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Open Source, Private and Public Blockchain Platforms: What They Offer

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Open source platforms play a crucial role in driving innovation and democratising access to blockchain technology. These platforms promise to have a significant impact on the future of society by offering a range of benefits.

Blockchain technology has gained widespread attention for its potential to revolutionise various industries by providing decentralised, transparent, and immutable solutions. Two primary types of blockchain platforms exist: private and public. Each type offers distinct features and use cases tailored to different organisational needs and requirements.

Open source blockchain platforms are a powerful enabler of innovation, collaboration, and democratisation in the digital age. By providing transparent access to blockchain technology, these platforms empower developers and organisations to build decentralised solutions that address real-world problems and drive positive change. As the adoption of blockchain technology continues to grow, open source platforms will play an increasingly vital role in shaping the future of technology and society.

Open source blockchain platforms

Open source blockchain platforms are decentralised networks that allow developers to build, deploy, and operate blockchain-based decentralised applications (dApps) and smart contracts. Unlike proprietary platforms, which are owned and controlled by specific organisations, open source platforms provide transparent access to their source code, allowing developers to inspect, modify, and contribute to the codebase. Examples of popular open source blockchain platforms include Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, and EOSIO. Some of the key features of these platforms are:

Transparency: Open source blockchain platforms build transparency into their codebase, allowing developers to verify the integrity and security of the platform.

Accessibility: These platforms democratise access to blockchain technology, enabling anyone to participate in the development and deployment of dApps and smart contracts.

Customisability: Developers can modify and customise the codebase of open source blockchain platforms to suit specific use cases and requirements.

Community collaboration: Open source projects foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among developers, leading to rapid innovation and iteration.

Interoperability: Many open source blockchain platforms support interoperability, allowing different blockchains to communicate and exchange data seamlessly.

Some of the key benefits of implementing blockchain solutions with open source platforms are:

Cost-effectiveness: Open source blockchain platforms are typically free to use, reducing the barrier to entry for developers and organisations.

Security: The transparency of open source platforms enhances security by allowing developers to identify and fix vulnerabilities quickly.

Innovation: These platforms foster innovation by enabling collaboration and experimentation among developers from diverse backgrounds and organisations.

Community support: They benefit from a vibrant community of developers, contributors, and enthusiasts who provide support, feedback, and contributions.

Adaptability: Open source platforms are highly adaptable, allowing developers to customise and extend the functionality of the platform to meet evolving needs and requirements.

Table 1: A comparison of the features of various blockchain platforms

Feature Ethereum Hyperledger Fabric EOSIO Corda
Consensus mechanism Proof of Work (PoW), transitioning to Proof of Stake (PoS) Pluggable consensus (e.g., Raft, Kafka, PBFT) Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) Not applicable (permissioned network)
Smart contracts Yes Yes Yes Yes
Language support Solidity, Vyper Go, Java, JavaScript, TypeScript C++, WebAssembly (EOSIO C++) Java, Kotlin
Privacy features Limited Private data collections Limited (focus on performance) Confidential identities, transactions
Transaction throughput Variable, but generally lower than EOSIO Variable, depending on network setup High Moderate
Interoperability Limited Interoperability via Hyperledger Composer, etc Limited Yes (with other Corda networks)
Governance model Decentralised Consortium governance Decentralised Consortium governance
Community support High support Good community support High support High support
Use cases DApps, DeFi, ICOs, NFTs Enterprise applications, supply chain, healthcare Enterprise applications, social media, gaming Financial services, supply chain

Private blockchain platforms

Private blockchain platforms are permissioned networks where access is restricted to authorised participants. These platforms offer greater control over governance, privacy, and scalability compared to public blockchains.

Key features of private blockchains include:

Permissioned access: Access to the blockchain network is restricted to approved participants, typically through invitation or authentication mechanisms.

Centralised governance: Governance structures are controlled by designated entities or consortiums, enabling faster decision-making and coordination.

Privacy: Private blockchains offer enhanced privacy features, such as confidential transactions and encrypted data storage, catering to enterprises with strict data privacy requirements.

