Mainframe The web3 Communications Layer
The Mainframe network is the messaging layer for the new web. This goes beyond human-to-human messaging. There are many use-cases and applications for reliably, privately, and securely routing data packets through the Mainframe peer-to-peer network. Mainframe is resistant to censorship, surveillance, and disruption. With the exception of a catastrophic asteroid event or an aggressive alien invasion, the Mainframe network is simply unstoppable. We build with five fundamental principles as our guide.
Your Content Can’t Be Opened
All communication on the Mainframe protocol will utilize the most reliable standards in end-to-end encryption. No outside party, whether government, corporate, or rogue hacker, will have access to your messages or media.
Each Mainframe node has an asymmetric key pair associated with it. These keys are used to decrypt messages intended for this node. When one node wishes to send a message to another, it encrypts the message using the public key of the intended recipient node. This public key is obtained from a prior exchange of contact information that occurs out-of-band, such as by consulting a directory of contacts, or from a direct exchange of public keys between individuals. Packet encryption is part of Mainframe’s transport protocols and cannot be circumvented.
When a message is being shared in a group setting, it must be encrypted in a way that prevents would-be eavesdroppers from gleaning content or identifying the group participants. Although it is possible for the sender to encrypt the message separately for each recipient, this results in significant CPU and network loads as the number of participants in the group increases. Mainframe provides protocols for group shared key negotiation so that group participants can send encrypted messages more efficiently to one another.
Mainframe ICO Overview
The Mainframe ICO and MFT Token are launching a distributed, decentralized network to disrupt the encrypted communications and data services market. Mainframe is essentially a network of layers that leverages blockchain and cryptography for communicating and sharing data in a secure and efficient manner.
For individuals across the world subjected to surveillance and censorship to enterprises which routinely suffer costly data breaches, the need for a better way to communicate and transmit data is clear as day. The Mainframe ICO offers their network as a solution. (By the way, we find the name intriguing – Mainframe for a decentralized network?)
Mainframe Value Proposition
The Mainframe network consists of multiple layers that deploy a combination of advanced cryptography and distributed ledgers to grant users absolute control over their communications.
At the lowest level, Mainframe consists of a p2p network used to propagate and execute blockchain transactions. This network layer abstracts the underlying geographically traceable Internet transport layer it relies on, randomly assigning addresses to each peer or node. Value can be exchanged between nodes on this network using tokens.
Mainframe provides additional protocols above this transport layer for secure communications. Each Mainframe node exposes various p2p service interfaces to application layers, including interfaces for blockchain transactions, packet routing, packet holding, file storage and data services
In turn, each of these p2p services is provided entirely by peers operating in incentivized cooperation with one another, without reliance on any managed infrastructure.
Mainframe deploys five fundamental mechanisms to incentivize network functionality, facilitate scalability and ensure resistance to disruption:
- Encryption: the Mainframe network uses advanced encryption technology and offers secure messaging for P2P and group communications.
- Dark Routing: nodes will be part of a decentralized network, making messaging activities almost impossible to track.
- Incentivization: Rewards are given out to nodes that support the network incentivizing the support and growth of the decentralized infrastructure.
- Peer-to-Peer Architecture: The network is constructed using p2p architecture, which distributes all application data throughout the network. As a result, the network can neither be censored nor shut down.
- Interoperability: The Mainframe network allows for interoperability among systems, and the platform will eventually be made available for integration with any app, network, or blockchain.
The MFT Token is the underlying token of the Mainframe network . MFT will be used to reward nodes that keep the network running. Nodes will receive rewards for the timely and efficient relay of packets, the delivery of packets from sender to receiver and provision of reliable decentralized data storage and services.
Additionally, MFT can also be used as an exchange of value in marketplaces on the Mainframe platform. MFT is an ERC20 token.
The level of competition that Mainframe faces as it aims to become widely adopted as a communications platform is quite high. An alpha release of Onyx, the first application built on the Mainframe platform, is available for download on the website. While the project’s concept is not particularly innovative, Mainframe is one of the few organizations that already have a working product.
