Question for developers: Blockchain

May be a little early (due to scaling issues that are supposed to be worked out soon) but I wanted to know if there are any plans for creating drivers to connect to blockchains such as Ethereum?

Seems to me that this is the ultimate database solution from both developers and auditors standpoint (distributed database and immutable records).

Disclaimer: This is just, like, my opinion, man.

I think that blockchain tech is unique, and very interesting, but there’s also a lot of hype and uncertainty around it. There have been a couple of sessions at ICC that talk about the Gartner hype cycle - and I think it applies to blockchain stuff perfectly. Right now, everything’s up in the air - no one’s sure what uses of blockchain work well, and which don’t, and where using a blockchain makes the most sense. Waiting for some of that to “settle out” before moving on a new technology (especially in the industrial controls space) makes a lot of sense to me.

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Blockchain also means different things in some contexts. At its core, it is simply a chain of data blocks where the hash of each block includes the previous block’s hash as a salt. This is precisely what git does to ensure a source code repository’s integrity – every commit’s diff (with commit message) is hashed with the previous commit’s hash as a salt. If you have a git hash and a git tree that matches, you have extreme confidence that the source and its history hasn’t been tampered with. This statement neither offers nor requires any external proof.

Blockchain for cryptocurrencies define additional restrictions on the content of each block, with asymetric cryptographic signatures for transferring funds and computationally demanding bit-pattern constraints on each block’s hash. The latter is what makes distributed blockchains “trustable” at scale. It can be replaced with a trusted signer (more asymmetric crypto) in private applications that don’t want to spend a fortune on electricity.

Applications like git are well-established – there’s no reason not to use them. Distributed trust is still up in the air, in my not so humble opinion.

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I guess I just really like the idea of one day being able to store everything on a distributed immutable system.

Being able to tell an auditor that our data has no way of being deleted/edited would be a holy grail situation.

Thanks for your input guys, I definitely understand and appreciate your opinions on the subject!

Don’t hold your breath. Blockchains are terribly inefficient at storing changing data. The backing storage not only has to exist, it has to be replicated all over the place, with all intermediate versions. It might not be editable, but it certainly remains deletable.