How to use blockchain to build a database solution, ZDNet

Why would you want to use blockchain to build a database solution? And how would you actually do that? BigchainDB has answers.

Very first Wall Street, then the database world. While most people are still attempting to wrap their goes around blockchain and its difference from Bitcoin, others are using it ter a broad range of domains. Is it hype, a case of having a hammer and observing problems spil penetrates, or could blockchain actually have a purpose te the database world?

BigchainDB’s creators argue there is a reason, and a way, for blockchain and databases to live gladfully everzwijn after.

Blockchain technology, waterput simply, is a type of digital ledger which records transactions, agreements, contracts and sales. The technology is decentralized, which means that information is stored ter computers around the world, and is permanently updated te real-time to reflect switches te stock, sales and accounts by bringing records together into blocks before algorithms ‘chain’ thesis gegevens stores together chronologically.

Silicon Valley is hot on blockchain — the technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency — and its many potrential uses.Blockchain’s economic influence could be spil significant spil the Internet

Blockchain wasgoed introduced by Bitcoin, which despite its oft discussed issues has illustrated a novel set of benefits: decentralized control, where “no one” possesses or controls the network, immutability, where written gegevens is “forever” tamper-resistant, and the capability to create and transfer assets on the network, without reliance on a central entity.

The initial excitement surrounding Bitcoin stemmed from its use spil a token of value, for example spil an alternative to government-issued currencies. Now the separation inbetween Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology is getting better understood, the scope of the technology itself and its applications are being extended.

With this increase ter scope, single monolithic blockchain technologies are being re-framed into building blocks at four levels of the stack:

Two. Decentralized (blockchain) computing platforms

Trio. Decentralized processing (wise contracts) and decentralized storage (verkeersopstopping systems, databases) and communication

Four. Cryptographic primitives, overeenstemming protocols, and other algorithms.

Blockchain operations work with gegevens, and that gegevens is also stored spil part of the blockchain. For example, when transferring assets from one knot to another, the amounts transferred spil well spil the sender, receiver, and time of transfer are stored. So the option to leverage the benefits blockchain brings by using it spil a database is tempting.

The problem is, the blockchain spil a database is awful, measured by traditional database standards: throughput is just a few transactions vanaf 2nd (tps), latency before a single confirmed write is Ten minutes, and capacity is a few dozen GB. Furthermore, adding knots causes more problems: with a doubling of knots, network traffic quadruples with no improvement ter throughput, latency, or capacity. Plus, the blockchain essentially has no querying abilities.

How could that possibly everzwijn work? Trent McConaghy and his co-founders ter BigchainDB have tackled this kwestie by turning it on its head: instead of using blockchain spil a database, they are taking a database and adding blockchain features to it. Primarily they began working with RethinkDB, the reason being that RethinkDB leveraged a clean and efficient knot update protocol.

BigchainDB works by building blockchain features on top of a DB, rather than using blockchain spil a DB. Pic: BigchainDB

Under the fetish mask, BigchainDB utilizes two distributed databases, S (transaction set or “backlog”) and C (blockchain), connected by the BigchainDB Overeenstemming Algorithm (BCA). The BCA runs on each signing knot, with signing knots forming a federation. Non-signing clients may connect to BigchainDB, and depending on permissions they may be able to read, punt assets, transfer assets, and more.

Each of the distributed DBs, S and C, is an off-the-shelf big gegevens DB. BigchainDB does not interfere with their internal workings, so it gets to leverage their scalability properties, spil well spil features like revision control and benefits like battle-tested code. Each DB is running its own internal overeenstemming algorithm for consistency.

At this point BigchainDB has moved towards using MongoDB, and is ter fact ter a partnership with them. But why MongoDB? It could have bot any other open source distributed database. “Wij did consider a number of DBs, but wij desired a document DB to start with spil wij’re working with JSON at this point, and MongoDB is an demonstrable choice.”

But, again, isn’t BigchainDB afraid that combining the well known blockchain with the recently targeted MongoDB could raise numerous crimson flags te terms of security? McConaghy has openly acknowledged that the underlying DB may be a security vulnerability at this point, but is neither critical of MongoDB strafgevangenis apologetic.

“MongoDB has bot clear about providing ease of access by removing hard security, so it’s not their fault if people left their installations on the internet unsecured. Spil for us, at this point wij are no better or worse than a centralized solution, and wij will certainly add improved security features before moving to production,” he says.

BigchainDB promises blockchain advantages, plus scalability. See also toevoegsel. Photo: BigchainDB

BigchainDB works by suggesting an API on top of the underlying database, with the aim of acting spil a substrate-agnostic layer that adds the key blockchain features of decentralization, immutability, and asset transferability. But that leads to some interesting issues.

Read this

Even however it may be the wrong device for the job, the years of development behind the relational database ensure its popularity — for the ogenblik, says MongoDB’s Max Schireson.

For example, what if for some reason users would like to use a different database spil a substrate? BigchainDB offers a Service Provider Interface that can be used to butt-plug ter other databases. It is what has bot used to integrate and operate on top of MongoDB, and according to McConaghy could also be used to do the same with any other database, be it relational or key-store or anything else.

