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How Blockchain and Microservices are transforming the Technology landscape

Microservices

Microservices architectural style structures an application as a collection of services. This architecture makes IT applications loosely coupled and highly maintainable. Thus they become rapidly and independently deployable. 

Such attributes make microservices, an architecture of choice for many large applications vis-a-vis a monolithic architecture. All cloud service providers like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud benefit from this microservice architecture. 

Source: AWS

Blockchain

Many people use Blockchain and Bitcoin in the same breath as if they mean the same. But cryptocurrency is just one such use-case of blockchain. IBM defines blockchain as “a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network”.[1]

Three attributes make blockchain have a great utility in business:

1. Distributed ledger technology 

Distributed ledger makes blockchain a database with no single point of failure. It cannot be destroyed as long as even one node in the network is alive. The ledger is also shared among the nodes. Transactions are recorded only once, avoiding duplication of effort.

2. Immutable record:

No participant can tamper with any record in the shared ledger. Even in the case of an erroneous transaction, the ledger simply records another transaction to correct the error. All transactions are visible to everyone at all times. 

3. Smart contract

There are ways to store programs on top of BlockChain that can be executed when certain conditions are met. These are called Smart Contracts. They are used to automate workflows without any intermediary and time loss. It can bring substantial efficiencies in IT systems and reduce the risk of fraud or failure across the board. 

Transforming Business with Blockchain and Microservices

The agility of Microservices architecture with increased efficiency and risk reductions of blockchain is a compelling business proposition for any business. But a question may arise, how does blockchain improve on an already agile microservices architecture. 

Well, the way different microservices work is via APIs. Each business action or functionality is a separate microservice with its own set of APIs. So, a common challenge in this architecture is a large number of moving pieces and an overwhelming collection of APIs.

Managing multiple APIs with different roles and permissions for participants can quickly become incredibly complex. Such a system increases failure points, security leakages and data corruption. A central source of truth can help in solving this issue. 

Blockchain can help with this problem. Blockchain can efficiently serve as a trusted source for coordination. Since blockchain is immutable, there is no scope for data corruption. Distributed ledger technology drastically reduces the points of failures. Smart contracts can define rules that control how each microservice interacts with data. This will reduce security leakages.

In case of any failures, blockchain also helps create a robust audit trail. It can help in the quick resolution of critical issues and lower downtimes. 

A blockchain and microservice-based architecture can help businesses create robust, efficient and reliable IT applications. 

Real-life implementations

Blockchain provides the system for trust in an architecture. Microservices provides the necessary modularity in the IT application architecture to help it scale faster. 

Blockchain technology market size worldwide 2018-2025

Source: Statista

A forecast on Statista predicts that Blockchain technology market size is expected to touch USD 24 Billion.

Increasingly many organizations are investing in Blockchain-based technology solutions across the globe. 

An enterprise example – Fluree

There are already some robust enterprise-grade databases out there that are based on blockchain technology. Fluree is such an example of an extensible blockchain-based database. It imparts an enterprise-grade “database versatility” to the developers by combining blockchain with microservices. 

It provides a broad set of choices to streamline the system from a completely centralized static ledger to a fully decentralized network. 

As per the company, this distributed form of the network can provide performance improvements of up to 10X in hot queries. As an immutable, append-only ledger, Fluree can lock a moment-in-time to retrieve consistent answers — providing a central source of shared truth. This avoids the issue of working with concurrent queries in a microservice architecture.

Conclusion

The question for an organization now is no longer if Blockchain and Microservices-based architecture are useful. 

The question is, how quickly is the business transitioning to it?


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