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Blockchain is the distributed database system of choice for many people all over the world. Here’s how 👇🏼
In a distributed system, data is stored and processed across multiple nodes in a network, rather than on a single, centralized node. This allows for greater scalability, fault tolerance, and security.
Blockchain as a distributed database system
In a blockchain, the data is stored in blocks, which are linked together in a chain. Each block contains a number of transactions, along with a timestamp and a reference to the previous block in the chain. The chain of blocks, or ledger, is maintained by a decentralized network of participants, rather than a central authority. Each participant in the network has a copy of the ledger, which is updated in real time as new transactions are added.
The distributed nature of a blockchain makes it highly resistant to tampering or manipulation, as there is no central point of control. In order for a malicious actor to alter the ledger, they would need to control more than 50% of the network, which is very difficult to achieve.
Additionally, the data in a blockchain is secured using complex cryptographic algorithms, which further improves security.
One of the key features of blockchain technology is its decentralization
In a centralized system, there is a central point of authority, such as a bank, that controls and maintains the data. In contrast, in a decentralized system, the data is distributed across a network of participants, and no single participant has complete control. This decentralization makes the blockchain resistant to manipulation or interference by a single entity, which is one of the main reasons for its security.
Another key feature is that blockchains can be public or private
In public blockchains, anyone can read the data and participate in the consensus process. This allows for transparency and allows for anyone to participate in the network. In private blockchains, the network is restricted to a specific group of participants, and only they can read the data and participate in the consensus process. This is useful for applications where privacy is needed.
🔮 Explore more: Types of blockchains, explained
How is blockchain different from traditional distributed databases?
Blockchains and traditional distributed databases are similar in that they both use a decentralized network of nodes to store and process data. However, there are some key differences between the two technologies 👇🏼
1. Consensus mechanism
The main difference between blockchain and traditional distributed databases is the consensus mechanism used to validate and add new transactions to the database. In a traditional distributed database, a central authority or a group of designated nodes is responsible for validating and adding new transactions.
In a blockchain, however, the consensus mechanism is decentralized, and all nodes in the network are responsible for validating and adding new transactions. This is achieved through mechanisms such as Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, Delegated Proof of Stake, or Byzantine Fault Tolerance which are specific for blockchain.
Once data is written to a traditional distributed database, it can be updated or deleted by authorized users. In contrast, data in a blockchain is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered once it has been added to the network. This immutability is achieved through the use of cryptographic hashes, which link each block to the previous one, creating an unbreakable chain of blocks.
In traditional databases, user identity is usually registered and associated with their data. In a blockchain, however, identity is not linked to data. Instead, transactions are associated with a pseudonymous digital identity, such as a public key.
4. Public/private structure
Traditional distributed databases can be either public or private, meaning the access to the data is restricted to certain users or entities. Blockchain, on the other hand, can also have a public or private structure, but some blockchain networks such as the Bitcoin network are purely public where as other can be private and permissioned.
5. Use cases
Both traditional distributed databases and blockchains can be used for a wide range of applications, but blockchain technology is particularly well-suited for use cases where transparency, immutability, and decentralization are important, such as in financial transactions, supply chain management, digital identity, and voting systems.
In summary, while both traditional distributed databases and blockchains are decentralized systems for storing and processing data, they differ in terms of their consensus mechanism, immutability, anonymity and use cases.
Blockchain technology‘s unique features such as immutability and decentralized consensus make it suitable for use cases that require transparency and security. Here’s how blockchain is a distributed database of choice for several, and in fact acts as a lot more.