Blockchain technology was discovered in the year 1990, but its popularity skyrocketed when anonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto implemented Bitcoin through Blockchain. It is well-known for its decentralized method; data is stored in a distributed ledger containing details such as relevant data, hash, and previous hash key in a block. To breach the data security in Blockchain is almost impossible. On the other hand, cloud computing stands out as an essential tool today as it offers convenience to store, manage, and process data on an internet-based server. However, it has high-security concerns. Combining these two technologies can enhance network control, data integrity, and task scheduling. Today in this article, we will explore the concept of Blockchain and its integration with cloud computing.
Understanding the Concept of Blockchain
To understand the concept of Blockchain, let’s take an example of a shop. Generally, every shop maintains a record of its goods in its database. Similarly, Blockchain is the ledger i.e., “like the database” which a shop maintains to keep a record of its goods. Each block in the Blockchain contains relevant information. The first block stores transaction-related information. The second block stores the hash key; this hash key is like a unique ID. The third block contains the previous hash key, likewise; subsequent blocks keep on storing the previous hash key and this process continues. The very first block that doesn’t have any hash key stored is called a “Genesis Block”.
Ultimately, it will form a long chain of blocks all connected with the previous hash key. This chain of blocks makes it easy to trace and track the history of any transaction. This approach also creates a secure environment with a near-to-zero data breach. If anyone tries to change the data in one of the blocks, the hash key of that block will change instantly. This will make every subsequent block of data irrelevant and invalid.
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Blockchain and Its Security Layers
Blockchain has many security layers, including the proof of work concept. If someone wants to change the data in one of the blocks, they must prove it by putting in at least 10 minutes to change the data. Considering the number of blocks and 10 minutes for each would take their entire life. On top of that, they have to break through another added security. That is called a consensus rule, where every stakeholder in its network will have a copy of the Blockchain.
If someone wants to make any changes to one of the copies. It first requires them to share a copy of that Blockchain with everyone in the network and seek their approval. But if most stakeholders suspect that someone is trying to tamper and break the consensus rule, the change will be rejected and unsuccessful. If only all the stakeholders agree then changes in this Blockchain are possible. Therefore, it’s improbable for someone to tamper with and alter the data in Blockchain.
What Are the Types of Blockchains?
Blockchain are of three types, let’s have a closer look at them:
- Private Blockchain: It follows the centralized method with access managed and controlled by a central authority. Due to this, anyone cannot join and enter the network easily. And only allows the data to be shared between a limited number of individuals and a specific organization.
- Public Blockchain: It is decentralized with an open ledger. This means anyone from their system can join the network and carry out activities like storing, processing and evaluating the transaction. This entire process is monitored and regulated by a consensus mechanism.
- Consortium Blockchain: This type of blockchain is partially decentralized and partially centralized. Unlike the other two categories of blockchain, it provides access in advance to some selected members along with the type of services. To some, it does allow them to view and read data in the Blockchain but does not let them participate in the consensus process.
What Are the Characteristics of Blockchain?
- Auditable and Anonymity: Blockchain uses the sender’s digital signatures for all the transactions to authenticate. This is further saved in the block with the timestamp on it. It also uses an asymmetric technique to ensure secure communication and maintain tight security. Moreover, it lets the sender use different email IDs to safeguard their identity.
- Decentralized Method: A traditional network works on a centralized server, which has drawbacks like delays while communicating in the system. And computing costs are quite expensive. In this approach, participants in the network were validated by a reliable third-party centralized server. Whereas Blockchain works in a decentralized server that implements a new concept i.e., peer-to-peer block. It doesn’t rely on the third-party server to validate participants in the network. Thus, any participant can join and actively participate in various kinds of activities.
- Immutable and Transparency: Data stored in the Blockchain are permanent. No one can tamper or alter the data in the Blockchain. Every block is connected through the hash key. If anyone tries to do so, the next block of data will be invalid instantly. Its decentralized structure enables all participants to share their queries and publish their records. As a result, all the participants present in the same network can access the information.
- Autonomous: In a centralized network system, owners can retain the identity of users. However, in Blockchain, no single entity can control the network. Every participant can have equal ownership that follows the principle of consensus rule.
- Persistent: Whenever any transaction takes place in Blockchain, it goes through a rigorous verification process. After successful verification, it then adds it to the block. Once the transaction detail is stored in the block, rollback and erasing the data is not an easy task. It’s a crypto hashing algorithm that ensures the integrity of all the transaction history.
