IoTeX Pantheon — Enterprise-Ready Consortium Blockchain for IoT

This is Part 4 of IoTeX’s Mainnet GA announcements. Throughout May 2020, we will share other components of Mainnet GA, including new tokenomics, governance, and technology. For more on Mainnet GA, visit the IoTeX Forum.

IoTeX Pantheon — Enterprise-Ready Consortium Blockchain for IoT

Introducing Pantheon by IoTeX

We are proud to announce Pantheon, IoTeX’s enterprise-ready consortium blockchain designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). Why Pantheon? In Greek mythology, the 12 “Olympians” composed the Greek pantheon, a council of trusted gods who each contributed unique strengths to the group. This philosophy is also reflected in IoTeX Pantheon, which allows users to build their own council of trusted members to orchestrate data sharing, automation, and other actions in a trusted fashion.

The Greek Pantheon of 12 Olympian Gods

IoTeX Pantheon was developed throughout the past year, stemming from ongoing initiatives with IoT enterprises. At a high-level, Pantheon adopts the IoTeX protocol and layers on flexible user management and IoT-related tools. Instead of keeping this enterprise framework proprietary, IoTeX has decided to open-source Pantheon for the entire community to explore! Pantheon will be launched as part of Mainnet GA in early June.

In this article, we explain public vs. consortium blockchains, what is unique about Pantheon, and enterprise use cases we are actively exploring.

What is a Consortium Blockchain?

Unlike public blockchains that are “permissionless” (i.e., anyone can participate in consensus), a consortium blockchain is “permissioned”, meaning consensus is restricted to specific users. As you may know, public blockchains are maintained by decentralized miners to reach global consensus. On the other hand, consortium blockchains are maintained by a membership of authorized users, each of which runs their own node and updates their own version of the ledger, to reach consortium consensus.

While consensus-related activities (i.e., producing new blocks) are restricted to consortium members, the ability to read/write data to a consortium blockchain can be customized to be public, members-only, or a hybrid depending on the specific use case. Some example implementation options include: 1) restrict read/write access to consortium members only (i.e., sensitive data only meant for consortium members), 2) restrict write access to consortium members only but enable public read access (i.e., data from consortium members is publicly useful), or 3) restrict write access to the consortium owner and enable read access for consortium members only (i.e., grant access to proprietary data to specific parties). This ability to set specific “permissions” for different audiences is unique to consortium blockchains.

Consortium blockchains also differ from public blockchains with regards to crypto-economics. Public blockchains utilize tokens to incentivize pseudonymous miners to manage governance and produce blocks — “full decentralization”. On the other hand, permissioned blockchains do not require tokens to facilitate governance and block production, as these responsibilities are managed directly by known consortium members — “partial decentralization”. As a result, consortium members are often both the users and the maintainers of a consortium blockchain.

For more on public vs. consortium blockchains, check out this post by Vitalik.

What is unique about Pantheon?

While other consortium blockchains like Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum are general-purpose, Pantheon is designed for real world IoT use cases. Over the past year, IoTeX met with all types of IoT organizations to hear first-hand how blockchain technology may be applied in the real world. The answer? Some enterprises, such as our Ucam partner Tenvis, are interested in building next-gen permissionless solutions via public blockchain. But many IoT organizations are actually interested in enhancing the trust/automation of their current solutions via consortium blockchain.

What makes Pantheon unique is it is custom-built to support the full-stack IoT use cases shared directly by our enterprise contacts. By creating a Pantheon blockchain (“Pan-Chain”), users can benefit from powerful capabilities that are specific to Pantheon, which are summarized below:

  • User & Group Management: Pantheon is equipped with flexible permissions tools to customize which users/groups can participate in consensus and read/write data to the blockchain.
  • IoT-Oriented Capabilities: Pantheon has useful capabilities for IoT, including device identity and data lifecycle management, to enable trusted users/devices/data for trusted multi-party applications.
  • Full-Stack Framework: Most importantly, Pantheon seamlessly synchronizes with other IoTeX technologies, such as secure hardware and encrypted storage, to enable end-to-end IoT solutions (see figure below).

