skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Permissioned Blockchains: Properties, Techniques and Applications
The unique features of blockchains such as immutability, transparency, provenance, and authenticity have been used by many large-scale data management systems to deploy a wide range of distributed applications including supply chain management, healthcare, and crowdworking in permissioned settings. Unlike permissionless settings, e.g., Bitcoin, where the network is public, and anyone can participate without a specific identity, a permissioned blockchain system consists of a set of known, identified nodes that might not fully trust each other. While the characteristics of permissioned blockchains are appealing to a wide range of largescale data management systems, these systems, have to satisfy four main requirements: confidentiality, verifiability, performance, and scalability. Various approaches have been developed in industry and academia to satisfy these requirements with varying assumptions and costs. The focus of this tutorial is on presenting many of these techniques while highlighting the trade-offs among them. We demonstrate the practicality of such techniques in real-life by presenting three different applications, i.e., supply chain management, large-scale databases, and multi-platform crowdworking environments, and show how those techniques can be utilized to meet the requirements of such applications  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1815733 1703560
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Darmont, J ; Novikov, B. ; Wrembel, R. (Ed.)
    Bitcoin [12] is a successful and interesting example of a global scale peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that integrates many techniques and protocols from cryptography, distributed systems, and databases. The main underlying data structure is blockchain, a scalable fully replicated structure that is shared among all participants and guarantees a consistent view of all user transactions by all participants in the system. In a blockchain, nodes agree on their shared states across a large network of untrusted participants. Although originally devised for cryptocurrencies, recent systems exploit its many unique features such as transparency, provenance, fault tolerance, and authenticity to support a wide range of distributed applications. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies use permissionless blockchains. In a permissionless blockchain, the network is public, and anyone can participate without a specific identity. Many other distributed applications, such as supply chain management and healthcare, are deployed on permissioned blockchains consisting of a set of known, identified nodes that still might not fully trust each other. This paper illustrates some of the main challenges and opportunities from a database perspective in the many novel and interesting application domains of blockchains. These opportunities are illustrated using various examples from recent research in both permissionless and permissioned blockchains. Two main themes unite the various examples: (1) the important role of distribution and consensus in managing large scale systems and (2) the need to tolerate malicious failures. The advent of cloud computing and large data centers shifted large scale data management infrastructures from centralized databases to distributed systems. One of the main challenges in designing distributed systems is the need for fault-tolerance. Cloud-based systems typically assume trusted infrastructures, since data centers are owned by the enterprises managing the data, and hence the design typically only assumes and tolerates crash failures. The advent of blockchain and the underlying premise that copies of the blockchain are distributed among untrusted entities has shifted the focus of fault-tolerance from tolerating crash failures to tolerating malicious failures. These interesting and challenging settings pose great opportunities for database researchers. 
    more » « less
  2. While permissioned blockchains enable a family of data center applications, existing systems suffer from imbalanced loads across compute and memory, exacerbating the underutilization of cloud resources. This paper presents FlexChain , a novel permissioned blockchain system that addresses this challenge by physically disaggregating CPUs, DRAM, and storage devices to process different blockchain workloads efficiently. Disaggregation allows blockchain service providers to upgrade and expand hardware resources independently to support a wide range of smart contracts with diverse CPU and memory demands. Moreover, it ensures efficient resource utilization and hence prevents resource fragmentation in a data center. We have explored the design of XOV blockchain systems in a disaggregated fashion and developed a tiered key-value store that can elastically scale its memory and storage. Our design significantly speeds up the execution stage. We have also leveraged several techniques to parallelize the validation stage in FlexChain to further improve the overall blockchain performance. Our evaluation results show that FlexChain can provide independent compute and memory scalability, while incurring at most 12.8% disaggregation overhead. FlexChain achieves almost identical throughput as the state-of-the-art distributed approaches with significantly lower memory and CPU consumption for compute-intensive and memory-intensive workloads respectively. 
    more » « less
  3. The rapid development of three-dimensional (3D) acquisition technology based on 3D sensors provides a large volume of data, which are often represented in the form of point clouds. Point cloud representation can preserve the original geometric information along with associated attributes in a 3D space. Therefore, it has been widely adopted in many scene-understanding-related applications such as virtual reality (VR) and autonomous driving. However, the massive amount of point cloud data aggregated from distributed 3D sensors also poses challenges for secure data collection, management, storage, and sharing. Thanks to the characteristics of decentralization and security, Blockchain has great potential to improve point cloud services and enhance security and privacy preservation. Inspired by the rationales behind the software-defined network (SDN) technology, this paper envisions SAUSA, a Blockchain-based authentication network that is capable of recording, tracking, and auditing the access, usage, and storage of 3D point cloud datasets in their life-cycle in a decentralized manner. SAUSA adopts an SDN-inspired point cloud service architecture, which allows for efficient data processing and delivery to satisfy diverse quality-of-service (QoS) requirements. A Blockchain-based authentication framework is proposed to ensure security and privacy preservation in point cloud data acquisition, storage, and analytics. Leveraging smart contracts for digitizing access control policies and point cloud data on the Blockchain, data owners have full control of their 3D sensors and point clouds. In addition, anyone can verify the authenticity and integrity of point clouds in use without relying on a third party. Moreover, SAUSA integrates a decentralized storage platform to store encrypted point clouds while recording references of raw data on the distributed ledger. Such a hybrid on-chain and off-chain storage strategy not only improves robustness and availability, but also ensures privacy preservation for sensitive information in point cloud applications. A proof-of-concept prototype is implemented and tested on a physical network. The experimental evaluation validates the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed SAUSA solution. 
    more » « less
  4. The uprise of Bitcoin and other peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies has opened many interesting and challenging problems in cryptography, distributed systems, and databases. The main underlying data structure is blockchain, a scalable fully replicated structure that is shared among all participants and guarantees a consistent view of all user transactions by all participants in the system. In this tutorial, we discuss the basic protocols used in blockchain, and elaborate on its main advantages and limitations. To overcome these limitations, we provide the necessary distributed systems background in managing large scale fully replicated ledgers, using Byzantine Agreement protocols to solve the consensus problem. Finally, we expound on some of the most recent proposals to design scalable and efficient blockchains in both permissionless and permissioned settings. The focus of the tutorial is on the distributed systems and database aspects of the recent innovations in blockchains 
    more » « less
  5. Many existing blockchains do not adequately address all the characteristics of distributed system applications and suffer from serious architectural limitations resulting in performance and confidentiality issues. While recent permissioned blockchain systems, have tried to overcome these limitations, their focus has mainly been on workloads with no-contention, i.e., no conflicting transactions. In this paper, we introduce OXII, a new paradigm for permissioned blockchains to support distributed applications that execute concurrently. OXII is designed for workloads with (different degrees of) contention. We then present ParBlockchain, a permissioned blockchain designed specifically in the OXII paradigm. The evaluation of ParBlockchain using a series of benchmarks reveals that its performance in workloads with any degree of contention is better than the state of the art permissioned blockchain systems. 
    more » « less