Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Blockchain (DApps) Will Transform Application Development

Traditional Trasaction Processing :    Over  the past  decades enterprises  used  high performance OLTP applications  to  meet their business  transaction needs.  If we really  look into  what consists of a  typical  application, they are all about executing  a  business  transaction (like a  sales order, invoice, purchase order, employment, shipment, audit report) between  two parties,  and in the process multiple steps  of  work flow support in the execution  of  that  contract.

Blockchain  based  application,  which  are  known as  DApps  or Decentralized Application  is  about  creating  and  managing  Smart  Contracts  on top of a  blockchain based  database.

Also  Data Integrity,  Data Latency, Data Availability, Data Security  are  some  of  the  typical  challenges  of  enterprise  business  applications  all  along, such  that  costly  techniques  like  ETL, Role Based Security,  Data Encryption  all  have  been  applied  on top of the existing  applications to meet  these  demands.

However Blockchain  platform  and the underlying  distributed  databases automatically  provide these attributes  and  reimagining  the  enterprise  applications  from  the  point of  view of  Blockchain based  Smart Contract Dapps  may  provide  lot  of  hidden  benefits  for enterprises.

In other words  the   Innovation that  are  automatic  "by  product"  of  Blockchain Eco System will help the enterprises  in other  areas also  so  Enterprises  best  benefited  by  blockchain  if  they think them  as  a  Digital Platform  and  not  just  a Digital Currency.

Few  thoughts are shared  on some  recent  developments  from with Microsoft Azure Services that point  in this directions.

Azure Confidential Computing:   Recently  Microsoft  has   released   new security  architecture/platform/pattern  known  as  Confidential Computing.  This  platform  ensures  that  the  Data  that  is owned  by an application is  protected inside a  Trusted Execution Environment (TEE). TEE ensures that  the  data  is  viewable  only  from the context  of  the  application and  not  even viewable by the Administrators  of the underlying  bare metal physical hardware. The  initial plans from Microsoft  to enable TEE in a  hardware based and software based infrastructure namely,

  • Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) TEE that’s implemented by Hyper-V in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.
  • Intel SGX TEE capable servers in the public cloud
Microsoft Enterprise Blockchain Framework Coco :    Recently  there is another announcement from Microsoft  about Coco framework,  which  mitigates  the limitations  of  Permissionless public blockchain protocols  into more enterprise  friendly  characteristics, like  High Throughput,  Low Latency  and Reduced Energy Usage.

Coco framework  exactly uses the TEE which forms  the  backbone  of  Azure  Confidential Computing  to  create the  network  of  nodes  that  form the  part of Enterprise Blockchain Consortium. Coco framework  uses  multiple  layers  of  components  that  ultimately  execute on a TEE.  The  following  picture  courtesy  of  Microsoft Coco Framework Whitepaper  explains how TEE  provides a  trusted blockchain  environment,  irrespective of the blockchain protocol.

Further  information  about Coco Framework  as  well  as  Confidential computing  can be obtained from Microsoft Documentation and  Blogs.

This  gives  opportunities  for  developing  Financial, healthcare applications  using Coco framework which  implicitly  provides   innovations  on the  security  architecture  in the form of Confidential Computing.  As  mentioned  in the  earlier  part  of  blog,   Reimagining  the  existing  enterprise applications  using  Blockchain and Smart Contracts to be executed in TEE  can bring new possibilities  for enterprises.   This may ultimately  lead  to transformation of  application development.

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