Experiences with Scaling Blockchain-based Data Stores

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.

Speaker Details

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.

Muneeb Ali
Onename and Princeton University

Series: Microsoft Research Talks