Blockchain versus database: A critical analysis

Mohammad Jabed Morshed Chowdhury, Alan Colman, Muhammad Ashad Kabir, Jun Han, Paul Sarda

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


In recent times, Bitcoin has gained special attention both from industry and academia. The underlying technology that enables Bitcoin (or more generally crypto-currency) is called blockchain. At the core of the blockchain technology is a data structure that keeps record of the transactions in the network. The special feature that distinguishes it from existing technology is its immutability of the stored records. To achieve immutability, it uses consensus and cryptographic mechanisms. As the data is stored in distributed nodes this technology is also termed as 'Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)'. As many researchers and practitioners are joining the hype of blockchain, some of them are raising the question about the fundamental difference between blockchain and traditional database and its real value or potential. In this paper, we present a critical analysis of both technologies based on a survey of the research literature where blockchain solutions are applied to various scenarios. Based on this analysis, we further develop a decision tree diagram that will help both practitioners and researchers to choose the appropriate technology for their use cases. Using our proposed decision tree we evaluate a sample of the existing works to see to what extent the blockchain solutions have been used appropriately in the relevant problem domains.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th IEEE International Conference on trust, security and privacy in computing and communications ((IEEE TrustCom 2018) and 12th IEEE International Conference on big data science and engineering (IEEE BigDataSE 2018)
Subtitle of host publicationTrustcom/BigDataSE 2018
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978153843884
ISBN (Print)9781538643891 (Print of demand)
Publication statusPublished - 05 Sept 2018
EventThe 17th IEEE International Conference On Trust, Security And Privacy In Computing And Communications (IEEE TrustCom-18) - Hilton Newark Airport, New York, United States
Duration: 31 Jul 201803 Aug 2018 (Conference website)


ConferenceThe 17th IEEE International Conference On Trust, Security And Privacy In Computing And Communications (IEEE TrustCom-18)
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York
OtherThe 17th IEEE International Conference on Trust, Security and Privacy in Computing and Communications (IEEE TrustCom-18) will be held in New York, USA from August 1st to 3rd, 2018. The conference aims at bringing together researchers and practitioners in the world working on trusted computing and communications, with regard to trust, security, privacy, reliability, dependability, survivability, availability, and fault tolerance aspects of computer systems and networks, and providing a forum to present and discuss emerging ideas and trends in this highly challenging research field.
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