Scalability: With fewer participants and transaction validators, private blockchains can achieve higher transaction throughput and scalability compared to public blockchains.

Private blockchain platforms can be applied to various industrial use cases where centralised transactions and privacy are the key requirements. These include:

Supply chain management: Private blockchains facilitate supply chain transparency, traceability, and efficiency by securely recording and sharing transaction data among authorised participants.

Financial services: These blockchains can be used for applications such as cross-border payments, trade finance, and settlement systems, enabling faster, more cost-effective transactions while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Healthcare: Private blockchains enable secure sharing of patient data, medical records, and clinical trial results among healthcare providers, enhancing data integrity and interoperability while protecting patient privacy.

Identity management: They offer solutions for secure identity verification, authentication, and access control, enabling organisations to manage digital identities and credentials in a decentralised manner.

Public blockchain platforms

Public blockchain platforms are permissionless networks where anyone can participate and contribute to the network without restrictions. These platforms offer decentralisation, transparency, and censorship resistance, making them ideal for applications that prioritise openness and inclusivity. Key features of public blockchains include:

Permissionless access: Anyone can join and participate in the network without needing approval, fostering inclusivity and decentralisation.

Decentralised governance: Governance structures are decentralised, with decision-making distributed among network participants through consensus mechanisms such as Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS).

Transparency: Public blockchains provide transparent access to transaction data and network activity, enabling anyone to verify transactions and monitor the integrity of the network.

Censorship resistance: These blockchains are resistant to censorship and tampering, as transactions are validated by a distributed network of nodes rather than centralised authorities.

Here are a few popular use cases of public blockchain platforms.

Cryptocurrencies: Public blockchains serve as the underlying infrastructure for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, enabling peer-to-peer transactions and decentralised financial systems.

Decentralised finance (DeFi): They support a wide range of decentralised financial applications, including lending, borrowing, trading, and asset management, without the need for intermediaries.

Tokenisation: Public blockchains enable the creation, issuance, and transfer of digital tokens representing assets such as real estate, securities, and intellectual property rights, facilitating tokenization and fractional ownership.

Decentralised applications (dApps): These blockchains host decentralised applications (dApps) across various industries, including gaming, social media, supply chain, and identity management, leveraging the benefits of decentralisation and censorship resistance.

Private vs public blockchain platforms

Private and public blockchain platforms offer distinct features and use cases tailored to different organisational needs and requirements. While private blockchains prioritise governance, privacy, and scalability for enterprise applications, public blockchains prioritise decentralisation, transparency, and censorship resistance for open and inclusive applications. By understanding the characteristics and use cases of each type of blockchain platform, organisations can leverage blockchain technology to drive innovation, efficiency, and transparency across diverse industries.

Table 2 lists the differences between public and private blockchains.

Basis of difference Public blockchain Private blockchain
Access Permissionless Permissioned
Transparency Fully transparent Partially transparent
Decentralisation Highly decentralised Less decentralised
Security focus External attacks, data integrity Access control, internal fraud
Governance On-chain governance Off-chain governance
Scalability Slower transaction processing Faster transaction speeds
Cost No fees (except for some transactions) May require fees
Regulation Less regulatory clarity Stricter regulations
Use cases Cryptocurrency, DeFi, supply chain, etc Supply chain, trade finance, etc
Learning focus Open participation, cryptoeconomics, etc Permissioned access, governance, etc

What open source blockchain platforms will help you learn

Open source blockchain platforms provide a transparent and collaborative environment for building decentralised applications (dApps). You can learn a lot by using them.

