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Deep Pocket: Messari Research Highlights, Part 3

In Part 3 of the Deep Pocket series, based on Messari's research into Pocket Network, we’ll cover how Pocket’s protocol has grown, and how v1 will boost the quality of the network even further.
Deep Pocket: Messari Research Highlights, Part 3

From bringing decentralization to the blockchain node infrastructure world, to attracting thousands of applications and believers in this mission, Pocket Network has grown and evolved at a breakneck pace. Soon, it’ll be time for the protocol to enter a new era.

While Pocket’s v0 has serviced a need for decentralized node infrastructure, the next iteration of the protocol, v1, has the potential to propel Pocket into mainstream adoption. Messari has highlighted how Pocket v1 can usher in this next stage of node infrastructure. We’ll cover some of the key takeaways from their research here. Make sure to see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4 of this series for more of Messari's insights.

Pocket Network v0 has focused on bringing a new approach to blockchain node infrastructure, looking for better ways to serve blockchain data to applications whenever they need it. Most of the existing node ecosystem, outside of Pocket Network, does not reflect the ethos of Web3, lacking decentralization at its core and relying on isolated points of failure. Pocket launched its decentralized node infrastructure to fill this gap in the market, while incorporating a new tokenomics approach to support the growth plan for its protocol.

With v0, Pocket has grown to enable a distributed network of 48K+ nodes in 30+ countries, 2K+ applications, and an average of nearly 1 billion serviced relays per day in less than two years of the network being up and running. In this time, Pocket has proven the use case for a multi-chain focused node protocol to provide solutions that centralized alternatives cannot.

Pocket Network's v0 Growth

Pocket Network’s v0 growth can be broken into 3 key, interrelated aspects: relays served, node network growth, and application growth. With a larger and more decentralized network of nodes actively servicing data requests, the network is more secure and resilient, leading to 100% uptime and higher quality of service, which in turn attracts more applications. At the same time, with more applications, the network receives more requests to service data relays, more nodes are incentivized to service those relays in return for rewards in $POKT, and a cycle of growth is established.

Without a resilient network of servicer nodes and the right incentives, the network wouldn’t exist. Creating an easy onboarding experience, setting aligned token-based rewards, and ensuring decentralization have been key to keeping the above growth cycle churning.

So what’s next after all this growth during v0? Pocket v1, the incoming network upgrade, will bring big changes and improvements to the inner dynamics of the protocol, while doubling down on the features that make Pocket unique.

Below, we’ll look at the separate v1 “modules” that will allow Pocket to truly optimize its protocol: Utility, Consensus, Peer-to-Peer, and Persistence.

Note: for an even deeper, more technical dive into each of the below modules, you can view the Pocket V1 Protocol Specifications.

A New Utility Model to Increase Scale and Efficiency

Pocket delivers a utilitarian model to Web3 access. With v1, Pocket will focus on what makes its protocol great - its decentralized node service - and find new ways for nodes to perform at their highest level.

One of the previous bottlenecks in the protocol was latency. To address this challenge, Pocket increased the number of nodes working in a session for an application (from 5 to 24). Quality, efficiency, and availability of service are some of the crucial factors for applications to choose to utilize Pocket, and this adjustment helped the network make strides in those areas.

With Pocket v1, the goal is to increase that quality and efficiency, setting a foundation for the protocol to achieve exponential scale. Pocket will introduce a new agent in the ecosystem - the Fisherman - who will take on the validation needs of the system while freeing nodes to do what they do best: deliver a high-quality relay service. Fishermen will be the agents (disguised as apps) evaluating the quality of service from nodes while giving a test score that, over time, will steer a larger proportion of node rewards towards the Servicers who are providing the greatest quality of service. These test scores will be based on nodes’ availability, latency, and data consistency.

By introducing a validation agent like the Fisherman, Pocket can ensure that applications are always matched with high-quality nodes, while simultaneously incentivizing those nodes to do their best work by freeing their time from accessory tasks.

A New Consensus Protocol to Enable Exponential Scale

Under v0, Pocket developed upon the Tendermint Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus mechanism, while the network was proving the hypothesis that a truly Web3-aligned node infrastructure provider could bring unique solutions to applications and developers. However, Pocket’s exponential growth has surpassed the scaling possibilities under this consensus approach.

To enable the next growth stage, Pocket will replace Tendermint with a modified version of HotStuff BFT, enabling a surge to trillions of serviced relays in the network. The technical capabilities of HotStuff will allow communication bandwidth to scale exponentially (in tandem with the number of nodes), and will greatly reduce communication complexity in general.

The use of the previous consensus protocol caused a bottleneck in scaling the node network, due to the communication structure and bandwidth/storage limitations. However, with the change to HotStuff, Pocket is set for new levels of growth.

New Communication Structure for Continued Growth

Pocket’s Peer-to-Peer module will also change from a random gossip model to a structured gossip architecture. What does this change mean?

With a structured gossip module, the consensus process isn’t held up by trying to communicate everything to the entire network, all of the time. Participants in the network are now unburdened from “gossip” that isn’t relevant to them, which will help bring a significant reduction in bandwidth usage. This means more efficient and scalable communication, with less message duplication, all while maintaining the required redundancy of the network. Overall, this is another v1 change that will increase service efficiency alongside scalability, enabling more nodes to participate in the protocol without the network experiencing issues.

New and Improved Ways of Achieving Long-Term Data Persistence

The upgrades on the Persistence module work towards long-term data reliability and sustainability, setting v1 on the right path for the future.

While v0 handles data persistence through Tendermint, this approach has high storage costs, and is not optimized properly for full nodes and their storage demands. The v1 changes to data persistence will involve a move to a Tamper Proof Hybrid Model DB and a decoupling of the persistence layer. These changes will make full nodes more of a priority, and will bring some of the following benefits:

  • Significantly faster access to state data, with less resources required to request such data
  • More control and options for node deployment configurations
  • Reduce blockchain data storage needs by around 80%
  • Ability to quickly spawn up additional databases

Below are some examples of the deployment configurations alluded to above.

An Improved Value Proposition for Applications

Pocket v1 is building upon and evolving the network’s best existing value propositions, rather than focusing too much on expanding the scope of its protocol.

The update will improve Pocket’s service and further establish its reputation as a no-downtime, cost-effective, decentralized, and scalable solution for applications. Meanwhile, the protocol continues integrating more chains, serving more applications, and boosting the availability and resiliency of its node network.

Learn more about the impact of Pocket v1 in the latest Messari research. Remember, you can also read an even deeper dive into the specs of each of the above modules via the Pocket V1 Protocol Specifications.

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