By Dr. Tim Wagner, Co-founder and CEO of Vendia
Enterprise leaders today are facing more data-related challenges than ever before. An airline can’t offer passengers the best itineraries at the best price without access to the latest information from all sales channels. Car manufacturers struggle to ship cars quickly and cost effectively when they can’t communicate inventory and logistics information with their partners throughout the construction and delivery process. A chocolate company can’t view the source of their cacao beans and communicate it to retail purchasers without accurate supply chain tracking. Problems like these around sharing business data and gaining access to partner data in real time have become some of the most critical challenges facing enterprise IT teams,which in turn is becoming a massive headache for business leaders.
Today, up to 80% of critical business data now lives outside a company’s four walls. Each company has their own version of the truth, copy of the data and in-house mechanisms that attempt to reconcile “their” data with everyone else’s. As a result, applications with multiple data sources can be much harder to construct, expensive to own and operate, and require costly escalation paths to deal with inconsistent data. Seemingly, this is the perfect problem for blockchains to solve. Unfortunately, many enterprise leaders who experimented with traditional blockchain solutions like Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric quickly discovered that those first generation systems merely created a whole new set of problems across integration, scalability, performance and enterprise readiness.
Why are these traditional blockchains failing businesses? Because their designers made a crucial strategic mistake: They ignored the cloud. This shortcoming left first generation blockchain tech with a host of avoidable problems across scalability, uptime, and storage and saddled would-be adopters with complex, expensive deployment challenges. These early systems also “forgot” about the importance of actually modeling data, forcing enterprises that attempted to use them to construct complex (and operationally expensive) middleware “sandwiches” around these blockchains in an attempt to handle data modeling and data integrity.
Next generation blockchains have adopted a different approach. By combining cloud and blockchain technology, businesses can deploy data sharing solutions in minutes, instead of months, easily scaling to large numbers of transactions. The benefits of adopting next generation blockchain technology include:
● Flexible data models: Next-gen blockchains keep all data “on-chain,” from a single Boolean value to multi-gigabyte files, without giving up ACID transactional support. They can also embrace standards-based schema languages to create bespoke, strongly typed application programming interfaces that make applications easy to create and integrate.
● SaaS-based and fully serverless: New blockchains are often delivered in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) form, eliminating the need to manually deploy, secure, maintain and pay for infrastructure scaled to peak capacity as a prerequisite.
● Focused on privacy and security: New blockchains and distributed ledgers offer out-of-the-box solutions for data privacy, making it easy for data producers to decide who can view or update their data and files using simple permission mechanisms.
● Energy and cost effective: Next-gen blockchains are energy and cost conscious, avoiding the ecological impact of Proof-of-Work systems and benefiting from multi-tenanted cloud architectures, and are able to pass these cost benefits on to adopters.
The original premise for mending data problems with blockchains are as attractive as ever for enterprise leaders. But now, powered by technologies that can actually make those claims for better communication across multiple parties come true, business leaders can reap the benefits of secure and scalable data-sharing platforms with the next generation of blockchain technology.