A Blockchain Comparison: Corda vs Ethereum vs Polygon
Using blockchain for widely-available, publicly-accessible platforms means there’s yet another “thing” in the tech world to comprehend – in this blockchain comparison we’re going to examine the relationship between a few systems to explain how each of these systems can be used for different scenarios.
Entrepreneurs and end-users alike should know a bit about how blockchain works so here, we’re going to give a quick rundown on what makes blockchain tick then we’ll explain the major differences between corda vs ethereum vs polygon.
Table of contents
- Blockchain & decentralized apps
- Ethereum – It powers the second largest cryptocurrency
- Polygon – An L2 solution (built on Ethereum)
- Corda – It offers a flexible system
The blockchain crash course: decentralized apps
Among some of the most notable differentiators of blockchain-powered apps from those using more traditional storage and delivery models is that they’re decentralized (hence the abbreviation, dApps) either in part or sometimes entirely.
Unfortunately, the nomenclature doesn’t do much for the average person so you probably picture something like the pic above. While it’s not ideal for your work area or storing physical documents, the design is efficient and incredibly secure for storing data or code that’s nearly impossible to tamper with.
What is decentralized?
If you remember during the first big push towards cloud computing, one of the benefits was “centralized” everything which was supposed to be ideal. Now, blockchain evangelists are singing praises because of the “decentralized” nature of these technologies which can seem suspect if you’ve been keeping up.
Source: Enterprise Storage Forum
First, the actual part of “where” data is physically stored is mostly irrelevant for modern computing.
Unlike a vinyl record that electromechanically stores music in a “linear” fashion data can be stored all over the place as it has been done for years in multi-platter hard drives and network storage systems using RAID arrays, among others.
For example, most of your data stored on major clouds such as those from Apple, Google, or Microsoft, uses files systems that mirror, span, and stripe data for performance and redundancy.
Blockchain works on a similar premise but the entirety of the data is distributed between connected clients and networks, depending on the design. As you can see in the visualization of transactional volumes from different nodes of the Bitcoin network (circa 2016) nodes, data is copied far and wide.
Typically, most blockchains run using two different kinds of nodes – a “full” variety with the entire ledger and a “light” version that usually has the minimum amount of data to function – at each of the many endpoints on the network.
You can think of a light node a bit like rolling storage used in many security camera systems where data is retained for X number of days or weeks before the oldest footage is overwritten with new data: here, the node keeps a specific segment of the ledger (usually just enough recent, validated transactions to maintain blockchain integrity) that it uses to cross-reference transactions so it can be of value to the blockchain.
Not only can you use a blockchain to store run-of-the-mill data like text, images, and other file versions but it can be used to store code as well.
This opens up the doors for immutable code that can’t be easily changed (especially at its source) which effectively blocks outsiders from taking advantage of local mods or hacks that could be used to alter code or trick the ledger system.
The main driver for decentralized data is the consensus mechanism
The most notable element of blockchain storage is the secure consensus mechanism that validates transactions across a blockchain and it comes in two primary flavors:
- A proof-of-work (PoW) is a computationally intensive method that adds new blocks only after there is a collective agreement from all peers that the work is accurate which can then pool its computational resources into the blockchain.
- A proof-of-stake (PoS) eliminates most of the resource and power-intensive processes and instead uses the validation from the largest stakeholders. The various flavors of PoS validation are faster than their PoW counterparts but can be less secure.
The consensus mechanism is not so different from a jury – before data is committed to the chain, there has to be an adequate amount of agreement, depending on the architecture, or it’s rejected. Also like a jury, some require unanimous agreement from all parties, as we see in most PoW consensus mechanisms (i.e., all nodes need to check-in and agree) whereas the different PoS variants can range from requiring agreement from the majority to only a handful of trusted validators.
Of course, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that makes blockchain work and the implications are immense. For more reading on blockchain, check out this comprehensive article on Medium that does a great job of explaining many other components and nuances.
A high-level blockchain comparison between Corda vs Ethereum vs Polygon
In order to explain the capabilities and potential benefits within the realm, we’re going to look at a few existing blockchains and touch on each value proposition.
Ethereum powers the second largest cryptocurrency and so much more
The Ethereum blockchain has evolved quite a bit over the years, most notably successfully transitioning from a PoW to PoS model which opens up the capabilities for uses in the real world besides its native cryptocurrency, Ether (ETH.)
The Ethereum platform offers developers a ton of tools made possible by the underlying blockchain which are, in many cases, vast improvements over a traditional database from a functionality perspective. However, it’s not a viable replacement for databases across the board though it is ideal for its ability to prevent outside meddling.
Like many open-source tools, they offer a ton of tools that teach developers how to properly use the system plus, it has a substantial developer community whose conversations can be found around the web.
Some of the main selling points of Ethereum for businesses wanting a blockchain are:
- A powerful, immutable ledgering system
- The ability to accommodate smart contracts (e.g., programs, files, etc.)
- Minting and tracking of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- And access to a multitude of pre-existing, transparent dApps built with Ethereum.
This is what makes Ethereum much different than the most recognizable name in the crypto world, Bitcoin. While the Bitcoin network mostly stores bits of text data (e.g., notes and metadata related to Bitcoin transactions), Ethereum can store code.
As such, use cases for Ethereum are far and wide but to get an idea of what some are doing, check out some dApps on the market today and watch the video below for a rundown of why so many are attracted to the idea of decentralized finance (DEFI) for business.
Polygon is an L2 solution built on Ethereum with its own value proposition
One of the best parts about Ethereum is that by design, it can support Layer 2 (L2) blockchain systems like Polygon.
Polygon is powered by the same validation mechanism used by Ethereum to offer a more refined blockchain with some additional tricks.
One of the most notable offerings from Polygon is its ability to functionally accommodate child blockchains that can be processed off the chain as a batch and then validated in a single transaction with the Ethereum ledger.
This allows Polygon to be incredibly speedy and secure as it still needs the Ethereum validation mechanism but batch processing makes the process significantly less expensive.
This is one of the many reasons that we used Polygon for the Tkkr platform we’re helping develop as it’s ideal for the NFT component of their luxury watch line.
Corda offers a flexible system with incredible controls over highly specific blockchain
Corda has done an excellent job of making their blockchain seem as boring as by gratuitously packaging every blockchain buzzword into their web copy but the system offers unique advantages.
One of the biggest selling points of blockchain can also be the biggest drawback – a “blockchain done right” usually means that systems can be manipulated by administrators or power users. This makes it difficult in industries that mandate regulation such as healthcare.
Corda and its community have managed to develop an open-source ecosystem called R3 that relies on distributed ledger technology (DLT) that can be deployed and cultivated with more control than most systems which will typically function as mostly unregulated digital economies.
For example, rather than validate transactions on a public blockchain that can reveal sensitive information, Corda can be configured to only validate with trusted counterparties. The tradeoff here is that data can be better protected (think HIPAA-protected data) by only validating among trusted entities rather than relying on the entire blockchain.
They’ve also designed the architecture to comply with all kinds of regulatory compliances that other blockchains don’t inherently include which can mean faster time to market for businesses in regulated industries.
To learn more about Corda without having to parse their flowery copy, check out their video below.
We can build your blockchain solution to suit
The application for blockchain is vast – we’ve seen how it can be used in play-to-earn economies among many other use cases that are growing by the day.
If you want to learn more or discuss using blockchain in your project then get in touch!