Blockchain Primer for DBAs

Introduction

Although, blockchains have been around for more than a decade, how it relates to databases is considered inspirationally fresh. That’s partly because advancements in the database field and technology are transitioning at a faster pace every year, therefore anything new gets noticed. If you deal with powerful forerunners in databases and DBMSs like MongoDB, it’s worth your while to learn all you can about blockchains.

The origin of the blockchain

Blockchain was invented by one person or several unknown people back in 2008. A blockchain is a distributed ledger used for documenting transactions between two parties. The recorded data is verifiable, secure, and permanent. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin use blockchains. Today, a variety of industries are exploring the untapped potential of the blockchain.

Who manages blockchains

The participants of the organizations that have the blockchain become part of a network. Their network manages blockchains and it is a called a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. A P2P network includes at least a buyer and a seller. To sum it up, a blockchain records business transactions in a secure and verifiable way and a P2P network manages them.

How a blockchain database differs from a traditional database system

A blockchain database enables two or more parties to create, record, and secure transactional data without a third party. The shared system is only accessible by permission.

By comparison, a traditional DBMS runs on a business’s server on-site. The transaction data can be changed with user permission. In addition, because every business is unique. Each one has a system of storing transaction data that is likely inconsistent with other businesses. In a particular transaction, the seller’s data might include some aspects and leave out other parts when compared to the buyer’s system of recording and saving transactions. These mismatches can cause issues down the road. For example, it’s not uncommon for a business to have to prove that a business transaction took place. Depending on each circumstance, the outcome could impact the profitability of a sustainable business.

What’s more, with standard databases, information is stored in a limited way, only as the transaction takes place. For a DBMS, handling historical and conventional data is complex, and that’s possibly a fundamental reason why managing previously stored data is not commonly utilized by many databases or applications. In addition, sorting through an extensive conventional database for past information can slow down productivity and system resources. However, the ease of use for the blockchain is key because it archives every pertinent transaction.

Problems concerning traditional databases when recording transactions

All businesses participate in a variety of networks and use separate ledgers to record business transactions for each network in which they associate. Privacy is a concern because every business’s ledger is proprietary and, therefore, not something a business would want to share with everyone. When a transaction takes place, it’s important to know how an asset was transferred from whom and to whom. Comprehending asset flow is what’s needed. This is where blockchain comes in handy.

Blockchain solves the problems the many traditional DBMSs can’t

To best perceive how blockchain can be beneficial to a business, think about these four key points. (1) Blockchain offers a way for a distributed ledger to record and share transaction data without the need of a third party; (2) the terms of the agreement are stored within the blockchain and this helps protect the interest of both parties; (3) transactions are verified, secure, and stored permanently, with no chance of alteration; and (4) the blockchain acts as a verifiable authentic account in which all P2P participants can rely.

A step-by-step basic path of a blockchain

Here’s the short, simple version of how blockchain works:

1) A transaction is agreed upon by two or more parties with the terms stated. 2) The data is gathered in blocks. 3) Blocks are timestamped and linked (this is where the term “chain” originated) to the block located before it. 4) The P2P network gets notified of the recorded block. Note that cryptography and other security measures are a built-in component of blockchain. 5) The transaction is irreversible and cannot be canceled. It’s permanently kept in the blockchain.

Conclusion

In the upcoming years, blockchain technology will continue to expand. Now is a good time to learn more about blockchain and how it will enhance your role as a DBA in your organization. Sooner than you think, possibly sometime in the near future, you may be setting up and managing a blockchain DBMS. Become an expert in blockchain technology so that you can be the go-to resource ahead of the rest. Explore blockchain DBMS products that MongoDB has to offer today.

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