Applications and Use Cases

Blockchain Offers an Exciting Alternative to the Traditional Database Architecture

August 02, 2019

When we think of databases, we typically envision data stored on servers, in some remote data center, subject to all kinds of security, redundancy and disaster recovery measures. A traditional database architecture is heavy on hardware, which means it takes up a large amount of actual real estate in the form of racks of servers and all the power, heating and cooling equipment required to keep them running seamlessly.

Blockchain offers an alternative to the traditional database schematic, in a serverless form that has disaster recovery, security, availability and automation baked directly into the architecture. In a nutshell, a blockchain database enables participants to maintain, calculate and update new database entries. No central administrator is required, as all participants act as a consensus mechanism for maintaining the database. This is particularly useful for gathering business transactional data like account balances and ownership records.

One of the inherent flaws with a traditional database is that it typically uses a client-server network architecture. That means clients (users or participants) have specific permissions associated with their accounts. An administrator, or centralized authority, has control of the entire database, however. And that means that anyone who possesses the proper permissions can access the system and steal, destroy or otherwise corrupt the database.

Blockchain decentralizes that control, enabling businesses to quickly build secure databases without the need for large, expensive server architectures. The technology uses smart contracts to enforce business rules, enabling databases to be backed up and verified simultaneously and continuously. Replication and security are built into the system, which may be run on a public or private blockchain. In a public scenario, data is stored throughout the world without the need to pay for any of the servers, while in a private blockchain, a company may run replicated systems or own their own nodes. Blockchain may also be easily used on cloud platforms, making it extremely flexible and relatively easy to deploy.

Research from Boston Computing Network indicates that 60 percent of companies that lose their data will be forced to shut down within six months. Blockchain offers the security and redundancy that traditional database architectures with centralized control often do not, by organically replicating and verifying data on a continuous, distributed basis. It provides an affordable alternative to traditional databases for a variety of use cases, and promises to be an important business database tool moving forward.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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