Blockchain Architecture Introduction: It begins
Many years ago, the only fast means of sharing information was through an innovative technology called the “telegram”, after further research and improvement in technology, a much faster means for communicating was created and called the “telephone”. While this breakthrough was a marvel, everyone did not envision something even greater coming, till years later with blockchain architecture technology.
One day we slept, woke up and there was something called the “internet”. The internet came and changed everything. At first, it was mostly about people from different parts of the world having an easy means to communicate with each other, then over time, companies began to adopt the internet to aid in the marketing and provision of their services.
Ever Improving the Internet lead to the Blockchain
Like every other system, the internet had flaws that needed to be attended to, and with each flaw that was corrected more flaws were discovered, this, however, did not deter the developers from finding better ways to deal with these flaws. With time, the internet became safer, and also the transfer and retrieval of information became faster.
Internet users soon began to discover better ways to utilize the internet to better their lives, and as such there was more improvement to the system. The advent of the internet created a lot of opportunities and hence paved the way for more and better innovations by developers who kept working tirelessly, and thus even more technological breakthroughs were recorded. One of those very such breakthroughs is the development and creation of the Blockchain Architecture.
What is Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain is simply a digital ledger that contains a collection of data or records that are kept secure and safe by employing the use of high-level cryptography. With the introduction of the Blockchain technology to businesses, now comes enhanced features that will enable them to function more effectively and efficiently across the internet. Blockchain technology in addition provides added ease of doing business and the additional assurance of data security and safety.
The blockchain computer architecture is fast becoming a mainstay in the financial world. This is because it offers something better than the current transaction styles that are currently available around the world. It has a strong reputation built upon its abilities to validate financial transactions and every other thing of value, swiftly and correctly. This has made the Blockchain architecture computer structure to be lauded as the incorruptible ledger.
Blockchain Architecture Technology is Revolutionary
The blockchain architecture technology is the revolutionary piece of tech that powers the whole cryptocurrency industry, disrupting entire industries and spheres of life along with it.
It is a public ledger system upon which transactions and transfers of anything of value are recorded, from money, to tokenized titles of properties as well as other things, in an open, verifiable and completely decentralized manner, where the copy of the blockchain is made accessible to anyone with a computer and access to internet.
The blockchain technology is that new piece of technology that seeks to do for the access of services and transfer of value from any part of the world, what the internet did for the unfettered access of information.
How and Why the Blockchain was created
Blockchain architecture technology was created by a team led by Satoshi Nakamoto, whose aim was to develop a cryptocurrency that has a decentralized structure and would not require verifications. Blockchain in operation controls a number of records referred to as blocks. These blocks can further be linked and secured with the use of cryptography.
Each one of the blocks is designed to be resistant to alterations. Each block also has a pointer, which enables it to connect data from other blocks. It makes use of a consensus algorithm for security, ledger consistency, and also to validate new blocks.
Blockchain shared documents to Speed up Collaboration
In the past, financial institutions and banks operated through emails. They share documents by email and ask the recipient to authenticate the transaction and make necessary changes to them. This, the recipient would do, and then send back. In all, a burdensome process. Blockchain architecture of computer programs has a solution for this with its “single version of truth” feature.
With a single version of truth, all participants use blocks; which they sign digitally and consensus algorithms in revising documents and carrying out transactions. This is opposed to the manual process through emails of docs back and forth. The single version of truth process happens in real time and makes transactions faster. It also provides security as all shared documents are usually encrypted, making it highly secured.
The Blockchain Technology Architecture Platform
Blockchain platform is a well crafted, original application which works like a transaction database and is hosted on a number of distributed servers which are designed as the database’s distributed ledger. The transaction system is decentralized and is powered by nodes which run full stack.
It also uses Google’s LevelDB in storing metadata. Users, therefore, have two options for storing data; either the DB or a flat file.
