As has been mentioned in past blog posts, there are security concerns with IoT systems. When discussing distributed ledger technology (DLT) we investigated how a blockchain approach could address the security concerns, but introduces system demands in terms of memory and computing power that do not appear practical for many of the simple IoT devices on the market today. Enter the permissioned blockchain; a network where only specific nodes are required to maintain the transaction ledger and determine which transactions are allowed. This addresses the problem with strict centralized control discussed in the first blog post in this series and the issue of memory demands discussed with a completely decentralized model in the second blog post.
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Author’s note: If you do a bit of internet searching you will see both permissioned and permissionless distributed ledgers referred to as blockchains. Some will disagree and call this a travesty, others will not. The author claims to have no idea which side is right. For the purpose of this and related blog posts blockchains may be used to referred to as either permissioned or permissionless.
In our previous post the definition of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) was introduced. In this post we will go further in understanding the various types of DLT systems that can exist. Recall from our previous post three key factors in defining the taxonomy of DLT; how to distribute the ledger, if the ledger is public or private, and who is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the ledger (permissioned/permissionless). The figure below provides a graphical reference for keeping those three characteristics in mind.
You just hit buzzword bingo by reading the title, congrats! Over this and several follow up blog posts we’ll explore the idea of distributed ledger technology (DLT), how it is related to blockchain technology, how DLT could be leveraged by IoT applications, and some of the challenges facing using DLT in the IoT space. For starters we’ll focus in on what DLT is, which will lead to our discussion about blockchain. Then in future posts, we’ll cover how this technology can be leveraged by IoT applications as well as some of the potential challenges. While DLT and blockchain are often used interchangeably, for the purposes of our discussion we will treat them as two distinct items, though they are closely related.
If you were to ask most people to name some popular social media platforms, you would likely get a quick response of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or MySpace (just kidding on that last one). Ask that same person to name some popular IoT platforms and prepare for a deer in headlights look. Even if a person has knowledge about the IoT space, they likely do not know what the market is offering in terms of platforms. That’s in large part because the market is still very much in the early stages.