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“Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network.”, as defined by IBM. It provides decentralized and distributed ledger technology in blockchain platform where records are cryptographically signed, timestamped, and linked to previous transactions in the chain.
To express this in simpler terms, a blockchain is like a structured database into which data can be inserted, where data is stored and from where data can be accessed. The difference is that the blockchain uses a distributed or decentralized ledger, meaning that copies of the data are saved on multiple machines or nodes. This improves data security and privacy in blockchain.
The structure of the blockchain gives it certain inherent characteristics:
- High levels of data security due to its distributed nature and cryptographic hashing
- Tamper-proof data due to the shared, interlinked and decentralized ledger
- Automated processing through the use of self executing smart contracts
These properties of blockchain technology make it ideally suited to several aspects of the software development lifecycle.
1. Developer Collaboration and Version Control
When you have a development team working on a project, ensure that every member of the team is working on the latest version of the codebase.
With the help of blockchain technology in software development, an unalterable record of every change is updated to the decentralized ledger, ensuring that every code update is securely and permanently recorded in real-time.
What this means is clear and undisputed visibility into the code changes made, when they were made, and by whom, so that the entire team is aware of the sequence of code updates that have lead up to the latest version. This improves blockchain risk management.
2. Blockchain and Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are self-executing pieces of code on a blockchain network which are triggered by predefined events. In the context of software development, the implications of this are huge, since there are several condition-based actions that need to be performed throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
During the testing process, testing scripts can be written and set up as smart contracts that can then be triggered automatically at the appropriate time to run specific tests, and then immutably store the results. This means faster test processing, and reliable and transparent results. Additionally, based on test results, smart contracts can also be triggered to deploy code if the tests are passed, or to inform the development team if issues are identified. What this means is a significantly automated continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) process that saves time and is high on accuracy, trustworthiness and transparency.
Visibility into the process of development of any software is vital to verify whether it meets its defined goals, and also whether the application conforms to regulatory requirements, coding standards, and so on. Blockchain internal audits are the way to gain this visibility, and this is an area where blockchain in software development excels.
We already explored how blockchain technology in software development makes version control more transparent – this is especially valuable when using blockchain in accounting and auditing. It creates a tamper-proof record of every code change being stored for the reference of all stakeholders on a transparent, shared ledger. In the same way, reviews and approvals can also be tracked, as can updates relating to security issues in blockchain, adherence to compliances, and more. With verifiable and trustworthy blockchain audit trails, every audit process is made faster and simpler.
4. Managing Issues and Bugs
Once an application goes live, it is important to have a well-defined mechanism to identify and report bugs, track remedial action, and ensure resolution in line with committed SLAs. Possibly the greatest challenge in bug management is the transparency of the process.
By recording each reported bug or issue on the blockchain, a permanent time-stamped record can be generated that cannot be tampered with. Similarly, updates or fixes can also be recorded on the blockchain to create a system with transparency and traceability baked in from the start.
If you are an enterprise looking to improve codebase management and create a secure and streamlined software development process, blockchain technology presents a massive opportunity. It ensures the integrity and security of code while reducing costs in the long run. Talk to us to explore how you could harness the blockchain in software development to stay ahead of the curve.