Blockchain hype exposes areas to be wary about

Avaya’s John Young talks about the wide future of blockchain

Everyone is talking about blockchain but it still causes a lot of confusion. John Young, senior director and CTO of architecture and business evolution at Avaya, shares his views on everything from hype, to industry implications, to what businesses should be wary about.

 

Blockchain still causes a lot of confusion in the industry – what is the most important thing for companies to understand?

Blockchain is essentially a shared, distributed ledger technology that supports a publicly auditable record of immutably stored transactions. It can be used to dramatically transform business processes and the way in which different types of digital assets are managed. Although Blockchain has tremendous potential, it is still a nascent technology that is complex in nature and requires a multitude of different technology skillsets to properly deploy and support.

 

What is the hardest area to explain and how do you tackle it?

From a technical perspective, it can be challenging to understand the mechanics of decentralised consensus algorithms within a public blockchain. In everyday life, transactions are often expected to be deterministic in nature; a central authority, such as a bank, decides whether a transaction has successfully been completed. In the case of decentralised consensus, the rules for validating individual transactions are well understood. Each party within the network effectively has their own copy of the blockchain ledger and participates in the validation of individual transactions. For consensus algorithms such as Proof of Work, an individual node must validate the individual transactions and solve a computationally expensive hashing problem before being able to include the validated transactions within a new block on the blockchain. The process of gaining consensus on validated transactions is therefore probabilistic in nature. The notion of gaining consensus across a distributed, untrusted network when no central authority exists is a new concept to many individuals.

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