By Jan Xie
Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of Nervos, a network of interoperable protocols that allows enterprises to build and deploy decentralized applications (dApps) without committing their tech stack fully to the blockchain. In the long term, we hope Nervos will be the core of an entirely new internet that combines the potential of both permissioned and permissionless blockchains. To explain how, I’ll start with the story of how our team came together and how we got the idea to create the Nervos Network.
Who are we?
My name is Jan, and I’m the chief architect of Nervos. I’ve been contributing to the Ethereum open-source project for a few years and have worked with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin on Casper and sharding. I mainly contributed to the development of Ruby-ethereum and pyethereum.
As a developer, my passion is working on open source projects. I contributed to Linux during my college years, and open source software development made an impact on me in many ways. I enjoy creating code and sharing contributions with the community.
I met some of my best friends— Daniel, Terry and Kevin, during my years working as a software engineer working on Ruby on Rails. We also worked together on a podcast about software development called Teahour.fm.
Together we have all contributed and built open source software projects in the crypto space including the open-source Peatio Exchange — which is used by many crypto exchanges, Spark Pool — the world’s third largest ETH mining pool, and imToken — the world’s largest Ethereum wallet.
In 2016 many of my peers in the crypto space started working on public blockchains and building the next generation of the internet, while permissioned blockchains turned more into local area networks for enterprise customers. Personally I always believed that we need consensus at a different level and scope. We need both permissionless blockchains and permissioned blockchains to create a whole new internet.
At the time there were very few decentralized applications (dApps) built on any public blockchains, so we decided to start with a permissioned blockchain. I started Cryptape and created a permissioned blockchain called CITA, a fast and scalable blockchain for enterprise users. CITA is completely open source, and in the past two years we have been working with clients in the enterprise space including companies in banking, entertainment, government and IT services. Today Cryptape and CITA has the largest and most recognized blockchain engineering team in China, with more than 30 blockchain developers.
Now we believe it is time for us to move onto our second phase in our plans: to build a public blockchain component in our network (Nervos), and to use it to create a whole new internet. With more dApps coming out along the way, we think now is the perfect time to start a public blockchain as our next challenge.
Nervos Common Knowledge Base (CKB): The Layer 1 for All Layer 2 Protocols
Right now, there are many teams trying to fix the blockchain scalability problem by increasing their capacity and transaction throughput with new consensus models. Consensus algorithms are of critical importance to decentralized systems. However, many consensus algorithms either sacrifice openness of the decentralized system to achieve throughput, or are very experimental and need to be proven in production.
This is a great start, but the reality is that the overall programming model isn’t quite right. We need to fix the programming model first because that will solve many of the core fundamental scalability issues. We think the right programming model is combining layer 1 and layer 2. Before moving onto layer 2 scaling solutions, we should fix the underlying issues of layer 1 first.
The approach that we take for scalability is through core architectural design. Nervos separates decentralized knowledge and computation, to push the heavy lifting off the main public blockchain. Nervos CKB can focus on the common knowledge that needs global consensus and provide security to all layer 2 protocols on top.
What is the Nervos Network?
Nervos is much more than a single blockchain: it is a network of interoperable protocols. The public blockchain (Nervos CKB) is just one of many components of the network and plays a limited role to provide decentralization and security. The entire Nervos Network together serves as the platform for dApps and protocols.
What does it mean to developers and enterprise?
While today’s enterprise companies are exploring the blockchain, many of them have concerns across fully transitioning to blockchain based applications. First of all, they’d need to re-architect everything just to be on Ethereum. Secondly, everything on Ethereum is public by nature and most enterprise companies can’t put real customer and banking data on a public blockchain. That’s why permissioned chains, like Hyperledger and R3, emerged in the first place.
The main criticism of permissioned blockchains is this: they are just shared databases, not a real blockchain. With permissioned blockchains there is no incentive layer and you lose all of the characteristics which make a blockchain special including transparency, sense of community, verifiability, etc.
For developers, the Nervos CKB offers a versatile settlement engine with features such as built-in cryptographic primitives and “just enough” support for validations. It will be more expressive and efficient as a validation/settlement engine and less likely to introduce bugs than a general purpose Ethereum smart contract platform.
Nervos is friendly to existing enterprise businesses. This is because Nervos is creating a blockchain network that businesses can use to build real-world applications, given the real-world constraints of application development. We realized that you don’t need to go hardcore with Ethereum. Instead, with an incentive layer, you can use parts of Ethereum, while still being able to be public. Nervos retains the benefits of being a blockchain, without forcing businesses to go full blockchain.
Businesses themselves decide what they put into the blockchain and on which matters they most want the public to trust them. Nervos is enterprise-ready because we don’t expect developers to re-write everything in solidity and go full decentralization. You have the option to keep your existing application as it is today, or use a permissioned blockchain.
Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more info about our technology, use cases, and our plans moving forward. We’d love for you to join our community of technology companies and crypto enthusiasts!
Sign up and keep up to date with our progress:
Official website: http://nervos.org/