The platform application is installed on the cloud (a server), it then synchronizes with all the other nodes on the network. Transaction records are stored by the server with the use of consensus-based algorithms and rules of cryptography. This enables the user to be able to carry out authentication without needing third-party verification.
This application is compatible with the peer to peer networking model. This model uses a flat arrangement without requiring a special server node. This allows all nodes equal access to services based on consensus rules. Each node has an up to date copy of a database that keeps all the information of the currency; ownership and payment history. Blockchain nodes also use a reliable consensus mechanism for the establishment of agreements and confirmation of transactions.
The miner node concept is another incredible security feature of the blockchain. The miner node stays in control of a large part of the nodes, making it very hard to breach them, thereby keeping information safe.
Blockchain Network Protocol Stacks
The blockchain architecture protocol stack provides a great amount of semantics which enables a large number of blockchains to run at the same time, thereby providing a great speed of management. This is possible, through what is known as peer discovery, which essentially synchronizes the node with other nodes once they come online. This message exchange is the handshake logic between nodes which is needed to keep transactions in a serialized format.
Blockchain Architecture Transactions
Blockchain has a very unique quality, of being the first cryptographic application that puts time to every transaction, making data storage very easy. The implementation of blockchain is based on records of blocks and transactions. Users can carry out transactions with applications like Mobile Wallet. This data is normally held by transactions and are accumulated in the blockchain. Blocks on its own part record the flow of transactions, registering them for further use.
Single Truth Version
As discussed earlier, “a single version of truth” is one feature of blockchain architecture that has made the erstwhile cumbersome process of authentication of transactions, very easy, much faster and more secured. It provides a form of business environment that is made up of a large number of integrated business transactions.
With a single version of truth, participants in this p2p network can authenticate to digitally document any changes in transactions. Physical and digital assets are easily connected with a digital kind of signature, and encryptions all on the distributed ledger, made available to everyone to ensure maximum security.
Having examined the core features of Blockchain Architecture, it is obvious how it is a great technology to be sure. The technology is currently making huge strides in the financial world. Cryptocurrency gurus are sure it will have an effect on how applications are used going forward more and more frequently.
The downside, however, is that the usage of blockchain architecture is not straightforward. This is because a number of factors must be considered before it is integrated to conventional applications. This can be fixed however by integrating with other suitable applications. Organizations who work with a large number of blockchains are best served to use a sound integration interface, as this will enable them to connect perfectly, and consequently improve transactions.
How Does Blockchain Architecture Work?
The core principle behind the blockchain technology is the decentralization of all access to the means of transfer of anything of value which for the first time allows two individuals for example to transfer value between one another in a fast, and secure manner without having to resort to banks or other expensive middle men.
How the blockchain works is pretty straight forward, any one person can easily set up their own end of the blockchain by acquiring the property of choice that is being transacted on any given blockchain, and store them in unique personal storage facilities known as wallets.
At any given time when this party wants to send all or part of their digital asset to a second person at the other corner of the earth, all they need to do is to access their wallet and send the given amount of the thing of value concerned, using the wallet address of the recipient.
Set up your wallets
The crux of the blockchain technology depends on the process through which transactions get verified on its network. There are dedicated computers that form this network that are spread all over the world, of which anyone can become a member of.
These computers are known as “nodes” and constitute the mining party where their job is to individually and independently verify the validity of the transaction that was initiated and the majority of the result gotten is what becomes added on the blockchain. These miners carry out this verification service for the blockchain in order to maintain its integrity in exchange for fees that are allocated to them by the network.
Opportunities and Limitations of Blockchain Technology
The opportunities that abound for the use of blockchain architecture technology in modern life can never be overstated. This is a technology that could literally turn whole systems upside down and is often referred to as the greatest technological breakthrough of the 21st century.
The blockchain technology’s reach is not solely for the cryptocurrency world (making virtual alternative money), but its application goes far and wide with areas such as healthcare, insurance, supply chains, energy consumption, elections and even governance.
