Blockchain Events

What’s the difference between a blockchain and a database?

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If you are familiar with cryptocurrency, then you are probably familiar with blockchain. Blockchain is the underlying technology ensuring transactions are accurate, transparent and immutable. Why is this technology important? When you’re working across a large number of individual stakeholders, there’s always the fundamental presence of inconsistency. Even if you completely trust the other person, human error is unavoidable.

Let’s look at a quick example. If you’re going to meet a friend for dinner and their clock didn’t update for daylight saving time, it was an accident, but it didn’t make them any less late. Blockchain technology operates in a similar way to the clock on your cell phone which automatically makes this correction, but instead of the time coming from a single centralized decision maker, it is reached through a majority vote by all the participants on the network.

Find out where you can connect with IBM Blockchain at Think 2019

Blockchains versus traditional databases

The primary difference between a blockchain and a database is centralization. While all records secured on a database are centralized, each participant on a blockchain has a secured copy of all records and all changes so each user can view the provenance of the data. The magic happens when there’s an inconsistency — since each participant maintains a copy of the records, blockchain technology will immediately identify and correct any unreliable information. Your friend’s watch would immediately self-correct for daylight saving time, even if a third person maliciously changed the time so they would be late, the time would immediately be verified against all participants and corrected.

When data can automatically identify and correct itself based on coded business logic (smart contracts) and consensus, participants are intrinsically able to trust it. When two businesses work together, they almost never share a single database with a single set of records, because the database is being maintained and updated by a database administrator (DBA). That DBA is being paid by one of the companies and thus has a stake in the success of one company but not necessarily the other. If they want to make a change that benefits their company, the other company would never know. Alternatively, on a more nefarious note, if a competitor decides to pay off the DBA, they can make any change they want to the database without either participant ever knowing.

When blockchain technology is incorporated into the data process, you remove the single point of failure, in this case the DBA, and ensure that if one of the participants makes a change it is immediately corrected by the other participants. After the data corrects itself, the unalterable record of changes will also indicate which participant tried to make the change. With the data process secured, a business can not only trust the data shared between the companies they are working with but can even trust the data shared by competitors. For example, if Samsung and Apple are sharing technology with each other, Samsung can trust that Apple has made payment for the technology and Apple can trust that Samsung has delivered it.

Trust the data

An interesting thing happens when competitors can trust the data being shared, it creates opportunities for more participants within the vertical to join the blockchain network and increase the visibility into the data. Expanding on the previous example, if Samsung and Apple are sharing technology and data on a blockchain network, and a transportation company joins the network, that data the transportation company wants to share on the network is immediately accessible to each of the other participants and then replicated to their records. Any time one of the participants makes a change, a new version of the record is validated by all participants. In this case, Apple could track the shipment from Samsung’s factory to Apple’s manufacturing center. Additionally, if a bank is added to the network, payment to the bank and to each participant after a transaction can be triggered automatically when a condition in the data is met, and because this data is secured and validated by all the participants, no single participant can fraudulently, or accidentally, alter the data to meet the conditional trigger within the data.

IBM Blockchain at Think 2019

IBM Blockchain is transforming businesses, industries – and even the world. Learn how it’s happening in can’t-miss sessions and with live demos at Booth 535. Be sure to register now and join us in San Francisco, February 12 – 15. Here are the top blockchain sessions at Think 2019:


Tuesday, February 12

9:30 – 10:10 AM; Blockchain Trends & Directions Keynote in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum. The speakers are Marie Wieck, GM, IBM Blockchain, Natalie Dyenson, VP, Food Safety, Dole, Roberto Mancone, COO, we.trade. 

3:30 – 5:00 PM; Think 2019 Chariman’s Address: Business Smarter Businesses is in Moscone West, Level 2 Ballroom. 

