7th June 2017 • George Kallias
“The decentralized stack is here now“.
With the rise of blockchain and Ethereum, we are entering the era of the decentralized network. With a tech stack similar to the more traditional open web development stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, many believe an open source decentralized stack is already here. The creation of comprehensive development environments, supporting full stack capabilities and components on top of blockchain services and consensus engines is increasingly necessary, as blockchain becomes the new development environment.
But let’s take a few steps back…
Blockchain is analogous to a database, but the way you interact with it is different. Bitcoin (that famous digital currency) is based on a virtual network, which continuously and sequentially records transactions on a public “block”, creating a unique “chain”. This is a blockchain.
Each blockchain has a “hash” (fingerprint) of previous code, and cryptography via hashcodes is used to secure authentication of a transaction source, and removes the need for a central intermediary.
So, for example: when you make a transaction online with your bank, you go through an intermediary; a front end processor, a card association, a payment processor, the issuing bank, a clearing house network and so on. Blockchain removes the need to use this third party.
Blockchain stores data semi-publicly. Your data is stored in a linear container space (the block). This container has your signature on it (in the form of the hash) and so no third party can tamper with it. However, because the header is displayed, it’s still a little public.
There’s a brilliant comparison from William Mougayar:
Storing data in a blockchain is like being a homeowner. Everyone can see your address, but only you can claim ownership and can get inside with your private key.
According to Mougayer, blockchain is a “catalyst for the creation of decentralized applications”.
Decentralization is transferring the authority previously placed in a central intermediary over to a virtual network. There’s been a growth in peer to peer distributed technology characteristics since way back in 1991, when Napster introduced music file sharing tech.*
It’s about moving power to the edges, and it’s believed by many that blockchain is sparking a decentralization trend in other areas. Decentralization has the potential to impact currency and the monetary system, technology innovation, markets and marketplaces and information and data – among other things.
Blockchain is based on a consensus – which is the first layer of decentralized architecture. Consensus logic is separate from an application.
Here’s where Ethereum comes in. Ethereum allows developers to build and deploy decentralized applications. Decentralized applications are run on a blockchain network, and so they aren’t controlled by a central entity or individual. Ethereum is being used to decentralize existing services and to create disruptive applications across myriad industries.**
The benefits of decentralized applications include the fact that third parties can’t make changes to data, they’re secure, there’s zero downtime, and they’re tamper proof.
Blockchain represents “a paradigm shift in how software engineers will write software applications in the future”. Developers are going to need to learn how to write decentralised apps that are enabled by Blockchain technology. Some estimate that, in the UK, there are around just 250 developers who truly ‘get’ blockchain.
With this in mind, demand for blockchain related roles is growing – fast – and the job market is struggling to keep up.
According to the financial times, the number of jobs advertised on LinkedIn for blockchain related positions has more than trebled in the past year. As if that wasn’t enough, the number of ads for blockchain roles grows at around 40% per quarter, with almost 10,000 people listing blockchain as a skill on their LinkedIn profile.
This increasing demand comes from startups, large tech firms, banks and other private sector firms, as businesses and even public sector bodies start to realise the potential blockchain based systems hold.
“It is going to be a lot of the same skills you need for building more traditional technology,” says Nick Williamson, CEO of blockchain platform as a service start up, Credits.
“It is just that, because you are building a cryptographic system, you are going to need to be that much more aware of the depth of technology.”
An awareness of modern technologies like Docker containers and micro-service architectures is helpful, as are specialisms in networking or security. Engineers who specialise in these disciplines are likely to play a very important part. Polyglot engineers proficient in numerous languages including Java and C++ are preferred. This comes alongside the aforementioned LAMP stack – the open source decentralized skill stack.
“Professionals in related areas such as cryptography and machine learning may want to look at the roles available and the skills they need to develop, as there is certainly a growing demand within the technology, finance and insurance industries for Blockchain expertise.” – Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn
Within our Applied Technologies division, we’re working with some exciting and progressive organisations who are always happy to speak with blockchain professionals. Register your CV or call us on 0117 311 3131 to learn more about the blockchain roles we’re recruiting for right now.