Blockchain and DLTs are increasingly being employed for applications such as shipping-container tracking, vehicle identity and history, energy trading, and farm-to-store tracking. An Industry IoT Consortium paper proposes a number of innovations to consider that would make their use more efficient.
There’s been a great deal of discussion about the amount of processing power — and energy — cryptocurrencies are consuming across the globe. Blockchain and similar distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) — the planforms that support cryptocurrencies — are being adopted for enterprise functions as well, from finance to manufacturing. Can the industry keep DLTs from overwhelming existing capacity as they are applied to enterprise activities outside cryptocurrencies?
That’s the question that arises out of a recent analysis published by the Industry IoT Consortium (IIC). Because of the energy and processing power concerns associated with cryptocurrency mining, the potential benefits of DLTs are being overshadowed. The good news, the paper proposes, is there are a number of innovations service providers can consider to eliminate issues DLTs can cause over a network.
DLTs are increasingly be employed for applications such as shipping-container tracking, vehicle identity and history, energy trading, and farm-to-store tracking, the report notes. “DLTs are ideal because they facilitate information sharing among trustworthy partners and enable companies to connect their manufacturing and logistic infrastructures to the industrial internet network for automated asset management, process control, predictive maintenance, and more.”
At the same time, DLTs “can overload a service provider network due to wasted and inefficient communication among and between peers. For example, processing power may be consumed at the communication level, says Mike McBride, senior director of innovation and technology strategy for Futurewei Technologies, and co-chair of the IIC Industrial Distributed Ledger Tiger Team. “Peers can only communicate with other peers if their capabilities match, and some peers won’t reply at all. This wasted and inefficient communication affects application performance and leads to interoperability, scalability, and data privacy challenges for service providers.”
Solutions offered through the IIC paper include publish-subscribe systems and constraint-based service routing, both of which can improve network efficiency and eliminate wasteful DLT communication. The result will be improved usage of network resources by removing the need for explicit overlaying routing downloads, and avoidance of failed communication with DLT miners by explicitly capturing the constraints leading to successful communication in the routing decisions, removing the need for filtering out the good nodes during the discovery step in the overlay DLT.
In the process, corporate concerns about blockchains and DLTs can be alleviated — thereby opening the way to a global peer-to-peer corporate service layer.