Blockchain is not a standalone technology. In fact, it is often used with different technologies. The fact that there are many other emerging technologies doesn’t mean you have to choose between blockchain, AI, IoT, or any other type of application; they can enhance each other and create even better use cases for your organization. This chapter describes how you could integrate several technologies to create a better overall solution. Of course, this is only a limited list, as you could pick any set of possible applications and come to a better outcome. You should take into account that this is not always the case, and simply throwing together applications could also easily lead to disaster. When creating a new process or application, or when you want to work with several emerging technologies, you should know that a certain level of risk is involved.
New technologies come with unknown risks and every implementation comes with a learning curve. If you are going to combine several of these uncertainties, you introduce even more unknowns. In such projects it is crucial to have oversight and to closely follow up on the developments of the project.
Even though the blockchain technology on its own is very interesting, there are also synergies with other trends that can enhance the blockchain marketplace. While IoT is taking the world by storm with new chips, sensors, and actuators, there are still some major concerns that can be addressed by use the blockchain technology. One of these concerns is the security of IoT implementations.1 Large-scale deployment of IoT projects has often been hindered by the vulnerability to DDoS attacks. Scalability often proves to be an issue as well, as large networks require a kind of system that allows authentication, authorization, and connection to nodes in a different network, which quickly leads to bottlenecks in centralized network designs. This classic client/server setup leads to an IT architecture that incorporates high costs. That’s because the maintenance cost associated with centralized clouds, large server farms, or jusst generally networking equipment, are high. Even though some of these centralized solutions, such as cloud, are sold as low-cost alternatives to a datacenter of your own, these costs can rise significantly. Why? Cloud requires talent of its own, migration efforts, and cloud operations. If not properly managed, this can turn into an infrastructure that’s more expensive than the original environment you started with.
Imagine now that you are growing your network of sensors and devices over time. This will only increase the cost and the probably that the infrastructure will not be able to handle the massive amounts of communication that you are sending over the network. This in itself leads to more costs, as information can be lost, slowed down, or deteriorate.2 Another issue that comes forth from centralized systems is the existence of different cloud platforms between different devices, which leads to even more overhead if you want to control all the data that is being transmitted and shared between the devices in your network. You could of course try to get all the devices on one centralized provider, but there looms immediately the risk of vendor lock-in, which is something that companies are experiencing today when they are dealing with their cloud providers.
In the past, blockchain networks dealt with similar issues, certainly when you focus on scalability and security. Blockchain platforms can offer a tamper-proof design, with transparency for the users while still being able to deal with millions and even billions of connected devices and the related incoming transactions. There have been recent platform developments that focus specifically on the IoT industry (i.e., Waltonchain or the IBM ecosystem). Depending on the use case and the future development you want to look into, there are also developments with DAG platforms that are able to deal with high-frequency transaction environments without the network being stressed or clogged up. One of the platforms that uses such a DAG technology is IOTA, with their Tangle.