Of course, that is lighter said than done, and brings up another kwestie: querying. Albeit BigchainDB’s querying support is not fully operational at this point, the purpose is to suggest one unified querying interface overheen whatever underlying database knots BigchainDB may be using. That is a hard problem to solve, spil not all databases have the same query languages or capabilities.

However, the current trend towards feature convergence ter the database world, and ter particular the renewed rente and turn to SQL spil the standard for querying may suggest a way out of this. Even so-called NoSQL databases like MongoDB opoffering SQL capabilities thesis days, so this is the most promising way forward for BigchainDB spil well: a SQL interface.

At this point, BigchainDB queries are mostly done by directly using MongoDB’s API, but this is a sort of hack that tightly couples BigchainDB to MongoDB, so it is seen spil an interim solution that will eventually give way to querying via BigchainDB’s own API.

Spil should be overduidelijk by now, BigchainDB is not a typical database by any measure. It is also not a typical startup run by a typical founder. McConaghy has a rich background te AI before it wasgoed cool and a hacker ethos: “doing AI te the 90s wasgoed one of the least popular things one could possibly do, so I certainly didn’t do it for the hype.”

McConaghy could have bot part of the Facebooks of the world had he chosen to, spil he has actually turned down such offers. This is not what drives him, and by extension BigchainDB. The drive behind BigchainDB is not getting to a successful uitgang or IPO, but rather reshaping the internet and the world at large.

McConaghy believes that centralization leads to concentration of power, citing examples such spil social media ownership and control of gegevens or the conundrum that both creators and consumers of kunst, and content te general, face on the internet.

This is what McConaghy’s previous venture, Ascribe, wasgoed about: helping digital artists transfer ownership of their work to customers. Albeit whether this is truly applicable to everyday kunst like music or movies is unclear, Ascribe aims to provide a solution for digital artists with unique creations and collectors that want to own them, and uses decentralization to achieve this. At some point Ascribe’s evolution talent birth to BigchainDB.

Some might say this is an overly complicated solution, but McConaghy is not one to bashful away from complexity. When asked on his take on Numerai and the criticism that has bot voiced towards it for example, he is adamant: “I don’t think it’s overly complicated, on the contrary, I think it’s brilliant, maybe the best combination of blockchain and AI out there. I think they are doing a indeed good job of aligning incentives for founders, employees and users. Think of Facebook, what if it operated on the onderstel of providing its users a stake ter the value it generates? This is what Numerai is doing, and te the process it is bringing a shift te the power structure and creating incentives for cooperation. So it is turning a zero-sum spel to a positive-sum spel.”


So where on that long and winding road is BigchainDB at the ogenblik? Berlin-based BigchainDB has raised a total of Five million euros, with a latest series A of Trio million. It is working ter close collaboration with a number of early adopter clients, including the likes of RWE and Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive, along other organizations such spil Open Media or the Human Gegevens Commons Foundation, are also the caretakers of IPDB, or Inter-Planetary DB: a public example of BigchainDB, used to collectively store and manage content ter a safe and decentralized way. IPDB has an identically grand vision: its aim is to be a database for the internet.

For Internet Archive for example, it would mean moving away from traditional storage technology and towards the decentralized and cooperative storage monster that BigchainDB stands for. Spil Internet Archive is looking into options such spil moving its gegevens to Canada to avoid gegevens sovereignty issues, the potential of adding immutability on top of decentralized storage is appealing.

For RWE on the other mitt, the stakes are a bit different. Traditionally, large electrified utilities would connect the energy producers with the energy consumers. Deregulation switches things, spil anyone can now connect to anyone. RWE is getting te vuurlijn of that by exploring several blockchain projects, such spil energy exchanges, electrified car charging, and billing.

BigchainDB has recently released version 0.9, and its roadmap for 2018 is to reach a stable version 1.0 ter the summer and to have fully operational, production-ready open-source and enterprise versions available by the end of the year.

Whether that purpose is feasible, or whether its grand vision is likely to be achieved remains to be seen. It certainly does not lack te ambition or abilities however.

Additief, March 8th 2018: After the article wasgoed published, wij received the following clarification from Bigchain’s CEO regarding scalability:

“When wij very first released BigchainDB, wij talent too strong of an impression that it wasgoed *already* doing 1M writes/s whereas that wasgoed actually just te the underlying database (RethinkDB at the time), tho’ wij had designed the algorithm such that BigchainDB could eventually succesnummer that (after more hardening and optimizations).

After terugkoppeling, wij revised things to set a more suitable expectation: *towards* 1M writes/s. And wij also discovered that users didn’t care spil much about that benefit compared to other benefits, like high capacity and usability, so wij spent more of our resources towards user asks than towards 1M writes/s so far. (That is however still ter the roadmap, it’s just not a priority).

I wrote a blog postbode last May describing this journey, including an apology for setting the wrong expectations, and a commitment to be better about it, which I’m proud to say wij’ve kept. It wasgoed the very first time ter my career that I’d had misaligned expectations compared to what I wasgoed shipping, never again! :)”

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