- Traceability: Blockchain data are encrypted using the hash algorithm and linked with one another. This provides convenience to users for finding their records of history.
This was all about the blockchain and brief concepts, now let’s understand how Blockchain provides data security when integrated with cloud computing.
Various Benefits of Blockchain in Cloud Computing
When Blockchain is integrated with the cloud, it provides robust security that cannot be breached easily. The following are some of the reasons:
- Seamless Connectivity: Public clouds are centralized in nature, which does not allow intercommunication within the network. Whereas Blockchain works in a decentralized manner that allows internode-communications. While integrating with Blockchain it lets different nodes (cloud) connect in the same network and share data among them. While they share data among themselves every node has a copy of the transaction. At the same, they can update every transaction in the ledger, and it further updates every node. Thus, Blockchain lets companies add multiple networks while maintaining the authenticity and transparency in the network.
- Permanent Data Integrity: Data stored in the cloud could be easily decrypted and tampered with. But this is not the case with Blockchain, it generates the hash key for each block and creates a consensus mechanism to ensure the permanent integrity of data. Due to this robust mechanism, no one can mess with the Blockchain data. Therefore, integration with Blockchain with cloud data will be secure and available at any time without any interruptions.
- Smart Contracts: The service agreements in the clouds are not always fair and sometimes they can be biased. However, Blockchain comes with the concept called a smart contract, this contract is code written in a programming language that runs in the container. Through this contract, both parties can establish trust between them. Not only that, but it also offers a couple of advantages such as self-execution whenever the specific condition is met on all the nodes. And to make things more predictable and transparent between both the parties.
- Structured Data: Usually, data in the cloud is not organized properly so tracing can be a bit complex and tricky. But when implemented with Blockchain all data is structured properly and easily traced by hash key. As a result, data in the block can easily accessed in the network and validated.
- Easily Handle Large Events: Cloud lacks the power to handle large events with different tasks, so Blockchain solves this problem. Its distributed ledger handles this smoothly while also ensuring service quality. Combining the Blockchain with the cloud boosts confidence in business with a robust security system. Now let’s see some examples of cloud platforms integrated with Blockchain.
Blockchain-Based Cloud Platform
The following are some of the big tech companies that integrate with Blockchain to secure their systems.
- Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service: It offers users a tool to create their Blockchain network without any hassle. Through this, users can have full control over the network and manage it in one place. At the same time, Azure Blockchain service takes care of all the technical complexities.
- Alibaba Cloud BaaS: If you’re familiar with the Kubernetes cluster, using Aliababa is no big deal. Alibaba Cloud guarantees security and provides facilities such as computing, databases, and many more. Furthermore, it can work on private cloud and public cloud which gives a high degree of flexibility to users.
- Amazon AWS Blockchain Platform: It provides pre-built templates and open-source systems such as Ethereum and Hyperledger. By using the templates and two popular systems users can easily create Where Ethereum handles the downtime without any interference. Hyperledger on the other hand, adds more layers of security.
- IBM Blockchain Platform: It offers flexibility to the user to use Blockchain in the cloud on their server and with other cloud services. Besides, it provides three service levels i.e., Hyperledger Fabric, service levels, and Hyperledger Composer.
- Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service: It uses a PaaS service that allows a distributed ledger system to operate in the cloud. With the improved Oracle and Hyperledger Fabric, one can create an enterprise-level Blockchain application. Moreover, it also allows users to add members to their groups create a Blockchain network, and then execute the smart contracts.
Many individuals and companies from all around the globe use cloud storage to store data, for disaster recovery, testing, and software development. Though cloud computing offers various advantages, data security remains a major concern. Thus, the solution for this is Blockchain. Combining these technologies can offer many added advantages. Firstly, Blockchain ensures data transparency in cloud storage. Secondly, each block relates to the previous block through a hash key, thus tracing of data is quite straightforward. And thirdly, its decentralized nature allows stakeholders to audit data and verify the changes simultaneously. Other extra perks are usability, privacy, data management, and scalability.
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Yes, Blockchain provides the flexibility to customize any of the layers such as smart contract functionality and scalability. Due to this reason, it is widely used in various industries and applications.
Though Blockchain follows the core principle of decentralization, it can vary across layers. Sometimes it may follow the solution of sidechains and off-chains to enhance the scalability and transaction speed.
Scalability lets Blockchain handle the increased volume of transaction and node load efficiently. It also helps to overcome some of its inherent challenges.
Yes, it is possible through two ways i.e., layering and sharding.