WHY DOES POLKADOT NEED MIDDLEWARE?
Blockchain has changed the narrative in the world of technology, helping users to break free from the influence of centralized authorities. The sheer number of blockchain projects being developed and launched bears evidence to its increasing popularity and adoption. Today, forward-looking enterprises leverage its security, trust, and immutability to bring innovation to their operations. At a high level, a blockchain is an ordered chain of records known as blocks, but building a perfect blockchain from the scratch is quite complex and daunting. It involves understanding a lot of technical intricacies of cryptography, peer-to-peer networking, data storage, and consensus algorithm. The iteration from idea conception to deployment takes time and serious effort.
However, Substrate, a modular blockchain framework by Parity, solved the problem of blockchain development by enabling developers to construct blockchain speedily. Substrate is the same technology stack that the Polkadot blockchain, and other Polkadot-based decentralized applications (dApps), is built. With Substrate framework, dApp developers can not only quickly create advanced blockchains, customized to the project requirements, but also save resources and time to focus on the business logic of the application. And what might have taken weeks to complete could now be launched within "minutes", depending on how complex the project is.
But what next after developing a blockchain application? The dApp needs to "bond" with the underlying network resource. This is where blockchain middleware comes in.
What is Middleware?
Middleware is a suite of software that facilitates interaction between two or more isolated applications or services. It is the framework that connects the application, data, and users together. Without these middleware protocols, blockchain developers need to build almost every component from scratch, a task that is not only daunting, but also limits innovation. So a blockchain middleware enables different blockchain functionalities and services to communicate seamlessly and efficiently, within bordering about the convolution of the underlying infrastructure. One of such popular tools in the Ethereum ecosystem, is the Infura API.
Infura is a hosted node service platform specifically built for the Ethereum network. By offering infrastructure-as-a-service, Infura allows developers to run applications, either on the mainnet or test network (Ropsten, Rinkeby, and Kovan), without having to set up their own Ethereum node. So what Infura does is to provide a set of tools for developers to integrate to the Ethereum and IPFS networks with a line of code.
With this solution, developers and enterprises do not have to host or maintain nodes on their own. However, Infura is a centralized service provider, which in turn breaks blockchain's core concept of decentralization. The centralized approach of Infura therefore poses the threat of single point of failure that can compromise the integrity and availability of all dApps that utilize the service.
Apron Network - the "Infura" of the Polkadot ecology
Built on Substrate framework, Apron Network is a decentralized platform that provides infrastructure services for dApp developers, dApp users, and operators in the blockchain space.
Apron aims to be the decentralized version of Infura, by providing API services for users across multiple chains including Polkadot, Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, Polkadot, IPFs, Heco, Helium, and others. Apron API enables DApp developers to connect to the network more quickly.
The fact that Apron Network is Substrate-based makes it perfect for any Polkadot application (parachain) to integrate seamlessly for the best blockchain experience.
Significance of Apron to Polkadot Ecosystem
Polkadot has been one of the fastest rising decentralized networks in recent times, with the remarkably sheer number of dApps springing up across the Polkadot ecosystem. The unique selling proposition of the blockchain is its interoperability. With such a great mandate to enable inter-blockchain communication, there is a need for utilities that streamline access to Polkadot data and services. Apron Network presents a massive opportunity to change how parachains connect with the Polkadot network.
Without distributed nodes, the Polkadot network cannot be decentralized. However, nodes are costly to setup and manage. Apron removes the need for developers to own, set up, and maintain expensive infrastructure. By connecting with Apron API, Polkadot developers can conveniently access diverse infrastructure services needed to implement their services on the network, without experiencing the stress and huge cost of managing the infrastructure.
This also comes with the additional benefits of convenience. Both dApps developers in the Polkadot ecosystem and infrastructure service providers do not have to go on marketing expedition to obtain these services. Apron Network serves as the plug. Such convenience in accessing infrastructure services affords dApps to thrive and innovate in the Polkadot ecosystem.
That way, Apron serves as the decentralized "middleware" that links parachain developers with blockchain nodes provided by infrastructure service providers.
Build an easy-to-use "module" (DApp version Substrate) for Polkadot ecological developers
Apron Network creates an easy-to-use framework for Polkadot ecology developers to integrate without worrying about the underlying infrastructure or the security and availability of their dApps. By leveraging Apron key modules, which consists of Apron Pillar Node, Apron Node, Apron Service Marketplace and Apron SDK, developers will be able to run their blockchain applications in a convenient, safe, and cost-effective way.
Apron Pillar Node provides stability and security that keeps the network operations live and available at all times.
Apron node, built on Substrate stack and OCW-enabled, enables infrastructure service providers to offer their infrastructure as a service to the public via one-click deployment.
Apron SDK is the module through which Polkadot dApp developers can attain consistent dynamic equilibrium and secure data exchange between the application and Apron nodes. DApp developers simply have to integrate the Apron SDK in the parachain.
Apron Market is the platform that connects the services offered by infrastructure service providers with the needs of DApp developers. It can be considered as a form of decentralized AWS service market. It utilizes smart contract to execute service discovery and delivery. Additionally, dApp developers will be able to request customized infrastructure services on the platform.
By harnessing these suite of services, Apron can help accelerate the expansion of Polkadot ecological DApp.
Provision of diverse infrastructure services for Polkadot ecology
Apron Network offers various API services that connects infrastructure service providers with DApp and decentralized finance (DeFi) developers. So whether it is node service, on-chain data indexing service, random numbers, message service or price feed service, Apron provides the Substrate-powered tools for any dApp developer within the Kusama and Polkadot ecosystem to conveniently develop parachains and access full blockchain infrastructure services without bordering about the underlying infrastructure.
Apron Network as the "hub" of the interconnected infrastructure of the Polkadot ecosystem
Considering the diverse infrastructure services targeted on the platform, Apron Network is positioned as the hub of the interconnected infrastructure of the Polkadot ecosystem. Apron Network will attract a large base of high-quality infrastructure service providers and become the go-to for dApp developers and users to connect stably, consistently and securely to the Polkadot network. With time, Apron Network would evolve into the new gateway to the Web 3.0, enabling participants to freely choose what service to use and providing unrestricted access to those services.
The Road Ahead of Apron Network
The middleware service market has been predicted to witness rapid growth. With Apron Network leading a new era of decentralized interconnection that is perfectly suited for the blockchain space, the project is poised to capture a decent market share in the blockchain infrastructure service industry.
Apron aims to be the hub of dApps and blockchain infrastructure services connection across the blockchain universe. As it evolves into this reality, it will not only capture the best service providers that can meet the service demand of dApp developers and consumers, but also integrate dApps on multiple chains. In the near future, Apron will extend its support across different blockchains including Polkadot/Kusama, Ethereum, BSC, Huobi Eco chain (Heco), Filecoin, Helium and Layer2, and many others yet to be unveiled.
Apron Network has already hit the ground running to achieve its goals. The project has reached strategic cooperation with Trustbase to provide infrastructure technical support for Polkadot developers. Apron Network will pass through different phases of growth to attain its full stature as the trusted gateway to Web 3.0.
The call for blockchain to have its own decentralized "Infura" has been made, and Apron Network is the answer.
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