Blockchain CDN
30 Nov 2020

Blockchain Delivery Enhancement with a CDN

Blockchain is an emerging technology that has grown in popularity with innovators and solution architects over the past few years. With real-world use cases that range from the confidential sharing of medical data to supply chain monitoring, this platform offers any organization a secure system to store and retrieve transactional information. 

What is Blockchain?

At its core, blockchain is a database. It differs from traditional databases by the method it uses to store and retrieve information. As it records data in virtual blocks, it registers information in a chronological order known as chains. These blockchains then hold the full record of any transaction changes made during a particular time frame. 

Blockchain Benefits

Since its introduction in 2008 with the launch of Bitcoin, innovators have leveraged blockchain technology to improve security and efficiency in industries ranging from finance to healthcare. Built on the fundamental blockchain principles of enhanced security, improved transparency, and easier traceability, it lends itself to any transactional system. Decentralization is a crucial premise of any blockchain solution. As there is no single owner of the data, its peer-to-peer architecture ensures all parties can access and retain a copy of it. This decentralization ensures greater transparency and integrity as everyone can view the transactional information and all historical changes.


Blockchain’s most significant feature is that its transaction ledger is accessible to everyone leveraging the system. In financial platforms, this benefit creates a layer of transparency. As all parties can see the data and any changes in real-time, it creates a culture of accountability, holding everyone to act with integrity. The underlying encryption and decentralization further strengthen this premise. These control mechanisms that underpin any blockchain implementation ensure that the information stored cannot be altered unless the system records the changes.


In addition to the improved transparency blockchain offers, it also creates greater efficiency in any system. Due to its decentralized architecture, it removes the need for any middleman or broker. As the system or transaction does not need to wait for a third-party process, it decreases transaction time while lowering costs. As every member of the blockchain network has real-time access to the ledger, a party can directly execute any addition, deletion, or amendment. As there is no additional process overhead, it improves speed and efficiency and reduces or completely negates the need for any transaction charges. 

Security and Traceability

Encryption is the cornerstone of blockchain’s security. As each transaction is encrypted and directly linked to the previous transaction, records are more secure. The distributed nature of a blockchain takes this security one step further. All the computers in the network that form the block need to confirm a transaction. This process ensures data integrity and provides a layer of immutability as altering a record without authorization is impossible. The transaction record also enhances traceability as an audit trail exists for every change.

Blockchain and the IPFS Protocol

As mentioned, blockchain leverages a distributed peer-to-peer file-sharing mechanism. Utilizing a network of distributed computers offers its users a secure, efficient, and transparent service. This architecture shares the same characteristics as that of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Modern blockchain solutions have started utilizing a file distribution platform known as InternerPlanetary File System (IPFS). Although this technology is in its infancy, it has some advantages over traditional data transfer protocols like HTTP and FTP when sharing files in a peer-to-peer architecture.

What is IPFS?

IPFS has been around since 2015, with the first stable release launched in 2018. Created to overcome the HTTP protocol’s file-sharing shortcomings, it uses content-based addressing instead of the traditional location-based address schema. With IPFS, each file in the network has a unique hash value. When a user needs access to some content using IPFS, the system asks the network for a copy of the file containing the hash value required. This approach differs from an HTTP solution. Traditionally, if you needed a file, you would request it from a particular site or service. With IPFS, you obtain the file from the network.

Over and above the way IPFS treats file sharing, there are also a few other variances compared to HTTP. It uses a decentralized peer-to-peer architecture to share files instead of the traditional client/server model. This approach does have some advantages. For example, if a server is down, you cannot access a file in an HTTP model. With IPFS, the data resides on multiple nodes making it far more resilient. The decentralized peer-to-peer model is also more efficient as numerous clients can obtain the file from various servers. With HTTP, multiple clients accessing the same file from a single server can lead to poor performance.

IPFS does, however, have its disadvantages. HTTP is ubiquitous and well established, whereas IPFS is not. This prevalence means that support for HTTP is pervasive and built into every application. As IPFS is relatively new, there are a handful of nodes supporting it on the Internet. HTTP, on the other hand, has a universal presence.

Blockchain and Content Delivery Networks

As mentioned, blockchain has many benefits. In transactional systems, it provides greater transparency, efficiency, security, and traceability. Although IPFS has many advantages for file-sharing, it is not well-suited for the delivery of real-time content. Its architecture makes it difficult to guarantee the constant speeds needed when multiple users access the same content concurrently. However, even though IPFS has grown in popularity as the underlying mechanism in newer blockchain designs, the core blockchain architecture can be separated from this delivery mechanism and enhanced with a CDN. 

A Blockchain-based Content Delivery Network (B-CDN) can leverage blockchain’s benefits, providing a decentralized, secure, and transparent platform to connect content providers. For example, this model can utilize the secure mechanism built into the blockchain architecture to guarantee user privacy. Content providers can also leverage the blockchain model to record each user’s speed performance and then utilize it to build a more efficient delivery mechanism.

Although many see IPFS as the new underlying mechanism enabling a modern blockchain solution, this new protocol is not well-suited to every file-sharing use case. Solution architects who intend to design platforms built on a blockchain must separate their architecture from any underlying implementation technology. In some cases, using a CDN is a better option than IPFS.