Insolar (INS) is a project that is trying to develop distributed business networks which will use new innovations in blockchain technology to make them secure and interoperable.
Insolar aims to develop much more than a standard protocol layer for other’s to build on. They are also working on enterprise applications that will be run on top of the Insolar blockchain. They have even taken the step of labeling Insolar as the “Blockchain 4.0”.
However, are these ambitions too grand and can they achieve it?
In this review of Insolar we will take a look at the project and it’s potential for enterprise adoption. We will also delve into the technology, team background and broader INS token use cases and market potential.
What is Insolar?
Insolar actually started out as a project called the INS ecosystem which was focused on developing a decentralised blockchain for consumer goods. However, in November of 2018 the project took on a new vision and was re-branded to Insolar.
It was an interesting pivot because previously the project was focused on a business-to-consumer model that would lower costs for consumers and manufacturers. The new focus appears to be a business-to-business one, and will encompass all types of businesses.
Overview of Insolar. Image Source: Insolar Presentation
The emergence of Insolar as a solution came from several observations that the development team made while working on INS Ecosystem, namely:
- Increasing complexity and intensive diversification of business interactions;
- The emerging role of decentralization in decision-making;
- The inability to understand and embrace the complexity of business processes by the majority of DLT platforms developers, which discredits and undermines the potential of decentralized systems and leads to impractical solutions.
The INS Ecosystem, and now Insolar, were developed by the same team that founded Instamart, which is the largest venture backed grocery delivery service in Russia. This gives the team at INS extensive experience in logistics and retail sales, as well as in e-commerce and venture capital attraction.
Through this experience the team feels they have a handle on the problems with the current business-to-business sales channels, and believe they can deliver a market disrupting solution to the global business-to-business sales.
The rebranding of the platform to Insolar also comes with new goals. The platform is now being envisioned as a unified solution, with both generic and specific cases being developed by Insolar and third-party developers. Below are six initial goals that have been identified by the Insolar team:
- Streamlining the design, application and repurposing of cross-enterprise processes;
- Automation of cross-enterprise processes, which will allow for the identification of design flaws from an early stage;
- Ensure that the platform is compatible with existing systems and solutions being used;
- Ensure the platform is compatible with existing corporate solutions and systems that have similar properties, such as the processing of XML documents, horizontal scalability and data processing;
- Create generation and management procedures which are unified and clear, and which cover different standards, including those that exist between companies;
- Reduce the potential for vendor locks due to centralization or the use of licensed technologies.
The Insolar platform will be built using three key elements. Domains will be used to manage the lifecycle of contracts, as well as managing the data and security aspects of contracts. The contracts themselves will provide operability for the business connections on the platform, and Clouds will be used to provide storage and computing power.
When it comes to managing and adjusting the capabilities of Insolar to deal with different use cases domains will be the key feature of the Insolar platform. By using a variety of policy declarations that are imposed on all the domain participants we can create a wide range of features.
Domains can be used in the definition of procedures, data formats, work rules, standards or processes to implement changes. Because each domain is secure and separate from all other domains they can also be used in the initiation and management of data sets and for the provisioning and management of personal and protected data.
Interoperability with other blockchains
Finally, domains could be used to create access policies for oracles, to create cryptography standards, and in establishing the terms for the calculation of storage volume or computing power consumption needs.
Insolar will register the domains and insure interoperability between them, but they have no role in the management of the domains. Instead, each domain will define its own management criteria and procedures. The rules created by each domain will determine how domain transactions and data are stored and carried out.
Contracts on Insolar are not legally binding service agreements, but are declarations of a set of functions on the platform that guarantee compliance with rules and procedures set out on the platform. Contracts can be decentralized applications, oracles that provide access to off-chain data sources, an aggregator or other systems. Insolar has been designed with the principle that Everything-is-a-Contract.
Every element on the platform can be considered a contract, with the most basic platform features being represented by special system contracts that allow developers to interact with the platform core functions. Contracts can be used to modify, extend and change the behavior of the system.
Insolar clouds are another element used to structure and apply business logic. A cloud in Insolar is a set of nodes that is represented by the computing power and storage providers.
Providers work based on the rules defined for the cloud and it’s possible to assign different roles to individual servers in order to provision different resources such as bandwidth, storage or computing power.
