OmniIndex CEO Simon Bain discusses the OmniIndex Blockchain
Over the past 12 months or so my views on Blockchain have changed dramatically. I’ve gone from asking “How is this viable within an organization’s trust model?”, to “How is it possible that organizations are not seeing the benefits of a Hybrid Blockchain?”
So what has changed?
Put simply, both the environment and my understanding of how a Blockchain can work have matured.
At the heart of this is the fact I’ve stopped listening to those who say that a Blockchain has to be just one thing. For example, there are too many people telling us that a Blockchain must:
- Be completely decentralized
- Have a full public trust network
- Be immutable
- And that the users must have full control.
These are all very noble ideas and in a truly public Blockchain it does work. However, in an organization that houses PII data, IP, and other highly confidential and business critical information, it is very unlikely that this Public Blockchain method is viable. And if it is unlikely that organizations will consider it themselves, then it is probably even less likely that the institutions of governance and compliance are going to think differently. For me, then, the Public Blockchain for organizations is just not going to happen.
Next I looked at Private Blockchains. However to me these feel like an oxymoron: A Blockchain that is private? To make matters more confusing, you then also have people stating that a Private Blockchain must have the ability to
- Modify data
OK I will stop there! One of the most important security features of Blockchains is immutability. If you remove this, then you simply have a classic client server application stack.
Once I ruled out these two Blockchains, I started to consider the Hybrid Blockchain and it was here I finally found a Blockchain that changed my mind. Why? Because this is a true Blockchain that brings the best of the public architecture together with the trusted access of the corporate.
For example, with the Hybrid Blockchain we can bring in an immutable data store that has a Merkle root to increase speed and auditability, has block placing and block security, and gives the corporate control of access for both ‘read’ and ‘write’. There is also no modification because the chain only holds immutable blocks (which in itself creates an added layer of security), and there’s the ability to provide a full audit thanks to the Merkle tree. This model also has other security and privacy benefits. For example, while the access layer to the Blockchain is sitting within an organization’s firewall, the Blockchain nodes can be spread across the network both inside and outside the firewall. This provides an almost insurmountable security wall for a potential hacker to have to overcome in order to gain control.
Below is an example of how our OmniIndex internal Hybrid Blockchain is organized.
The OmniIndex Hybrid Blockchain has 5 Blockchain Nodes that are running within the Public network enabling access wherever our users are.
We also have 3 API Servers. These are the trusted authorization access points to the Blocks which not only give access to the Nodes, but also provide a safe place for the encryption keys and algorithms to work. These are safely behind the firewall.
We also have some interaction points that allow our users different access models:
- Add-ons to applications such as Google Workspace and Google BigQuery
These enable organizations to provide full user authentication to groups (Blockchains) and tools to enable the use of the data or files that the Blockchain holds. These tools do not have direct access to the Nodes and will always pass through the API Servers.
- Native applications such as the OmniIndex Explorer and OmniIndex CLI
These tools are designed to enable both API access and (where required) direct read access to the Blockchain nodes. In circumstances where a user is unable to access the API but still needs to gain insights to or update the Blockchain, these applications can work offline in a sandboxed environment. When the network is accessible again, they will then update the Blockchain via the API server maintaining the Blockchain integrity.
So why use a Hybrid Blockchain? Because if implemented correctly, it helps protect you from attacks, gives you always available data without compromising security, provides a real Return on Investment, and in a lot of cases does not impede your current work loads or create new headaches for users.
If as an organization you have not yet started to look at a Hybrid Blockchain, then I would suggest that you take a look at the resources available across the web and see for yourself the ROI and Security advances that could benefit your organization.
Simon is an established name in big data having been a keynote speaker multiple times including at Oracle and SAP conferences. With a reputation as an innovator and problem solver, Simon founded OmniIndex in 2020 with the goal of commercializing Web3 and fully homomorphic encryption.