There is virtually no sector of business or sphere of life that the blockchain technology does not have something to offer. Blockchain technology can improve the way things run and offer a more transparent, secure and fairer ecosystem compared to the present centralized systems which force the user to blindly trust the conglomerates that run them.
Hindered yet by Regulation the Blockchain Continues on
Despite the countless possibilities that abound for the blockchain architecture, it remains a fact that its adoption has been widely slowed down. It is somewhat hindered by the lack of any regulatory framework consensus based in the world, regarding to the existence of this technology and how it should be run.
This creates an atmosphere of uncertainty around the technology especially within the cryptocurrency niche where it is under the constant threat of the possibility from various government crackdowns as has been witnessed in China and now South Korea.
Blockchain Technology And The Internet
It is safe to assume that anyone with any kind of means for listening or watching the news must have heard of Bitcoin at one time or the other this year. The cryptocurrency industry has truly exploded to the mainstream scene and everyone of note from big banking establishments to authorities in different countries have taken notice of what Bill Gates describes as a force of Nature that cannot be stopped!
The Blockchain technology bar none is the greatest invention mankind has ever managed to create on its own. This marvel of technology has been argued to be greater than even the internet itself, for a number of reasons. Some of the most important reasons include:
Destroying Border Restrictions for Everything:
While the internet has been hailed for liberalizing the access of information and making it easy for anyone to get informed, the blockchains technology doesn’t only replicate that function but it also makes it impossible in the times ahead for any government to restrict the free flow of business with stifling rules that make it difficult to flow across borderlines.
The Internet in its make up is solely a virtual realm invention, while the blockchain technology will not only rule the virtual realm but it will also shake up the way we do the simplest things like allowing shopping from people directly ourselves, instead of expensive online stores, paying our energy bills automatically and accurately, or even drive us safely from one point to another in a self-driving vehicle built to move on a smart traffic grid.
Elimination of all Middlemen:
The ideals behind the internet was to liberalize information and deliver services to all users in an efficient and cost effective manner. Instead the internet veered off from this course and became a place where huge monopolies such as Google and Facebook were built. With the blockchain technology this will NEVER happen, as it ensures that every participant has a say and no single person, group or entity has any ultimate power over it.
Applications for the Blockchain
One of the key places where the blockchain will change the world forever is in re-imagining the way people elect their leaders all over the world. The blockchain technology’s key strength is its sheer incorruptibility which has defied every human effort so far.
This is a key feature that is needed within elections, where even countries like the United States grapple with accusations of votes tampering for example, remember the hanging chads? The duplicate voting? With a highly decentralized network that takes stringent measures to ensure every vote/transaction on the blockchain is 100% genuine, issues such as multiple voting and altering of results after voting will be a thing of the past.
Another key sector that will definitely benefit from the use of the blockchain technology is in the area of supply chain management around the world. Businesses, logistics companies, and even governments struggle with the globalized goods freight that is presently available, as there is no single source of data to trace the passage of goods from their point of production to the ultimate point of use.
Regions such as the EU which has strict regulations on the conditions in which drugs for example can be transported gives companies a lot of headache as they face huge time delays as every scrap of data has to be retraced in order to ensure the medications were transported under the best possible conditions.
With the blockchain technology, all this will be an issue of the past as everyone with a stake in the supply chain will have a real-time and completely incontrovertible source of data that will ease the work of authorities in clearing goods faster.
Smart Energy Grids
The awareness of the dangers that climate change pose to every living being on earth is powering a whole new industry that is going renewable and champions the use of energy efficient power grids.
With the aid of the blockchain technology coupled with cutting edge IoT sensors, whole new grid systems can be produced to ensure every bit of energy used is done with the highest efficiency, which will also be used in ensuring energy users only pay for exactly what the use at the end of the day is, thus, giving the sector extra accountability.
