Unleashing the data economy: Ethereum-based blockchain as a persistent storage solution

As the blockchain on Ethereum continues to receive attention, blockchains suitable for enterprise-level applications have become increasingly urgent. It was only a matter of time before people discovered the full potential of Ethereum, and the use of an Ethereum-based platform as a permanent storage solution. Therefore, we need to find a solution based on Ethereum’s blockchain standard to develop the best permanent storage.

There is currently no permanent storage blockchain standard based on Ethereum. This limits the breadth of development and the breadth of Ethereum-based blockchain functions. Although some functions of the Ethereum-based blockchain have been standardized, these standards do not meet the permanent storage performance required by enterprise-level applications.

ERC-20 and ERC-721 standards

There are already some standards on Ethereum, and these standards are limited to one type of value transfer application. For example, token standards such as ERC-20 and ERC-721 help create new tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Under this standard, the development of Ethereum is almost limited to creating token-based applications. Token management only deals with one type of data: specific unsigned integers for Ethereum addresses. Therefore, the token can be viewed as a smart contract that stores unsigned integers on the Ethereum address. Each ERC-20 and ERC-721 token effectively defines a specific value defined by its developer. We can study the ERC-20 and ERC-721 standards and propose a more advanced standard design that can describe and manage any type of data assigned to Ethereum addresses.

Designing a smart contract that can describe and manage any type of data requires the development of smart contracts that can define data and data structures. The ERC-20 and ERC-721 standards are the two most widely used specifications and only apply to a set of functions: tokens and coin-based applications. If we want to develop data-driven applications on the Ethereum-based blockchain, we need to develop more complex smart contracts.

Permanent storage principle

Fortunately, the principle of permanent storage was established as early as the 1970s. Although there are many differences between Ethereum-based blockchain architecture and other data sources, we can still apply these accepted principles to make Ethereum-based blockchain a permanent storage solution that can handle any enterprise-level application. We just need to apply these principles to decentralized applications in Ethereum-based protocols. To do this, we need to define how smart contracts manage data and patterns separately.

History of permanent storage technology

Reviewing the history of the information system, we can draw the practiced data management and design principles. These past storage technologies still have a strong reference today and will likely be the backbone of this research. To achieve permanent storage, we must first review the past technology development, use it as a guide, and think of a blockchain-based permanent storage solution based on Ethereum.

In the 1960s, in order to adapt to the growing business needs, the relational database was invented. The massive application of database technology has led to the digital age, and companies have begun to convert existing business operations and business models into digital formats. In 1970, F Codd, the inventor of the EF database management relation model, proposed a database normalization process, which eliminated data redundancy, improved data integrity, and effectively prevented data anomalies. Even today, database normalization is still the best practice for database design. For more than 50 years, relational databases and their sophisticated data modeling practices have been the main drivers of transformation in the digital age.

In the late 1990s, there was consensus on defining XML (Extensible Markup Language), the successor of SGML, which can better adapt to the Internet. The main function of XML is to serve as a data transmission medium for communication between different server clients in the Internet. With the widespread use of XML, people have created standards that serve different application scenarios, such as HTML, SVG, and SOAP. In 2001, an XML schema that defined and verified the structure of the XML data model was proposed. The XML model enables developers to specify their own XML data model and quickly verify the correctness of the data model. Developers also conducted various studies to apply standardized database mature practices to XML. One thing to note with the development of XML is that, like relational databases, XML follows the principles of reliable data modeling and the separation of data and schema.

In the 2008 global financial crisis, Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. The paper sets the blueprint in what is now called the blockchain, an immutable distributed ledger that can serve as a secure peer-to-peer trading platform. This allows fully distributed data sources to be considered as a true single source, eliminating third-party verification and reducing transaction time. This discovery not only triggered the financial revolution, but also revolutions in other parts of the world, because it meant that people no longer needed to rely on several intermediaries to verify transactions. With Bitcoin, the currency Internet was born, and a highly anonymous and fast new financial transaction was realized through the Internet. In the past few years, blockchain has been regarded as the catalyst and main driving force of web 3.0.