The Insolar Federation of Clouds
One of the key functions of the cloud is to ensure there is storage and to allow execution of the contracts in the domains that are bound to each cloud. The cloud also ensures that requests sent between contracts from different domains are managed and delivered properly.
Standard cloud implementations on the Insolar platform are done on the blockchain, but specialized implementations could be done on a single node or DBMS.
The Insolar Team
The Insolar project was co-founded by Peter Fedchenkov and Dmitry Zhulin, who were also the previous co-founders of the Russian grocery delivery service Instamart. The team currently has over 30 members with working experience across a wide range of disciplines, including investment management and banking, venture capital, crypto security and more.
Some of the Insolar Team Members
Co-founder Peter Fedchenkov is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and was previously CEO of Instamart as was as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs. Dmitry Zhulin was also a founder at Instamart and is a former Vice President for VTB Capital Private Equity as well as an Associate of Rothschild.
And let’s not forget Dmitry Khovratovich, who is the blockchain and smart contract lead for INS Ecosystem. He has had previous experience developing smart contracts for several blockchain startups who successfully made it past the ICO stage.
The INS Token
The INS token was initially going to be the primary means of rewarding users in the INS Ecosystem platform, making the INS token a primary part of the entire ecosystem. There will eventually be 50 million tokens in the circulating supply, but currently 10 million are being reserved and another 7.5 million are being held by the team to cover operational costs and marketing.
With a fixed supply and increased usage of the network the tokens are expected to grow in value as demand increases.
INS Token use Cases
Based on the information on the Insolar website it appears that INS will be used for payments on the platform, likely for services and resources. It also appears that the blockchain is moving to Proof-of-Stake as a consensus mechanism, and the INS token will be used for both staking and voting.
The token was released in an ICO that concluded in December 2017. The team raised $41.5 million, selling 30 million INS tokens at $1.50 each. The token surged higher following the ICO, reaching an all-time high of $10.93 on January 15, 2018. Unfortunately it has lost nearly 90% of its value since in the bear market of 2018.
In addition to the bear market in cryptocurrencies, INS price has been negatively impacted by delays in the development and release of APIs, SDKs, apps and interfaces. However, this could have been as a result of the team prioritizing the development of the new platform.
Now with the change to a different focus for the platform it’s hard to say what the token might do. It received a quick pop higher just prior to the re-branding to Insolar, but has since slipped lower and is trading at $0.5162 as of November 12, 2018. That’s far below the ICO price of the token.
INS is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum network and can be stored in any ERC-20 compatible wallet. However, when Insolar releases the live version of their new blockchain they will convert the current ERC20 INS tokens to a new native token.
Development & Roadmap
One of the most crucial things that we will look at when it comes to the development of a blockchain project is the amount of activity in their GitHub repo. This will allow the community to get a sense of how motivated the team is to meet the goals that they laid out in their roadmaps.
When we take look at the Insolar GitHub activity it is indeed quite impressive. In fact, over the last 6 months Insolar has been ranked number 1 in terms of total commits and they are ranked just behind the 0x protocol for total commits over the year.
Insolar GitHub commits compared to other projects. Source: Cryptomiso
If you were to take a look at the Insolar roadmap you can understand why there is this frenetic pace of code commits. The first big milestone for Insolar will be the launch of their Testnet v0.7 by the end of 2018 or early 2019. This will be released so that testing can begin on scalability and transaction throughput.
Not long after that they plan to release v1.0 of the Testnet which will include the functionality to run custom contracts. If all goes according to plan Insolar will release their live network which will allow for general public use.
Overall, Insolar looks like an ambitious project with a really large focus area. They are trying to completely change the way that business networks operate. They are also trying to do this by developing a blockchain v 4.0 which they think can address many of the challenges other ecosystems face.
Whether they have set goals for themselves that are too broad is up to you decide. However, the team is quite large, very engaged and is actively pushing code to meet their deadlines.
It will be interesting to see how the project progresses from here. If they are able do launch their Testnet and public network on time, and these prove to be a success, then it is possible that there could be a renewed interest for the new INS native token.
For now, you should keep your eyes on the official Insolar blog which the team actively updates. This should give you the latest information about the project and important development announcements.
Featured Image via Fotolia & Insolar.io