Octopus network — a revolution in parachains deployment?

Octopus is a very interesting project being developed on top of the NEAR Protocol that will launch its mainnet in September. You may be asking, why we are writing about NEAR-based project if we are a Polkadot community? Well, Octopus is creating a great synergy between these two platforms and we decided to show you why does it matter.

But let’s first review the technologies we will be talking about so we can fully appreciate what Octopus is doing.

NEAR is a delegated Proof of Stake network that focuses on scalability, user experience and easy smart contract development. Its scalability is based on sharding with a design very similar to the upcoming Ethereum 2.0. Current transaction speed is roughly 100,000 per second and we already see a rising ecosystem of working dApps on the NEAR. NEAR also provides an easy-to-use wallet (with name-based addresses similar to the ENS) allowing an email or phone backup.

Smart contracts

Smart contracts in NEAR are being written in Rust (the same modern language that is used for development of parachains or smart contracts on Solana) and thus provide a high level of security and speed of the contracts themselves. Some examples of already running applications are Ref Finance (DEX), Skyward Finance (launchpad for new projects based on the auction system).

In order to fully appreciate the amazing work that has been done by the Polkadot team, we have to dive a bit deeper in how the parachains are actually developed.

The story goes like this — Polkadot developers realized all parachains will eventually share most of their codebase. For instance network communication, block creation, consensus algorithm and other parts necessary for the blockchain development. So, they decided to build the Substrate framework, a tool that can be used for an easy creation of the parachains that provides most of the blockchain functionality right out of the box.

Actually, not only parachains can be developed by Substrate, standalone blockchain networks too! And guess what, Polkadot and Kusama are written in Substrate as well. It’s a real masterpiece of engineering allowing for a great re-usability and we will be hearing about Substrate more and more in the future. To make an example of the Substrates great flexibility and development ease, there’s a 4-part video tutorial on YouTube on how to create a fully functional, Bitcoin like blockchain in just a matter of hours.

Although it’s never been so simple to develop your own blockchain, you still have to face one big challenge. How are you going to deploy your parachain to the Polkadot or Kusama? There are (will be) three options

  • win a slot in the parachain auction
  • become a parathread
  • make use of a nested relay chains

Parachain auction

As we have learned recently, winning a slot in the parachain auction can be quite expansive for a project. Although you can crowdfund and you are actually just locking your funds, not every project will have millions of USD to invest into the parachain slot. Also, there’s a limit of around 80 slots (some of the original 100 will be occupied by parathreads and common-good chains) so it seems this option will be available only for a platforms (like Moonbeam or Astar) or a big DeFi projects like Acala or Bifrost.

Parathreads

There’s no initial cost for becoming a parathread, instead you will pay a fee for each transaction that you want to include in the block. This seemingly removes the biggest obstacle (price of the slot) but they are two caveats. First, not every project will fit into the pay-as-you-go model. And second, parathreads are not developed yet and its unsure when we will see this functionality on Polkadot.

Nested relay chain

Nested chains will allow parachains to become a relay chain as well and therefore to host its own parachains. For instance, Energy Web or Darwinia would like to become a relay chain as well. One would expect that the price of the slot would be much lower for projects coming to those platforms and therefore solving the biggest parachain painpoint. However, this idea is purely on the paper and we won’t see this happening for at least another year or two.

And so that’s why we have Octopus Network to the rescue! Octopus will offer an easy way of deployment of a Substrate-based blockchains and with minimal costs! As you know, parachains can enjoy shared security provided by the Polkadot Relay chain — with Octopus, they will be backed by the NEAR Protocol mainnet validators offering almost the same level of security. So Octopus is a basically set of NEAR smart contracts allowing for communication between NEAR Protocol and Substrate-based blockchains, or so-called appchains.

Appchains

Applications deployed to the NEAR Protocol are called appchains. The idea is following — parachain slots are quite expansive and mostly make sense for the platforms (think Acala, Moonbeam or others). Parathreads are useful but do not fit every projects strategy. So here comes the appchain idea, easy and cheap way to deploy application-specific blockchains that might not fit the Polkadot model.

DeBio Network

First appchain to be deployed to the Octopus is DeBio — decentralized biological data on the blockchain. It’s a first blockchain dedicated to create an anonymous and trustless biomedical testing. Biomedical data are something unique and most valuable to every human being but your genetic records are currently tied to your identity and vulnerable to frauds — which is something DeBio wants to solve.

DeBio solves the problem by letting the users to collect genetic samples by themselves, choose a lab that will do the test and send the data anonymously. Results are collected via DeBio and no user identity is revealed in the process. On the hand, anonymized data are necessary for research so there will be a marketplace allowing the submit algorithms that can operate on those data.

Team

The Octopus team is very skilled one, they have successfully built Substrate-based solutions in the past, they organize Rust community in China and created first Chinese Substrate training courses.

Octopus team is therefore technically very solid and is still educating the Chinese community about Substrate, Rust and blockchain development in general.

Skyward finance sale

Skyward is a permisionless launchad for new NEAR-based projects with a novel price discovery mechanism based on the auctions. Octopus will be selling its tokens from 20th of August and you are more than welcome to join the auction to get yourself some tokens.

As you can see, the technology that is a basis of Polkadot and parachains is so interesting for developers that it’s being to ported to other chains like NEAR Protocol. Octopus can offer a new home for a Substrate based chains when the slot prices are either too high or they have been already occupied with 100 parachains (which is the number of slots limit).

Therefore we believe that Octopus will have a firm place within the Polkadot ecosystem and it will help with its growth in the upcoming years.

If you like this article, consider supporting us by the nomination of your tokens to Kusama or Polkadot validator going by the POLKADOTTERS name.

Czech bloggers & community builders. We are validators of Polkadot, Kusama, Darwinia, Crab, Bifrost, HydraDX, StaFi, Centrifuge under the name: POLKADOTTERS