The Importance of Data Integrity
As more data is collected more often by more enterprises, the security of this data becomes more critical and inherently more difficult to analyze. This is most clearly illustrated by the growing IoT field, in which data collection is fundamental and data analysis is a major challenge.
“Enterprises need to receive [IoT data], analyze it and identify anomalies,” Sasha Ivanov, the founder and CEO of Waves Platform and Vostok, told Distributed. “The more data you have, the better you can predict what will happen next, with artificial intelligence offering an algorithm to make sense of this data and conduct predictive analytics.”
It is here that blockchains can enter the fray, providing enterprises with the data insight (through innovations like timestamping), transparency and distribution of storage necessary to ensure data integrity.
Ivanov believes that “blockchain [technology] is like the last element of the set,” which keeps the whole data infrastructure safe. According to him, enterprises don’t need to adopt IoT, blockchains or other innovative technologies separately. Instead, as he put it, “they have to implement them all to work in tandem. One technology without the other does not solve anything.”
The Decentralized Future for Data Management
Given that existing systems are limited in their ability to securely handle large influxes of data, it’s important to find a new solution. Businesses are currently faced with two options to handle the increase in enterprise data: They can upgrade their physical data management infrastructures at a huge cost and high risk of downtime as the new hardware is implemented, or they can move to cloud-based platforms.
But blockchain technology can provide a foundational infrastructure for data management, with a special focus on storage and security.
The decentralized nature of blockchain technology has several advantages. Many of the problems with data silos are directly addressed by blockchain integration. In addition, companies can introduce incentives to encourage peers to replicate and share ownership of data.
The performance issues found in large datasets on cloud storage solutions might also be combated with the process of swarming — in which the network is divided up into clusters based on their geographical locations. Blockchains also remove the central points of failure that are inherent in many legacy systems, with data being broken up and distributed across various nodes. Furthermore, once data is added to the blockchain network and confirmed, it cannot be altered or removed, thereby establishing a secure and traceable record of all inputs to the databases.
The use of blockchain technology is justified when there are many data sources and where the risk of data discrepancies is higher because of the large number of storage locations. Blockchain technology solves this problem by guaranteeing a high degree of transparency so that the same information is visible everywhere simultaneously. Also, the distributed storage of data increases the resilience and protection against potential attacks or data loss risks.
However, none of this is to say that blockchain technology can completely replace legacy databases, nor that it should.
“It is imperative to move away from dangerous technological nihilism when we say everything that was before is bad, everything must be removed and a new good system must be built, a universal one that will provide everything,” said Ivanov. “This is an incorrect approach that always leads to a dead end, despite its popularity. It always ends in nothing.”
We shouldn’t expect enterprises to move to blockchain adoption entirely. A more realistic scenario is the integration of blockchains into current IT systems. And when it comes to integration, it can be done here and now, as it doesn’t conflict with existing IT systems, solutions, integration circuits or the teams that implement it. This would enable the successful updates of infrastructure and take enterprise data operations to another level.