Technology Toolkit 2021 is a technical white paper describing core technologies that are being researched and developed by Samsung SDS R&D Center. We would like to introduce in this paper a total of seven technologies concerning AI, Blockchain, Cloud, and Security with details on their technical definition, key features, differentiating points, and use cases to give our readers some insights into our work.
Blockchain is the key technology to digital transformation. It provides transparency and trust using digital encryption technology to share transaction records among network participants. Blockchain can largely be classified into two types – public blockchain and permissioned blockchain. Public blockchain is similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum in that it allows anyone to participate in the network. Permissioned blockchain on the other hand allows only pre-authorized institutions or organizations to participate in the blockchain network.
Public blockchain is often described using the words “decentralization” and “anonymity”. In other words, there is no central authority-institution managing the network, but the entire transaction details are shared and managed by all participating members in transparent manner. However, these distinctive features of public blockchain are also reasons why companies have difficulty introducing blockchain into their operation. Thus, came the permissioned blockchain which allows transaction details to be shared only among specific organizations to ensure data confidentiality and privacy.
Enterprise environment requires technologies that can accommodate standards that are different from public blockchain. In particular, permissioned blockchain is being utilized to study various technology elements to use in enterprise environment.
First, research is being actively carried out to enable easy blockchain network construction and business scalability. Most blockchain networks are based on open source, therefore when companies try to adopt blockchain into their operation, it takes a lot of time for them to familiarize themselves with new technologies and provide one that fits their business environment. Business scalability is another factor to consider after blockchain network construction. To this end, research is being done to study tools that allow companies to easily install and deploy networks, or use cloud to support infrastructure environment.
Second, technologies are being developed to use blockchain to process large amounts of data or manage sensitive data. Often, blockchain is said to be unfit to handle massive data or unable to delete data due to transactions being shared among all participants. However, the ability to process large amounts of data or delete data after they are stored is an important function required by enterprise environment. As a result, a lot of research is being conducted on off-chain transaction processing for massive data handling. Moreover multiple approaches are being made to use cryptographic technologies such as zero-knowledge password to process sensitive information such as personal data.
Finally, a lot of efforts are being made to improve the performance of blockchain. Due to its nature, the performance of blockchain is low because participating nodes generate blocks by verifying all transactions. Permitted blockchain provides relatively higher transaction throughput compared to public blockchain as it involves fewer nodes and requires no compensation for block creation. However, blockchain needs to deliver a higher level of performance for it to be used in real business, and as a result research and development are underway to deliver transaction processing that is faster.
When adopting blockchain for their business, companies need to consider a number of factors like which blockchain to choose, how to set up network, and how it will improve performance. Nexledger Universal is an enterprise-oriented blockchain platform that integrates various blockchain distributed-consensus technologies, allowing companies to quickly and easily build blockchain network. With the support of this technology, they can focus on creating business values without having to worry about complex distributed consensus algorithm and working principle behind blockchain operation.
We provide blockchain functions that are frequently used in real business environment such as user authentication information management, point transaction, and time stamping in standard API format. This allows companies to develop their target services more efficiently.
Nexledger offers various blockchain cores. Users can select blockchain technology that is suitable to their needs such as Nexledger Consensus Algorithm, Hyperledger Fabric, and Ethereum, and if needed, they can change blockchain core with ease.
Three specialized technologies of enterprise blockchain platform are introduced in this paper. These technologies are operated using hyperledger fabric as a basis.
The first technology is Nexledger Management Console, which enables dynamic network configuration. Anyone who have had an experience of building a blockchain would agree the very first problem with building a blockchain is setting up an environment for development – that it is a time-consuming process thanks to complex network components and configuration files involved. Let's take a look at how you can easily and quickly build and manage a network using Nexledger Management Console.
The second technology is Off-Chain Manager, which can process large amount of data using blockchain. It is often said that blockchain cannot handle massive data, but we will show you how this can be done with our off-chain Manager.
The third technology is an Accelerator that can improve transaction throughput of blockchain. Our Accelerator yields 15 times higher performance than open source technology with an adaptive algorithm that optimizes transaction processing capacity according to transaction volume.
Many companies, both domestic and foreign, are trying to apply blockchain technology to their system however, in order for them to do so, they need a blockchain platform thatch fitted with scalability and monitoring functions. Unfortunately it may not be so easy for an individual company to build such platform on their own given that the process can be quite costly and time consuming.
Customers can easily create and manage blockchain network using our blockchain platform, Nexledger Management Console. Our technology provides high-standard blockchain network management and monitoring functions, and it can be applied to multiple areas, tailoring to the needs of companies and businesses.
Platform for blockchain component management and dynamic network expansion
Nexledger Management Console is a platform that dynamically manages blockchain components and networks. It allows users to distribute, delete, and monitor peers, ordering service, and CA (Certificate Authority) nodes for blockchain component management. It also allows dynamic expansion of consortium, Channel and Organization network and provides Smart Contract lifecycle management feature for of blockchain network management.
