For all their popularity, blockchain platforms have been plagued by an ever-growing list of compromised security scandals, thefts and hacks. This has had a detrimental effect on the reputation and valuation of the ecosystem. Now a slew of top venture capital firms is backing Oasis, a blockchain-based cloud platform which promises a solution to the problem.
Oasis describes itself as a privacy-first, high-performance cloud computing platform. It has raised $45 million from marquee venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners.
Much like Ethereum, Oasis is positioning itself as a smart contract platform. The startup’s technology is mainly focused on implementing privacy and scalability in a decentralized fashion. The team boasts a roster of noted academics led by Dawn Song, a UC Berkeley professor who has been honored with the MacArthur Genius Grant and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Song and her colleagues at Oasis have also worked on privacy projects at Uber and MIT.
She explained the startup’s technology to online publication Techcrunch.
Achieving Scalability And Security
“We use a combination of trusted hardware and cryptographic techniques (such as secure multiparty computation) to enable smart contracts to compute over this encrypted data, without revealing anything about the underlying data. This is like doing computation inside a black box, which only outputs the computation result without showing what’s inside the black box,” she wrote to the publication.
Oasis’s first product is Ekiden, a blockchain platform that is secure and scalable. It uses Intel SGX – a protection environment released by Intel – to enhance security and separates execution of smart contracts from consensus mechanisms to achieve scalability. This means that not all nodes are involved in executing or arriving at a consensus.
Instead a set of randomly-selected nodes are chosen as committees using the proof of stake mechanism, which uses a nomination process based on the number of coins held by each node. To be sure, other protocols within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, such as Cardano, also use a similar approach to allocate resources. According to a Forbes post on Oasis, its platform conducts off-chain transactions to make the network faster.
Proof of Stake is also used to dynamically allocate and scale smart contract functions based on workload and system needs. “Our network protocol design allows compute and storage committees to process transactions without relying on heavyweight consensus protocols,” Song told TechCrunch.
This method of achieving scalability also has implications for the startup’s business model. Developers working on the Oasis platform will need tokens to pay for gas services. “As with Ethereum, in our platform storage and compute have different pricing models but they are both paid with the same token,” Song explained.
A Democratized AI Platform
The ultimate goal for Oasis is to democratize artificial intelligence data sets. According to Song, Oasis can help “codify” uses for user data by ensuring that it is protected and only available to those parties specified by the user. The practice will help make users more comfortable with sharing personal data with vetted and trusted third parties.
Other prominent investors in Oasis include the Binance, Bitmain, and Pantera Capital.