Serverless blockchain data sharing startup Vendia released new features for its platform, including support for smart contracts.
Vendia, based in San Francisco, was founded in 2020 and raised a $15.5 million series A round of funding in February 2021.
The Vendia Share platform is a serverless technology that uses blockchain as a secure foundation to help share and collaborate on data. With its new updates, introduced Dec. 9, Vendia is looking to enable database-type capabilities on top of its distributed blockchain base, including ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability) transactions, which ensure the consistency of data queries and transactions.
Vendia belongs to a category that analyst firm Gartner refers to as "enhanced blockchain as a service," which focuses on enterprise blockchain requirements, said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst.
Those requirements include having a single immutable source of truth across enterprise data sources, supporting shared business process automation with smart contracts and making the blockchain system easy and cost-effective to implement.
Vendia addresses enterprise blockchain challenges
In Litan's view, the Vendia platform seeks to attack the thorniest problems inherent in enterprise blockchain networks, including data exchange standards and cross-platform and cloud support. She noted that most enterprise blockchain projects have failed for any number of reasons, though governance and cost issues are often primary problems.
"Enhanced blockchain as a service should address many of the problems of the past, as long as use cases are well defined," Litan said. "Vendia says all companies need to do is give them their schema, which can evolve over time, and they do the rest by setting up the rest of the solution stack."
Avivah LitanAnalyst, Gartner
Litan noted that Vendia also provides low-code developer tools so users need not require deep technical skills in the new environment. As part of the new update, Vendia is introducing what it calls an Entity Explorer view, which provides a visual low-code interface to help users interact with the Vendia Share platform.
Making serverless blockchain work like a conventional database
Tim Wagner, CEO and co-founder of Vendia, said a key theme in the new update is making the vendor's platform work and feel like conventional APIs and databases that developers are already used to working with.
"The thing we spent this year doing is figuring out how you take a blockchain or distributed ledger and give it all the classic properties of a database, like ACID transactions," Wagner said.
Wagner explained that Vendia can work with different data models, though the preferred approach is to use JSON semistructured data. Users provide a JSON schema that Vendia then compiles into a GraphQL API that represents the data model. The GraphQL API can be used to read and write data, and Vendia automatically generates the ability for users to share files.
Looking forward to 2022, one of the things Wagner said Vendia is working on is continuing to enable more database-type capabilities, including SQL query support.
Smart contract support for serverless blockchain platform
A smart contract enables users to apply programming logic to data that is stored in a blockchain. Smart contracts in Vendia Share can be thought of as data triggers, Wagner said.
The trigger is for a transactional computation over data and applies to the information that's being stored. The computation triggered by the smart contract is visible to all the parties that have access to the shared data in a way that's verifiable and auditable.
A smart contract can also enable policy constraints on a given set of data.
For example, Wagner said that in the airline industry a policy constraint rule could be that you have to have at least 60 minutes between arriving at one terminal and getting to another terminal. So as people change flights and airlines figure out scheduling, one of the integrity constraints the user would need to place across that entire corpus of data is that no individual traveler's journey violates the gate-to-terminal time constraint.
While the concept of a blockchain is often tied to the frequently overhyped world of cryptocurrencies, Wagner noted that when Vendia positions itself with users, the vendor rarely starts with a conversation about blockchain.
"We start from the customer perspective; we talk to them about shared workflows, data, sharing challenges and creating a single source of truth," Wagner said. "Then when you kind of get to the next level of technical acumen, where they start asking us how we work, that's where terminology starts coming up. We say we have a distributed ledger, and that's an opportunity to start talking to some of the technological advantages we have."