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Based on many years of experience in the industry in various roles including that of analyst, I have become accustomed to seeing the value proposition of interconnections between technologies, including how the corresponding markets evolve and mature. This led to my recent interest in discovering patterns and use cases in which blockchain and data virtualization technologies work together. Coincidentally, I discovered that one of Denodo’s more innovative customers is leveraging blockchain, and so I immediately reached out to understand this company’s use of data virtualization and Blockchain in combination.

Quick overview of blockchain and its distributed ledger technology

A “blockchain” is a chain of transaction data; the sale and purchase of an asset is an example of a corresponding transaction. Blockchain algorithms enable recorded transactions to be aggregated in blocks that are added to a chain of existing blocks using a cryptographic signature. A blockchain is characterized by being write-once, append-only, distributed, and decentralized in its pure form (i.e., it’s not controlled by any one party). It is either partially or completely replicated, thus many different companies can have copies of this database. Blockchain technology was originally created to support Bitcoin, but now is being extended to other types of assets such as contracts, securities, and physical property.

Blockchain’s “distributed ledger” technology provides a secure, transparent means to digitally track ownership of assets with the objective of reducing the potential for fraud. It represents an asset database that is shareable across a network of multiple sites, geographic locations, or institutions. Specifically, in commerce, distributed ledgers potentially can increase visibility in global supply chains, increasing product traceability.

Denodo’s customer uses data virtualization to integrate and provision data for blockchain

A well-known food and retail company (“Food Supplier”) that is a customer of Denodo acquired blockchain technology to comply with requirements for integrating its system with that of a retail giant (“Big Retailer”) to whom it sells some of its products. The Big Retailer has started using blockchains to authenticate and trace items in its food supply chain. One objective of doing this is to trace a contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time with the goal of halting the spread of illness. The Food Supplier implemented a backward-traceable blockchain to track the subset of food products it supplies to the Big Retailer; product traceability starts with delivery of the products and can provide insights on the product all the way back to the source – the farm.

The data provisioned to the blockchain model originates from a multitude of data sources and must be blended prior to delivery to the blockchain. It can include master data such as product, customer, and event types, as well as order, distribution, shipping, commissions, and dispatch data that is mapped to the blockchain target model. To meet required product deadlines, the Food Supplier chose data virtualization, specifically the Denodo platform, to integrate all the relevant data sources at scale and to provision that data to the blockchain ecosystem. This was accomplished within a matter of days thanks to data virtualization which proved to be integral to the success of the blockchain project. In the next phase, the Food Supplier is planning to leverage the blockchain database as a source within the data virtualization layer for reporting and analytics.

Two patterns of blockchain and data virtualization technologies working together emerge from the foregoing use case. In one pattern, data virtualization delivers data to the blockchain ecosystem. In the second pattern, the blockchain database serves as a source within the data virtualization layer where blockchain data can be combined with other contextual data within the enterprise for reporting and analytics.

Lakshmi Randall