For millennia, people have looked to the stars to read the future, to learn their fate, and simply to even guide them in difficult decisions. But another way for us to gain wisdom and show us how to best make decisions is by looking at the people around us and learn from their mistakes. Within the blockchain industry this is no different, and the latest lesson for us to learn from is a very similar project called Cosmos.
Cosmos is a blockchain project which they dub themselves as the ‘internet of blockchain’ aiming to solve the problems of scalability and interoperability. They seek to do this with a unique Consensus Protocol called Tendermint. Tendermint is a variant of PBFT ( Proof of Byzantine Fault Tolerance). Similarly to aelf they run a main chain called the Cosmos Hub and sidechains called Zones. Both blockchains allow interoperability, however Cosmos requires trusting the mainchain, while aelf does not. This is due to Merkle tree roots being the only records stored on the mainchain for aelf. Put this together with the parallel processing capability of the system and the performance boost is incredibly through the mainchain and sidechains.
Cosmos launched their hub in march this year with minimal functionality soon to be added. They were dubbed the first blockchain to successfully use PoS and interoperability, which is a bold claim considering they did not even launch with any interoperability functionality. Getting to this point of minimal functionality required three years of complete research and development and even then, the mainnet was launched with “caution”.
Everything was going ok with the mainnet, until recently when the team was made aware of a critical vulnerability which they announced publicly on May 30th,
“Two days ago, a critical security vulnerability in the CosmosSDK was reported to the Tendermint team through firstname.lastname@example.org.
A patch for this critical issue… is available now and we will provide technical details about the vulnerability within 7–10 business days…”
As a result of this problem, the team had to complete their first hard fork of the network,
“In response to this issue, we are currently coordinating a hard fork to upgrade the Cosmos mainnet.”
It is now the 13th of June and there is still no news regarding the details of the vulnerability, so it is hard to say how ‘critical’ it was and which component was affected besides knowing it was a security vulnerability.
Now, this isn’t to say that Cosmos is a bad project, but it does bring rise the issues that can occur when a launch is done too early or with an incomplete or partial product. Even if this was unavoidable regardless of the launch it stresses the importance a blockchain project must give to the ongoing security of the system and continue to stress test the system, well after mainnet.
Microsoft is notorious for releasing an update with minor (and sometimes major) bugs resulting in a poor user experience at least until a new patch has been released. With blockchain this issue is much more critical since the team cannot simply push an update out to all users (or in this case nodes). They must announce it and then it needs to be manually completed by each node.
Taking these two points to aelf, how can we apply these lessons to improve our project?
First, regardless of the pressure applied by external forces, we must continue to focus on our blockchain, and ensure we do not launch a half completed or poor quality mainnet. This is very important due to our main client focus directing towards enterprises and established companies with large user bases. We must be able to deliver a high quality and stable product from day 1.
The second lesson which we have taken to heart is the very critical mindset that just because a product is seemingly stable and secure, it doesn’t mean this is how it will continue to be. We must continue to push and test all aspects of performance and security with an ongoing outlook. This is not only critical for us but also for any dapps that are interested in building on us. We have been proactive in creating an environment where this mindset can flourish through the innovation alliance. Through this hub, enterprises that want to enter the blockchain industry will have a complete environment to support their transition and continue to provide all the relevant resources from capital, to security, to expertise.
Cosmos are building a foundation in which we can step off to reach the stars. Through the use of Tendermint, Cosmos is theoretically able to reach a scalability of 10’s of thousands of TPS; our testnet, almost 12 months ago, already reached 15,000 TPS as our base to improve on. We are both developing our own blockchain interoperability protocol and API to work with external blockchains. Both Cosmos and aelf are designing the system to accept sidechains from any programming language. We have developed a unique technology which supports both cluster nodes and parallel processing.
In order to ensure we can provide the most complete, secure and stable mainnet for our community and enterprises we have launched the Enterprise Beta Version of the aelf blockchain, allowing for live environment stress and security testing. By launching this as a complete blockchain allowing anyone to try it out in thousands of different iterations (including destructive methods), we can receive valuable feedback on the system robustness and security without risking users data, funds, or resources.
This is the first step in our staggered lead up to mainnet. The latest step is the launch of our BYOB (BUIDL Your Own Blockchain) event where we encourage any users to test out the network and build their own blockchain within a couple of minutes. With a prize pool of $20,000 USD it is exciting to see the performance our network will achieve with this increase in users.
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For more information, visit aelf.io