IRISnet is a service infrastructure and protocol built on top of Cosmos that facilitates construction of distributed business applications.
The IRIS network uses Tendermint protocol as a high-performance consensus engine. Leveraging the flexibility provided by tendermint's Application BlockChain Interface ("ABCI"), defining a set of service infrastructure transaction types including service provisioning, service consumption and service governance. As explained earlier, most business logic is not suitable for implementation as deterministic smart contracts on blockchain, we are using this service layer to move the business application specific logics and transaction processing off the blockchain itself and use the blockchain only to get consensus on the results generated through those services. This idea is also inspired by existing work from blockchain community when address performance issues of moving some complicated computation off the main chain, such as Lightning Network's off-chain state channels as well as Plasma's fraud proof side chains.
For interchain communication, Cosmos IBC defines a protocol for transferring values from an account on one chain to an account on another chain. The IRIS network designs new semantics to allow cross-chain computation to be invoked by leveraging IBC. We believe this capability is very important when building scalable business applications. Further details of potential use cases are set out below.
The IRIS network is intended to provide the service infrastructure for handing and coordinating on-chain transaction processing with off-chain data processing and business logic execution. Enhanced IBC capability allows those off-chain processing to be invoked cross chain, if required. The IRIS network, as presently envisaged, will also include client-side tools, including a smart wallet enabling cross-chain multi-asset storage, as well as consume and provide iServices. We plan to provide SDKs for easy construction of iServices. For example, for a specific service definition, the Client SDK would generate the provider side skeleton as well as consumer side stub for major programming languages.
Blockchain technology is still in its early stages. As with any new technology, there are drawbacks. These include limited performance and undeveloped governance mechanisms. Presently, these drawbacks make it difficult for blockchains to support real-world distributed business collaboration. Consortium chains, such as Hyperledger Fabric and R3 Corda, and organisations such as the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, have tried to address those performance and governance issues to make blockchain technology more suitable for enterprises. However, today consortium chains are dominated by huge enterprise companies. Furthermore their close-form off on-chain governance model is very inefficient. Without a token economics model and the openness and the excitement in public chains, consortium chains may be viewed as lacking vitality.
IRIS network aims to build technology foundation which facilitate construction of distributed business applications. It goes beyond today's blockchain systems which are mainly for digitalized assets.
The key challenges that IRIS network aims to address are two-fold:
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The first stage of the IRIS project will focus on having the IRIS Hub up and running and connected to the Cosmos Hub. We also intend to release an initial version of the mobile client for the IRIS network.
The second stage will focus on building the fundamental IRIS Service Layer. This will involve enabling service definition, binding, invocation and query. In this stage we are also aiming to have a beta version of the IRIS SDK ready for developers.
The third stage will focus on incremental upgrades to the IRIS network in order to support our planned advanced IRIS Service governance features.
The fourth stage will focus on further technology innovations to the IRIS network, IRIS SDK and mobile client, as well as developer engagement.