply choose their desired features from other chains and add those specific attributes to any other chain or use them to build the service or dApp of their dreams, limited only by imagination.
Developers can also use any popular store of value such as Bitcoin. This means that Ethereum dApps could be used to leverage Bitcoin – without any kind of wrapping around Bitcoin! There is no limit on the data XRouter can consume and verify – including any external data source in Oraclize.
So, what does this all mean for the Blockchain ecosystem? XRouter and XCloud are enabling both developers and Enterprise software products to integrate seamlessly with blockchains and accept cryptocurrency payments without having to re-code or change anything about those existing applications.
Developers Wanted For The Beginning Of A New Ecosystem
Developers can begin building dApps right now on multiple blockchains and platforms including Hyperledger, EOS, Ethereum, IOTA, Stellar, Cardano, Tron, XRP, Monero, IOTA, NEO, Vechain, NEM, Waves and many more. You can download the Blocknet wallet with XRouter here. (In the future, the Blocknet wallet will not be required) By building on the Blocknet Protocol, and joining the “Internet of Blockchains,” developers will help to evolve a decentralized crypto-ecosystem with a trustless security model, which has the ability to monetize tokens native to any blockchain. In addition, the Blocknet Protocol allows over 100 digital assets to be traded on Block DX, a 100% decentralized exchange dApp built on the protocol where the ability to list an asset is open and free, and your funds are in your control at all times as no third party is ever involved. Cloudchain Inc. is currently implementing a fully decentralized lite (thin) multi-wallet utilizing Blocknet’s XRouter protocol.