Do you need a blockchain? | TechCrunch

https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/19/do-you-need-a-blockchain/
Blockchain technology is set to have a profound impact on a wide variety of industries. Blockchain technology is still surrounded by its fair share of hype and uncertainty. It seems that the term blockchain has become a bit diluted as the hype has continued to bloom.

There is an inherent risk that managers eager to explore new technologies jump to conclusions without properly exploring alternative options. Go through decision models to see if makes sense to consider blockchain or not.

Blockchain differs from a database in many ways, but the most significant exception is the decentralized nature of blockchain. However, this feature comes at a cost especially on public blockchains: considerably slower than traditional databases and users must pay a fee for each “transaction”. So if performance and transaction speed and cost ate the most important factors, you most propably should stick with a more traditional database.

Thete are new private blockchains that promise benefits. Critics also argue that the term private blockchain is just a confusing name for a shared database. For example Estonia’s digital identity solution is an example of the use of the blockchain as a marketing tactic.
While there are many reasons to steer clear of blockchain technology, there are equally many potential valuable use cases.

4 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cryptocurrency’s Estimated Draw on World Resources Could Power Bangladesh
    http://www.electronicdesign.com/power/cryptocurrency-s-estimated-draw-world-resources-could-power-bangladesh?NL=ED-003&Issue=ED-003_20180502_ED-003_605&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1_b&utm_rid=CPG05000002750211&utm_campaign=17046&utm_medium=email&elq2=f8a135d001bd433e8c8c34e45863e79a

    Is the phenomenon of cryptocurrency sustainable? A number of factors come into play here, but as it expands, power consumption and requisite cost become the main issues.

    When it comes to mining cryptocurrency and how much power is consumed during mining operations globally, nobody knows for sure. However, based on varied utility costs alone, it’s estimated at 53.99 TWh, or enough energy to power the country of Bangladesh annually, according to the Digiconomist Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index—a website dedicated to providing in-depth analysis regarding cryptocurrencies.

    Cryptocurrencies are digital assets (currencies) designed for use as a medium of exchange in the same fashion as traditional assets or money. However, they use cryptography to secure transactions as well as control the creation of additional units and the verification of transfer assets. Most, such as Bitcoin and other altcoins, are decentralized, with control mitigated through blockchains. Blockchains are continuously growing lists of records that form blocks (i.e., ledger) containing a cryptographic hash (mathematical algorithm), which makes it tough to alter the data and therefore makes the digital currency secure.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RSA yet to be sold on magic pixie dust qualities of blockchain
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/rsa-yet-to-be-sold-on-magic-pixie-dust-qualities-of-blockchain/

    Just because you can solve your problems with a blockchain, doesn’t mean you should, according to RSA CTO Zulfikar Ramzan.

    While the world rushes to slap a blockchain onto a growing number of applications to generate hype and excitement, RSA CTO Zulfikar Ramzan has told ZDNet that he is not convinced that many use cases of blockchain couldn’t be addressed by more traditional mechanisms, such as a database.

    “For example, we talk about like supply chain management, people tout that as a very classic blockchain use case,” he said. “But to me, that seems like that’s a shared database use case — and you know, it’s funny because people who don’t understand the security nuances don’t understand why a database is not worse than a blockchain, in fact I think in many cases it is better.”

    Ramzan said that in many cases, blockchain is a “heavy duty model” designed to address problems with a lack of trust, but often the solution has a number of trust assumptions built in. For instance, in the case of tracking an object, the process for assigning identifiers and adding the identifers to the blockchain need to be trusted.

    The CTO told ZDNet that blockchain is starting to be regarded as magic.

    “It’s become this magical pixie dust, where people think you can solve all problems, and yes, maybe you can use it to address a certain set of problems, but just because you can and doesn’t mean you should.

    “You can buy a sledgehammer to push a thumbtack into a wall. You could also just use your thumb. It’s a much cheaper solution, and probably better for other reasons as well. I think that’s where we are.”

    However, Ramzan was not prepared to write off blockchain totally.

    “I don’t want to discount that there will never be any applications, or there aren’t legitimate use cases where you could try blockchain outside of cryptocurrencies. But I think people who haven’t really spent time understanding the nuances will … use a buzzword to get people excited about technology.”

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Accessing Blockchain on ESP8266 Using the NodeMCU Board
    https://hackaday.com/2018/05/02/using-blockchain-explorer-apis-on-nodemcu/

    Blockchains claim to be public, distributed, effectively immutable ledgers. Unfortunately, they also tend to get a little bit huge – presently the Bitcoin blockchain is 194GB and Ethereum weighs in at 444GB. That poses quite an inconvenience for me, as I was looking at making some fun ‘Ethereum blockchain aware’ gadgets and that’s several orders of magnitude too much data to deal with on a microcontroller, not to mention the bandwidth cost if using 3G.

    Having imagined a thin device that I could integrate into my mobile phone cover (or perhaps… a wallet?) dealing with the whole blockchain was clearly not a possibility. I could use a VPS or router to efficiently download the necessary data and respond to queries, but even that seemed like a lot of overhead, so I investigated available APIs.

    As it turns out, several blockchain explorers offer APIs that do what I want. My efforts get an ESP8266 involved with the blockchain began with two of the available APIs: Ethplorer and Etherscan.

    Ethplorer (Github) responds with data to HTTP GET requests. Some key features are that it allows you to retrieve trading data like pricing and volume for both coins and tokens.

    Etherscan on the other hand focuses on more things that I’m interested in. It has some basic smart contract features like checking execution status, and in addition to HTTP GET requests it supports websockets for something approaching real-time alerting.

    Both services are presently free to use and can check Eth balances, transactions histories, and the other features you’d expect in this type of blockchain explorer. I chose Etherscan for this project because I wasn’t interested in price data and I thought of some fun things websockets would allow. Both services provide data in JSON format, which is quite convenient as we’ll see later.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Simple Ethereum Vending Machines with NodeMCU
    https://hackaday.com/2018/05/10/simple-ethereum-vending-machines-with-nodemcu/

    Recently, we covered how to use the Etherscan API to query data (a wallet balance) from the Ethereum blockchain with NodeMCU. It’s a very useful method for retrieving information from a blockchain on embedded systems where storage and memory are an issue.

    It has some limitations though. Most notably, it’s polling the API at some interval to retrieve information whether it has changed or not.

    Simply send to an address via some method, and receive goods!

    It turns out we can do exactly that with NodeMCU using WebSocket. Like HTTP, WebSocket is a communications protocol that uses TCP connections (typically over port 80), but it allows full-duplex communication. In other words, you can establish a connection to a server, and send/receive messages without needing to poll the server.

    Accessing Blockchain on ESP8266 Using the NodeMCU Board
    https://hackaday.com/2018/05/02/using-blockchain-explorer-apis-on-nodemcu/

    Blockchains claim to be public, distributed, effectively immutable ledgers. Unfortunately, they also tend to get a little bit huge – presently the Bitcoin blockchain is 194GB and Ethereum weighs in at 444GB. That poses quite an inconvenience for me, as I was looking at making some fun ‘Ethereum blockchain aware’ gadgets and that’s several orders of magnitude too much data to deal with on a microcontroller, not to mention the bandwidth cost if using 3G.

    Reply

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