Wednesday, February 13

8:30 – 9:10 AM; CLS’s Experience Delivering CLSNet to Production Using Hyperledger Fabric in Collaboration with IBM is in the InterContinental Hotel, Grand Ballroom C. The speaker Ram Komarraju, Head of Innovation & Solution Delivery, CLS Bank

8:30 – 9:10 AM; Rewiring Global Trade Finance Networks is in Moscone South, Data & AI Theater C. The speakers are Jason E. Kelley, GM, IBM Blockchain Services, Robert Mancone, COO, we.trade.

8:30 – 9:10 AM; IBM Food Trust, Part 2: Use Cases on Making Blockchain Real in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Brigid McDermott, VP, IBM Food Trust™, and Ramesh A. Gopinath, VP, IBM Blockchain Solutions

10:30 – 11:10 AM; Travelport and IBM Blockchain is in the InterContinental Hotel, Ballroom A. The speaker is Mike Croucher, Chief Architect, Travelport.

12:30 – 1:10 PM; Trust in Trade: Blockchain for Trade Finance in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom C. The speaker is Parm Sangha, GBS Europe Blockchain Leader, IBM, Robert Mancone, COO, we.trade.

2:30 – 3:10 PM; IBM Food Trust, Part 3: The Five Pillars of a Blockchain Network in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Brigid McDermott, VP, IBM Food Trust™.

3:30 – 4:10 PM; How Blockchain Ignites a Social Plastic Revolution/Why We Need to Stop “Blocksplaining” Blockchain is in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Shaun Frankson, CTO and Co-Founder of Plastic Bank.

4:30 – 5:10 PM; Blockchain and the Hurdles of a Modern Consumer-Centric Supply Chain is in the InterContinental Hotel, Ballroom A. The speakers are Lars Kastrup, Head of TradeLens Sales, Maersk, Todd Scott, VP, IBM Blockchain, Global Trade.

3:30 – 4:10 PM; Insurance Industry Reporting: Blockchain to the Rescue in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Joan Zerkovich, SVP, Operations, American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS), Bertrand Portier, Distinguished Engineer, IBM.

5:30 – 6:10 PM; Creating Traceability and Transparency in the Food Ecosystem with IBM Food Trust™ is in Moscone South, Smarter Business Showcase Theater. The speakers are Brigid McDermott, VP, IBM Food Trust™, Ramesh A. Gopinath, VP, IBM Blockchain Solutions

5:30 – 6:10 PM; Can Blockchain Save the Musician? In the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Panos Panay, VP, Innovation and Strategy, Berklee College of Music.

Thursday, February 14

8:30 – 9:10 AM; How Crypto Assets Are Being Used to Make Payments on Blockchain is in Moscone South, Smarter Business Showcase Theater. The speaker is Jesse Lund, VP IBM Blockchain.

9:30 – 10:10 AM; Blockchain at University—How to Build Young, Aspiring Blockchain Experts Effectively in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speakers are Magda Borowik, Ministry of Digitalization Poland, Karolina Marzantowicz, IBM CEE Chief Technology Officer.

12:30 – 1:10 PM; Shipping in the Age of Blockchain: Streamlining Supply Chains End-to-End for You and Your Partners is in Moscone South, Smarter Business Showcase Theater. The speaker is Mike White, CEO, TradeLens.

3:30 – 4:10 PM; Blockchain Anywhere: the Next-Generation Blockchain Platform Has Emerged is in Moscone South, Cloud & Infrastructure Theater F. The speaker is Jerry Cuomo, VP, IBM Blockchain Technologies

4:30 – 5:10 PM; Blockchain and the Hurdles of a Modern, Consumer-Centric Supply Chain is in the InterContinental Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Todd Scott, VP, IBM Blockchain, Global Trade.

Friday, February 15

9:30 – 10:10 AM; Embodying Corporate Data Stewardship with Decentralized Identity is in the InterContinental Hotel, Grand Ballroom A. The speaker is Adam Gunther, IBM Director of Blockchain Trusted Identity and Network Services.

9:30 – 10:10 AM; IBM Storage Solutions for IBM Blockchain is in Moscone South, Cloud & Infrastructure Theater F. The speaker is Antoine Sater, Offering Manager, IBM Storage Solutions.


Reserve your spot today and register for Think 2019 in San Francisco

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