Edge Computing Could Offer a Solution to Blockchain’s Limitations

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

  • A blockchain’s scalability is currently limited by the amount of power it consumes and the time lag involved when processing transactions across its distributed ledger.
  • By enabling local data processing and storage, edge computing could offer a solution to blockchain’s current scalability limitations.

The disruptions to global and local supply chains which occurred as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis have refocused attention on the ability of blockchain to enhance supply chain resilience. However, blockchain continues to face several basic challenges that prevent the technology from becoming truly scalable. These include the amount of power it consumes and the time lag that is involved when processing transactions across its distributed ledger. As a blockchain expands, both its power consumption and the amount of data processing latency increase, with inhibiting implications for platform scalability.

Edge computing offers a potential solution to these challenges. Firstly, it enables blockchain application data to be stored and processed locally, instead of having to travel across the entire network each time it is requested. Secondly, by reducing the amount of data that has to transverse a network to be processed and stored, edge computing can also reduce the amount of energy required to support that network.

One company looking to combine the benefits of blockchain and edge computing is Singapore-based startup Bluzelle. By combining its distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform with edge computing technology, Bluzelle aims to enhance the scalability and efficiency of a blockchain via the provision of local processing and data storage capabilities. Bluzelle recently announced the official launch of its mainnet and embarked on a series of stress tests which are intended to ensure the network can manage real-world usage. Bluzelle’s ultimate aim is to ensure its technology enables decentralized applications running on any blockchain to secure and access its data in a distributed and secure manner.

Both blockchain and edge computing are relatively new technologies, as are initiatives that aim to combine them. It is therefore early days for Bluzelle’s initiative. Nevertheless, it is one that could have considerable potential impact, partly because of the way it seeks to address key challenges associated with blockchain’s scalability. Furthermore, by leveraging an edge computing architecture, Bluzelle’s technology addresses additional requirements associated with running distributed applications, including the need for network resilience and reliability as well as for ensuring data privacy and residency. In addition to enabling local data storage, edge computing removes an application’s reliance on centralized data storage, which could become a central point of failure. Edge computing also ensures that data is stored and managed locally, which is often a requirement for regulatory or legal reasons.

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