Insolar is an interesting project that is developing a platform which will operate as a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS).
They want to provide businesses with a simple, secure and interoperable solution. We have previously completed a long form Insolar review which took an in-depth look at the project and it’s ambitious plans.
However, we were intrigued by it and had many more questions.
We wanted to get more information on the technology, partnerships, roadmap and team members. We decided to reach out to the Insolar team with our extensive list of questions.
Dmitry Zhulin Interview
Dmitry Zhulin. Image source: Insolar Blog
Dmitry Zhulin is one of the founders at Insolar. He is an experienced venture capitalist who previously built the Instamart grocery delivery start-up. He has also been involved in the blockchain ecosystem for over 5 years.
In 2017, Dmitry founded the INS ecosystem which was the predecessor to Insolar. He was also kind enough to answer all of the questions that we sent the team.
Below is the complete interview:
You guys started off as the INS ecosystem which was focused on B2C deliveries of groceries. You recently changed to Insolar as a complete enterprise blockchain ecosystem. Why the change?
While working on INS Ecosystem’s development, we realized that none of today’s blockchain platforms can host our application. The feedback from hundreds of innovation executives and blockchain practitioners proved they had the same problem. So we decided to build our own platform – truly scalable, business-friendly, and open-source.
By enabling distributed business networks, built-in trust, and eliminating third-party intermediaries, Insolar’s blockchain platform can power business models beyond the direct-to-consumer marketplace and markets outside consumer retail.
Insolar shares the same values as INS Ecosystem – leverage blockchain technology to empower companies to deliver more value, transparency, fairness, and trust to customers. This is something that today’s technologies could not deliver — not until Insolar came along.
By creating Insolar, we are vastly expanding the scope of our products, token usage, and our value for contributors and customers. We are developing a cutting-edge, enterprise-grade blockchain platform that will be at the forefront of a revolution which will transform the global economy.
At the same time, our B2C grocery project still remains one of our use cases which will be based on the Insolar blockchain.
Tell us about the broader Insolar team. It seems as if you guys have expanded quite a bit in dev talent and research in numerous locations.
Insolar is a global team of 68 people in North America and Europe, including a 35-strong engineering team with strong practice of building and maintaining high-load and high-availability systems, and 10 leading blockchain academics from major institutions (York University, ETH Zurich, Princeton). You can find our team profiles here.
The platform’s Chief Architect, Kirill Ivkushkin, headed the Blockchain Department at Europe’s 3rd largest bank, during which time he led all of the bank’s blockchain initiatives, personally evaluating the code and architecture of dozens of platforms.
He also served as Chief Architect at Deutsche Bank, running systems with over 17,000 cores. Kirill is one of the world’s leading technical experts on real world, enterprise blockchain deployment. He is a frequent public speaker on blockchain and fintech. As you mentioned, he recently held the speech you heard at the Blockchain Expo conference.
Insolar’s Chief Technology Officer, Pavel Scherbinin, was previously Chief Technology Officer at Mail.Ru, which is a leading Internet company in Eastern Europe and number 7 world-wide. During his tenure there, Pavel was responsible for building high-load systems used by a dozen million users.
Kirill Ivkushkin and Pavel Sсherbinin. Image via Insolar
Insolar is going to be an enterprise solution. What sort of companies do you eventually see using the protocol / applications?
Insolar is a complete enterprise-focused platform and ecosystem to help companies rapidly deploy next generation, distributed business networks (Insolar Blockchain). Insolar targets large and mid-size enterprises clients across various industries and use cases.
Insolar Blockchain and Applications power a new business-to-business interaction framework, bring tangible benefits, and reduce the IT burden for business, making it easy to build distributed business networks, help enterprises to overcome IT complexities, and focus on their core business, while enabling process improvements and unlocking new revenue streams.
The Insolar blockchain platform can be applied almost limitlessly to solutions across industries and applications. We have determined several priority areas of use as a point of focus. These are cross-industry Supply Chain, Electric utilities and smart grids, Identity Management, and the Shared Economy.