Pantheon Use Cases for Enterprise

What kinds of real world use cases will Pantheon enable? Imagine a group of enterprises is involved in a multi-party process, where some or all interactions between parties lack trust. Today, establishing trust between untrusted parties relies on regulation, legal action, and other reactive means. A better approach is to start with a trusted foundation composed of trusted users/devices/data, where trust is proactively established and guaranteed by technology. This is exactly what Pantheon provides: a “trusted collaboration zone” that ensures no party can perform untrusted actions.

Welcome to the New Internet | Muneeb Ali

With Pantheon, enterprises do not need to re-create the technology required to enable trusted users/devices/data — let Pantheon do the heavy lifting. Instead, enterprises can focus on their expertise: the business logic and economics that ultimately power/differentiate their use cases. Some examples of Pantheon use cases are provided below:

➡️ Immutable “Source of Record”

Pantheon enables a shared, verifiable, and immutable “source of record” that can be used for audits, insurance, and more. This “source of record” is verifiable as the users, devices, and actions that created it are all verifiable.

  • Video: An immutable history of video feeds can be used for insurance and audits to prove without a doubt something happened at a specific time. This is important for retail security cameras, dashcams in taxis/trucks, delivery of goods, and more. We are actively working with enterprises in this area, which also involves the technology that IoTeX built for Ucam.
  • Supply Chain: The need to synchronize information across parties is a huge burden in the supply chain industry today. Working from a shared “source of record” can lubricate many supply chain bottlenecks today. We are actively exploring this area with Pebble Tracker & IIC.

➡️ Multi-Party Data Sharing & Analytics

One of the biggest requests from enterprises is the ability to share/analyze data with other parties without going through a centralized Cloud provider. Pantheon provides a trusted environment to make this happen.

  • Digital Twins: Enterprises that use the same machines (e.g., planes, manufacturing, solar panels) may share/analyze data and metadata to fine-tune the performance of their machines.
  • Suppliers/Customers: Enterprises may share supplier/customer details in a “private collaboration zone” to improve their ability to fight fraud, predict payback schedules, and optimize operations.

➡️ Business-to-Business (B2B) Contracts

A trusted “source of record” and trusted data sharing are prerequisites for trusted B2B interactions. With Pantheon, trusted data generated by trusted users/devices will trigger a variety of smart contracts.

  • Automation: A smart contract can be deployed via Pantheon to listen for a specific data “trigger”; after the trigger is received, the smart contract will automate a specific piece of business logic in a trusted fashion.
  • Fractional Ownership: Another type of B2B contract is ownership of an asset — physical contracts may be digitized and updated based on pre-defined rules and trusted data “triggers”.

What’s Next?

The future of Pantheon is extremely promising — in fact, the revolutionary IoT products that are powered by the IoTeX public blockchain (e.g., Ucam, Pebble Tracker) are also directly compatible with Pantheon. IoTeX is now exploring how Pantheon + Ucam/Pebble can be applied to various industries with telcos, IoT manufacturers, and other global enterprises. In addition, IoTeX plans to utilize Pantheon in future Industrial Internet Consortium testbeds.

Don’t just take our word for it — try Pantheon out for yourself! Although Pantheon is targeted at enterprise users, it will be open-source and available for anyone to use. Our goal is to allow any developer to stand up a single-node Pan-Chain quickly, easily, and effectively. Pantheon will be launched to the public as part of Mainnet GA in early June.

For more information, please see the official Mainnet GA forum thread.

About IoTeX

Founded as an open source platform in 2017, IoTeX is building the Internet of Trusted Things, an open ecosystem where all “things” — humans, machines, businesses, and DApps — can interact with trust and privacy. Backed by a global team of 30+ top research scientists and engineers, IoTeX combines blockchain, secure hardware, and confidential computing to enable next-gen IoT devices, networks, and economies. IoTeX will empower the future decentralized economy by “connecting the physical world, block by block”.

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