There are 5 core functions that are provided by Nexledger Management Console: 1) k8s-based blockchain component management 2) CA-based security/authentication system management 3) dynamic expansion of Consortium, Channel, Organization network 4) Smart contract management 5) Blockchain network monitoring. Each of these key functions will be described in more details as below.
k8s-based blockchain component management
Distributes and manages blockchain components dynamically in Kubernetes. The deployed components use resources efficiently and can be recovered from failures.
CA-based security/authentication system management
Provides CA-based identification and certificate management functions so that clients or administrators can participate and manage blockchain network. The issued ID is safely managed through electronic wallet.
Dynamic expansion of Consortium, Channel, Organization network
Sets up blockchain network members and manages business, enabling dynamic expansion of Consortium, Channel, and Organization network.
Smart contract management
Installs Smart Contract and manages lifecycle easily.
Blockchain network monitoring
Manages network with stability and detects defects quickly by monitoring blockchain component status and information on blocks and transactions.
Builds blockchain network with ease
Network configuration nodes have to be configured and deployed individually in order to build blockchain network without blockchain platform. However, Nexledger Management Console allows users to easily deploy and control blockchain configuration nodes using UI. Even non-blockchain experts can easily build blockchain network within minutes, and reflect changes in requirements such as changes in channel members and endorsement policies with ease. In addition, it can also be used in private cloud, public cloud, and on-premise environments, and allows interconnection among them.
Building policy fund loan platform using blockchain
Financial companies are made of very complicated processes including verification. Moreover, because the process involves multiple stakeholders, loan application can be very time consuming process. To tackle these issues, we used blockchain to build new business model and improve internal process. We were able to boost accuracy and speed the process through sharing of application information amongst engaged parties.
Moreover, we improved work efficiency of participating organizations by building an expandable blockchain platform with Nexledger Management Console. We constructed a system that enables integrated management of multiple services by supporting multiple applications simultaneously.
Nexledger Management Console makes it easy and convenient for users to build and expand difficult/complex blockchain network. It can be applied to hybrid cloud and on-premise environments and it allows interconnection amongst multiple organizations without the burden of infrastructure constraints. In addition, in order to mitigate burden on companies trying to introduce blockchain technology into their system, we are currently working on technology that dynamically allocates resources according to specifications of blockchain components and another one that optimizes resources by analyzing usage and patterns in real time.
Blockchain technology has limitations in that it is difficult to process data that are larger than block size, and once recorded, they cannot be deleted. Our Off-Chain technology was developed to overcome these limitations and to meet various business requirements.
Off-Chain refers to all actions taking place outside the blockchain (On-Chain). Our Off-Chain technology focuses on handling data in enterprise blockchain safely and efficiently. The basic structure is set up to record hash value and meta information in the blockchain, and actual data in the off-chain by dualizing transactions for data processing. This enables us to handle massive data and delete sensitive information like personal information, both of which have been the limitations of traditional blockchain systems.
Safe data management is made possible with encryption of off-chain files and transmission section
Security is a very important factor to consider when sharing files using off-chain technology. Off-chain files are encrypted using a separate key owned by each organization, and encrypted files are shared in encrypted transmission section via TLS (Transport Layer Security) communication.
Provides life cycle management function from storage, sharing to deletion of data
Off-chain technology allows lifecycle management of data encompassing everything from data creation, modification, sharing, and deletion using blockchain information. Data are managed based on the blockchain information trusted by each organization, rendering it to be secure and consistent.
Outdated data are automatically discarded according to data validity period
There are data, such as personal information, that must be automatically destroyed when their validity period expires. Our Off-Chain technology supports automatic destruction of data based on data validity period recorded in the blockchain. In a distributed environment, time-based business processes are difficult because precise time cannot be agreed for each node. However, our “partial time consensus algorithm” makes it possible to agree on time within certain range. This keeps the time requested by a requestor tamper-free, and data can be destroyed safely.
Instant management of data rights
Data can be managed using the ownership information recorded in the blockchain. Meta-information and ownership information of data are available on 1:N relationship structure, and therefore each data can hold multiple permission information, and maintain different permission policy by owner. This structure removes any inconvenience of having to change policies between organizations, and manages data instantly without upgrading or modifying smart contracts.
Hybrid Off-Chain repository
Users can use multiple off-chain repositories such as file system and DBMS. It allows them to link existing database system and simultaneously use dual repositories to process data efficiently.
Off-chain technology can be applied to any industry that wants to share massive amount of data through blockchain or guarantee privacy between authorized companies. Here are examples of manufacturing and airport industry where off-chain technology can be put to use.
In the case of manufacturing plants, off-chain technology can be used to facilitate transparent sharing of manufacturing processes and enhance collaboration amongst original contractor and subcontractors. Massive amount of design documents and equipment information that were once difficult to share using the traditional blockchain alone can now be managed through Off-Chain Manager. By managing massive amount of real data in the off-chain repository, and meta information of data in the blockchain, companies can make their process transparent and collaboration with one another effective. Moreover, because manufacturing process is facilitated by easy-to-manage data access rights, it would be easy to make changes to these access rights whenever necessary.
