Will Blockchain Replace Databases As We Know Them

Will Blockchain Replace Databases As We Know Them

Blockchain News
January 3, 2024 by Editor's Desk
317
Since the advent of blockchain technology in the late 2000s, the use of the tech has expanded almost exponentially. Today, blockchain is used in industries ranging from medical care to the supply chain and even iGaming. One growing application area is using blockchain as a replacement for databases. The desire for this is evident as
Will Blockchain Replace Databases As We Know Them

Since the advent of blockchain technology in the late 2000s, the use of the tech has expanded almost exponentially. Today, blockchain is used in industries ranging from medical care to the supply chain and even iGaming.

One growing application area is using blockchain as a replacement for databases. The desire for this is evident as blockchain provides greater security and a more modern way of handling data.

Almost 60% of databases worldwide still run on SQL (structured query language). This programming language has been around since 1974 and has inspired many other languages that use it as a base. With blockchain on the rise, is it possible that SQL and other database engines will be replaced?

Differences

To understand whether or not blockchain can be used as a viable replacement for today’s most common SQL databases, it is essential to note the differences between the two.

Centralization

The main point of departure between a blockchain and a database is where it is stored. Blockchains are famously decentralized, meaning they don’t exist on a single server. Instead, the chain is stored across multiple servers and computers.

In addition, a blockchain is not only stored on servers owned by the originator of the chain. Instead, it is stored on devices owned by complete strangers around the world—leading to true decentralization.

Meanwhile, a server resides on a single, static computer or data storage device that acts as a host. The only time the information is saved elsewhere is when a backup is made, which is typically stored on a secondary storage device run by the same people who control the central database.

Permissions

Because a blockchain can be accessed by almost anyone wishing to write a new block to the central chain, most do not feature any security permissions. Anyone can access a permissionless chain because once the data has been added, it cannot be removed. This is one of the unique defining features of a blockchain.

On the other hand, a database operates somewhat differently. Permissionless access is not viable because this would allow the database to be read, written, and rewritten when needed. If this kind of system was accessible without any security permissions, anyone could delete or alter records on a whim.

As a result, databases commonly have robust security measures that enforce permission-based access. This ensures that only authorized parties can access and change certain information.

Security

The security of blockchains is vastly different from most databases. Blockchains use Distributed Ledger Technology, meaning each chain user holds a copy. This protects against losing information due to hacks or viruses.

In addition, every item written on a blockchain is encrypted with the same advanced cryptography of the main chain. This makes hacking a blockchain incredibly difficult and, in some cases, almost impossible.

In comparison, databases rely heavily on the security systems installed on their host server, permission allocations, and backups to stay safe. Regardless of how advanced these security systems are, proficient hackers can still bypass them. This unfortunate reality has led to some of the worst data leaks in history.

Function

As mentioned above, blockchain technology only supports a read-and-write function. This means that users of the chain can write new blocks (after their proof of work has been verified) or read existing blocks to see the data they contain. However, should a block be incorrectly written, there is no option to remove or edit it.

Meanwhile, databases support multiple functions beyond simple reading and writing. These allow users to edit, move, or delete entries based on their needs. This leads to more dynamic structures of information that can be amended as necessary.

Application

Blockchain technology appears to offer many more strengths compared to traditional databases. In theory, they would be the perfect alternative to databases. The reality, however, is that they are unlikely to replace databases as we use them today.

The main reason is that blockchains are not as flexible to change as databases. Whether it be updating or removing information that is no longer relevant, the ability to edit and delete data is pivotal to the success of any database.

In reality, blockchains were never meant to replace standard databases, such as those run on SQL. Instead, they were invented to act only as a ledger or place to store information—which they do rather well.

Despite not being a viable database replacement, blockchain is now being used across many industries. From helping to manage supply chain needs and operations to automating issuing free SC coins in iGaming, blockchain has proven to be a reliable and stable alternative to databases.

Future

As new blockchains continue to emerge, there is no doubt that the technology will see ongoing evolution and improvement. However, due to the less flexible design of these systems, they are unlikely to replace the traditional databases we use today.

We can expect databases to remain in play for some of our most essential systems around the world—and that’s not a bad thing. Databases are undergoing constant development with new systems and upgrades to languages like SQL to keep them at the forefront of data safety and security.