Use of Blockchain
MFT is an ERC20 compliant token. Network operators are rewarded with MFT tokens, which are also used as a means of exchange in marketplaces on the platform. It is stated that the Mainframe network allows for interoperability and will eventually be capable of being implemented with any application, network, or blockchain. However, more content should be included in the documentation discussing the value proposition of the token. As it is, the entirety of the content regarding token utility is given in 5 bullet points (only one of which – medium of exchange – is a use case that does not involve operational incentivization).
The whitepaper is moderate in length at 35 pages. The technical discussion is fairly comprehensive and has a good balance between readability and inclusion of specific technical details of the platform. In comparison, the business plan presentation is not as thorough. Market research consists of a qualitative assessment of the current landscape of communications technology and lacks quantitative comparisons with existing solutions that utilize blockchain technology. Details of the token sale are omitted from the document and are discussed on the organization’s blog. Overall, the whitepaper is fairly thorough from a technological perspective and visually appealing, but lacks business-related specifics.
Mainframe ICO Strengths and Opportunities
At the present state of the industry, services like Slack provide organizations with a way to communicate in real-time utilizing features such as file sharing. The catch of course is that data on services like Slack is visible to the service provider, which must be trusted for both security and to maintain the service itself.
Compromised data and service outages therefore still remain a possibility and do in fact happen. Even fully encrypted messaging platforms utilize centralized infrastructure to operate or store customer data, leaving them open to such issues.
The simultaneously decentralized and distributed nature of Mainframe improves on the models of previous platforms by eliminating the possibility of a data breach or service outage.
The distributed nature of the Mainframe network means that as participants in the network join and leave, the network has the ability to adapt itself accordingly. As the network scales, the number of possible routing paths between any two nodes increases, reducing the overall effect the loss of nodes will have on the network. The p2p layer of the the Mainframe network ensures nodes discover new pathways when a peer is dropped in order to maintain the overlay network.
The Mainframe ICO communications protocol is similarly designed so as to not rely on any specific set of nodes being present or connectable at a given time. Importantly, no entity (even Mainframe itself) can control or disrupt the operation of the network. The network service layers have also been designed to rely on specific nodes to support the development of fully decentralized applications.
For this reason, services have been designed to store individual shards of data across multiple nodes, while multiple nodes are designated to perform requested services. As a result of this network architecture, developers don’t have to manage their own infrastructure and consumers needn’t trust third parties for their services.
On the product progress front, the Mainframe ICO team have developed an alpha version of the first DApp built on the network, called Onyx. Onyx is described as a fully decentralized workplace messaging tool, similar to Slack, and is supported on all major platforms including mobile phones. It is already functional and available for download here.
The DApp runs the user Mainframe Node locally and connects to a network of Ethereum bootnodes deployed at data centers in Ireland, Northern California, and Tokyo. More can be read about the alpha release of Onyx here.
Mainframe ICO Weaknesses and Threats
The mainframe roadmap strategy has not yet been clearly laid out. In the whitepaper itself, there is a 3-stage roadmap specifically regarding development of the network, but no dates are provided.
Without an articulated roadmap for reference, there is no means by which to gauge the ability of the team to achieve targets. Roadmaps don’t just include development targets, but also targets for adoption efforts.
CEO Mick Hagen points out on his LinkedIn his previous startup shut down because of an inability to scale, which we believe further necessitates an explanation of what he plans to do differently this time to succeed.
To facilitate adoption by existing applications, Mainframe is built so that it can be integrated into any existing communication app. At the same time, Mainframe have released Onyx as a functional showcase of Mainframe’s potential, which the team describes as a more secure version of Slack.
What remains unclear is which approach to adoption the team plans to follow – direct competition through promoting their own communication apps, or winning over existing platforms for integration. With the plethora of potential use cases, it’s entirely possible a hybridized strategy could be deployed.
The issue right now is that there are no indicatiors pointing to which strategy Mainframe plan to employ for popularizing the platform. Currently, Mainframe have yet to establish strategic partnerships with enterprise clients to utilize Onyx or develop new DApps.
The Verdict on Mainframe ICO
The value proposition of the Mainframe network is impressive and the team behind the ICO have an ample amount of entrepreneurial and development experience behind them.
Despite these positive indications, we are concerned by the absence of a clearly defined strategy for adoption. While the dynamism of the Mainframe ICO leaves open the possibility for many roads to scale the product, which road it will be remains a mystery.