  • Understanding blockchain fundamentals: You’ll solidify your grasp of core blockchain concepts like consensus mechanisms (e.g., Proof of Work, Proof of Stake), cryptography, immutability, and distributed ledger technology.
  • Technical proficiency: Depending on the platform, you’ll develop skills in specific programming languages (e.g., Solidity for Ethereum), smart contract development, and working with blockchain developer tools.
  • Decentralised application development: You’ll learn the intricacies of designing and deploying dApps that leverage the trustless and transparent nature of blockchain.
  • Open source community engagement: Open source platforms often have active communities. You’ll learn to collaborate with developers, access resources, and contribute to the platform’s growth.
  • Security considerations: Blockchain security is paramount. You’ll gain insights into potential vulnerabilities (e.g., smart contract exploits) and best practices for securing your dApps.
  • Scalability and performance: Open source platforms can have varying levels of scalability and transaction processing speeds. You’ll learn to assess these factors when choosing a platform for
    your project.
  • Interoperability: Understanding how different blockchains interact and the challenges of integrating them is a valuable lesson.
  • Regulatory landscape: The legal and regulatory environment surrounding blockchain is constantly evolving. You’ll gain awareness of relevant regulations that might impact your dApp.

By working with open source blockchain platforms, you’ll not only build technical expertise but also gain a deeper understanding of the potential and limitations of this transformative technology.

What you will learn from private blockchain platforms

While open source blockchains offer a community-driven approach, private blockchains have their own set of learnings.

  • Focus on permissioned access: You’ll understand how to configure and manage user access within a private network. This includes defining user roles and permissions for data visibility and transaction participation.
  • Centralised governance: Private blockchains often have a governing body. You’ll learn how to navigate consortium dynamics and decision-making processes within that structure.
  • Customisation and integration: Unlike open source platforms, private blockchains can be tailored to specific needs. You’ll gain experience in customising the platform and integrating it with existing enterprise systems.
  • Performance optimisation: Since scalability and speed are crucial in private environments, you’ll learn optimisation techniques to ensure the platform meets your transaction volume and processing requirements.
  • Regulatory compliance: Private blockchains are often used in regulated industries. You’ll develop an understanding of how to configure the platform to comply with relevant data privacy and security regulations.
  • Vendor lock-in: Some private blockchains are offered by specific vendors. You’ll learn to weigh the benefits of a controlled environment against potential vendor lock-in and limited interoperability.
  • Security in a trusted environment: Security is still paramount, but the focus shifts from open network threats to access control and internal risk management within the trusted participants.

In summary, using private blockchains equips you with expertise in managing permissioned networks, navigating consortium governance, and optimising the platform for performance and compliance within a closed ecosystem.

Key learnings in using public blockchain platforms

Public blockchains, unlike their private counterparts, function in a completely open and permissionless environment. Here’s what you’ll learn by diving into this realm.

  • Open participation and transparency: You’ll gain first-hand experience in developing applications accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This fosters transparency and immutability of data on the public ledger.
  • Cryptoeconomics and tokenization: Public blockchains often have their own cryptocurrencies or tokens used for network fees, rewarding participants, and even governing the platform. You’ll develop an understanding of tokenomics — the design and economics behind these tokens.
  • Security in a distributed network: Securing your dApps on a public blockchain requires a different approach. You’ll learn about common vulnerabilities specific to public networks like phishing attacks or majority attacks, and how to mitigate them.
  • Consensus mechanism nuances: Public blockchains rely on robust consensus mechanisms to ensure network integrity. You’ll delve deeper into how these mechanisms (e.g., Proof of Work, Proof of Stake) function in a distributed and open environment.
  • Community engagement and decentralised governance: Many public blockchains have vibrant communities that propose changes and vote on upgrades through on-chain governance mechanisms. You’ll learn to participate in these processes and understand the power dynamics within the community.
  • Interoperability potential: Public blockchains, by design, are more interoperable than private ones. You’ll explore how your dApp might interact with other applications built on the same or even different public blockchains.
  • Regulatory uncertainty: The legal and regulatory landscape surrounding public blockchains is still evolving. You’ll gain awareness of the ongoing debates and potential regulations that might impact your dApp’s functionality.

Working with public blockchains equips you with the skills to navigate open, permissionless environments. You’ll become adept at leveraging cryptoeconomics, understanding public blockchain security nuances, and engaging with the decentralised governance structure that these platforms often employ.

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