My day job has required me to look into issues related to using the block chain in the enterprise. This lead me to a simple question - why would an enterprise be interested in the block chain for running its own business?
Near as I can tell the purpose of the block chain is to maintain a distributed database with ACID behavior that is resistant to byzantine attacks.
So when I look at the use of the block chain in the enterprise the first question I ask myself three questions, does this customer scenario need:
- an ACID database?
- to be distributed?
- to be resistant to byzantine attacks?
If the answer to any of these question is no then they probably don’t need the block chain.
When I talk to enterprises they typically are interested in 2 and 3 more than 1. This isn’t to say that nobody cares about 1, just that when I talk to enterprises that’s not where they have started so far. But I could very well be talking to the wrong people.
They like the distributed nature of the block chain because they want to be able to work either with other units in the same company or with other businesses. But what the enterprises don’t want to do is to create some central authority to run things either in the form of a new internal group or some kind of consortium (in the case of multi-business scenarios). They really like the idea that there doesn’t have to be a central authority to do business on the block chain.
The other aspect of the block chain that they like is the guarantees around byzantine attacks. In many cases these businesses don’t really trust each other. So they like the idea that the system is resistant against bad actors.
There is yet another aspect of the block chain that I haven’t really heard enterprises talk about but I do hear a lot from people trying to sell block chain to enterprises, and that is resistance to key disclosure. In a future article I’ll go into this scenario in some detail.
I’m also in the middle of writing another article capturing all the scenarios I’ve run into with enterprises that are looking to use the block chain. But I’m still doing some work collecting and clarifying those scenarios.