Many companies recognize value in blockchain technology. Features like immutability and decentralization are attractive features for many products. Once a company has decided they have interest in features provided by blockchain technology, they quickly ask the question “Which blockchain best suits our needs?”.
The answer to this question can vary depending on what exactly you are trying to accomplish. That said, it is possible to perform an analysis of the space keeping the most common use cases in mind. In this article we explain why Blockery currently advises most clients to utilize the Cardano blockchain. The current recommendation comes from an analysis of 6 key facets of all major blockchains. These facets include:
In this section we describe each facet of a blockchain which the enterprise must consider while selecting which chain to use for solving their relevant problems. Later, we will provide our comparative analysis of the current space.
People are accustomed to authority being found vested in a single, centralized entity. The CEO of a corporation ultimately directs the actions of that corporation. A database is the ultimate authority of truth within many automated systems. The power to an entire house can be turned off at a wall panel. Centralization of authority has advantages. The greatest advantages are the speed at which decisions can be made and implemented.
However, what may be an advantage in one system is a disadvantage in another. A great example of this is a comparison of the economies of the USSR and USA during the late 80s. The USSR had a centralized, planned economy. This allowed production to be changed on massive scales by the will of a single bureaucrat. In contrast, the USA pursued a form of capitalism which, while not entirely decentralized, was much more decentralized than the USSR. We are all aware of the consequences of these fundamental systemic differences. The USSR collapsed. The USA thrived.
Decentralization is a powerful force which has historically been applied in limited fashion. Blockchains provide a vehicle to introduce decentralization in novel ways.
When we refer to ‘reliability’ in the context of blockchain, there are a few things we mean. Taken together, we are ultimately asking the question “To what extent can we rely upon this blockchain to solve our problem?”.
Downtime The amount of time per-year the service spends offline. In other words, the amount of time it is unavailable to your enterprise for its intended purpose.
Stability Even if downtime events are not long, they are still a problem if they are frequent. An unstable system is one which experiences frequent downtime events regardless of their overall length.
Utilizing a public blockchain involves paying transaction fees. These relate generally to the maintenance of the infrastructure which keeps the chain running. Depending on the chain in question, these fees can be higher or lower.
This facet relates to how much work can be done on the chain during a given time window. Blockchains suffer scaling limitations in the same way all systems do. The nature of decentralization makes this problem difficult. One will notice a clear correlation between the scaling challenges of systems which are more or less decentralized. More decentralized is generally more difficult to scale. This correlation is a problem because decentralization is a core value proposition of blockchain systems.
Other aspects of a blockchain also contribute to its scalability. For example, some chains have governance solutions which make it time consuming to enact the most minor changes to the codebase. Consequently, even if technical solutions exist to scale those chains better, they cannot be introduced due to the practical reality of their chosen governance.
The scalability of a blockchain is therefore a consequence of the complex interaction between the technical foundations of the system and the social dynamics of the system.
Many blockchains have opted to create auction-based fee markets as a method of prioritizing transactions when the chain has reached its capacity. The thinking is that if an individual is willing to pay more for their transaction, their transaction must be more important and should therefore be prioritized by the system.
Unfortunately, the result of this approach is that once such systems reach saturation their fees become incredibly volatile. Fees can be an order of magnitude more or less expensive on a day to day basis. This is a problem for the enterprise which is trying to build a business on top of the system. For most use cases, we have found that a predictable cost is more important than the ability to spend an unbounded amount of money to prioritize your transaction.
We therefore recommend preference in most use cases to chains which eschew the common auction-based fee system and instead adopt more predictable fee models.
A blockchain with a large community has a number of advantages. Chiefly, it reduces the possibility that the chain may one day disappear. Bitcoin, for example, will likely exist indefinitely. Because it takes only a single individual to keep a blockchain running, and because the bitcoin community is so large, it is likely that even if bitcoin becomes uninteresting as technology someone somewhere will still be running it.
Another advantage to community size is that communities are incentivized to adopt products which integrate with their chain. This can provide the enterprise with an immediate market for their product as a simple consequence of using a particular technology.
This article describes the features of a blockchain taken into account by Blockery when we advise clients. In a follow up article, we will compare various blockchains using these features. The article will walk the reader through the reasons why, as of this writing, Blockery’s most commonly recommended blockchain is Cardano.