Blockchain Operating System — Learning from the Past to Build a Better Future
Whilst blockchain technology is still in its infancy, adoption is rapidly increasing, particularly with enterprises. As we look to replace legacy platforms with blockchain and build a better future, it’s important to learn from the successes and failures of the past, so to not repeat the same mistakes.
Hardware operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS and Google’s Android have been prevalent for decades. Nowadays its unheard of for a program to run without an operating system but that’s what it was like in the very early days of computers. The same mistakes are currently being made with blockchain, but as with hardware operating systems the features / accessibility / reduced complexity that a blockchain operating system provides, means we will also look back and wonder how blockchain applications were created without.
“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
Life before Operating Systems
Hardware operating systems provide a platform for developers to easily build applications by abstracting the complexities with integrating with all the hardware components such as various models of CPU, memory, storage, mouse, keyboard and video.
The first computers did not have operating systems. Programmers had to write code on how to integrate directly with the hardware as well as performing the calculation that the program was intended to perform. Programs were designed to run on a specific model of computer, and they booted directly to the program meaning you can only run one program at a time.
Imagine what it would be like today without an operating system — every developer would not only have to code their application but also worry about how to interact directly with the enormous variety of different hardware components and peripherals. This isn’t limited to whether you use a specific manufacturer such as Intel or AMD or Nvidia but all the different models from that manufacturer as well. New technology / updates are continuously being added, meaning developers would spend enormous amounts of time making sure they were able to support all the different components through the lifespan of the application. Even the most basic applications would be incredibly complex and time consuming to create. The end user experience is terrible as well — imagine having to boot your computer to your favourite browser, and then shutdown and boot your computer again if you wanted to use Microsoft Word. There is no multi-tasking / interoperability between applications.
Operating systems changed all this, they abstracted the complexity of dealing with the various hardware components and provide platforms with tools and features for developers to easily build incredible applications on as well as providing seamless multi-tasking and features such as easily copy and paste between applications enabling interoperability between programs as well as the enormous variety of hardware components.
So why are we repeating the same mistakes with blockchain?
There is not going to be one blockchain to rule them all, each blockchain has their own advantages and disadvantages. Some are better suited for payments, others for supply chain, others for security for instance. Developers don’t want to have to compromise on using one blockchain for all their requirements, they want to use the best blockchain for that specific task and being able to combine the best features from multiple blockchains. They don’t want to restrict their target market to just users of a single blockchain, they need to be able to interoperate with any blockchain and importantly any existing network as well. This is crucial, as everything is not just going to instantly migrate to blockchain overnight, you need to make sure you can interact with the existing networks that are used by the vast majority of people today whilst workloads gradually migrate to blockchain.
The need for a Blockchain Operating System
Overledger is a not a hardware operating system like those mentioned before but instead a blockchain operating system, it provides a platform to build and use Multi Chain Applications (MAPPS) that abstracts all of the complexities involved with integrating with all the different blockchains, different OP_Codes being used, messaging formats as well as connecting to existing non-blockchain networks, similar to how hardware operating systems abstracts the complexity of interacting with the underlying hardware. It provides scalable interoperability between blockchains, existing networks and software / MAPPs without the overhead of other blockchain interoperability solutions which add another blockchain in the middle, nor does it require blockchains to fork their code / impose restrictions on what they can implement.
A Network of Networks
With the launch of Overledger Network, enterprises and community members will be able to run gateways to create a network of networks, interconnecting all DLT networks, existing off-chain networks and later even the Internet itself, where all connected projects can benefit from the efforts of each other, to usher in mass adoption of blockchain.
Virtually any technology can be connected to Overledger and with the release of the open source connectors, the community / developers will be able to create their own connectors and connect to various blockchains as well as existing networks. Want to connect your favourite blockchain to Overledger to benefit from interoperability with other connected chains and enable enterprises / community members to build on your blockchain? — Then you can build a connector to enable that. Want to connect Office 365 to any blockchain? Build a connector. Want to connect to the various payment rails such as SWIFT, Faster Payments and Paypal? Then you can build a connector.
Making it easy for developers and creating end to end trust
Developers also don’t want the hassle / complexity of running nodes themselves, which is why many developers do not run their own blockchain nodes and instead rely on a small number of providers such as Infura and Etherscan in the case of Ethereum for interaction with the Blockchain through their API. Without the end user running a node themselves how do they know if Infura / Etherscan start returning faulty data? Or with permissioned DLT’s where the end user can’t run a node and verify transactions how can they really know that the data the stakeholder returns actually comes from the DLT?
With Overledger Network, users can request multiple gateways to perform a function where the responses will be compared for veriﬁcation purposes. Therefore, not only do distributed ledger networks provide a method to establish trust between diﬀerent parties running diﬀerent nodes, but the Overledger Network will provide a method to establish trust between users not running a node and parties running nodes providing a crucial missing piece in full end-to-end trust.
Monetise their Applications
Developers will be able to monetise their applications through a marketplace, like what you see from Apple, Google and Microsoft but for MAPPs. Overledger Network will be implementing trustless layer 2 payment channels which developers can utilise for MAPPs to enable scalability payments to overcome Ethereum low tps and high gas fees, with the vast majority of transactions being performed off chain instantly, with only minimal transactions being done on chain such as the opening and closing of channels and random reconciliations).
To learn more about Quant’s blockchain operating system, Overledger:
To learn more about Overledger Network, the Network of Networks:
To learn more about Overledger Network community treasury and payment channels: