In this section, we are going to discuss and understand what forms the blockchain and who are the actors that are involved in the daily operation of a blockchain network.
Actors in Blockchain
Blockchain is a decentralized network where consensus is built among the users through protocols. Let us understand the various types of users or actors that a typical blockchain network contains:
This is an individual or group of individual who decides the architecture and design of the blockchain solution. The responsibility of a blockchain architect is to ensure that the system is robust and scalable.
The normal user who uses an application or a set of applications running on the blockchain. A blockchain user is normally a business user who interacts with the blockchain via a given user-interface. He or she may not have an understanding of the intricacies involved in the blockchain and is not required to understand how it functions.
The developer of applications that will run on blockchain and/or interact with the blockchain. The developer might need to work in tandem with the architect.
Responsible to monitor and manage the blockchain network. Businesses mostly will always have a blockchain operator.
Traditional Platform and Data Sources
Existing computer system which may be required by the network for processing, like initiating requests in the blockchain.
Existing data systems might be required to send and receive data to the blockchain from external systems.
There are many components that influence and enable the functioning of the blockchain and applications running on it. We will discuss some of the major components in this section.
The reason why blockchain exists. Ledger is a record of transaction since the very beginning. Maintained by each peer in the network, the ledger is the most important component of the blockchain.
Ledger basically contains two data structures:
A block contains a set of transactions and every block is linked to the previous and next one.
Stored in a traditional database and stores the most recent state of smart contracts
The second most important component of the blockchain which compromises of peers (nodes, computers) who are connected to each other through the network, have a copy of the ledger and maintains consensus in the blockchain.
Manages the user’s security credentials – public and private keys!
Responsible for authentication, authorization and managing identities on the blockchain.
Responsible for creation of notifications whenever an operation happens on the blockchain. For example, notifying whenever a new block is created.
We will discuss these in more detail in a later section. However for now, smart contract is a piece of code that helps the blockchain interact with applications that are on non-blockchain environment.
Systems Management and Integration
Responsible for overall management of the blockchain components, like ability to create, change and monitor network. Integration with external systems that interact with the blockchain network.