PLUG, from a product perspective, has built from scratch a platform for building blockchain-based applications and services. PLUG has not been built on Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other cryptocurrency code base; instead, we have built PLUG to directly address the needs of business-driven blockchains. The inspiration behind the first version of PLUG was seeing people trying to create interesting, especially non-financial, use cases on top of the Bitcoin codebase in late 2013 and having a difficult time due to the inflexible nature of the Bitcoin architecture.
Combining some of the best ideas from Bitcoin, along with research from traditional consensus and distributed systems, it soon became apparent how to provide similar, underlying functionality in a more extensible way. This led to the first version of PLUG, and the philosophy that security at the platform level does not have to get in the way of usability at the service level has guided our company’s path every step of the way.
Our central thesis is that, hype aside, the central value proposition blockchain will provide in practice is the movement of certain types of organizational trust and management of identity from a manual, operationally-driven process to an automated, protocol-driven process. This is similar to the way ‘The Cloud’ was overhyped early in its lifecycle as the be-all and end-all to all things corporate infrastructure, but in the end the impact could be summed up as giving organizations the ability to decide whether they would deploy infrastructure in a way that optimized for CapEx or OpEx1. Learning from the way these earlier technologies matured from over-hyped, breathless enthusiasm into boring workhorses that power today’s infrastructure, we have attempted from the start to build PLUG as a truly horizontal, general-purpose technology layer with the ability to integrate natively with other, existing layers of technology. Just as you do not need to know how to build a web server from scratch to build a website, we have ensured you do not need to know how to build a blockchain from scratch to build a blockchain. You use and integrate our framework much like any other traditional software library, removing much of the execution and maintenance risks associated with competing blockchain frameworks.
The systems we do have that rely on real-world identity are generally expensive to onboard to, necessitate a hub-and-spoke authority, and are (usually) cordoned off to interactions with either one organization or one use case. With blockchain, we see the potential in changing this across a wide range of industries. Through the rest of this paper, we will lay out how blockchain came about as a concept in the first place, how we made both the technical and non-technical decisions that guided our platform, and what use cases we believe this technology will have a positive impact upon. As always, the best way of learning is through experience. If the ideas presented here seem practical as applied to your field or domain, it’s likely there’s a good fit on the technology side as well, and we are more than happy to work with you to evaluate if that is the case.
PLUG is written in Python: a common language that most developers can already write in or learn, without having to learn a new, unwieldy, or obscure language.The PLUG framework can be used and implemented much like any other traditional software library, removing the usual execution and maintenance risks.PLUG is designed to allow different applications (or groups of users) to create trustless interactions between different PLUG networks and between PLUG and other blockchains. PLUG allows each use case to evolve in its own right, while still maintaining fidelity in transactions between them.PLUG provides flexibility, control, and security when building permissioned blockchains for business-driven services.When building on the fully decentralised public PLUGnet, the PLUG framework enables easy integration with pre-existing technologies into the blockchain. By connecting smaller, diverse blockchain networks together we are able to create a truly global, scalable, and evolving blockchain layer of the internet.
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