Blockchain is often mistaken solely with cryptocurrencies and scams, but it actually is a behemoth that has revolutionized numerous industries, with applications completely different and far beyond digital currencies. At its core, blockchain is a decentralized and immutable ledger. Imagine a book where when you write one line, this line can no longer be edited. Even if someone manages to forge it, with a prohibitive effort and cost, everyone else has a correct copy and will not accept it.
Today banks, insurance carriers, and industries with a supply chain, have the traditional option to build fortifications to prevent intruders to get in their systems. Blockchain is a modern simpler, cheaper, and more effective alternative: even if intruders pass these walls and break in, they can do nothing. Fraud becomes impossible to hide. Every operation is traceable to its cause.
Say the word “Blockchain” and most people immediately want to get away from it. After working in this field for a year, every time I spoke about it for the first time with my family, relatives, and other professionals, they immediately envisioned I was working with cryptocurrencies, maybe doing algorithmic trading or engaging in some sort of scam. Their instant reaction was to suggest me to get away from it. The common misconception arises from the high visibility of cryptocurrency volatility and related scams, overshadowing blockchain’s more pragmatic applications that have nothing to do with cryptocurrencies. In reality, blockchain’s unique attributes of transparency and tamper-proof record-keeping make it an invaluable tool for secure data management, supply chain tracking, authentication of goods, and even in maintaining integrity in voting systems. Its ability to ensure data security and traceability presents numerous opportunities for innovation and problem-solving in sectors where trust and accountability are paramount.
Blockchain technology, with its inherent traceability and immutable ledger system, offers a robust foundation for FinOps implementation. By enabling the secure and transparent tracking of workflows and transactions, Blockchain creates an environment of accountability where every financial event is recorded in an unalterable manner. This feature not only simplifies the audit trails but also ensures compliance and integrity throughout the financial lifecycle, making it an ideal backbone for FinOps practices that demand precision and reliability in financial and workflow management.
AWS Blockchain Services
At its core, Blockchain is a decentralized ledger system renowned for its security, transparency, and immutability. AWS provides a robust infrastructure to deploy blockchain technology, offering scalability, flexibility, and a comprehensive suite of tools that cater to a diverse range of blockchain applications.
AWS Blockchain services include mainly these 2:
- Amazon Quantum Ledger Database – A fully managed ledger database that stores the current value and full history of your data. Think about a warehouse and logistics (inbound and outbound goods), or a bank account with credit and debit transactions. What I like about QLDB is the simplified API schema in Actions, and native integration with Kinesis and S3. And it uses PartiQL, a query language similar to SQL to also make historical queries.
- Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB) – This is the low-level service with more control to build your own application. Not just storing your own data but interacting with existing Blockchains. Compared to doing it with custom code, you get a developer-friendly AMB Query API to get historical data from different blockchains. It supports, at the time of writing, Ethereum, Polygon (Preview), Bitcoin and Hyperledger Fabric blockchains.
Add Blockchain to your existing AWS App
If you are already using AWS, you can get Blockchain security and plug in QLDB with no architecture change. AWS Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) is designed to ingest data easily and securely from these AWS services:
- Kinesis Data Streams
- API Gateway
- IoT Core
Are you already using any of these services and handling transactions? If so, simply route your transactions to QLDB in addition to their regular destination. It’s straightforward, often with minimal changes. While integrating QLDB is a seamless process, the real ingenuity lies in the subsequent step—ensuring the veracity of each transaction.
The idea is “I want to verify this transaction is real and it actually happened”. This task falls to you and your engineering team. To do this, convert your verification request into a PartiQL query, submit the transaction details, and QLDB will return a verification response. This is easy. The harder part is what to do if the answer is false.
In this case, you’ll likely want to visualize the details in a user friendly way to guide the human user on how to investigate, and architect an interface to take corrective action.
What I have also worked on, is a system to commit transactions only when the blockchain has given a strong enough confirmation, and prevent mistakes upstream. This is however a more advanced topic that I hope this article has inspire you to explore, if it’s relevant to your applications.
If you’re running an AWS cloud native solution, you can duplicate and route your transactions also to QLDB, which will persist the history and later verify all transactions when you ask it. You’ll get transaction ingestion almost for free and just have to write the verification logic yourself. This is a completely different application of “Blockchain” than the commonly notorious cryptocurrencies – one that can raise your security to a whole new level.
Embrace the transformational power of blockchain in your AWS applications. Start by routing your transactions to QLDB and unlock the next level of security and efficiency in your operations. And if you are a FinOps practitioner, are you ready to fortify your FinOps with blockchain’s unparalleled transparency? The time to act is now.