Gospel vs. traditional database technologies – what’s the difference?

December 19, 2017
Posted in: Blog

Gospel’s Enterprise Data Platform has been built to deliver security right down at the data layer, and provide access controls based on context and consent. So what exactly does that mean from a technical viewpoint?

 

When you first see Gospel it looks deceptively similar to a traditional database. That’s because we’ve deliberately designed the platform for anyone with some database experience to use it comfortably. However, Gospel is very different to your traditional NoSQL database; even ones that are distributed and permissioned.

Here are some things that distinguish Gospel:

 

Availability and Joins

Gospel is made up of a group of LedgerNodes that form the consensus mechanism. Each LedgerNode stores a full copy of the data and no sharding takes place. This has advantages to the platform’s high availability as we can cope with the loss of several nodes with no service impact or loss of access to data.

Another feature that we have recently introduced is joins. Joins are generally not available or are computationally intensive in databases that use sharding. Joins in Gospel increase data security by giving users a single pane of glass view of only what they need to see. Gospel then goes even further, masking sensitive data using calculated fields.

 

Schemas

One of the great features in NoSQL databases is not requiring a schema – , that is until inconsistencies arise down the track. Gospel uses a versioned schema which combines schema flexibility with best practices to keep your application stable.

 

Horizontally scalable

Databases such as Riak and MongoDB are extremely scalable; however managing many nodes securely becomes a complicated task. Those who have built scalable environments will have many war stories about having to maintain a large number of nodes to keep consensus working in the event of downtime. Gospel provides a simple distributed model that is easy to set up on premises and alternatively provides an automatically scaling cloud based environment.

 

Permissioned access to data based on the data itself

Traditional databases support role based access to tables but none offer the flexibility of securing access down to the field level. Gospel makes this easy and goes even further by providing access based on certain value criteria in the data. This means, for example, that a travel agent can only see your personal data if you have a travel request open.

 

Know who changed what with immutable audit logs

There are many situations where you need to be able to look at who changed what and when. These are typically checked at the application level and if a change is made to the database, no one would know. If logging captures this in the database, it would be sent to something like Splunk which would require trawling through huge amounts of data to pinpoint the alteration. With Gospel, changes to data are available alongside the data itself. Changes are added to the blockchain in a Merkle Tree to preserve integrity. It is near impossible to change the historical data of a Merkle tree because each transaction has a chain of hashes back to the root.

 

Enterprise security from day one

Looking at pages upon pages of hardening guides for a database is daunting. We’ve designed Gospel to fit nicely into an organisation with best practice security and hardening. The configuration for Gospel means spending time thinking about who should see what data and when, rather than how to secure the platform.

 

Step forward Gospel

Gospel is ideal for establishing trust between multiple parties when it comes to securing and distributing data. Our platform offers simple horizontal scaling or a cloud hosted environment, where security is our focus. We ensure that a secure and verifiable environment is maintained through Merkle trees, consensus, and logical access controls based on the underlying data.

If you’d like to find out more about how Gospel can help your organisation improve its data distribution processes then please do get in touch.

 

Trent

 

database technologies

Trent Kalish-Smith is Gospel’s Technical Sales Engineer

For 90 second overview of gospel click here.