Introduction to decentralised technologies - commonly used in blockchain
The most common example of decentralisation is within the blockchain / crypto currency sector. A network of vastly distributed computers “nodes” all storing a copy of the data within the chain and no “true” centralised authority controlling the network. In some essences, the control aspect is similar to the internet, where a huge network of networks operate in the main on their own individual roles, but may at some given point, communicate with another network on the internet.
Away from crypto currencies, there are a large number of projects appearing within various sectors, decentralising data for things such as medical records, supply chain management and even personal data / identity management. The immutability and decentralisation does to a large degree, ensure the data cannot be lost, but of course, there are risks of data escaping into the wrong hands, and potentially damaging loss of intellectual property, which is highly guarded by businesses.
We could dive much deeper into how much decentralised networks are are often under the control of a few, but that’s for another article.
Centralised Vs Decentralised
A very well crafted article on Forbes CeDeFi - What It Is and Why It Matters covers the recently coined term CeDeFi, which is a good attempt at creating a secure centralised financial infrastructure, whilst being able to operate within the various decentralised financial instruments including the likes of Bitcoin. It also is gathering pace to allow banks of different brands the ability to use atomic transactions between each other through mutual agreement and levels of trust. The technology is quite deep, so we won’t go there “yet”.
At a very high level, a centralised database (a database is ultimately what blockchains are built on) or network is a centrally controlled infrastructure. This usually pertains (until the recent Azure Active Directory) to be a group of servers controlling an entire infrastructure with workstations and resources, along with users under the central controlling entity. If using a business database within a controlled internal policy, this would be an example of a centralised solution. For businesses, this is the ultimate in security of their data and control of their entire infrastructure and why security personnel work many long days each year patching and keeping on top of potential issues within the organisation, but also on the edge of their network.
The centralised aspect within EyA provides the organisation with the same level of “ownership” and control of security / access control as within a centralised enterprise network, removing the fear of any / all parties having the same level of access and authority as within a decentralised solution. The centralised infrastructure can be hosted on premise, or in a cloud, which many businesses are currently migrating to.
Businesses and people need to work together - How?
We are way past the era where businesses could work together by punching holes in their firewalls and allowing 3rd party access to part of their system(s). Data breaches from both outside and inside organisations are increasing, leading to more restrictive policies. Some businesses have worked around this by providing portals, which their supply chain use to update and interact with internal systems; however, this is not a real fix to the required interoperability and function of businesses globally.
Businesses need to be able to interoperate, but there are key points which must be addressed:
Intellectual property must never leave the company
Private data must be kept private
Financial data must be secure
Personnel data must not emanate beyond the Human Resources services
Only the data required to complete any form of transaction should be shared (even obfuscating this data is part of EyA)
However, with this list of requirements, businesses do need to get some data to their supply chain or service providers, and even to the general public. Take for instance product information, allergy advisories, how to videos, safety information and product recalls. Each business would need to provide some form of portal or app to the entire chain from producer to consumer. How many portals or apps could a business (for instance, a supermarket) use to interrogate data, let alone the consumer in real-time purchase mode? What happens if a business no longer exists, but an end user still requires legacy product specifications or technical data?
To overcome this issue, EyA has developed Centralised / Decentralised by combining the best of both worlds. Within the centralised aspect, businesses, organisations and even governments are in control of their own unique group of nodes, which are not available to external parties. Security is internally controlled and policies applied. Two or more organisations agree on transactional data requirements and interaction between different companies nodes allows for as much collaboration as is required. Whatever is plugged into each organisation’s nodes makes no difference at all. So one organisation using SAP can collaborate with another using Dynamics 365 etc.
This scenario expands into a network of networked nodes, collaborating in real time and even capable of downtime of another business network of nodes without impacting the flow of transactional data. However, all private and intellectual property data is guarded and nodes do not share or store data pertaining to different organisational nodes. The EyA cloud does not partake in the transactions and no data is shared into our networks.
Decentralisation - getting data to the people
EyA uses granular permission-based technologies within the object templating language to define unique permission sets within the foundations of an organisational asset. This can be anything from a small component to an intrinsic set of components grouped together to form a product. Within the product or service, public data is flagged and this forms the very basics of the decentralisation aspect. Whether it be product information, videos or dynamically updating safety / recall / recycling information, the organisation has the ability to get this data to the public.
Public marked data is continuously shared within the EyA cloud nodes and other participating providers wishing to provide services to the public. Both standard data and files (using a hybrid IPFS solution) are replicated across the participating nodes and public facing applications, mobile apps, or even a web browser on a phone can access anything publicly accessible about any given product or service. As the product information, safety or regulatory information changes, people can be alerted and gain access to any of the updated information. Imagine a person receiving a product recall within seconds of the producer identifying an issue!
Along with this outbound reach to a vast public audience, companies are able to interact through public facing services and applications, leading to powerful bidirectional, but private outreach with their consumers and end users.
So, to roundup, EyA is a combination of private, centralised networks of nodes, protecting valuable data, and a cloud of nodes disseminating public facing data globally.