Many enthusiasts claim that blockchain will do for transactions exactly what the internet did for communications. A blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that became popular for powering Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency that the world was introduced to. That said, in this article, we will be discussing how network engineers can benefit from blockchain technology. Let us first start by understanding what blockchain is and who network engineers are.
So, What is Blockchain?
Blockchain, the brainchild of a group of people or an individual known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, is an undeniably ingenious invention. In the simplest of terms, a blockchain is a decentralized, digital ledger which helps store transactions securely. In technical terms, it can be understood as a time-stamped series of data that are immutable, which means that they cannot be deleted or modified once they are added to the blockchain. Data is stored in blocks, and each block is connected to the other and secured using cryptographic principles. It can be understood as a cluster of computers that are not owned by a central authority.
What Do Network Engineers Do?
A network engineer is one who possesses the skills needed to plan, implement, and oversee computer networks that support data, video, and wireless network services. They configure security systems such as firewalls and carry out network monitoring. They also troubleshoot performance issues and design and implement network configurations.
How Blockchain Helps Network Engineers?
Blockchain will certainly transform the way network engineers operate. For example, let’s say that you have a standard packet capture file that has been generated by a network analysis tool like WireShark. Imagine a situation where the server, application, or computer that you are using to read or write the PCAP (application programming interface) has been compromised, but you are not aware of it. Your analysis of the traffic will be flawed if the file is missing data, or someone has tampered with the file, or the file is simply corrupted. The point to be noted here is that, if the network engineer can’t trust the data generated, the head of IT or operations will not be able to trust the subsequent analysis. This is where blockchain comes to the rescue.
Let us consider a situation where hundreds or thousands of observers can capture serialized packet events for creating a consensus of the network’s traffic. A blockchain network will be very helpful as each record needs to be verified by several participants before getting added to the permanent, encrypted record. This way, the observers will be able to confirm each data for the network engineer. Any doubt relating to the quality of the analysis can be eliminated by using serialized, decentralized data that has been verified with cryptographic proofs. Ensuring the integrity of data will help make the network more verifiable and auditable, tamper-proof, and resistant to change.
Another area in which blockchain can benefit network engineers is ethernet networking technology. Currently, this technology is said to be insecure and hard to manage. Researchers are of the opinion that a blockchain approach to this would certainly help. Engineers are of the opinion that Ethernet is flawed, out-of-date, centralized, and also needs revamping.
One way to address this issue would be the Marconi protocol. It is a strategy used to shift network and packet management to a decentralized, smart contract-based system. Smart contracts refer to self-executing contracts that can be tracked and verified. They are self-enforcing and are performed through encrypted blockchains.
Networking and digital traffic and transactions can be managed by infrastructure-level blockchain. Traffic auditing within network routing is one of the major advantages. Other benefits are addressing the issues of gaps that are common with a disparate cloud mix and can also increase security in the voids between clouds. Blockchain can also help secure the multiple cloud-based systems of enterprises.
Blockchain is certainly a promising and revolutionary technology that reduces risk, stamps out fraud, and increases transparency in a scalable manner for umpteen number of uses. In today’s context, blockchain is challenging the status quo of innovation by allowing companies to experiment with groundbreaking technology such as peer-to-peer distribution and decentralized transactions. Considering the endless amount of applications it is coming up with, we can confidently say that blockchain technology is evolving at an alarming rate.
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