Digitization in today’s modern era has made software applications fundamental to the day-to-day operations of many businesses. However, as technology continues to evolve, so does the need for certain applications to scale up to meet with the constantly growing needs of society.
One of the most notable new technologies is the blockchain. As a refresher, blockchain technology is a decentralized digital ledger that fuels the mechanism behind cryptocurrency-based transactions.
Essentially, blockchain was originally intended to apply to the financial industry by providing a trustless and decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash system. However, as global adoption of this emerging technology prosper, blockchain has proven to do a whole lot more. Significantly, with the recent developments in blockchain technology, it has enabled developers to build and host apps on its platform and disrupt not only the financial industry but also virtually every other industry possible.
This gave birth to a new generation of software applications called decentralized apps (dApps). What are these decentralized apps and how are they superior over traditional apps?
What are decentralized apps (dApps)?
To better understand the concept of decentralized apps, some context as to the software model of traditional apps must be mentioned. Most of the apps we know today are centralized, and this goes for both web and mobile applications. Being centralized means that the flow of information and the control of individual units are executed from a single governing node or center.
Decentralize apps (dApps), on the other hand, are apps whose software model is decentralized and is entirely distributed, meaning that computation is done by multiple nodes as opposed to one. As the term suggests, this also means that there is no single authority to execute changes and control.
Essentially, what sets dApps apart from traditional apps is that they are developed and hosted on the blockchain. Thus, dApps share the same characteristics of its host platform: they are autonomous and open-source, and the protocols and information are securely protected by cryptography—among many others.
Advantages of dApps over traditional apps
Today, dApps are gaining a foothold on the app market. In fact, to date, there are over a thousand dApps and approximately 4,500 smart contracts—and the number keeps growing. Even large corporations such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and IBM are also working with blockchain technology and developing their own blockchain-based solutions.
Decentralized apps are reshaping the app development landscape as we know it, and it’s all for a very good reason: They offer a number of advantages over traditional apps. Here are some of their strengths:
Blockchain technology was borne out of the intent to solve the limitations of centralized models, the vulnerability to security attacks and the chances of collusion are among the latter’s greatest weaknesses.
The key advantage of a dApp is its higher level of security. Since the code is stored on the blockchain and the information is distributed to all the nodes in the network, there is no single point of failure and thus makes it virtually impossible—and hugely expensive—to attack the whole network. In addition, transactions that occur on the blockchain are immutable, meaning that all verified transactions are stored permanently and cannot be tampered with, resulting in more secure data protection.
All the records stored on the blockchain are open to the public yet tightly secured through cryptography. This stark transparency adds to its security, as every transaction is easily verifiable.
In the context of dApps, this means that all executed amendments to the code, as well as all data stored on the blockchain, can be easily and precisely verified. Users of dApps can thus have confidence in its strong sense of data security and permanence of its records.
3. Speed, efficiency, and reliability
Decentralization essentially takes out the necessity for a middleman, resulting in faster and cheaper transactions. This also applies to the processing and storing of data on the blockchain, as well as those running on a dApp.
With the velocity of data coming from new and modern sources such as the Internet of Things (IoT), dApps offer a fast, efficient, and affordable way to handle big data. Moreover, as there is no central data center to harbor the entirety of the data stored, dApps are immune to downtimes and physical outages.
4. Community involvement
In a decentralized software model, any changes to the underlying code can only be executed after reaching a consensus. This fosters a stronger sense of community involvement, as everyone in the network can actively participate and contribute to the decision-making process.
Additionally, the inclusivity of dApps also extends to its synergistic capacity. As anyone can interact with and use a decentralized app once it’s hosted on a blockchain, many dApps can be compatible with one another. This makes for a whole ecosystem of apps that seamlessly work together to create an innovative solution.
Blockchain technology has many implications to the disruption of modern technology, and dApps, in particular, signify a new era in the web and mobile app development space. While the process of dApp development is still in its early phase, it holds a bright promise of creating a more cost-efficient solution that can address the limitations plaguing traditional apps.