More on BlockChain Architecture
We now know that the blockchain technology is a system that functions as a digital public ledger that is decentralized and distributed across networks. It is used for recording transactions across different networks of computers, to avoid any form of retroactive alterations of all other records within the blocks.
Participants will be able to do an audit and verification of transactions without breaking the bank. A blockchain usually functions with a database, and this database is autonomously managed by using a system of a distributed timestamping server and peer-to-peer network.
Authentication on the system happens when there is a mass collaboration that is powered by a collection of self-interests. This way, the process will result in what will be seen as a robust workflow, where there will be marginal uncertainty about data security.
Using the blockchain architecture makes it impossible for infinite reproducibility to function via a digital asset. It further confirms that there will be a one-time transfer of each unit of value, hence the problem of double spending will be tackled.
The blockchain technology is a protocol for value exchange, and as such, value exchange on a blockchain technology-based platform happens more quickly, cheaply and safely compared to traditional systems. Title rights can be assigned because the blockchain technology is able to provide records that compel the user to either offer or accept.
There are three main features that make up the architecture responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of the blockchain technology, and they are:
These are like containers that function by holding batches of hashed valid transactions that get encoded and integrated in a Merkle tree. Each of the blocks involved contains the cryptographic hash of the previous block in the blockchain and linking the two. Series of blocks linked in this manner forms a chain, hence the name “blockchain”. The integrity of each block comes from the original genesis block. It is possible for separate blocks to be created concurrently, and that is called a temporary fork, and blocks that are not selected to be included in the chain are referred to as “orphan blocks”. There are different methods that can be utilized to show computations with sufficient levels. The computation happening within a blockchain is not carried out in the usual traditional parallel and divided manner, rather it is done redundantly.
There are subunits that are associated with the blocks, and they include:
This is average time taken for the blockchain network to generate another extra block within the blockchain. For some blockchains, the creation of new blocks occurs as often as every 5 seconds. At the end of completing a block, the verifiability of the included data becomes possible. In cryptocurrency, the shorter the blockchain, the faster the transactions.
For Bitcoin, the block time is 10 minutes, while it is between 14 and 15 minutes for Ethereum.
Hard forks: This refers to a change in the rule in such a way that the software responsible for validation by using old rules will render blocks produced with new rules as invalid. In the case of a hard fork, all the nodes required to work based on the new rules will need to have their software upgraded. One example of a hard fork was the split of Ethereum into Ethereum Classic.
When data is stored across the blockchain network, it eliminates every risk of the data being held or handled by a central entity. Because there are no central points, it makes it impossible for hackers to exploit the system. One of the methods of security on the blockchain network is the public-key cryptography.
A public key is a long string of random numbers and functions as a blockchain address. Value tokens transacted over the network will be recorded that they belong to that address. Basically, no 3rd party has access to other users’ data on the blockchain; hence there is no form of interference by any 3rd party.
Open blockchains have a lot of benefits, including being more user-friendly than so many typical ownership records. The openness means there are no restrictions on any parts of the blockchain. It, however, can be further divided into permissionless and permissioned blockchains.
There are great benefits when using a permissionless, public, or open blockchain network and one of them is that the user does not have to guard against bad access, and there is also access controls are not required. Different cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin currently ensure the security of their blockchain by requesting PoW (Proof of Work) from new entries.
There is an access control layer put in place to supervise who gains access to the network. On private/permissioned blockchains, the network owners are the central entity responsible for vetting validators. This means there is no dependence on anonymous nodes for the validation of transactions.
This makes it easy for dissimilar systems to process the data correctly on both ends of a transaction, and also supports the openness and decentralized characteristics of the blockchain technology.
