Most tech-savvy organizations have one foot in the blockchain. But despite aggressive adoption, many of them misinterpret the benefits of investing in a distributed shared ledger. While some businesses view it as a fancy collaborative environment, others delude themselves into thinking a blockchain is the only asset they need to forget about all enterprise-level security issues.
Both ways of thinking are fallacious.
So, how can you make sure you don’t end up on the same bench as those who were overly optimistic about blockchains? For starters, you should identify your blockchain project type and see what DevOps processes you can use for successful deployment, stable performance, and rock-solid availability.
DevOps is a winning philosophy for blockchain solutions, as it makes for fast iterations and continuous deployment. It can facilitate cyclic development and implementation while keeping your distributed ledger intact. Using purpose-built tools, your team can set up and configure the computing environment, test use cases, and reduce time to market by weeks or months. This is something organizations could only imagine several years ago.
Once you collect all pieces of the puzzle, your team can begin developing, configuring, and testing with DevOps tools.
Let’s get started with the first piece of that puzzle.
Understanding your blockchain project type
If there’s a specific problem to solve — a problem that aligns with what a blockchain excels at — building a blockchain should become your company’s next milestone. Develop and deploy it right, and you’ll reach new heights of:
- Trust inspired by data immutability and encryption
- Efficiency with lightning-fast transactions and automation
- Scalability coupled with the ease of adding new nodes and replicating data
- Operational uptime due to fault tolerance and swift data synchronization
But if you develop and deploy a blockchain sloppily, you’ll only:
- Let down stakeholders
- Flush your money down the drain with no expected adoption results
- Be left with trade-offs and out-of-whack processes
- Subside into the noise amplified by successful adopters
That’s why you should set clear expectations for your blockchain project and make sure it can solve your specific problem. Think of it as a critical assessment of your project viability, which can also bring you to smart decisions on DevOps processes to use during deployment. These processes aren’t created equal for cryptocurrency-based blockchain systems and blockchain databases. Each blockchain type calls for different DevOps practices for connection, infrastructure rollout, and data access management.
Cryptocurrency-based blockchain system
A cryptocurrency-based blockchain system is a distributed network accessible to anyone. You can put it to good use in the financial services industry to enable your customers to pay with crypto, trade assets with crypto, or use crypto as collateral.
Implementing a crypto-based blockchain system boils down to connecting to a larger blockchain platform like Bitcoin or Ethereum. This is usually done with a mix of APIs and transactions or by setting up a new node. After setting up nodes or connecting to an existing blockchain with an API, you can start aligning your financial operations with crypto and add more nodes as your blockchain grows.
But wait, isn’t a crypto-based blockchain platform going to be data-heavy as you add new nodes and carry out more transactions? It is. All those nodes, wallets, exchange processes, and other transactions resemble a data snowball that builds upon itself. That’s why backup issues are a giant roadblock for a smoothly functioning cryptocurrency-based blockchain system.
Backups should take center stage in blockchain DevOps processes involving cryptocurrency to:
- Keep a blockchain secure as it scales
- Prevent transaction issues and money losses due to network unavailability
- Enhance the disaster resilience of the entire network
For a cryptocurrency-based blockchain system, you’ll want your blockchain DevOps team to configure backups of essential data and plan a node recovery strategy. What data should be backed up and how backups should be scheduled may vary, but keeping all network peers on the same page and ledgers synchronized is vital.
You will need to back up node-exclusive data across your network once or several times a day. This should be a well-coordinated action happening at the same time to avoid synchronization issues.
Blockchain as a database
Nothing beats a blockchain when it’s used as a database. This is associated with lower data storage costs than cloud storage and more secure performance than centralized physical hardware. With data exchanged across nodes and stored forever in an unalterable fashion, a blockchain database is perfect for data related to procurement, warehousing, insurance policies, health records, and more.
If you want your data to be stored in a tamper-proof way while having supreme control over who can access it, your project will be better off as a blockchain database. Deploying it the DevOps way requires setting up a monolithic infrastructure with decentralized nodes and defining data access controls to:
- Store data in a ledger that can never be changed
- Configure persistent storage for substantial data volumes
- Wire scalability into distributed storage
- Make it easy to retrieve data from blockchain storage at any time
- Authorize responsible teams or decision-makers to act on the data they need to access while preventing unauthorized nodes from viewing this data
Decentralized storage is a showpiece of a blockchain database. However, not all blockchains are high-performance and can deliver the expected efficiency and transparency benefits for the amount of data you need to store. That should galvanize your blockchain DevOps team into action to handle structured and unstructured data indexing and implement an architecture ready for scaling horizontally.
Sharding is one of the practices to master here. It helps to ensure your blockchain storage can scale out by doling out data across network clusters and nodes.
Some believe sharding is a last-ditch effort to save the performance of a blockchain. But distributing data with shards before your database is clogged by data removes too heavy loads from the blockchain from the get-go. This can drive performance and scalability forward from day one — not just when things start getting out of hand.
Which DevOps tools can boost your blockchain project?
