This is a discussion of recent innovative developments in the blockchain related technologies which needs to be understood. I am no expert in cryptography or economics and this not on crypto-currency or economics but mostly on the blockchain, transactions & storage as well as various opportunities and applications.
One the issues around blockchain is the slow transaction times. Blockchains used by bitcoin suffers very slow speeds and this is impacting the entire ecosystem surrounding it. The newer blockchain, Etherium is also facing similar trait and this is much more evident with the recent curiosity around crypto-kitties. [reference 1]
STEEM & bitshares blockchains as well as the new EOS blockchains addresses this problem with Graphene.
This technology could be a solution for various distributed – highly transactional applications & can act as the engine of public-ledger implementations.
Graphene is an open-source blockchain implementation which theoretically supports 100K transactions per second. This is been proved with STEEM blockchain where the steemit.com social media platform is already performing very large number of transactions similar to the like, post, comment operations on social media applications like facebook.com. The behind Graphene is well established and the CTO for all the 3 block chains which uses Graphene is Dan Larimer who is blockchain expert.
Exploring graphene to replace traditional databases at the transaction layers could be a possibility that can be explored.
Another major aspect of distributed applications is storage. This not just a capacity planning and CAPEX problem, but as the technology needs to address the highly mobile user base. Further complications are added by the low internet speeds of developing countries where mobile based payments (eg: mPesa in Kenya, IMPS based systems in India) & related applications are becoming mainstream. These markets are important not only because of the large volumes but also the speed at which innovative trends are adopted but the governments are pushing digital payments, e-governance etc.
The storage layer has two issues at a very high level
We will skip the storage for the time being and directly jump to retrial as I believe tats where the new blockchain based technologies has an advantage above other systems.
Traditionally the retrieval can be slow due to multiple reasons like disk failures, slow network speed, congestion in the network, denial of service attacks etc. The block chain evolution has contributed in the development of new file systems which can address many of the issues associated with accessing content over a network.
Inter Planetary File System (IPFS)
This is another innovative development which has its roots in the blockchain — especially the bitcoin blockchain technology. The file system provides uniquely addressable HTTP / Web URL like unique identifiers for files. This means, we get a truly distributed, de-duplicated file system which is accessible like a traditional URL. This also means, web servers for content delivery & CDNs can be atleast in theory replaced as well !
Possible applications of these new innovations
Graphene — can be seen as a high speed, fault tolerant, in-memory transnational data store. Though more study is required, this sounds like meeting the ACID requirements for databases & offers faster transaction times.
This faster transaction times can be used in Telecom HLRs, Financial processors & even facebook like systems where Likes/comments etc happens at a very fast pace. As a proof of concept the social media portal Steemit.com uses Graphene as the underlying datastore.
IPFS — IPFS can be used as the data store where all the metadata and the content itself gets stored. This can be considered as disc storage and object/data store in the database. Thogh it doubles as a disk and database the access speeds are very high and the distributed nature makes denial services difficult. So is censorship. Surprisinly this was recently used during the Catalan independence referendum, 2017 to provide free access to content.
In a nutshell, these technologies can be applied to solve many of the issues around transacton speeds, storage etc in addition to crypto-currency. Finding innovative use cases with maximum impact can provide opportunities for both service providers as well as for enterprises.
Existing use cases and deployments
There are multiple existing non-crypto-currency deployments out there which can be considered to be out of beta.
- Steemit.com — a unique blend of crypto-currency and social media platform
- The Catalan Independence Referendum, 2017 use case
- Everipedia.org is planning to migrate their platform to IPFS and Graphene
- Fllowmyvote — uses Graphene for storing the transactions
A much larger set of existing use cases including the crypto-currency scene is pictured below.
In a nutshell, these technologies can be applied to solve many of the issues around transaction speeds, storage etc in addition to crypto-currency. Finding innovative use cases with maximum impact can provide opportunities for both service providers as well as for enterprises.
- Crypto-kitties & Etheritum blockchain congestion
- Graphene documentation : http://docs.bitshares.eu//index.html
- Start your own block chain ! : https://objectcomputing.com/resources/publications/sett/march-2017-graphene-an-open-source-blockchain/
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