Features of Blockchain Architecture Technology
The blockchain technology is packed with amazing features that make it really adaptable to various systems. Some of the features include:
• Cross-platform Applications
• API Integration
• Low Transaction Fees
• Cryptocurrency/ Tokens
• Peer-2-peer Connectivity
Uses Of Blockchain Architecture Technology
Every moment, developers keep working and creating amazing blockchain-based innovations that are beneficial to our daily living. The blockchain technology is so versatile that it can be used in multiple areas, irrespective of the industry. Originally the blockchain technology was to assist the financial industry, however, new systems have been created that use the blockchain technology, and some of the areas where the technology has been applied include:
• Cloud Storage
• Car Leasing and Sales
• Real Estate
• Entertainment/Music Rights IP
• Energy Management
• Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards
• Wills and Inheritances
• Food production
• Hedge Funds
• Critical Infrastructure Security
• Internet Identity and DNS etc.
The blockchain keeps improving, more businesses, and individuals keep integrating it with other systems that assist them in their daily activities.
Blockchain Architecture History: Bitcoin Beginnings
Merging cryptography to a chain of data blocks was first mentioned in 1991 by W. Scott Stornetta and Stuart Haber, they described how possible it would be to create a form of cryptographical security for a chain of data blocks. To further improve on the idea, in 1992, Haber, Stornetta, and Bayer integrated Merkle trees into the design, and this resulted in the improvement of the block’s efficiency by making it possible for the transfer and storage of several documents into a single block.
No Practical applications until Bitcoin was born
However, there was never a practical application of what Haber, Stornetta, and Bayer had described. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto was responsible for conceptualizing the very first blockchain system, and after the conceptualization, in 2009, the blockchain was implemented by Satoshi as an integral part of the digital currency called “Bitcoin”.
The technology functioned as a public ledger where all transactions taking place on the network were recorded. With the introduction of the blockchain technology, came the introduction of the very first digital currency to deal with the problem called double spending without using a 3rd party. This innovation has become a basis for the creation of so many other applications.
Blockchain Technology starts to take off
Between August 2014 and January 2017, the bitcoin blockchain’s records of all transactions that took place within the network had risen from 20 GB to 100 G B. This was as a result of people getting interested and joining the community while enjoying the many wonderful benefits of the system.
In 2014, there were new applications spread across the blockchain database, and this gave birth to the term (Blockchain 2.0). the Blockchain 2.0 was a result of developers not going to sleep on the first blockchain technology, this was as a result of trying to improve on the system, and it was successful.
The Blockchain 2.0 technology took the system beyond just being able to transact and exchange value, They were created to serve as a gateway for people around the world to tap from the global economic community, grant people the ability to monetize their data and information, ensure that there was safety and security for users. Protect user’s privacy, and also create a platform where creators can get paid for what is known as “Intellectual Property”.
With the introduction of the Blockchain 2.0 technology, users will be enabled to store their “persona and persistent digital ID”, and this will provide a way to deal with an issue arising from social inequality by effecting change in wealth distribution on the platform. From 2016 to date, the implementation of Blockchain 2.0 technology continues to need an oracle that is off-chain to gain access to events or data that is external, and based on market or time conditions that will need interactions with the blockchain.
One time in 2016, a depository in Russia was reported to have announced a pilot project, that intended to use the Blockchain 2.0 platform, and it will be used for the exploration of the use of automated voting systems that will be blockchain-based.
More Companies are adopting Blockchain Architecture all the time
Furthermore, more companies have begun to adopt the use of an integration of the blockchain 2.0 technology into their systems, and one of such companies is IBM. IBM after seeing the numerous possibilities with using the blockchain technology for innovative purposes has created a research centre for blockchain innovation in Singapore.
Also, in November 2016, a group involved in the World Economic Forum met for discussions on how to develop governance models that will operate using the blockchain technology.
Recently, Accenture was of the opinion that according to the theory of diffusion of innovations, blockchain was able to achieve an adoption rate in financial services of 13.5% in 2016, which invariably means that blockchain had reached the phase for early adopters. After the introduction of Blockchain 2.0, so many industry trade groups have come together and created the Global Blockchain Forum, which was the idea of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.