Industry Solutions and Trends
Technology is more than just networking and Juniper experts share their views on all the trends affecting IT
Industry Solutions and Trends
Blockchain: Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems
07.12.17

This is part I of our multi-part blog series on Blockchain. Please visit our landing page and view part I of our webinar series to learn much more about how Juniper views this exciting new technology that is causing quite a stir.

 

To paraphrase The Notorious BIG, circa 1997: “Mo’ data, mo’ problems.” The internet’s success and the ubiquity of data have generated problems, specifically related to trust and security.

 

Trust is essential for commerce and countless other interactions in society, but how do we create and maintain Trust? How do we ensure data integrity, authenticate users and things, and verify provenance? Addressing these challenges can be difficult, but Blockchain offers clever solutions.

 

First, let’s think about a supply chain today. And you can expand you’re idea of a supply chain to think of any ecosystem where different vendors or other entities are transferring assets or sharing information:

 

blockchain A.png

 

Each entity needs a ledger, that is, a database to record transactions. Vendor A transfers an asset to vendor B. Vendor B needs to verify the authenticity of vendor A and of this transaction and maybe they send a payment back to vendor A. The vendors need to reconcile the transaction. Often there are additional entities involved beyond the buyer and the seller. For example, when a car is sold, government agencies need to track the vehicle title and registration.

 

This is just a small glimpse into one aspect of one particular value chain for one industry. For larger ecosystems across borders, high value asset transfers, etc., the issues are magnified. Overall, you have a messy, complex, web of mutual obligations, direct and indirect ownership, and periodic settlements. This results in supply chains and ecosystems today that are unnecessarily slow, costly to manage, and overly complex. Databases are duplicated across participants, but there’s little transparency and visibility and we need tight security to maintain the integrity of this system.

 

What if you could have a single database that everyone could see and make changes to? This would remove all of the inefficiencies and complexities that we’ve listed. However, this could result in chaos - how could you control read/write access? Blockchain provides an elegant solution.

 

Let’s re-visit our supply chain, but this time with Blockchain, where we have a shared, distributed, de-centralized, ledger:

 

blockchain B.png

 

With Blockchain, Trust is built-in. It actually flips the problem around and assumes that parties in a transaction do not trust each other. Blockchain builds an immutable, indelible, traceable record in which consensus among the participants in the system verifies and validates each transaction. Data integrity and provenance/attribution are baked in.

 

More broadly, we can remove intermediaries, eliminate duplication of data, and overall increase efficiency and simplify the entire supply chain. You still maintain many of those connections among different parties, but Blockchain (which includes smart contracts, which we’ll discuss in a later blog) abstracts out that complexity and automates processes that today might be very clunky.

 

Remember, Blockchain does not solve all security issues. Don’t let a network vulnerability unravel the Trust and Security promises that a Blockchain-based business model makes. You need an SDSN (software-defined secure network).