In the world of blockchain and Internet 3.0 projects, communities and pundits alike debate about who will gain mass adoption. One nagging theme remains a thorn in everyone’s foot: scalability. Blockchain is too slow, blockchain isn’t efficient, blockchain won’t be able to process enough transactions per second (TPS) in order to reach mass adoption.
Recently there have been rumblings that Elastos is not scalable and, ultimately, too reliant upon the blockchain to reach high TPS. There have also been misunderstandings about the side chain structure. The purpose of this article is to set the story straight and answer concerns about the Elastos infrastructure and its ability to fully scale for the masses. It’s the sum of all parts that makes Elastos a truly scalable solution.
One must absorb all the moving parts in Elastos’ well-oiled machine to understand fully how Elastos is designed perfectly to scale. The two main areas of focus in this piece will be the Elastos Blockchain element and the Elastos Carrier. These are two different networks with two totally different sets of functions. Both working in tandem creates the fluidity, speed, and efficiency of the Elastos framework.
First, the Elastos Blockchain network. Kiran Pachhai (KP), the Elastos’ Software Development Relations Manager, provides great insight regarding the Side Chain/Main Chain of the infrastructure: “As for Elastos blockchain, Elastos solves scalability issues that most other blockchain projects have by having a sidechain architecture. Each sidechain only does one thing and one thing only. You can think of public blockchain projects like Ethereum as one single world computer. Though a powerful world computer, the more smart contract dapps run on Ethereum, the more scalability issues arise. No matter what, a single computer cannot handle an infinite number of dapps. It’ll reach a theoretical limit, and this will happen to most public blockchain projects, too.” In terms of the Elastos main chain, it serves one and only one function: to process ELA payments. This is independent of the side chains that will all be run on different nodes and computers and not bog down the network. “The philosophy of Elastos blockchain technology is not of one world computer but rather distributed world computers. This by itself is enough to solve any kind of future scalability issue Elastos will encounter. This solution is only possible because of the unique architecture Elastos offers. Elastos approaches the scalability issue very differently compared to most projects and it’s this ingenuity that distinguishes itself from other projects”. The side chain doesn’t slow the main chain and the main chain does not slow the side chain; all chains work together yet are also independent of one another.
The second element that makes Elastos truly scalable is its peer-to-peer network: the Elastos Carrier. KP explains that blockchain alone is not the final solution in building the smart web. The Carrier is a crucial cog in this budding environment devised and built by Rong Chen.
“Blockchain cannot be used to solve all the problems the internet faces. You need a new internet infrastructure or a modern internet infrastructure that improves upon the old, outdated infrastructure. Elastos is the latter. You still need the internet but Elastos Carrier is built on top of the existing internet to provide more security for applications and users.
Blockchain is used for trust and authentication and for running smart contracts. Thus, Elastos uses blockchain technology for just that and nothing more. Blockchain cannot store people’s movies or games or music. It’s far too slow to store something like that, and it’s far too slow to transmit this kind of data and information. Because of this, Elastos Carrier is needed.
Elastos Carrier just does the job of the traditional internet but takes it one step further by not relying on any central servers to relay information. This means apps built using Elastos Carrier, like Hyper, are decentralized because the messages and files you send are not being stored on any centralized servers like traditional instant messenger apps. Though this is just instant messenger, anything can be built on top of Elastos Carrier. We’re talking about securing billions upon billions of IoT smart devices that are in people’s homes. Elastos Carrier is very optimized…”
Elastos Carrier is optimized to secure and process billions upon billions of smart devices. The majority of the time, these devices do not need to go through the Elastos Blockchain, which means it won’t bog down the network. Instead, the Carrier will be supported by the extensive nodes in the network. Storing movies, data, music will solely be taken care of by Elastos Hive, which is based on IPFS, a distributed storage system that apps can utilize to store files, messages in a p2p chat, videos, music, and more. This is still in development and looks to achieve beta sometime in 2019. Between the Carrier, Hive, and other services provided by Elastos–all will operate completely separate from the Blockchain network. It’s the Carrier that helps in the massive scalability potential of the Elastos ecosystem.
The combination of the main chain and side chain setup, and its own peer-to-peer Carrier network, creates the truly scalable and safe infrastructure that is Elastos. Even concerns about maintenance in terms of the upkeep needed for the various side chains will not present an issue. As KP states: “There won’t be a lot of maintenance at all since the same DPoS node will run all the sidechain nodes on the same machine”. How about the need for global consensus, does this make Elastos inefficient and limit overall TPS? “Not at all,” KP explains. “If you want a high TPS and you’re not satisfied with Ethereum Sidechain TPS which is around 1500 TPS, then you can port existing fast consensus Blockchain platforms as a sidechain to Elastos. Elastos is really very agnostic. The only reason there is even a limit to ETH sidechain on Elastos is because that’s the limit of the ETH network. If there’s a more robust network than ETH, and it’s popular, it’s easy to port it to Elastos. Then you can have all the insane TPS you want.”
KP repeats the point that Blockchain transactions are only used from time to time and thus it does not hinder the performance of the overall network: “Why would apps need to talk to the blockchain all the time? You only need to use the blockchain when you need to. Instead, you use Elastos Carrier, Hive, and many other upcoming components of Elastos to perform those transactions. The speed of Carrier is dependent upon the user’s internet bandwidth as well as how fast the p2p network is itself. The Carrier has not yet been tested with full-on dapps and millions of users utilizing the network, however, with the number of Carrier nodes already on the network, it should be very fast and efficient.”
Every project picks its infrastructure, and each has its pros and cons. Elastos believes the security of the blockchain is truly what allows for top-notch trust and authentication. “Whenever the app uses DID sidechain to store data,” KP says, “you wait until the block is confirmed in DID sidechain. Whenever you run ETH smart contracts, you have to wait until the block is confirmed in ETH sidechain.”
The integrity of digital assets for movies and music are handled via a special digital assets sidechain. The integrity of dapps are handled via dapp sidechain. Again, there will be dedicated sidechain for each specific task and responsibilities. All sidechains will use ELA as the base currency, but it’s up to dapps if they want their users paying through fiat. At the end of the day, however, the purchasing and trading of these digital assets via digital assets sidechain is done with ELA.
That is the core function of the “Elastos digital capsule” that is in active development. A typical use-case scenario of how the data and information flow moves within the Elastos ecosystem is this: once the act of purchasing a digital asset is completed, the end user will rely on Carrier Network and Hive Network and other services to perform common tasks such as retrieving the movie and playing it on a screen. Whenever the user needs to sell this movie to another person, the digital assets sidechain is utilized again which then transfers the ownership to another person attached to another user’s DID. It’s at this point then that this new user has access to that unique movie which is in fact stored on Elastos Hive.
The speed and efficiency of the Elastos sidechains may be considered a better solution than what’s available to the masses now, and also compared to other upcoming projects.
So, is Elastos scalable for the masses? Yes, Shut the FUD up.