Massive amounts of immutable data will be generated by blockchains; how that data is stored will determine whether or not blockchain-based applications are successful. This is why.
For businesses on the cusp of innovation, emerging technologies almost always bring up a crucial query: What will this innovation mean for our current IT infrastructure? Do we have the groundwork to back it up?
One of these possibilities may be blockchain technology. Those who use it will undoubtedly experience new effects on data management, their already complex center of gravity. Getting data dialed in is a fundamental step for improving apps, supply chains, contracts, transactions, procedures, and more. Let’s examine why.
Basics of Blockchain Data: On-chain vs. Off-chain Data
As I mentioned in part one, blockchains are “immutable ledgers,” which are unchangeable, permanent digital records of data. (Ledgers are files where transactions are kept, and immutable refers to the fact that you cannot delete or change them.) Instead of being stored in a single centralized location, like a bank’s server, these ledgers are dispersed across a number of decentralized nodes that are powered by computers all around the world. Additionally, the record isn’t held by just one organization because it may be found in numerous locations.
Theoretically, once a record is in the chain, it cannot be altered, deleted, or otherwise tampered with. Moreover, data accumulates when it cannot be removed.
By design, blockchains are not the best technology for data storage. Instead, an event is recorded across nodes when a transaction is logged onto a blockchain, such as a record of a purchase. It’s referred to as “on-chain” data. Any further information pertaining to that transaction, such as a picture of the purchase, a description, etc., is kept elsewhere. It’s known as “off-chain” data.
What Kind of Data Flow Might a Blockchain Support
Consider a blockchain that tracks a shipment. It is registered as it passes through customs, together with information on its contents, the date, the location, etc. IoT sensors then record the temperature and humidity inside the container while it is in transit, giving irrefutable evidence in the event that there is a quality issue after delivery. The beauty of this is that no one party “owns” the data, making it impossible to falsify or contest any records. Delays can be found right away.
Although it is logged on the chain, the shipment’s data is kept in a database that is off the chain. What ties the two together?
Blockchains produce excellent smart contracts on their own. Some of them can even perform some basic computations, but they frequently lack sophisticated tools and efficiency. For starters, they are unable to access off-chain data on their own. It’s challenging to take advantage of blockchain’s advantages without a mechanism to “plug” them into real-world data and applications. A blockchain is rendered useless if it is connected to a single server, API, or database since you are restoring centralization.
Blockchains are decentralized, anonymous, and safe by nature, therefore how data is kept and retrieved off-chain presents a special difficulty that some protocols are created to address.
Solutions for Blockchain Data Storage
The problem of blockchain data storage has a few solutions. Oracle networks come first.
Users may occasionally be directed by an encrypted hash to off-chain storage where data is logged. Through an Oracle network, the two are connected. A decentralized third-party technology called an oracle network, like Chainlink, links blockchain ledgers to data storage and the outside world. While remaining decentralized, these serve as the connective tissue. (This is comparable to approaches like Portworx®, which connect containerized apps to underlying storage to provide statefulness.)
However, it can’t just be any storage, especially as blockchain applications grow in size. Storage needs to be quick, very scalable, and able to combine many types of data in order to live up to the promise of blockchain’s speed and efficiency. The difficulty of enabling blockchains to query relational data can be solved through data pipelines. Pipelines provide the parallelization required to make data quick and responsive by connecting and aggregating data from various sources in a decentralized setting.
One of the most popular blockchain protocols is called The Graph. Subgraphs, reliable, fundamental systems built on tools like cryptography, are used to organize, index, and make data conveniently accessible. Many blockchain projects are coordinated globally thanks to open API calls called subgraphs, which anybody can build and publish. Additionally, the answer to the question of decentralization is provided by an open network of participants who are motivated by tokens and make it all feasible.