If you have followed almost any news about Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, then you have probably heard of a technology called blockchain. Digital currencies combine many different components, but blockchain is probably their most distinctive and innovative piece of tech. A blockchain is basically a distributed ledger, similar to a spreadsheet or database. However, it is different than either of these technologies because it is decentralized; there is no single authoritative copy managed by an individual.
Instead, the ledger is accessible by all nodes (i.e., participants) on a network, each of which can view and validate its contents. This setup in theory allows for a somewhat democratic process that is also immutable. The cryptographic hashes binding together the different transactions (or "blocks") are time-stamped and signed with private keys, meaning they cannot be altered without compromising the structure of the entire chain. In an ideal form, a blockchain might be useful for many applications beyond cryptocurrencies, including:
- Logistics tracking: The locations and statuses of shipments could be tracked automatically and accurately.
- Contract enforcement: "Smart" contracts that automatically enforce specific provisions based on textual triggers can be configured on a blockchain.
- Data storage and management: A blockchain could be instrumental in determining data provenance and also in cataloging where specific data sets are stored at a moment in time.
These use cases could become more prominent as various cryptocurrencies come under additional regulatory scrutiny that might further drive down the sky-high exchange rates reached during an asset price bubble in 2017. For example, blockchain could help simplify the clerical tasks, regulatory compliance and data exchange that are part and parcel of modern data protection services.
Improving data protection with blockchain-based solutions
Blockchains themselves are not usually storage vehicles. Instead, they more often serve as catalogs filled with references to transactions such as monetary exchanges or contract signings. With data storage and management in particular, a blockchain might include "fingerprint" hashes identifying each individual file stored to a cloud solution and attesting to its integrity.
"Blockchain records should instill peace of mind that information is securely stored."
Since blockchain is unchangeable and transparent, its records should instill peace of mind that information is securely stored. Backup strategies frequently go down the wrong path when they become too complicated or overly dependent on guesswork, neither of which is ideal when you want to reinstate critical data and applications.
Just like recovering from a disaster, backing up has to work as intended every time to provide acceptable performance and return on investment. Blockchain could potentially be an important piece in the backup/disaster recovery, alongside more established solutions such as Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).
What BaaS, DRaaS and blockchain have in common
A blockchain is a comprehensive window into all activity on a network. Likewise, BaaS and DRaaS each offer a single interface from which you can administer your data. This simplification reduces the amount of hardware and software you need within your IT environments, just as blockchain eliminates the need for conflicting records that might have been tampered with.
Blockchain, BaaS and DRaaS all provide the reliability today's enterprises require when working with sensitive data. However, while blockchain's potential is still in the process of being unlocked, both BaaS and DRaaS are already proven solutions for streamlining data protection services. An experienced managed service provider such as UbiStor will partner with you to design implementations that meet your specific needs. Contact us today or visit our services page to learn more.