Blockchain technology is a hot new trend, with nearly 60% of the world’s largest companies now researching it as a way to improve their data’s security.
 
A recent article in IEEE Spectrum presents pros and cons. "Do You Need a Blockchain?" includes a new interactive tool to help you determine if this new approach is good for you.
 
For a deeper discussion, register for the CAST Technology Deep Dive workshop to be presented Oct. 29 at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans, LA. Susheel Ladwa, industry leader of Life Sciences, IBM Cloud Application Services, and co-chair of the AHIP IT Advisory Group, will discuss several 21st century technologies that will empower businesses over the next few years. He also will share his insights on blockchain technology and its role in health care, including electronic health records and health information exchange.

Blockchain Technology 101

Relational databases are today’s gold standard. They depend on a few trusted entities to store and update entries in tables—and to control the data’s security.
 
Blockchain technology changes the way data is managed. Blockchains are replicated across a peer-to-peer network, making their data hard to corrupt. They don’t rely on trusted entities. Instead, strangers work together to store, curate, and secure a growing data set.

Public Blockchains

Public blockchains typically work well because the miners, who add new data to the blockchain, are paid. Bitcoin and Ethereum are examples.
 
Public blockchains are excellent if you want to avoid censorship and provide universal access. However, they are slower and less private than databases. The costs to import data are unpredictable. So is the software, because no one entity updates it.

Permissioned Ledger

In a permissioned ledger, only known entities can amend the database, which keeps them accountable. Governance is not an issue, because the same people update the blockchain and the code.
 
Permissioned ledgers are faster, with larger storage capacity, than public blockchains that rely on miners to add data. This approach is also more private than public blockchains. While those within your network can see your data, permissioned ledgers are is good for applications where only the public should not see the data.

Helping You Decide

Consider the pros and cons of blockchain technology carefully. If it works for you to have someone in charge of your database, a traditional database will be the most efficient approach for you. Use this interactive tool to weigh the pros and cons.