Off-Chain Manager can also innovate business at airports by sharing data amongst airport stakeholders in manner that is safe. By sharing data among various stakeholders related to departure/arrival process such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, airlines, and duty-free shops, users can shorten waiting time for airport customers and simplify immigration process. The important point here is that data that need to be shared between organizations often involve information that are sensitive. However users can take advantage of the fact that because data are stored in the off-chain, they are deletable. Therefore they can delete all personal information that was shared at the end of airport users’ journey and keep their privacy protected.
You can see from the examples shown above that Layer 2 technology such as Off-Chain is required to apply blockchain to real business. Off-chain technology can be used to explore new business opportunities. Going forward, if we can broaden our research area concerning off-chain technology, we are sure it will help us solve more issues at hand.
Basically, the performance of off-chain technology is constrained by multiple factors such as off-chain storage, blockchain, and network (file sharing). We will need to continue to work on performance degradation issue if we are to handle various situations when applying technology in actual business setting.
Guaranteed deletion of data
When users delete data using off-chain technology, they can also delete data owned by other organizations depending on the permission rights that were granted. Therefore it is important that we conduct further research on how we can make data deletion trustworthy in the off-chain that is managed by individual organization well as guarantee that data have been deleted as agreed.
Blockchain transactions are known for their slow processing speed compared to off-chain transactions. Therefore, another possible area of research we could consider is off-chain computation where complex work would be processed in the off-chain and only the computation result would be recorded in the blockchain. This may require a research in hardware as well as software area.
Nexledger Accelerator was designed to improve the performance of blockchain network. In terms of transaction throughput, Accelerator can handle approximately 15 times more transaction requests than Hyperledger Fabric.
Accelerator receives transaction from client on behalf of blockchain node and the corresponding transaction is processed in three steps: Classifier, Aggregator, and Router. We will explain each step in more details as below.
The transaction submitted by a client is delivered first to Accelerator's classifier which then sorts and categorizes the transaction according to the rules defined by program.
Transactions classified by Classifier are divided and stored in multi-queues based on their type. Transactions stored in the queue are created as one new transaction according to the rules defined by the Accelerator. The rules by which Accelerator makes these transactions are as follows.
∙ The number of existing transactions included in the new transaction
∙ Maximum size of new transaction
∙ Wait time before a new transaction is created
Router transmits new transaction created by Aggregator to blockchain network. The blockchain network computes the transaction received from the router and returns the result value to the corresponding client.
Blockchain can largely be divided into two areas: public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, and private enterprise blockchains such as Hyperledger Fabric and Corda. Unfortunately, these traditional blockchain platforms have yet to satisfy TPS (Transaction Per Second) standard required by business systems currently in service.
However our Accelerator shows performance thatss 15 times higher than the traditional blockchain network (e.g. Hyperledger Fabric), addressing the limitations of these traditional blockchain networks.
Moreover, Accelerator is a second-layer architecture software designed in a modular structure that can be easily connected with other blockchains. Thus, users can easily incorporate Accelerator without making major changes to the legacy system.
Finally, Accelerator is effective operation-wise as it supports optimal throughput calculation by analyzing the performance and network status of existing infrastructure using adaptive algorithm.
Digital ticketing is a system that allows you to book, search, and edit tickets on applications or web pages you are all familiar with. You must have had an experience where the system was not working properly due to excessive in-flow traffic generated by specific event. We applied Accelerator to address these commonly occurring problems of everyday life, and the results are as follows.
If you look at reservation details and results before and after the Accelerator is applied to digital ticketing system, you can see that the average response time dramatically went down with Accelerator. This result is meaningful in that the blockchain network supporting Accelerator can be incorporated into systems that are used frequently in our daily life and create synergy.
Our Accelerator is beneficial in a number of ways. First, as mentioned above, the data throughputs of existing blockchain networks lag far behind the throughput that business requires. Our Accelerator can eliminate this problem with its ability to produce performance that is 15 times faster than that of Hyperledger Fabric. Second, distributed network including blockchain requires a consensus process to store data, but this process is very expensive. Our Accelerator can improve the speed of consensus process by bringing and processing the consensus required for each transaction as one, thereby reducing consensus processing cost. Third, we provide Software Development Kit that helps developers, even those with the least experience, develop and test these beneficial accelerators with ease.
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Hansaem SEO, Blockchain Research Lab at Samsung SDS R&D Center
He is involved in research and development of blockchain platform.
Hwayong OH, Blockchain Research Lab at Samsung SDS R&D Center
He is involved in research and development of blockchain platform.
Jungeun LEE, Blockchain Research Lab at Samsung SDS R&D Center
The main focus of her research was on off-chain transaction processing and decentralized identity. She is currently working on blockchain performance enhancement solution and consensus algorithm for finance industry.
Youngyoo HEO, Blockchain Research Lab at Samsung SDS R&D Center
He is currently working on research & development of blockchain platform and off-chain technology.
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