Today, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is being implemented in almost every industry, for a wide range of applications. The result is that the DLT market is already valued at $3.0bn (in 2020), and is expected to grow to $39.7bn by 2025.
Yet this growth could be even greater. Why? Because, as the market matures, many users are struggling with the complexities of the underlying technologies. Although the key benefits of DLT are extremely attractive, users face some significant issues in realising them. These issues rarely prevent IT departments and organisations from running technical evaluations, or proof of concept projects – but they are often a major obstacle to operating DLTs at scale.
Gartner, 2020: For blockchain to become mainstream, the blockchain’s back end, system interfaces and utilities shouldn’t matter to developers and users — just like the internet’s DNS or TCP/IP protocols don’t matter to web users. All web users care about is their web-based applications. All blockchain users need to care about is their decentralized applications.
Today, several blockchain technologies exist, but they have been developed individually, without regulation or standards, or the ability to interact or interoperate with each other. This has led to a number of issues which have stood – and still stand – in the way of mass adoption. In particular:
Not only are highly specialist developer skills required, but these skills are not transferrable between DLTs. This means that different developers are needed for each project, adding to development costs.
Despite recent advances in the technology, migrating applications to a new DLT technology, or even upgrading an application to the latest DLT version, can prove a major challenge. This limits ROI and prevents customers from taking full advantage of the efficiencies and cost savings from newer technologies. Although individual DLT projects create valuable pools of data or services, they cannot be interconnected, so ROI is further limited.
While limited progress is being made on connecting DLT instances of the same type, different types of DLT remain unable to communicate with each other. This, together
with the fact that it is impossible to build DLT networks with more than one type of DLT, means that all members of a consortium are forced to adopt and support the same technology in order to participate. This adds significantly to the cost and complexity of solutions. To exacerbate matters further, communications between DLTs and traditional systems is still complex and challenging, making seemingly straightforward functionality expensive to implement.
How can these issues be addressed? How can our solution helps users mitigate the effects of a highly siloed industry, so that they have the freedom to optimise their own tech stacks. An ideal solution would:
First, it’s important to note that Overledger is not a DLT, or a DLT management system. It acts as a DLT gateway and translation service. DLT Gateways solve the complexity problem in the DLT world in much the same way that API Gateways did when businesses started adopting APIs at scale. Overledger gateways can communicate with each other, creating Overledger Networks.
What does Overledger do? Simple. It provides API access to different types of DLTs, including public and permissioned, which can be hosted in-house or with DLTaaS providers. Overledger also supports Smart Contract functionality via API, including cross-DLT APIs, using Quant’s patented cross-DLT technology.
And the benefits are enormous. Consortia that use DLT gateways, for example, can permit each member to use the DLT type of their choice - the gateway simply translates all the business flows into the formats needed by each individual DLT. It also becomes much easier to write applications that combine DLTs, traditional systems and APIs, because all development is done using APIs and mainstream programming languages. Overledger can also integrate traditional systems directly with plug-in connectors.
The advantages of Overledger don’t end there. By allowing developers to use the same languages across DLT and non-DLT projects, development costs are significantly reduced, and IT departments have the flexibility to assign staff to projects dynamically, in line with the needs of their business. What’s more, Overledger lets business applications make use of data owned by different organisations running on different types of DLTs. This opens the door to many more possible use cases, delivering a much higher ROI than traditional DLT applications (or DApps), that can only access a single source of data.
By running a DLT Gateway in front of DLTs, it becomes a simple matter to upgrade or change DLT types, as data can be migrated or copied. This means that IT departments don’t need to maintain older, obsolete or insecure DLT platforms, as the applications are no longer closely tied to them. Upgrading Overledger is a completely non-disruptive process, and full backward compatibility is guaranteed.