Orbs: A Re-introduction

Ran Hammer
Ran Hammer


2 years ago


A lot has happened in the blockchain and crypto space in the last couple of years. Pandemic stress turned to optimism, DeFi summer brought new heights, NFTs attracted major attention, Web 3.0 emerged as the prevailing narrative and now - some bearish sentiment thrown into the mix. All of this history has contributed to shaping our industry.

In crypto terms, the Orbs project launched in what seems like prehistoric times and the team has had to adjust with the changing ecosystem in order to stay relevant. While always leveraging Orbs’ core technology assets, these adjustments resulted in Orbs focus on DeFi, the recent launch of Orbs 3.0 and the introduction of Orbs as a layer 3 infrastructure.

During recent months, some of our partners and community members have asked me to help redefine “What is Orbs” as of mid 2022.

Well, without further ado - here it is -

What is Orbs?

Orbs is an open, decentralized and public blockchain infrastructure executed by a secure network of permissionless validators using Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus.

Orbs’ unique features, designed for interoperability with EVM and non-EVM blockchains, together with its decentralized network of nodes, allow it to be set up as a separate decentralized execution layer operating between the base blockchain layer and application layer.

Orbs works in conjunction with existing L1 and L2 solutions, such as Ethereum, Polygon, BNB Chain, Avalanche etc., as part of a tiered blockchain stack. A dApp does not need to move its liquidity onto a different chain in order to utilize Orbs execution services. Orbs acts as a “Decentralized Backend”, enhancing the capabilities of EVM smart contracts and opening up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for Web 3.0, DeFi, NFTs and GameFi.

Pain and Solution

As the industry evolves, DeFi and Web 3.0 protocols and applications are becoming more and more complex. Yet, while the protocols and applications are evolving, smart contracts are still inherently limited in nature as they are sandboxed by design. For example, smart contracts cannot trigger future actions at arbitrary conditions or times since state changes require something external to the contract to initiate a transaction. Another example is a smart contract’s inability to query data external to the chain, a limitation known as the “oracle problem”. This means that a lot of the new breeds of DeFi and Web 3.0 projects may still need to execute a significant portion of their functionality using centralized backend infrastructure.

It is not difficult to explain why centralized backend infrastructure is not optimal for DeFi and Web 3.0 projects, as it contradicts the trustless ideal of the industry. Centralization poses security and robustness risks due to the existence of a single point of failure. Centralized infrastructure exposes project participants to malicious behavior, increases liability and is usually expensive and difficult to maintain.

This is where Orbs L3 comes in. The Orbs Network operates as a decentralized serverless cloud allowing developers to extend smart contracts with L3 decentralized backend services. These are deployed to be executed by Orbs PoS validators (known as Guardians) and relieve projects of the need to rely on centralized backend solutions. Such interactions may be simplistic, such as sending transactions at a specific time or upon a specific event, or more complex, with logic in high level languages like JavaScript and Python.

How does Orbs work?

Orbs provides two different execution services -

Orbs Lambda - Decentralized Serverless Cloud Function

Orbs Lambda is an event driven, serverless and decentralized computing solution, similar in concept to AWS Lambda - but decentralized.

Write your cloud function in the industry standard language JavaScript, without any blockchain specific knowledge. Your code can utilize dozens of familiar libraries such as node-fetch. Select a trigger for execution, such as a scheduled time interval, a new block or a new on-chain event, and deploy. The whole process can take as little as 30 minutes.

Orbs Lambda is not meant to replace your smart contracts. It is a complementary solution that allows developers to enrich their business logic without sacrificing decentralization.

For a more flexible solution resembling AWS EC2 see Orbs VM.

Orbs VM - Decentralized Docker-Based Virtual Machine

Orbs VM provides a dedicated decentralized virtual machine, similar in concept to AWS EC2 - but decentralized.

Implement your custom service as an industry standard Docker container, without any blockchain specific knowledge. Your container can rely on any programming language you like, such as Go, C++, Rust, JavaScript, Java, Python and more. Deploy your container to Orbs VM and have it executed instantly as an always-on service on dozens of independent validators nodes in a fully decentralized manner.

Orbs VM is not meant to replace your smart contracts. It is a complementary solution that allows developers to enrich their business logic without sacrificing decentralization.

For a simpler solution resembling AWS Lambda see Orbs Lambda.

Still not sure about how to put Orbs lambda and Orbs VM in context?

Well, here are 2 nice examples to visualize it in terms using Orbs for smart contracts enhancement and decentralized backend solutions:



Additional Information

The Orbs Network includes a full blockchain stack designed and implemented from scratch by the Orbs core team, and is not a fork of any existing solution. The project codebase is fully open source with about 220 repositories publicly available on Github.

The Orbs Network is powered by the ORBS token, which is used for the settlement of fees and provides the system of incentives for election of Guardians (the Orbs validators) using Proof-of-Stake consensus.

The Orbs project was founded in 2017 and the Orbs Network was launched in March of 2019. Orbs is being developed by a dedicated team of more than 30 people, with offices in Tel Aviv, London, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul.

What’s Next?

Well, that’s about it for now!

I hope you found this short blog post insightful and that it helped you organize your thoughts about the Orbs Network and what it actually does.

Myself and the rest of the Orbs team are super excited about this direction for Orbs and are working hard to realize the true potential of the project.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

If anyone has any questions - please feel free to reach out to us on the Orbs Official Telegram channel

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