A Future of Unchained Applications
Applications play a critical role in keeping the modern information age moving. According to Forrester Research, the global software industry accounted for more than $3 trillion dollars in revenue in 2017. Within the industry, blockchain technology is increasingly considered as a core pillar for future growth.
Two of the key advantages that blockchain technologies bring to the application space are decentralization and enhanced data security. Decentralization means that blockchain applications do not rely on any central infrastructure. Instead, they are executed simultaneously across millions of computers spread out around the globe. Because of this, it would be very difficult for a bad actor to manipulate the contents of the blockchain, as it would require simultaneously altering millions of computers distributed over the entire Internet.
However, due to its architecture, blockchain applications often suffer from difficulties when they attempt to scale to handle enterprise level transaction loads. In fact, the recent effects caused by the simple Crypto Kitties gaming app on the Ethereum network illustrate the complexity of building distributed applications that rely exclusively on the underlying blockchain technology.
As an example, the Ethereum blockchain is currently able to process fewer than 20 transactions per second, while VISA consistently processes more than 45,000 transactions per second.
A hybrid on-chain/off-chain application model is clearly needed.
Given the enormous amount of investment already made in creating software applications, many of which are managing critical life-saving systems, it does not make sense to advocate for solutions that require reprogramming existing software. Such a strategy would be both economically and technologically impossible.
Nevertheless, a great majority of software applications could benefit from harnessing the power of the blockchain.
Most software applications are currently “chained” to a number of centralized and often archaic technologies. Payment processing, secure data storage and cross-organizational data sharing are only a few examples. For instance, processing a simple credit card payment currently implicates multiple centralized data processing architectures between merchants, card providers, banks and clearinghouses. Each one of these centralized databases represents a significant security risk as the untold number of hacking stories consistently proves.
Similarly, consumer applications such as video games, smartphone apps and anti-virus software rely on centralized app stores, gaming platforms and providers. Not only do these present security risks, but they also increase costs. In fact, the major app stores take a thirty percent cut of all revenue that passes through their infrastructure.
Being chained to specific technologies and systems, doesn't only effect off-chain applications. Many blockchain applications are also chained to specific blockchains and programming languages. After all, what happens if Ethereum isn't the blockchain of the future? What does this mean for all of the hours poured into developing Ethereum applications?
A better solution is needed.
The OPEN Platform proposes a solution that allows both on-chain and off-chain software developers to unchain their applications from the constraints that are limiting them. By providing a standardized REST API, developer friendly SDKs and a blockchain abstraction layer, developers can easily and quickly integrate their apps with the blockchain without the need to learn new languages or reprogram existing code.
As an example let's consider the different ways that a hospital management system could benefit from this technology.
Obviously, a simple first step would be to allow customers to pay their hospital bills with cryptocurrencies. While it might seem like a trivial task, until OPEN there has not existed a standardized way to integrate enterprise level payment processing with the blockchain. This would be step one in the application's “unchaining”.
The blockchain, however, can empower many more powerful functionalities than just payment processing. For example, the hospital's billing systems could communicate with insurance providers to settle accounts automatically in a robust and secure fashion. A patient's medical records could be safely stored and accessed by their primary care physician immediately upon discharge. Similarly, government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid could streamline their operations by using the blockchain to prevent fraud and waste.
While the possibilities are exciting, one fact is very clear. Hospitals are not going to throw out their proven systems just to harness these advantages. They have invested millions of dollars in developing, implementing and testing mission critical systems, and these investments can't just be tossed into the trash.
A completely decentralized approach is just not going to happen.
That's why technologies such as the OPEN Platform are so critical. Millions of applications are waiting, like sleeping dragons, to incorporate the power of the blockchain in a scalable and secure fashion. From smartphone dating apps, to gaming apps to entire B2B ERP solutions, the possibilities are astounding.
Not only does the OPEN Platform provide a robust suite of tools for software developers, but it is opening the door to unchaining millions of existing and future applications. Centralized databases can communicate seamlessly with their decentralized cousins depending on the specific use-cases of the problem to be solved.
Ahead of us lies an unchained economy that is powered by innovation and ingenuity. Problems are best solved by utilizing the tools that can provide the most robust solution at the lowest cost. As more and more applications are unchained from their current technological constraints, more and more lives will be improved and even more businesses will thrive.
That's why we believe that the future is not a blockchain future, but instead an unchained future.