Middleware-FAANGS of Blockchains

Introduction

To say that we leverage Blockchain only for financial transactions is an understatement given its use cases in general. A blockchain’s core property is decentralization and it is what makes a blockchain secure and reliable. It also helps rid an application of third-party integrations that make it centralized and less secure.

Decentralization is also responsible for the many use cases that Blockchain is capable of handling without external interference.

For the generic use case of blockchain i.e. financial transactions, blockchains facilitate secure peer-to-peer financial transactions without any third-party intervention. Banks and central parties charge an extraneous amount in the form of service charges. This doesn’t have to be the case with Blockchain.

Similarly, there are other applications like cab-sharing where users pay an extra amount in the form of service charges with the usual fee. This is where Blockchains stand out by processing the service directly between the driver and the users. In this case, the blockchain is the service provider. This usage of blockchains is called BaaS (Blockchain as a Service) or the middleware of blockchains.

Blockchain as a Service

BaaS is a new advancement in the use of blockchain technology for a multitude of applications, though it is still in the development phase. The idea is to enable decentralized, self-sufficient, secure, and transparent services between the service provider and consumers. This means that all the data, rules, processing, and functioning is available on public blockchains, and accessible to users. Not only does this mean cutting the middle man, but a lot more including modularity, easy audits, and professionalism.

In fact, there are quite a few platforms where blockchain technology has found its use such as the Internet of things and Cloud computing. It is also true that the middleware blockchains are still in their primary stage. However, the idea, its partial implementations, and test cases have given outstanding results on multiple fronts. This includes service speed, security, and transparency. Let’s have a look at the two popular niches where blockchain middleware has helped drop the middlemen.

Internet of Things:

This is yet another network like a blockchain, but a centralized one. The Internet of Things technology is a network of physical entities that cooperate with one another to provide a service. With advancements in embedded systems and sensor technology, IoT has taken a lot of market traction for its services. The problem, however, is centralization, which makes the data and communication over the network a liability. IoT thus needs decentralization for more robust security and transparency. The blockchain-enabled Internet of Things can be envisaged as a blockchain where each node is a device and the interactions between nodes take place over this network. One such example is IBM’s ADEPT, a three-layered blockchain technology driving IoT.

Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is a technology for resource sharing like storage and computing. Google Drive, Apple Cloud, and Microsoft OneDrive are Clouds are all examples of cloud resources. Cloud computing is quite beneficial and in high demand. But the fact that they are not decentralized means the power to manage resources lies in a few hands. Hence even with an online presence, cloud computing doesn’t guarantee security and transparency. Furthermore, most cloud services charge you exorbitantly for using their resources. Using Blockchain to empower Cloud Computing with decentralization seems to be a promising idea. One such example is Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service (OBCS), a three-layer and five-component blockchain technology.

The above is all about the need and use of blockchain technology at the backend of Industry 4.0, and for better transparency and functioning. Now, let’s have a look at the concepts that BaaS borrows from the blockchain.

Shared ledger:

In a blockchain, a ledger is a database having all the information on transactions. In the case of BaaS, the interactions and data exchanges can be recorded on a shared platform. This ensures authenticity and enables efficient verification of the information by any device.

Consensus:

Different Consensus mechanisms are used by Blockchains for transaction and verification. can also be inherited by blockchain middleware for data validation. In the case of blockchain-enabled Internet of Things, there is a need to verify the data transferred between devices.

Shared Contract:

Blockchains support the concept of self-executable smart contracts. A similar concept allows middleware to make its services more interactive to the user.

Cryptography:

In a blockchain, all transactions are encrypted, guaranteeing further security. For any other industry, data transfer or any other peer-to-peer service is confidential. These services thus need similar cryptography to guarantee the revelation of information to only authorized devices.

Decentralized Storage:

For providing public services, there is a need for humongous data storage units. Such units generally exist in the form of centralized servers. This leads to two major problems, space crunch, and centralization. To solve this problem at the initial stage, distributed systems are built. However, the issue of centralization still exists. Hence, the technology used in blockchains for storing data via a distributed ledger is a promising solution.

Speedy Delivery:

With digital currency, there is online payment, on the go verification which helps in fast processing. The same idea is also replicated for providing industry 4.0 services to minimize the delay due to the involvement of middlemen.

Conclusion

BaaS Middleware is an extension of the underlying technology behind blockchain. The main takeaway is that blockchains have much more to offer than online transactions and trading. Many services have already begun using blockchain as backend technology such as Lazooz and OpenBazaar. The concept of blockchain characterizes one word, ‘decentralization’. This is now out in the real world to replace the middle-man in several services. Almost every service that we corporations/organizations have been providing needs a middle-man. This also includes our everyday routine. Blockchain permits services to scrape the middlemen from their workflow, and allow the distributed ledger to act as an alternative. This not only reduces the cost of the service but also offers a more robust infrastructure, deliverability and security.

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