What Is Ontology (ONT)?

Ontology (ONT) is a “distributed trust network” which also provides the “infrastructure” for creating a “trust ecosystem.” The Ontology network promotes “trust cooperation” and it allows a diverse group of business and technology projects to use its distributed trust platform.

According to its official website, Ontology is the first Chinese blockchain-related project to become a member of the Decentralized Identity Foundation, which is an organization focused on standardizing the “decentralized ecosystem” for creating, issuing, and managing digital identities.

Ontology: Developing Common Standards For Blockchain

Ontology has also reportedly been “involved in” the ISO/ TC 307  blockchain project, which focuses on the “standardization of blockchain technologies and distributed ledger technologies (DLT).”

As described on its website, the Ontology platform consists of several distributed ledgers that create a “decoupled architecture.” This type of network design can “support multiple blockchains” and “traditional IT systems” at the base, or underlying layer. Similar to other blockchain platforms, Ontology’s network supports smart contract programming.

Core Protocols For Identity Verification, Data Exchange

At the application level, the Ontology platform supports “multiple modules and protocols” for facilitating various business processes. The protocols are designed to address the scalability issues facing older blockchain networks. Ontology’s series of W3C (World Wide Web Consortium, an open standards organization) compatible “core protocols” includes those for data exchange, identity verification, and authorization of standard processes.

Ontology’s cryptographic signature protocols have been developed according to China’s “national cryptography standard”, RSA, and ECC (Elliptic-Curve Cryptography). Ontology’s design team “supports the development and upkeep of decentralized technology and data systems.” As mentioned on its website, Ontology “lets its partners focus on their business operations” as it handles all the technical work” related to a project.

Updates Released For STOs, Sharding, dApp Incentive Model

In order to allow developers with a “wide range of technical backgrounds” to create applications on the Ontology network, the platform’s design team has put together a “series of application frameworks.” These include APIs, software development kits (SDKs), and several application modules.

As mentioned in the Ontology team’s technical summary report (published on January 11th), the platform’s developers have released updated designs for security token offerings (STOs), sharding, and the dApp incentive model. After conducting market research, Ontology’s developers have created a new OEP-506 token standard proposal. The token standard recommends a series of interfaces for launching STOs, while also outlining know-your-customer (KYC) requirements.

According to the Ontology development team, sharding “will solve the challenges of blockchain scalability.” As noted in a blog post by Ontology’s developers, the platform’s version of sharding will “ensure decentralization and security of blockchain networks.”

Towards the end of last year, the Ontology development team had asked its community members for recommendations on how to set up an incentive program for developing decentralized applications (dApps). After receiving feedback from users, Ontology’s team has put together several incentive (compensation) options that developers can choose from when creating decentralized applications (dApps).

Technical Goals: “Ease-Of-Use” & Scalability

Honglei Cong, a senior blockchain professional at Ontology who previously worked as a principal software architect at Dell EMC (a Fortune 500 data storage technology firm), has said ease-of-use and scalability are currently the top technical priorities for Ontology. Cong added that there are new developer tools including the Python Compiler and the Wasm (web assembly) platform that the Ontology team plans to start working with.

On March 30th, 2018, the “first open letter” to the Ontology technology team noted that the Ontology blockchain framework would include:

  • a “complete distributed ledger system”,
  • a “peer-to-peer (P2P) network protocol”,
  • a “modular consensus protocol set”, and
  • a “modular smart contract mechanism”, among other features.

The platform’s development team appears to be following through with its plans, as the team revealed on January 4th, 2019 that it will be working with TEEX, a P2P computing network, to improve “on-chain” security and privacy.

Developing “Private” Smart Contracts

The cooperation between TEEX and Ontology’s development team will reportedly involve developing “secure client private key solutions.” This will be done by working with a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), which is “a black box” that resides inside computer chips. The TEE separates application code and data from external software application.

Ontology’s public blockchain network will use TEEX’s proprietary “Layer-2 privacy-preserving computation solution” to develop a private smart contract execution environment. Developers working in this protected environment will be able to program smart contracts “on-chain”, without compromising data privacy and network security.

A Little History: Ontology Was Developed On NEO’s Platform

As crypto enthusiasts know, Ontology was first developed on the NEO platform. Ontology’s founder, Li Jun revealed (at the time when the Ontology mainnet was launched last summer) that his company is one of NEO’s “strategic technology partners.”

Similar to NEO (which has two native tokens, NEO and GAS), the Ontology network supports two tokens. Before the launch of Ontology’s mainnet, there was only one token, ONT, that existed. A token that first resided on the NEO blockchain, ONT was also distributed to NEO holders via an airdrop (conducted in June 2018).

There had been two phases of the ONT airdrop, with the second phase completed after the launch of the Ontology mainnet on June 30th, 2018. As the platform’s main token, ONT serves as part of the platform’s governance mechanism. ONT holders can stake their token holdings in order to participate in the Ontology network’s decision-making process.

ONT token holders also receive newly created ONG tokens as a type of reward for staking. This type of dual token model is also found on the NEO platform which distributes GAS tokens. Similar to GAS tokens on NEO, the ONG tokens on the Ontology network are used to fund the execution of smart contracts. Each ONT has been programmed to “release” ONG tokens for the next 18 years.

Looking Ahead

There are many professionals with a wide range of skill sets and academic backgrounds that are part of the Ontology development team. In future posts, we might discuss how Ontology’s founders and its other team members are helping to further improve the distributed trust platform. We may also look at some of Ontology’s business partnerships with other blockchain or technology companies.