Xage is working with utilities, energy companies and manufacturers to secure their massive systems, and today it announced some significant updates to deal with the scale and complexity of these customers’ requirements, including a new hierarchical blockchain.
Xage enables customers to set security policy, then enforce that policy on the blockchain. Company CEO Duncan Greatwood says as customers deploy his company’s solutions more widely, it has created a set of problems around scaling that they had to address inside the product, including the use of blockchain.
As you have multiple sites involved in a system, there needed to be a way for these individual entities to operate, whether they are connected to the main system or not. The answer was to provide each site with its own local blockchain, then have a global blockchain that acts as the ultimate enforcer of the rules once the systems reconnected.
“What we’ve done is by creating independent blockchains for each location, you can continue to write even if you are separated or the latency is too high for a global write. But when the reconnect happens with the global system, we replay the writes into the global blockchain,” Greatwood explained.
While classical blockchain doesn’t allow these kinds of separations, Xage felt it was necessary to deal with its particular kind of use case. When there is a separation, a resynchronization happens where the global blockchain checks the local chains for any kinds of changes, and if they are not consistent with the global rules, it will overwrite those entries.
Greatwood says these changes can be malicious if someone managed to take over a node or they could be non-malicious, such as a password change that wasn’t communicated to the global chain until it reconnected. Whatever the reason, the global blockchain has this power to fix the record when it’s required.
Another issue that has come up for Xage customers is the idea that majority rules on a blockchain, but that’s not always a good idea when you have multiple entities working together. As Greatwood explains, if one entity has 600 nodes and the other has 400, the larger entity can always enforce its rules on the smaller one. To fix that, they have created what they are calling a supermajority.
“The supermajority allows us to impose impose rules such as, after you have the majority of 600 nodes, you also have to have the majority of the 400 nodes. Obviously, that will give you an overall majority. But the important point is that the company with 400 nodes is protected now because the write to the ledger account can’t happen unless a majority of the 400 node customers also agrees and participates in the write,” Greatwood explained.
Finally, the company also announced scaling improvements, which reduce computing requirements to run Xage by 10x, according to the company.