A brief analysis of the various types of middleware in Web3
As the Web3 ecosystem becomes richer and richer, a number of organizations have started to define middleware specifically for the Web3 development stack. The understanding of the concept of middleware has basically inherited the original meaning that these products are characterized as B2B services in the encrypted world without directly facing the end-user, but the classification and scope definition are not the same.
With the gradual development of the Web3 ecology, the services required by Dapp are gradually subdivided, and middleware, as a B2B service in the cryptographic world, slowly begins to receive attention. This article will analyze and compare the product mechanisms of Chainlink, Pocket Network and MEMO.
Chainlink is a decentralized prophecy machine network in the header, and its main service is to provide a feeding function for Defi products.
Chainlink’s thematic mechanism is divided into three steps.
First, the user selects a prophecy machine service provider, either manually through the chain’s reputation system and history of services, or automatically through the order-matching contract provided by Chainlink. The prophecy machine service provider then executes the contract and reports the data off-chain. Finally, the data returned by multiple parties will be aggregated by the aggregation contract to determine the final value, with a weighted average taken for numerical results, and a user-configurable aggregation method for results that cannot be weighted.
In a new whitepaper released earlier, Chainlink explains its product update: secure off-chain computing through DON (Decentralised Prophecy Machine Network), which extends the function of prophecy machines from mere data transfer to data computation. By adopting Chainlink’s new DON solution, Dapp can combine on-chain code with off-chain computation results to increase scalability.
To ensure the security of off-chain data and calculations, the new version of the white paper introduces a two-tier prophet network. The first layer of the prophecy machine network is the prophecy machine service providers that execute the contracts, and when these prophecy machines question the aggregated results, any node can become the supervisor to raise an alarm. The layer two network then votes on the layer one result and if the alarm is ruled valid, then the malicious node in the layer one network that generated the incorrect result forfeits the pledged margin and rewards the overseeing node.
The layer two network contains hundreds of independent Chainlink nodes whose interests are deeply bound to Chainlink, and Chainlink relies on the resolutions of these nodes to ensure security.
An attacker would have to bribe each layer node to avoid reporting from a layer one network node. Suppose there are n nodes and each node pledges a margin of d. The total margin for the malicious nodes is at least dn/2 since it is necessary to buy most nodes for evil, and the overseer has access to the margins of all malicious nodes, i.e. dn/2. Any node can be an overseer, so the total amount of bribes required is (dn/2)*n=dn²/2.
Pocket Network’s core function is to provide decentralized API services and, in terms of track classification, is in the cloud API track of blockchain.
In any web service, when the business volume is large enough, the client needs to be separated from the server to improve the processing performance, and when the client needs to call the data from the server, it needs a special interface to assist, and this is where the API comes in.
In a blockchain, all Dapps need to read the data on the public chain when running, such as reading the user’s account balance on a certain chain, and this process also needs the help of APIs. The blockchain business scenarios all adopt the RPC invocation method, so they are usually also called RPC services.
The product mechanism of the Pocker Network is straightforward and is divided into three components: the application, the node and the main network.
The main network is responsible for running the incentive system through the distribution of rewards, as well as randomly matching applications and nodes, and re-matching them after each session cycle (about 60 minutes) to ensure the security of the network.
However, as POKT’s main network is a separate public chain, its native token assets are also built on a separate public chain, and users need to download Pocket’s wallet to use it, which does not naturally support interaction with other public chains.
MEMO is a decentralized storage protocol that provides indexing and querying of blockchain data, enabling developers to build APIs for blockchain data. MEMO can categorize complex blockchain information into an easily searchable format, similar to how Google labels and provides access to complex information on the web.
What makes MEMO truly unique is the decentralized network it is built on. With storage nodes all over the world and a huge off-chain storage space, MEMO has leading storage capacity, and the fast verification system and proof of integrity design in MEMO’s decentralised storage protocol make MEMO also ahead of other projects in terms of data security and transmission speed.
Indexing of data is essentially a process of ‘human creation of taxonomies and subsequent repetitive labelling of data’, and indexing of blockchain data relies on users completing both processes.
In MEMO’s indexing effort, a data API is first developed by the developer, in which the developer defines the smart contract for sub-graph indexing, which specific events in the contract, and how to map the events to specific fields, which is a taxonomy, a scheme for labelling the data. After completing such a taxonomy, other nodes in the network need to keep executing according to this standard, labeling new data in the blockchain according to this framework and storing it in the nodes.
The basic workflow of MEMO: the MEMO node continuously scans the blockchain for new blocks, searching for the data required by the subgraph, and then labels this data and stores it in the MEMO node by means of a module with a pre-defined labelling scheme. When the Dapp wants to retrieve the data, it makes a request to MEMO via the data port.
Taken together, the models of the three types of products reveal several different development paths for decentralized middleware.
The main service provided by Chainlink — the feed function — is stable in operation, has mainstream Defi products as customers, users are not easily shifted, and business stability is high.
However, in terms of business volume in terms of the number of requests per day, Chainlink experienced individual peaks between August and October 2021, after which the business volume stabilized but did not grow significantly, concentrating on around 5–10 million requests per day. This may be due to the fact that Chainlink’s main service relies on Defi, which is no longer growing as explosively as it did in the previous two years, and places some limitations on Chainlink’s business.
Pocket Network is in a similar track profile to MEMO, and similar to Chainlink in terms of its decentralized service model, which was built from the outset to conform to the values of the crypto world. the API service and the blockchain data indexing track potential, both of which will grow with Web3 as a whole, unlike Chainlink which will be relatively more dependent on niche tracks.
However, there is a huge gap in business volume between Pocket Network and its centralized competitors, which will be difficult to fill in the short term; moreover, Pocket Network’s current service model is relatively homogeneous and entirely pay-per-volume, which is relatively weak in terms of competitive market strategy compared to MEMO’s cost-cutting approach with edge storage space, and it will be difficult to make changes. It is not easy to change.
MEMO, like Chainlink, entered the market early and became a mainstream player in a highly deterministic track, MEMO was established early and developed rapidly, and has already laid out many mainstream ecologies such as Metis, Sui, Harmony, etc., and has a greater overall first-mover advantage in the market. At the same time, MEMO is a completely decentralized network, which can avoid the single point of risk of centralized networks and is in line with the values of the crypto world.
However, MEMO currently still relies on free node services to provide data indexing and querying, and has not yet formed a fully sustainable business model. The team’s future work will be balanced with the development of a pass-through economy, maintaining low costs while pursuing a sustainable development path.