The reason enterprises and startups should embrace DevOps for their blockchain projects is the same as for non-blockchain software development projects. DevOps lets you do it faster, more efficiently, securely, and accurately.
In a certain way, DevOps is a digitally transformational take on multitasking. If you’re still picturing a blockchain DevOps team working on just one thing — say backups — without proceeding to the next step before backups are well-configured, this has nothing to do with DevOps. Doing it the DevOps way means doing backups, testing, rollouts, and other things simultaneously, putting a sustained effort into automation.
Here are five DevOps tools that will help you make a beeline for the implementation stage, whether you’re launching a cryptocurrency-based blockchain system or a blockchain as a database:
- Terraform. A platform-agnostic command center, Terraform lays the groundwork for DevOps in blockchain development. It brings automation into managing infrastructure and comes with modules for instant configurations, from network loads to storage resources and implementation of changes. Plus, Terraform allows you to set up and configure backups, including frequency and time of day, in the CI/CD pipelines.
- EC2 instances. If you’re rolling out a blockchain network on AWS, don’t overlook EC2 instances. Amazon has a lot of blockchain-friendly EC2 instance types so that you can get the compute resources you need for your use cases. By setting up storage-optimized instances, you can make your blockchain ready to grow in a fault-tolerant way, thanks to AWS termination protection and Auto Scaling.
- EBS volumes. Like bacon and eggs, EC2 instances and EBS volumes should come in a pair. In a blockchain project, EBS volumes are great for storing data without worrying that it may be gone one day. Although you create them for each instance, they run independently to ensure the availability of your network data, whether the instance is operational or terminated. Besides, you can encrypt each storage volume to augment security.
- Load balancer. This is a tool you need for sharding. With a load balancer, you can optimize data flows across multiple blockchain nodes and forward sharded data to storage. Ultimately, load balancing will allow for faster database queries and improved availability, reducing the potential impact of a disaster or system failure.
- Ansible. Ready to deploy your blockchain? Get your hands on Ansible. This tool is the answer to an array of blockchain DevOps development processes, including configuration and automation. You can easily use Ansible with EC2 instances, a load balancer, and other tools while deploying nodes and connecting them to storage. To spend less time doing it, you can automate deployment and continuous delivery with Ansible by writing commands that all teams can repeat and understand.
When used together, these tools open the door to DevOps in blockchain development. That’s because they allow you to run an infrastructure that your teams can manage, upgrade, restore, and monitor at any time without technical barriers. Sure, the ease of automating tasks and enhancing scalability counts, too.
DevOps tools for testing and scalability
When thinking about blockchain development and DevOps, you should also take heed of DevSecOps. You can’t experiment with security when transactions are gushing back and forth. The cost of a security issue like a data breach is estimated to be over $4.3 million on average, according to a report by IBM. To avoid having to pay for something you should have taken care of before deployment, go for test-driven development (TDD).
TDD means running security tests as you build a blockchain, not after it’s up and running. By adopting this practice, you create a blockchain based on its strengths and weaknesses to bolster the former and make up for the latter to achieve fault tolerance.
In cyclic TDD, security testing involves testing all parts of a shared ledger and data access controls. Check out some of the best ways to do it:
- Run chaos tests for controlled blockchain disruptions with tools like Gremlin and AWS Fault Injection Simulator
- Record the time your teams spends to identify and remedy security issues
- Automate security tests for more accurate test results and faster remedial actions
- Improve your blockchain’s resilience by building it against the weaknesses exposed by chaos tests
When your blockchain looks capable of holding its own against security threats, you should shift the focus to performance, integration, and unit tests. Ansible and Terraform are both great for writing tests with easy coding. In addition to these tools, you can get the hang of Hyperledger Composer for automated testing of smart contracts.
There are extra scalability solutions you can use on top of DevOps tools. So-called Layer-2 solutions make up an additional layer you can add to your blockchain to take away a part of transaction operations from it. Why would you do that? If you’re building a crypto-based blockchain platform, Layer-2 solutions can handle data-heavy and resource-intensive processes across it, making it easier to scale your blockchain.
Immutable X, StarkEx, Polygon, Lightning Network, and Arbitrum are worth their weight in gold as Layer-2 add-ons for blockchain scalability. Read Unicsoft’s primer on Layer-2 solutions to learn more about each.
The next step is easier with Unicsoft
DevOps is jet fuel for blockchain development. But you also need to learn to fly a jet to use this fuel efficiently and handle turbulence — that is, to build a balanced DevOps toolkit and make it all the way through the development process.
Unicsoft can help you implement your blockchain project, whether it’s a cryptocurrency-based blockchain system or a database. Our services are end-to-end, which means you can count on our full support for determining whether you view blockchain technology based on sound judgment or fat-fetched optimism. This step is necessary to ensure that a blockchain is the best solution for your needs and data.
Our development team can then set up a cloud infrastructure for your blockchain solution and build a custom DevOps toolkit, prioritizing fault tolerance, transaction efficiency, low data storage costs, or scalability. Using this toolkit, we can pare back the development time to make your blockchain operational.
Waiting is counterproductive. Start building your blockchain with Unicsoft today!