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What is Blockchain Technology?

Mary Hall
Director, Oracle Blockchain Product Marketing

You may have heard of this thing called blockchain, but what is it?  That's the point of this new blog from the Oracle blockchain team.  At its most basic, blockchain should be thought of as a digital ledger. Just like bookkeepers once kept hard copy ledgers of transactions with detailed accounting information,  now blockchain enables us to make a digital accounting of transactions that can be shared. 

With blockchain, transactions are broken up into blocks that are linked together, ie: a chain.  Because the data isn't in just one place, it is "decentralized." This means that the data can be shared across many locations, and by many people depending if they have permission to access the data (a permission blockchain) or if the data is public, then it is accessible to everyone.

Think of blockchain as the ultimate honest bookkeeper

Blockchain was created as a way of storing records, composed of digital information that’s distributed.  This means the data can be shared among a variety of  users and can only be updated by a consensus or agreement of the actual users of the system.

Pictured: A bookkeeper's paper-based ledger

Once these details have been entered, they do not get erased.  What is written on the ledger becomes immutable or "tamper-evident." This means if one of the parties to the with access to the digital ledger makes changes, those changes will be apparent to all parties.  Fraud and misappropriation will be known, as will the "bad actors" who are responsible. Think how powerful this is.  For the first time, you have a set of data on a digital ledger that everyone can rely upon.  This is why people call blockchain technology "the single source of truth."

The benefits of blockchain to store, share and secure data

As with any new technology, there must be some significant advantages for new users to want to try it out. With blockchain, there are several key benefits that make this tech worth exploring:

Security :  Data is broken into blocks that are strung together; for a hacker to get into the data, they need to break into every block in the chain.  For further security, cryptographic audit is maintained and  regularly validated by several separate users (called nodes) that independently check the data blocks.

Collaboration:  Blockchains enable collaboration by making data open and transparent to parties that have been given access (ie: a permissioned blockchain)  or to parties to a public blockchain where everything is open and governed by consensus algorithms.  With consensus algorithms, you have "rules without rulers"

Synchronized data:  Unlike databases, with a blockchain, data is synced in real-time so all parties have the most recent up to date data in real-time.  That eliminates wait times, not to mention delays caused by paper based processes. 

Blockchain opens a world of possibilities by enabling collaboration and trust

The purpose of this blog will be to share perspectives and use cases on blockchain and it's unique benefits.  We will be sharing opinions from experts within Oracle as well as experts within the industry.  There will also be industry use cases and real world examples shared here, from helping the homeless in New York City self-identify to receive aid, to helping track and trace shipments across the supply chain. The possibilities with blockchain are literally endless.







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