What's the relationship between Canton, the Canton Network, and the Canton blockchain protocol?

With the launch of the Canton Network, we’re introducing an open blockchain that over time will become an intrinsic aspect of any application that builds on the Canton protocol. The Canton name now serves as an umbrella for both the Canton blockchain protocol, and the open Canton Network blockchain that builds on it.

The Canton blockchain protocol defines mechanisms for preserving transaction integrity via two-phase commits, privacy via sub-transaction payload encryption, and consistency guarantees via proofs among parties involved in a given workflow. The protocol defines a synchronization service, operating on a sync domain, which guarantees a consistent sequence for transactions. The synchronization service also confirms transaction commits for a set of Daml nodes (“participants” in the Canton protocol) that are involved in a common workflow, without revealing transaction details.

The Canton Network is an open blockchain “network of networks” that builds on the Canton protocol. It introduces a global name service: the Canton Name Service, or CNS, that allows Daml parties to find and interact with each other.

The Canton Network also offers an open, decentralized Canton sync domain that can accept connections from any Canton participant node. This global sync domain consists of multiple peer sync nodes operated by a collective of infrastructure providers. It uses a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus protocol to give high guarantees of integrity and fault tolerance. Over time the BFT protocol underlying the global Canton Network domain will also become available as a deployment option for any private Canton sync domain.

Any Canton application can choose to use either a privately operated sync domain or the global decentralized domain operated by the Canton Network. The Canton Name Service and other early Canton Network applications will use the global decentralized sync domain.

The Canton Network makes it possible for private Canton applications, which you can think of as “Canton Intranets” or “subnets” to link to each other via the global decentralized domain, making true cross-organization and cross-application composability a reality. This happens via enhancements to the multi-domain protocol in Canton, and new multi-domain application tooling and infrastructure.

I look forward to helping the Daml community learn about the Canton Network, and learning from you as well.