Enterprise blockchain company Nuco has announced Aion. Nuco claims this is the first interoperable blockchain network and will provide the basis for a delivery framework which allows communication between blockchains.
Multiple blockchains are in planning today. These numbers will likely increase if widespread adoption by enterprises and governments occur. But today’s blockchains don’t work together. In Aion’s vision of the future, blockchains must federate data and value in a hub and spoke model. For Aion this will happen through the development of networked blockchains to integrate the many spokes.
“The hundreds of blockchains existing today will soon become thousands, then millions. Future adoption of this technology relies on a network of blockchains, both enterprise and public, and we’re on our way to achieving this mission,” said Matthew Spoke, CEO of Nuco and a founding board member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. “Today’s blockchains don’t talk to each other at all. With Aion, blockchains will be able to federate, interoperate, and scale in a model similar to the internet itself.”
Aion’s founding team originally came together to create Deloitte’s blockchain practice in 2014. They recognized the need for standards to fuel enterprise adoption. In their view, blockchains today are like computers before email, unable to connect or transfer information. Their aspiration, like cloud computing possessed previously, is for Aion to connect compatible blockchains operating independently. Such interconnectedness will:
- allow the instant, global transfer and recording of data and value
- transform cross-organizational functions (for example across supply chain management)
- streamline communications between healthcare providers
- bridge government entities across the world.
“Blockchain technology will soon become integral to every industry’s infrastructure, and a framework for interoperability is critical to scaled adoption,” said Michael Tang, Head of Global Digital Transformation for Financial Services at Deloitte and an Advisor to Nuco. “As strong supporters of innovation in this space, we are eager to witness how Aion will help enterprise blockchains realize their enormous potential.”
The central challenges of blockchain adoption are scalability, privacy and interoperability. To Aion, solving these challenges requires a fundamentally different way of thinking, and on a much larger scale than for most blockchains.
The key lies in enabling blockchains to interconnect. Once these can communicate and share data on a public scale the oyster opens. Central to this are Aion tokens. These are ‘the’ fuel used to create new blockchains, monetize inter-chain bridges and secure the overall network.
Aion says it will offer “a third-generation blockchain network” which will enable any private or public sector organization to:
- federate, as in send data and value between any Aion-compliant blockchain and Ethereum
- scale, as in provide fast transaction processing and increase data capacity to all Aion participating blockchains
- ‘spoke’, as in enable the creation of customized public or private blockchains that maintain interoperability with
other blockchains – yet allow publishers to choose governance, consensus mechanisms, issuance, and participation.
At the root of the Aion concept is a purpose-built, public, third-generation blockchain called Aion-1. This is designed to connect other blockchains and manage its own robust applications. Aion-1 also provides an economic system (via the Aion tokens) which it (Nuco) hopes will incentivise interoperability and encourage an ecosystem.
What does it mean
The common sense need for something like an ‘Aion Network’, in effect a multi-tier blockchain set of connections, is clear. Blockchains existing as ‘islands in isolation’ may inhibit rather than encourage. Prima facie, the Aion concept, to support a future where many blockchains exist to solve specific industry problems and power modern services, attracts.
But this will only occur if Aion’s visionaries manage to establish a common, accepted protocol which enables decentralized adoption on a large scale. As history proves, this is a big hurdle.
Though not addressing exactly the same problem, the InterLedger Protocol (ILP) may prove more attractive to enterprises. Why? For one it is about working between existing ledgers. It is also established in W3C, which is a major step towards broad acceptance. But the third reason is possibly the most important: the ILP is not ‘owned’ by a start up. In this, Ripple, the progenitor of the ILP, was far-sighted in handing over to W3C. Aion has multiple hurdles, and not just technological ones, to transcend.