Blog: BlockChain: what is this all about?
Ron Gordon, Director Power Systems, Mainline Information Systems
BlockChain is starting to gain attention. Let’s start with a simple view of what this “database” organization is about. To me, the easiest way to view this is that BlockChain is a database that acts as a shared general ledger. It consists of a record with a “key” and then continues with fields that pertain to that key. An example might be a car manufacturer. In BlockChain the “key” might be the VIN number. Since this is a shared database, the manufacturer might create a “record” in the automobile BlockChain with the VIN number and then fill fields for type of car, model, color options, original miles. Then the car goes to a dealer who might add current mileage, date arrived, date sold, whom sold to, sales price, options like warrantees, dealer added parts. Then the customer registers the car and the DMV adds the date registered, state, taxes paid, license plate number. Then the car gets insured so the insurance company adds the policy number, type of policy, coverage. (If there is an insurance claim, this can be added with all the associated information). When the is maintenance the service department can update with date of service, type of service, mileage. If the car is sold by the owner, the record can be updated with the new owner and then fields are added just as before. Is this CarFax?? Kind of and I bet Carfax is not using a BlockChain data base.
Hopefully you can see the application and usefulness of such a “database”. All people can see the complete transactions that have occurred for the vehicle.
In this example I would suspect the database would reside in the cloud since multiple people and organizations would be accessing and updating it. In BlockChain there is field level security, encryption, compression, etc. Also in this example people fill in fields as time goes on and the “records” can get quite long which is quite valuable in a “shared” ledger.
I also see value within an organization without going into different organizational access from different parties. Consider a manufacturing company (or a bank or an insurance company, etc.) Today most organization have multiple databases that have been created and grown over time based on regulatory or business needs. (a long time ago there was no HIPPA nor PCI but now this information is needed and databased have been created to support these standards). If the manufacturer wanted to merge all the data into a BlockChain file with multiuser access that can be attained. Using the existing databases, BlockChain can create the field from existing databases into the “shared” ledger on the product being manufactured. One data base, one access, one storage system, secure, managed, accessible from anywhere, on-prem or in the cloud.
Let me tell you a little more. This is not an Apache project. It is a project of the Linux Foundation and called the Hyperledger Project. This started December 17, 2015 (kind of new). The project is targeting summer 2016 for a consolidated specification and agreement on a single code base. This will be Linux only. Current participants in the project are IBM, CISCO, Intel, Fujitsu, JP Morgan, Accenture, Wells Fargo, State Street, and others.
IBM is planning workshops in April 2016 with implementations on System z and Power Systems. Included will be Bluemix.
So, I think this is a “watch this space” technology, but you might start by think how BlockChain could benefit your business in the future. And if you wish to read more, Wikipedia has information