These three fields particularly lend themselves to optimization through use of blockchain technology and they are areas in which our team has particular expertise. We invite our partners and corporate clients to develop distributed business applications meeting their business requirements on Insolar Blockchain. The full list of industries and use cases is available here.
The Insolar team has a deep understanding of and diversified practical experience in DLT technologies. We are appealing to the key demands of businesses by:
- Streamlining the design, application and reuse of complex cross-enterprise processes;
- Automating cross-enterprise processes, enabling them to identify design flaws at an early stage and conduct thorough data monitoring in case of potential legal disputes;
- Creating a compatible platform that can be used in conjunction with existing legacy IT solutions and systems;
- Building a platform that is compatible with existing corporate solutions and systems with similar properties, such as transnationality in data processing within different systems, horizontal scalability, processing XML documents, etc.;
- Introducing compliance with different domain governance systems and regulations, and clear and unified generation and management procedures for different standards, whether global, state-level or business, including those between companies,
- Reducing susceptibility to vendor locks as a result of the usage of licensed technologies and centralized or centrally-managed systems and data exchange systems.
Following on from the above, have you started negotiations with companies about using Insolar? How are those going?
We are negotiating with a number of large enterprises interested in our services. These include companies in Europe in the fields of logistics and mining, and smart grids in North America. Negotiations are under NDA and to be announced in 2019. The current key team targets are the testnet launch in the beginning of 2019 and getting pilots started across multiple industries and use cases.
Three of the industries which have an Insolar use case. Image via Insolar Presentation
Insolar says that their solution will be in line with global regulations. Can you explain that?
Insolar is amenable with global regulatory requirements and the rules of individual domain governance. It is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other major data protection standards.
For instance, GDPR foresees erasing private data in certain cases. This can be executed in private or permissioned domains in the Insolar network, thus ensuring none of third parties keeps any private data after the access has expired.
One of the primary goals of Insolar was compatibility with other solutions. You have stated that Insolar will be compatible with Hyperledger. Are there other ecosystems that Insolar could be integrated with?
Insolar will be interoperable with any ERP/BPM/CRP used by enterprises. As to other blockchain protocols, our Developer team is working to make Hyperledger and other enterprise-grade blockchain protocols and smart-contracts executable by our platform.
Part of the Insolar solution is not just to develop a protocol but also applications on top of it. Have you already started building some? What will their functions be?
Beyond its platform, encompassing multiple protocols, Insolar is aggressively building developer and 3rd party tools to promote a flourishing community (Insolar Applications). Its code is open source and its research is freely shared; it supports the most popular enterprise languages (Golang and Java); and it allows 3rd party microservices, dApps, and smart contracts.
Insolar doesn’t require expensive upfront investments in IT labor and infrastructure to deploy; it can be run on the cloud, securely and scalably. Fully operated Insolar Applications are to be available following mainnet launch in Q3 2019 and beyond.
Insolar applications will be tailored to companies’ individual needs and based on a building block system that can serve multiple use cases and industries – practically any scenarios in which business operations involves the interaction of multiple partners.
Thanks to its particular and one of a kind array of features, including hybrid networks (public and permissioned) which are amenable to different domain governance rules, Insolar is uniquely positioned to serve and optimize inter-enterprise connectivity.
You have a unique consensus & storage mechanism that does not rely on PoS and PoW. Can you explain this a bit more?
First, there are different Consensus Algorithms being applied to different domains (parts of the network) within Insolar.
As to the default settings, applied to Insolar mainnet, all of the nodes may have one of two roles: Storage or Processing. The Storage nodes are divided into “Heavy” and “Light” material.
The “Heavy material” nodes store the ledger, but unlike other blockchain protocols, none of them keep it entirely, but only a certain part. This is done both for the sake of security and storage capacity. The “Light material” nodes keep only the recent history of a ledger and are used for traffic inside the network.
The Processing nodes do the computing and carry out the transactions. The difference to other protocols is that they do not do it simultaneously. Instead, each smart contract is delegated to a single node.
