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Ethereum Mainnet for enterprise

Blockchain applications help businesses:

  • Increase trust and reduce the cost of coordination between business parties
  • Improve business network accountability and operational efficiency
  • Build new business models and value creation opportunities
  • Competitively future-proof their organization

Enterprise blockchain applications can be built on the public permissionless Ethereum Mainnet, or on private blockchains that are based on Ethereum technology. Find more information on private Enterprise Ethereum chains.

Public vs private Ethereum

There is only one public Ethereum Mainnet. Applications that are built on the Mainnet are able to interoperate, similarly to how applications built on the Internet can connect to each other, leveraging the full potential of decentralized blockchain.

Many businesses and consortia have deployed private, permissioned blockchains for specific applications based on Ethereum technology.

Key differences

  • Blockchain Security/Immutability - A blockchain’s resistance to tampering is determined by its consensus algorithm. Ethereum Mainnet is secured by the interaction of thousands of independent nodes run by individuals and miners throughout the world. Private chains typically have a small number of nodes which are controlled by one or a few organizations; those nodes can be tightly controlled, but only a few must be compromised in order to rewrite the chain or commit fraudulent transactions.
  • Performance - Because private Enterprise Ethereum chains may use high performance nodes with special hardware requirements and different consensus algorithms such as proof-of-authority, they may achieve higher transaction throughput on the base layer (Layer 1). On Ethereum Mainnet, high throughput can be achieved with the use of Layer 2 scaling solutions.
  • Cost - The cost to operate a private chain is primarily reflected in labor to set up and manage the chain, and the servers to run it. While there is no cost to connect to Ethereum Mainnet, there is a gas cost for every transaction which must be paid for in ether. Transaction relayers (aka Gas Stations) are being developed in order to eliminate the need for end users and even enterprises to directly use ether in their transactions. Some analyses(opens in a new tab) have shown that the total cost to operate an application may be lower on Mainnet than running a private chain.
  • Node Permissioning - Only authorized nodes can join private chains. Anybody can set up a node on Ethereum Mainnet.
  • Privacy - Access to data written to private chains can be controlled by restricting access to the network, and on a finer grained basis with access controls and private transactions. All data written to Mainnet Layer 1 is viewable by anyone, so sensitive information should be stored and transmitted off-chain, or else encrypted. Design patterns that facilitate this are emerging (e.g. Baseline, Aztec), as well as Layer 2 solutions that can keep data compartmentalized and off of Layer 1.

Why build on Ethereum Mainnet

Enterprises have been experimenting with blockchain technology since around 2016, when the Hyperledger, Quorum, and Corda projects were launched. The focus was largely on private permissioned enterprise blockchains, but starting in 2019 there has been a shift in thinking about public vs private blockchains for business applications. A survey(opens in a new tab) conducted by Forrester revealed that β€œSurvey respondents ... see this potential, with 75% stating that they’re likely to leverage public blockchains in the future, and nearly one-third saying they’re very likely”. EY’s Paul Brody has talked(opens in a new tab) about the benefits of building on public blockchain, which (depending on the application) may include stronger security/immutability, transparency, lower total cost of ownership, and the ability to interoperate with all of the other applications that are also on the Mainnet (network effects). Sharing a common frame of reference among businesses avoids the unnecessary creation of numerous isolated silos which cannot communicate and share or synchronize information with each other.

Another development which is shifting the focus toward public blockchains is Layer 2. Layer 2 is primarily a scalability technology category which makes high throughput applications possible on public chains. But Layer 2 solutions can also address some of the other challenges that have driven enterprise developers to choose private chains in the past(opens in a new tab).

Enterprise developer resources

Organizations

Some collaborative efforts to make Ethereum enterprise friendly have been made by different organizations:

  • Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA)(opens in a new tab) The EEA enables organizations to adopt and use Ethereum technology in their daily business operations. It empowers the Ethereum ecosystem to develop new business opportunities, drive industry adoption, and learn and collaborate with one another. The EEA’s Mainnet working group is a focal point for representatives from businesses who are interested in building on the public Ethereum Mainnet, as well as members of the Ethereum community who would like to support them.
  • Ethereum OASIS Open Project(opens in a new tab) The Ethereum OASIS Open Project is an OASIS Open Project that exists to provide a neutral forum for diverse stakeholders to create high-quality specifications that facilitate Ethereum’s longevity, interoperability, and ease of integration. The project intends to develop clear, open standards, high-quality documentation, and shared test suites that facilitate new features and enhancements to the Ethereum protocol.
  • Baseline Project(opens in a new tab) The Baseline Protocol is an open source initiative that combines advances in cryptography, messaging, and blockchain to deliver secure and private business processes at low cost via the public Ethereum Mainnet. The protocol enables confidential and complex collaboration between enterprises without leaving any sensitive data on-chain. The Baseline project is a sub-project of the Ethereum OASIS Open Project, and is coordinated by the Baseline Technical Steering Committee.

Products and services

Tooling and libraries

Scalability solutions

Layer 2 is a set of technologies or systems that run on top of Ethereum (Layer 1), inherit security properties from Layer 1, and provide greater transaction processing capacity (throughput), lower transaction fees (operating cost), and faster transaction confirmations than Layer 1. Layer 2 scaling solutions are secured by Layer 1, but they enable blockchain applications to handle many more users or actions or data than Layer 1 could accommodate. Many of them leverage recent advances in cryptography and zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs to maximize performance and security.

Building your application on top of a Layer 2 scalability solution can help address many of the concerns that have previously driven companies to build on private blockchains(opens in a new tab), yet retain the benefits of building on Mainnet.

Enterprise applications live on Mainnet

Here are some of the enterprise applications that have been built on top of the public Ethereum Mainnet

Payments

Finance

Asset tokenization

Notarization of data

Supply chain

Insurance

Credentials and certifications

Utilities

If you would like to add to this list, please see instructions for contributing.

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