Bruce Pon of Ascribe – BigchainDB’s Utility as a Blockchain DB, Managing Archives, 3D Designs, IoT Systems

AllCoinNews had an opportunity to chat with Bruce Pon about Ascribe and its efforts to develop BigchainDB, an open source database system designed to bring Big Data to the blockchain. Pon recently gave a joint presentation with Leanne Kemp of Everledger at Block Chain Conference in San Francisco, covering ”the ownership layer for the Internet” and unveiling BigChainDB. After the announcement, there has been a considerably positive response in the Blockchain technology ecosystem and beyond.

ACN: Is Ascribe still using Bitcoin Blockchain to time stamp digital intellectual property?

Currently yes but we intend to switch over to BigchainDB as our notary and timestamping protocol within 2016.

ACN: Are you still getting a flow of interest from Artists, Authors, Musicians, Journalists in Blockchain Stamped IP Services?

Yes, more and more creators are coming to us to explore ways to register, track and collect royalties for their work. We have 30 marketplaces and services that use us already and are in discussions with museums and artists societies to serve them.

ACN: What is BigchainDB’s role in Ascribe’s IP protection service?

With the ability to process 1 million writes per second, BigchainDB will be the transaction and notary blockchain for ascribe moving forward and give us the ability to grow and serve larger content holders.

ACN: What is the background of BigchainDB and how did Ascribe get involved?

BigchainDB came out of a realization that if we were going to register even a small portion of the world’s intellectual property, artworks, photos, designs, music and videos, we would need a scalable blockchain database that could process at least 100,000 transactions per second. The Bitcoin blockchain handles 200,000 transactions per day and if we enrolled even 1 medium sized photo marketplace, we would overload the Bitcoin blockchain. So we split off a team within ascribe to solve the problem and build BigchainDB.

ACN: What makes BigchainDB different from blockchain protocols? Is it Blockchain agnostic?

BigchainDB started with the idea to preserve the key qualities of a blockchain – immutability, decentralized control and enabling assets to move over the network without intermediaries – but then focusing on scalability. Our target was 1 million writes per second.

BigchainDB is meant to be a blockchain database that runs underneath smart contracts and platforms, to handle digital, physical and financial assets – such as intellectual property, diamonds, tickets, stocks and bonds. It is complementary to the blockchain ecosystem because until now, there hasn’t been a scalable blockchain database that enterprises could use. Much of the community has rallied behind us because BigchainDB solves a real need and helps others to build scalable blockchain applications.

ACN: How does BigchainDB achieve such scalability and other characteristics like high throughput, low latency, high capacity, powerful query capabilities, and rich permissioning?

BigchainDB takes the best of distributed databases and then builds the blockchain characteristics on top. We asked, “Is there anywhere else that has solved scalability?” We knew that big data databases could scale but could we “blockchainify” any of them? The answer was yes. Starting with RethinkDB, we built the capability to have a set of decentralized nodes validate and sign transactions, and enforce immutability via blocks – fulfilling our design goals to build a blockchain database. And because we started with a database that already scales, we inherited the amazing characteristics of high throughput, low latency, high capacity, queryability, and rich permissioning.

ACN: What enterprises are using BigchainDB or are intending to test it?

The response has been overwhelming. Since announcing one week ago, we’ve received over 100 inquiries spanning all industries. People are really excited to learn more and want to know how to deploy BigchainDB into their stack. Because our team is small, we’ll work with as many as possible but we’re also open sourcing the code so that the community can take it and build on top of it.

Enterprises want to use BigchainDB to help increase transparency. For instance, our first user is Everledger, a blockchain company that is looking to reduce fraud and fakes in the diamond supply chain. We’re exploring a proof of concept with RWE, Germany’s largest utility. And we’re announcing a partnership with Tangent90 to build a system of tracking samples and promotional activities between pharmaceuticals and doctors, as part of government mandates for transparency.

We’ve had a number of banks, payment companies, global consultancies, telecoms and media companies reach out to explore ways to collaborate. We’re early in the process so unfortunately I can’t disclose their names.

ACN: Is there utility for BigchainDB in Internet of Things systems?

BigchainDB allows for the emergence of metering for IoT services and payment in real-time. Connected devices will be a huge opportunity as more sensors are added to devices that are internet enabled.

ACN: RethinkDB usefulness for IoT systems is mentioned briefly in the BigchainDB Whitepaper. How important is the NoSQL DB – RethinkDB – to implementation of BigchainDB for IoT systems?

RethinkDB is the underlying big data database that we started with. The RethinkDB team has been fantastic in supporting us to build BigchainDB and the approach we used to “blockchainify” RethinkDB could be applied to other big data databases to give enterprises more options on the underlying database technology that suits them.

ACN: Has BigchainDB received much interest from companies involved in developing IoT systems and networks? Is this an area where it could thrive?

We’re optimistic that BigchainDB could be deployed for managing industrial 3D designs, IoT systems and tracking of a whole host of supply chains. Pretty much where ever there’s a need to bring greater transparency in a supply chain and allow for real-time payments and reconciliation. Not only that, there’s a huge opportunity to reduce insurance costs and facilitate trade finance in sectors that were traditionally opague if supply chains become more transparent.

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