April 22, 2021
SKALE Network Mainnet Upgrade: The Climb to Denali and Beyond
The SKALE Denali Network Upgrade is now live!
Today marks a major milestone for the SKALE Network. It’s a movement from “middleman” controlled businesses, to democratized and decentralized Web 3 businesses spanning DeFi, gaming, B2B, NFTs, and more. That said, it’s been no small task. We’ve estimated that in order to lay the foundation of this decentralized network upgrade, thousands of contributors from hundreds of organizations have spent over 700,000 work hours during the last 3.5 years.
Denali undoubtedly brings many benefits. The most important is the release of the latest and greatest version of SKALE Chains. We are now ready to see decentralized applications run their own fast and low cost blockchains that are natively connected to the Ethereum Network.
Another benefit is the modular nature of the SKALE architecture, which increases the speed at which innovation can be incorporated into decentralized applications. Instead of relying on the pace of network-wide releases, developers will be able to build in specific functionality and new services into their own individual SKALE chains. This flexibility opens up the SKALE Network to an entire ecosystem of tools, strengthening it in specific areas by using existing bridges, file storage, oracles, data querying/analytics, roll ups/centralized verification, and other functions that have strong product market fit and support.
The current nature of blockchain is one size fits all, one chain fits all. Denali changes this thinking. Much like Docker and Kubernetes have allowed for easily customizable, but massively scalable cloud services, the same is now true for chain services. Chain services can now be independent, sharing the same pool of validators and inheriting the same security and transaction fidelity guarantees, but doing so with app-specific chains that use independently allocated resources.
This fundamental shift in how chains are provisioned and deployed and the multichain nature of the SKALE Network is one of the reasons the SKALE team is confident in its mission to grow Ethereum to support a billion users and trillions of transactions.
The SKALE Community has been using well known mountains as the names for release upgrades since February of 2019. To truly “SKALE” one must be ready to achieve new heights and face new more difficult terrain. This release follows the Tamalpais, Fuji, and Kilimanjaro upgrades and represents a significant improvement not only for the SKALE Network, but also for Ethereum-native blockchains in general.
Denali was selected in particular as it is the next highest mountain on planet Earth after Kilimanjaro. Why not Everest? Because this effort and movement is just getting started. There are many more releases in store that will bring newer, improved network product features for NFTs, DeFi, decentralized social media, B2B, governance, configurability, modularity, and more.
Denali Upgrade Features
This network upgrade brings Multichain to Ethereum and introduces a modular architecture for the SKALE Network – allowing for flexible and modular inclusion of native as well as third-party chain services including file storage, interchain messaging, oracles, rollups, and more. Also noteworthy in this release is the introduction of high-performance app-specific SKALE chains which means that each dapp and protocol can run on their own EVM-compatible chains that are isolated from other network traffic but inherit the security of the network as well as the security of the Ethereum mainnet.
The SKALE Network is unique as a highly expandable multichain network. Unlike most Layer 1 and Layer 2 networks, the SKALE architecture is built to support an ever expanding set of app-specific and protocol-specific chains. Chains of varying sizes can be rented by Dapp developers, DAOs, consortiums, and others to obtain high performance chains that operate using dedicated resources. The network supports this resource allocation via the use of an innovative virtualized subnode architecture.
SKALE chains make use of a mathematically provable Proof-of-Stake consensus model that draws its validator nodes from a large pool of validators. Nodes are virtualized into up to 128 subnodes allowing for much better resource utilization and chain economics. Nodes sets for each chain are randomly selected and then rotated frequently so as to provide increased chain security and improved transaction integrity.
This release allows for zero gas transactions, fast finality, interoperability with even more of the Ethereum ecosystem, and app specific chain deployment.
The Summits Leading up to Denali
The release of the Denali upgrade follows on the heels of a number of noteworthy releases.
This release was named after Mt. Tamalpais just north of San Francisco. It launched in February 2019 and created a multi-node SKALE DevNet for the 135+ SKALE Innovator participants and hackathon competitors. It was used by the network team to test the end-to-end functionality of the network including decentralized node operation as well as the 25+ smart contracts that run on the Ethereum mainnet and are used in the operation of the SKALE network
This release was named after Mt. Fuji (or Fuji-san) in Japan. It launched in August of 2019 and was the first SKALE Decentralized Incentvized TestNet. It was a testnet designed to be the last step prior to Mainnet production release.
This release was named after Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It launched in October 2020 and marked the introduction of the SKALE Mainnet. It integrated use of the SKL token and offered full delegation management and support. Bounty rewards, staking, delegation, and Ethereum native integration were all included in this release.
This release is named after Mt. Denali in Alaska. It launched in April 2021 and furthers the capabilities of the SKALE mainnet. It creates the first highly expandable multichain network that is tied directly into Ethereum and allows for more expandable and interoperable chain services.
Future releases will include a host of exciting new features including: onchain decentralized governance, greater configurations, an even more configurable enterprise grade SKALE, more advanced and targeted elastic pricing and chain size configurations, greater support for verification and sequencing technology, enhanced machine learning capabilities for SKALE ML, file storage enhancements, more open and flexible Trusted Execution Environment support, and more.
I want to remind everyone that this is an important step towards crossing the chasm from innovation to mainstream adoption for blockchain applications. It is a very important milestone, but one of many required improvements needed to remove the friction to the blockchain user experience. Enhancements in wallet functionality, identification, mobile authentication, fiat on/off ramp, enterprise accessibility, evolved government perspectives/legislation, and more are all required to help bring the power and vision of Ethereum to billions of users.
I am grateful for the many contributions of the validator community, developer community, ambassadors, token hodlers/stakers, and the core SKALE team who have put their energy and focus into the SKALE Network. The architecture and features in this release will be seen as natural and obvious decisions the further we get down the road, but this will only be because of the hard work and contribution of the broader SKALE community. There have been many pathways and shortcuts that promised quicker or easier routes, but they wouldn’t get us to the summits we must reach to achieve our goals.
Upwards and onwards.