Users of tech services in Ottawa should be aware that while blockchain technology is revolutionary, like everything else in IT, it does have drawbacks. For every advantage, a technology brings there is always a disadvantage, and blockchain is no exception. Some of the blockchain’s disadvantages are negligible, while others will need deep consideration when deciding if blockchain is right for your organization.
In previous articles, explanations of the blockchain and its applications have been presented, shining a light on the emerging technology. In this article, we will now look into the dark side of the picture and see some of the problems that arise with the blockchain protocol. Understand that this is to give a fair and balanced picture of the technology, as not discussing these elements of the blockchain would certainly be a disservice to managed services users in Ottawa, who are considering an implementation of the blockchain within their organization. Below is just a few concerns brought about by the blockchain. This is not a comprehensive list, and as always, further reading is encouraged.
Network size: IT consulting clients in Ottawa should be aware that network size brings about many concerns in the case of the blockchain, as mentioned in the article “What IT Companies in Ottawa Should Tell You About Blockchain Functionality”, the larger the network, the more validity (and trustworthiness) a record gains. When it comes to a smaller network (as when a blockchain implementation is launched) the validity of a record can be called in to question. On a smaller network, each node’s computation of a record holds a higher rate of validity than on a larger network. A node’s computation on a network of 5 holds 20% percent of the validity value, while if a network has 50 nodes, they each hold 2%. This brings in to the arena a concept known as a 51% attack. A 51% attack is where a computation of a record that is realistically false is deemed to be true by the network, as it has the majority of the nodes agreeing to the validity of the computation. If a hacker was to gain control of more than 50% of the network, which would be 3 in a network of 5 and 26 in a network of 50, none of the records in the blockchain can be trusted, due to the chaining nature of the blockchain technology. Another concern regarding network size is the amount of bandwidth that can be consumed by a larger blockchain network.
Energy consumption: Users of computer services in Ottawa, who are environmentally-conscious might be dismayed to know that blockchain technology brings about energy consumption issues that centralized systems generally do not have. As each node on a network has to perform computations on each record it means that energy use per record is magnitudes larger than that of a single validating server. If your systems are on a larger blockchain network, such as Bitcoin’s, energy bills within your organization will be noticeably higher than before implementing the technology (though, thankfully with Bitcoin, there is an incentive for people to engage in this process). Although power consumption of hosts is the largest contributor to this issue, networking devices also play a part. When implementing blockchain keep in mind that resources supposed to be dedicated to your business activities will be used within the network.
Disk Space: Customers of IT companies in Ottawa might be even more dismayed by the idea that blockchain networks could draw even further resources from their IT environment in the form of disk space. As each node on the network has it’s own copy of the blockchain, coupled with the exponential growth of the network and blockchain, hard disk space can quickly become scarce. For example, the Ethereum blockchain was started about 2 years ago and has already reached a size of 200GB, with exponential growth this could potentially be 40 TB within another couple of years.
The concerns mentioned above are not designed to dissuade clients from IT companies in Ottawa from implementing blockchain technology into their daily business activities. At best, these points are to remind organizations that no matter how heralded a new technology might be, there is always potential downsides. While the main reason to change technologies within your organization is for the pros of that technology boosting your business activities, cons should always be addressed as they can cause further problems down the line.