Next, a few other nodes (called “Validators”) approve the transactions. As a result, the throughput capacity increases. Thanks to this, the Insolar network is able to provide large-scale transactions. This in turn enables businesses to process documents on-chain.
To make sure that the network is resistant to attacks from malicious nodes, all the nodes are chosen pseudo-randomly at the start of each block, triggered by signals called “Pulses”. A pulse carries a source of randomness / entropy and is generated every 5–15 seconds by pulsar nodes.
How consensus is configured in Insolar. Image via Insolar Presentation
The Insolar Platform Core written in GoLang is necessary for compatibility with Hyperleger Fabric. Java is the language used most in enterprise development, and we are building Insolar for enterprise.
Taking a look at your technical documents you mention that in terms of data management, you have multizone security. Can you explain this?
Multizone security is enabled by the hybrid, public and permissioned networks which the Insolar platform offers. It allows compliance with various domain governance rules and global regulations (e.g. GDPR). Domain owners are able to set different levels of security, and users are free to choose individual levels of risk-management by choosing a respective domain.
If local law allows, any enterprise can participate in the Insolar platform, regardless of their policy requirements. This ensures the various security, privacy, and compliance requirements of the participants, and promotes mainstreaming and wide-scale use of the Insolar network by enterprise clients.
The transaction adaptability concept is an interesting one. Why have you chosen this approach?
Insolar has a flexible validation concept. This means that a business client can conduct transactions with cost-efficiency. The concept behind this is that they can choose to use varying numbers of nodes for validation, depending on whether the transaction is high or low-level risk.
If less nodes are involved, the transaction is cheaper. This is practical for enterprises to reduce costs and ensure value.
The ERC20 INS token will eventually be converted into a new native INS token. How will the new token be used in the Insolar ecosystem?
Since the public platform will be an important part of Insolar’s distributed business networks, the INS token will be integrated into its economics, like other blockchain protocols’ native tokens are used by the network ecosystems.
Insolar Roadmap & Broader Ecosystem
Your roadmap is well laid out. What is the next most important step? How far are you guys from reaching that?
The next most important step is the release of our first testnet. There will be several testnets. The first one will be released in January and will show the initial capabilities which we are developing on our platform technical roadmap.
We all know that there are a number of challenges faced by blockchain technology. What do you think is the single biggest hindrance to wide scale adoption?
From the point of view of enterprise, there have as yet been several challenges to wide-scale adoption of blockchain technology – until Insolar came along. With its unique set of features, Insolar will overcome exactly the challenges that have existed to date and enable DLT for business use. Insolar will guarantee:
- Transaction speed (15,000 tsd)
- Scalability & flexible validation, ensuring cost-efficient transactions
- Hybrid networks that can be both public and private, and are thus compatible with the requirements of different systems of domain governance and world-side regulatory requirements,
- Compatible with legacy IT and different blockchain platforms
- Easy to use — BaaS (Blockchain applications as a service) — Insolar is an IT add-on which requires no additional in-house hardware or expertise.
You guys had a really successful ICO in December of 2017. As we have seen, the ICO space has taken quite a knock recently due to a number of factors. How do you see the ICO model evolving over the next few years?
The ICO market will become more regulated and there will be more strict due diligence procedures.
What are you personally most excited about when it comes to Insolar and the solution that you guys are building out?
We are excited about becoming the world’s leading blockchain tech company that powers innovative, transparent, and efficient business networks. Insolar captures both the tech-focused spirit of our blockchain, as well as the impact that it can make in the real world through decentralized applications.
Our mission is to build an open-source enterprise-grade blockchain platform to enable seamless interactions between companies and new growth opportunities powered by distributed trust.
It seems as if the Insolar team has a great deal of work ahead of them if they are to meet their ambitious targets for 2019.
It will be interesting to see what partnerships Insolar is able to forge with the businesses they are in discussions with. If these partners are able to successfully launch enterprise blockchains then it could provide impetus for many other businesses to join the fold.
If you wanted to keep up to date with the latest Insolar development and announcements then you should keep your eye on their official blog as well as their Twitter account. INS tokens can be purchased on the Binance Exchange.
Featured Image via Insolar.io