BlockChain: What Is This all About?

May 28th, 2016

Ron Gordon
Director – Power Systems

BlockChain is starting to gain attention.  Let’s start with a simple view of what this “database” organization is about.  To me, the easiest way to view this is that BlockChain is a database that acts as a shared general ledger.  It consists of a record with a “key,” and then continues with fields that pertain to that key.   An example might be a car manufacturer.  In BlockChain, the “key” might be the VIN number.  Since this is a shared database, the manufacturer might create a “record” in the automobile BlockChain with the VIN number, and then fill fields for type of car, model, color options, original miles, etc.  Then, the car goes to a dealer who might add current mileage, date arrived, date sold, whom sold to, sales price, and other options like warranties and dealer added parts.  After that, the customer registers the car, and the DMV adds the date registered, state, taxes paid and license plate number.  The car then gets insured, so the insurance company adds the policy number, type of policy, coverage, etc.  (If there is an insurance claim, this can be added along with all the associated information).  When there is maintenance, the service department can update with date of service, type of service and mileage.  If the car is sold by the owner, the record can be updated with the new owner and then fields are added just as before. Is this CarFax??  Kind of, and I bet Carfax is not using a BlockChain database.

Hopefully, you can see the application and usefulness of such a “database.”  Everyone can see all transactions that have occurred for the vehicle.

In this example, I would suspect the database would reside in the cloud since multiple people and organizations would be accessing and updating it.   In BlockChain, there is field level security, encryption, compression, etc.   Also in this example, people fill in fields as time goes on, and the records can get quite long, which is quite valuable in a ”shared” ledger.

I also see value within an organization, where different departments can have access to a single database, for all transactions.  Consider a manufacturing company, or a bank or an insurance company, etc.   Today, most organizations have multiple databases that have been created and grown over time, based on regulatory or business needs.   A long time ago there was no HIPPA nor PCI, but now this information is needed and databases have been created to support these standards.  If the manufacturer wanted to merge all the data into a BlockChain file, with multiuser access, that can be attained.  Using the existing databases, BlockChain can create the field from existing databases into the “shared” ledger on the product being manufactured.  One data base, one access, one storage system, secure, managed, and accessible from anywhere, on-prem or in the cloud.

Interesting.  Let me tell you a little more.   This is not an Apache project.  It is a project of the Linux Foundation, and it is called the Hyperledger Project.  This started December 17, 2015 (kind of new).  The project is targeting summer 2016 for a consolidated specification and agreement on a single code base.  This will be Linux only.  Current participants in the project are IBM, CISCO, Intel, Fujitsu, JP Morgan, Accenture, Wells Fargo, State Street, and others.

IBM is planning workshops in April 2016 with implementations on System z and Power Systems.   Included will be Bluemix.

This is a good high level view of the project implementation of BlockChain:

Blog Image: BlockChain: What Is This all About?

I think this is a “watch this space” technology, but you might start by thinking how BlockChain could benefit your business in the future.  And, if you wish to read more, Wikipedia has information:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_chain_(database)

If you would like more information, please contact Mainline at www.mainline.com or 850-219-5000.  You can also contact me at ron.gordon@mainline.com

 

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