Experiences with Scaling Blockchain-based Data Stores


April 15, 2015


Muneeb Ali


Onename and Princeton University


In the past years cryptocurrency blockchains (like Bitcoin and Namecoin) have seen significant adoption with the promise of using such blockchains as general-purpose databases and/or key-value stores. Cryptocurrency blockchains provide a zero-trust infrastructure, where users can securely store and retrieve information while providing security guarantees that only the owner of a particular private-key can write/modify the data. In theory, many decentralized services/application can be built using cryptocurrency blockchains as key-value stores. However, the area is relatively new and rapidly evolving with little production experience/data available to guide design tradeoffs. In this talk, we describe our experience of operating a large real-world deployment of a decentralized naming service, called Openname, built on top of a cryptocurrency blockchain (Namecoin). We present the various challenges that we had to overcome while registering/updating over 30,000 users on the blockchain and discuss how our experience informed the design of a new blockchain-based key-value store, called Blockstore. All of our code is available as open-source at http://github.com/openname.


Muneeb Ali

Muneeb Ali is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of a Bitcoin startup, called Onename, that is backed by investors like Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, SV Angel etc. Muneeb is also a final-year PhD candidate at Princeton University, where he has worked in the Systems and Networks group and also at PlanetLab. He helped start a new course at Princeton on “How to be a CTO” and gives guest lectures on cloud computing at Princeton. He has been awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship (declined) and a Princeton Graduate Fellowship. He has served as the Program Co-Chair of ACM NSDR.