In February 2015, the Interstellar File System (IPFS) was released. IPFS, invented by Juan Benet of Protocol Labs, allows users to share and host data on a peer-to-peer network. IPFS uses content addressing and hashing to uniquely identify the content of each file. If the content of the file is updated or changed, there will be a new hash associated with this file.

In July 2015, Ethereum, an important new member of the blockchain ecosystem, was officially launched. Ethereum is the idea of ​​Vitalik Buterin. It supports smart contracts and gives blockchain technology “unlimited” functionality. Blockchain technology is considered to be the new Internet. Users can now write functions in a Turing complete programming language called “Solidity”. With the power of blockchain technology and the scalability of Ethereum, any form of human transactions can now be digitized without intermediaries. So far, Ethereum is the first application platform of the blockchain and a major upgrade in the blockchain ecosystem-that is, blockchain 2.0.

In November 2015, Fabian Vogenstellar proposed the ERC-20 token specification. The specification defines six basic functions that can help create new tokens in the Ethereum network. This means that everyone can access the Ethereum network and create their own tokens. This established the “unlimited” Ethereum platform as the number one token application platform. Various companies easily launched their own private equity ICOs by following the ERC-20 token standard. At present, the ERC-20 token standard of the Ethereum ecosystem seems very likely to successfully and efficiently expand the blockchain function from a single cryptocurrency platform to a multi-token platform. However, Ethereum’s design is not just a multi-token application platform, it is also a Turing complete and trusted distributed computing platform that can fully digitize any human transaction without the need for a centralized organization.

In July 2017, IBM released the blockchain technology called Hyperledger. This blockchain technology supports an extensible data model, mainly for companies that want to upgrade their business and put it on the blockchain. Hyperledger aims to digitize the evolving business network. It uses a scalable business network application, and users can easily change its permanent storage layer and business layer. There are many differences between Hyperledger and Ethereum, but the most fundamental difference between Hyperledger and Ethereum is its licensing architecture. Hyperledger sets up separate data and business logic access control for different entities.

In October 2017, JP Morgan released Quorum, a blockchain based on Ethereum, which enabled an Ethereum with a licensed architectural version. Private companies can now develop their own private networks based on Ethereum and convert their systems into Ethereum-based blockchains. In addition, data privacy is protected through zero-knowledge proofs, allowing completely anonymous transactions to be generated on the network. Today, companies can create their own licensing ecosystem to adapt to the advent of any commercial digitalization.

In February 2020, the Enigma mainnet was launched. Enigma is an Ethereum-based blockchain that performs calculations on encrypted data. It was born in Guy Zyskind’s paper at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which aims to introduce data privacy into the public chain. With this, users can now have a privacy-protecting platform, which can encrypt and secure data through an enclave (first-class warehouse: designated address space).

These technologies have revolutionized the way business operates in the information age. There are some principles that we need to pay attention to. These principles have played an important role in promoting the development of the information age to today. We can draw on the experience of 1970, when we attached great importance to the efficient organization of data through the standardization process. We can try to separate the data from this pattern and manage database changes in a loosely coupled manner. We can draw on the ERC-20 token standard and have a common set of interfaces for managing smart contract functions, which can be applied to any type of data model and data model. At present, there is no standard design of the Ethereum-based blockchain as a permanent storage solution. If you need to create a complex permanent storage through the Ethereum-based blockchain, we must first consider these principles.


We can design a permanent layer on top of the Ethereum-based blockchain. especially:

  1. Design contracts that can enforce data normalization.
  2. Design data layer contracts to separate data and patterns.
  3. Design a common interface for each data layer contract.
  4. The designed contract is extensible and upgradable, by making the data layer modular, the cost of each upgrade is minimized.

Source: First Class Channel


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