Blockchain is the buzzword of the age, many people want to utilise blockchain technology in their organisation, but aren’t aware of the intricacies of implementing it successfully.
What is a blockchain?
On a basic level, a blockchain is a list of continually growing records (blocks) that are all linked together using cryptography. Every individual block in the chain contains information that links it to the previous block. It is this linking of various blocks with data that makes information resistant to tampering and external modification.
If you want to know more about how blockchain technology actually works then you can read our guide here.
Amazon offers a fully integrated and comprehensive blockchain service as part of the AWS suite of applications.
How does Amazon Managed Blockchain work?
Amazon Managed Blockchain utilises the open-source Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum frameworks to allow the creation and upkeep of scalable blockchain networks.
One of the main advantages of blockchains is that they allow you to dispense with a central processing authority. Amazon Managed Blockchain allows multiple users to execute linked transactions that are completely linked, secure and self-checked.
One of the unique features of Amazon Managed Blockchain is that it is incredibly simple and intuitive to use; it only takes a few clicks of the mouse to create a scalable managed blockchain network that can be adjusted as your requirements change.
Thanks to its utilisation of the cloud, AWS Blockchains don’t require you to manage network creation, everything is done for you with the minimum of fuss. Certificates are fully managed after the network is up and functioning, and new members can be invited to join easily.
As you would expect from an Amazon service, Managed Blockchain features full tracking of various metrics so you or your managed cloud service provider can keep an eye on what is happening where on your blockchain network.
Ethereum vs. Hyperledger Fabric
At present Amazon support two different blockchain frameworks, Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.
The former is a better solution for blockchain networks that are widely distributed, and if you require a set of blockchains that offer full disclosure to all members on the network then Ethereum is ideal.
Ethereum also allows you to join any public blockchain on their network.
In contrast, Hyperledger Fabric tends to work better for situations where maximum security is required and where privacy is of the utmost concern, it allows you to work sets of permissions into your blockchain network to control access and visibility, ideal for private blockchains.
Utilising Amazon Managed Blockchain ensures that everything is scalable as your network expands. Members of your network can easily add new peer nodes ensuring that they can always create or validate transactions, and you can select from a wide variety of CPU and memory configurations ensuring things are always running smoothly and that the hardware matches your needs.
One advantage of this approach to managing blockchain networks is that you can maintain a full set of logs for any changes that take place to blockchains in your network as well as easily keep tabs on all transaction data.
Integrating blockchain with wider cloud management
Managed Blockchain on AWS works hand in hand with Amazon QLDB, a fully-featured ledger database that seamlessly integrates with your blockchain networks. Amazon boasts that QLDB is an entirely new type of database that does away with the need to develop your own ledgers and related applications, and it focuses on being stable and secure by maintaining a personal journal.
This journal functions across all of Amazon QLDB and works as a full transaction log that keeps a track of every data change no matter how small, and most importantly the journal can never be altered, amended, shifted or deleted, ensuring you have a permanent record that can be referred to whenever you require.
Amazon QLDB uses the SHA-256 cryptographic hash algorithm to generate data output, this ensures that when you request a changelog or report or your data activity it is delivered as a fully secure digest that is safe from prying eyes.
The immutability of logging on Amazon QLDB is one of its main unique selling points and you can guarantee that you will have full records of everything you could possibly require that can never be accidentally deleted or altered. QLDB is also highly scalable depending upon your requirements.
It can execute up to three times as many transactions as other blockchain frameworks thanks to its centralised nature that does away with the need for every member on the network to validate a transaction.
It is also entirely serverless ensuring that it will dynamically scale to match your needs, this process is entirely seamless and occurs quietly in the background of your processes ensuring you don’t need to waste time managing hardware.
Amazon QLDB has gained a lot of fans in the financial sector, it is ideal for keeping track of valuable financial records such as debit and credit transactions across a huge number of accounts. Many larger organisations also utilise QLDB to track payroll information along with other pieces of employee information such as performance history and benefits, this allows for a full, secure and accurate record of any company to client transactions to be recalled instantly should the need arise.
Any industry that requires the tracking of large amounts of data that changes frequently will benefit from Amazon QLDB, it can be used to track supply and demand and to take note of product returns and changes, or to keep a full history of any interactions with clients and customers.
There is absolutely no doubt that Amazon’s QLDB is in many ways superior to traditional private blockchains for some applications, it addresses many of the requirements that may force an organisation to consider a blockchain network in the first place but often with greater ease of use and functionality.
Amazon handles all of your data integrity allowing you to recall the pieces of information you require in an instant, safe in the knowledge that it is secure and immutable and offers a full list of any and all transactions that have taken place.