The business and enterprise sectors are dotted by a diverse range of companies, each with its unique business model and offerings, but if we take a quick peek under their hood, we can observe that all of them share a common element, namely an IT infrastructure that acts as the invisible framework which supports companies and enables the delivery of their services. As early as the 1950’s technology has started to leave its mark on the business world, eventually becoming the main vehicle that supports and facilitates business. As a matter of fact, technology and the business sector share almost a relation of symbiosis, in which they influence each other’s evolution and growth.
Today, centralized, decentralized, and distributed systems have cemented themselves as the main types of frameworks that act as a foundation for every company and application from the enterprise sector. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of these three models has given rise to the following debate – Which one of them is better, or more suited for the constantly evolving needs of the enterprise sector? The answer isn’t straight forward, because each model comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages that need to be accounted for.
As a technology provider, Modex leverages blockchain technology to forward an alternative that combines the benefits of distributed, and decentralized systems, while minimizing the technological complexities and overhead that comes with these types of systems, augmenting them even further with an additional suite of functionalities and features tailored to answer the needs of the enterprise sector.
On the software’s business logic side, centralized systems are designed following the traditional client-server architecture, where a single, centralized server is responsible for storing and processing all the information, which it needs to make available to other users, known as client nodes who can connect directly to the main server and submit data requests instead of performing them directly.
Being one of the first types of systems to appear, the centralized model is widely used especially on the web. The main issue with this type of network is its dependence on a central server which acts as a single point of failure, a big target that can be exploited by malicious actors.
As the name implies, decentralized systems do not rely on a single server like centralized systems, instead, they distribute the workload across multiple devices. Each separate device can be configured to act independently and are usually categorized into server/master and computer/slave nodes. Having multiple master nodes mitigates the shortcomings of single point of failure systems because if one or more master nodes fail, the remaining ones can take on their workload and maintain the system active without any disruptions. It’s important to note that decentralized networks don’t distribute data storage and computation evenly across the network, hence the master/slave node differentiation. Even so, they are more resilient than their centralized counterparts.
Distributed systems have appeared out of the need to solve increasingly complex computational problems that cannot be solved by a single machine. Often than not, distributed systems are very difficult to deploy, maintain, and debug, but they are worth the effort and costs involved due to their performance, scalability, low latency, and fault tolerance.
Distributed systems are characterized by two key features. The first one is that distributed systems are a collection of computing elements, commonly referred to as nodes, that can act independently of each other. As opposed to decentralized systems, every node in a distributed system is equal, meaning that data ownership and computational resources are shared evenly across the entire network.
The second common feature shared by every distributed system is that due to the layers of abstraction involved, users tend to believe that they are dealing with a single system. To function as a single cohesive system, the collection of autonomous nodes needs to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other to achieve a common goal. As such the key challenge toward building a distributed system is related to ensuring and maintaining a stable line of communication between all the elements that compose the network.
Modex has leveraged blockchain technology to develop the Blockchain Database (BCDB) solution, a new type of infrastructure that combines the benefits of decentralized and distributed systems to create an ecosystem capable of providing enhanced security and data centred benefits. The solution developed by Modex intervenes in the development stack by positioning itself between an existing software application and database system to add a blockchain layer that ensures confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
With Modex BCDB companies can move from a centralized model to a decentralized, distributed model, secured by complex encryption and hashing algorithms. In addition, the Modex solution comes with inbuilt customizable data access mechanisms and a separate blockchain authorization network that stores user credentials and passwords, to create an ecosystem inherently resistant to data loss.
Modex BCDB makes use of blockchain technology to extend the concept of data backup. A database connected to Modex BCDB benefits from a blockchain backend that stores the hash of every entry in the database. Due to the unique properties of hashing, if the information is modified in the database without authorization or by mistake, the system will compare the hash stored in the blockchain with the new one generated by the modified information, detect the difference and restore the data to its previous value.
Blockchain is unique in the sense that it has managed to directly challenge our perception of data storage and management. For the untrained eye, blockchain may simply appear as a database, and to some extent they are right. Blockchain is a database, but a database is not a blockchain. In its most basic form, blockchain is a historical record of transactions. Data introduced in a blockchain network is secured through complex cryptographic algorithms and stored in structures called blocks.
Each block of transactions includes a set of data from the previous block which link them together, forming a chain of blocks. Hence the name blockchain. Because data is stored in thousands of interconnected blocks, it becomes impossible to alter. If a malicious actor tries to tamper with data from a block of transactions, all the following blocks will be rendered obsolete by the system, which will discard any changes which are not approved by the members of the network.
Transparency, trust, and accountability are imposed by the decentralized structure of the blockchain. Businesses and trade partners are no longer required to rely on external parties to mediate disputes, perform an audit, verify, and share data, as the one true version of the truth will be stored in the blockchain. Each participant maintains an encrypted record of every transaction, trust is guaranteed through complex mathematics during each stage of the transaction process. This resilient recording mechanism cannot be repudiated, as such, parties that do not completely trust each other can engage in business interactions.
With a unique set of characteristics and features, Modex BCDB delivers a set of data-related benefits that extend not only to the beneficiary of the Modex technological layer but also to their end customers, business partners and end users.
Certifiable trust – Modex BCDB elevates the concept of trust to a whole new dimension. Trust no longer requires people to place their faith in the ability of companies to safeguard their valuable data. With the Blockchain Database solution, trust is guaranteed by technology.
Efficient data reconciliation and audit – integrating multiple database systems and software applications with a blockchain backend facilitates a better flow of information and a higher degree of transparency and trust in data. Transparency generates traceability and accountability, while data trust is guaranteed by the complex technological layer facilitated by the BCDB solution. These two features consolidate and streamline a clients’ internal operational flow. In a multi-party system, trust and transparency creates cohesion and improves cooperation on data.
Improved data accuracy – Modex BCDB removes the need to manually enter data into a shared ledger or exchange information through methods susceptible to human error (email, screen sharing, etc.).
Enhanced data protection & secure data sharing – with blockchain technology at its core, Modex BCDB creates a highly secure ecosystem for sharing and storing data. Security is further strengthened by the complex layer of encryption offered by the Modex platform. The flexibility of the encryption system enables beneficiaries to encrypt all the data entries or only certain fields from a table. As an append-only structure, data cannot be deleted once it has been passed to the blockchain, making it immutable.
Complete data ownership – companies that store their data on the BCDB platform are in complete control and the indisputable owners of the data they add into the platform. As such, they can decide who, when, and how their data can be accessed within the ecosystem.
Data privacy – trust is a fundamental value guaranteed by Modex’s blockchain component. Paired together with the access control mechanisms built in the Modex BCDB solution, the newly created ecosystem ensures that data can be accessed only by authorized users.