Blockchain

Why is Infrastructure testing important for decentralized applications built on any Blockchain or DLT

According to a recent forecast by Gartner, “by 2025, the business value added by blockchain will grow to slightly more than $176 billion, then surge to exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030.” Right from the voting process to the transfer of data for mission-critical projects, blockchain-based technology would be an integral part of the social, economic, and political setup the world over. 

There are many exciting components/features that make it possible for blockchain platforms to provide a secure decentralized architecture for activities ranging from processing transactions to storing data that is immutable. We have briefly discussed these in our earlier blog. The blog identified how various services and components make infrastructure testing a matter of utmost significance/consequence- while at the same time testing the developer’s or application team’s core competence.

Considering its immense impact in the days to come in all aspects of human life, it has become essential that clients investing in blockchain ensure that the nature of transactions is inviolable. 

To ensure this inviolability, the infrastructure of the blockchain must work seamlessly. Hence the need for infrastructure-testing of blockchain to verify if all the constituent elements are operating as desired. 

What comprises infrastructure testing for Blockchain/Distributed ledger platform 

In simple terms, infrastructure-testing of blockchain networks translates into verifying whether the end-to-end blockchain core network and its constituent elements are operating as desired. It is critical as it determines the reliability of a product, which depends entirely on nodes spread across the globe.

When it comes to decentralized applications built on the blockchain or distributed ledger platforms due to the nature of operations where each constituent element is highly reliant or linked with the other, any shortcoming or failure could jeopardize operations. Hence, to ensure continuity, reliability, and stability in services, infrastructure testing should be carried out with high focus.      

Defining the constituent elements of a Blockchain
  • All distributed ledger platforms, including blockchain, have a dedicated service responsible for establishing communication between the nodes utilizing peer-to-peer networking or any other networking algorithm. 
  • There is also a component or service that makes the network of such applications fault-tolerant using consensus algorithms. 
  • Another critical aspect of blockchain platforms is making consensus on the state and transactional data to process, followed by persisting of the manipulated data. 
  • When it comes to private networks, also known as consortium networks, there are many ways to achieve permission for each node to provide a secure and isolated medium among the participants. 

For confirming production usage for application builds over these platforms, infrastructure testing has similar importance as any other supported functionality. Without verifying functionality, none of the applications can be deployed to production. Similarly, decentralized applications built over various platforms can be deployed to production only after the reliability of infrastructure has been verified with all nodes’ probable numbers. 

What makes the entire exercise demanding are the following factors: 

  • Peer- to- Peer networking(P2P) 
  • Consensus algorithms
  • Role-based nodes along with permission for each node (meant only for private networks)
  • State and transactional data consistency under high loads along with resilience test of nodes

Another vital characteristic to be considered is the number of nodes itself.  Considering that such applications’ functionalities are dependent on the number of nodes, this is a key requirement. The number of nodes can vary depending upon:

  • Which service or component is to be tested 
  • How all the factors mentioned above impact the service or component
Importance of testing various components of Blockchain Infrastructure
Reliability testing

Reliability of infrastructure by far is the most challenging phase for any blockchain developer or application team. Here, confirming whether an application can run on targeted infrastructure or not is explored. Defining application reliability for multiple machines (a.k.a. nodes or servers or participants etc.) increases complexity exponentially due to the permutation and combinations of failures. 

Hence, wherever multiple machines are involved, it is the natural course of action for developers and application teams to measure application reliability on the infrastructure on which such applications will run. All the factors enlisted earlier attest that infrastructure testing is of prime consequence for decentralized applications built on all available platforms. 

Peer-to-Peer networking

If there is any flaw in peer-to-peer networking, then nodes will not communicate with each other. If nodes cannot establish connections with each other, then nodes will not be able to process the transaction with the same state. If nodes are not in the same state, then there will not be any new data manipulated and created to persist. In the case of blockchain, there will not be any new blocks. For the distributed ledger, there will not be any new data appended to the ledger. This may lead to chain forking or a messy state of data across the nodes that will eventually result in the network reaching a dead-end or getting stuck. 

Improper peer-to-peer network implementation can also lead to data exposure to unintended nodes that do not have permission to see the data. To overcome this risk of unintentional data exposure, proper testing must be performed. That will ensure that the expected number of participants and expected numbers of new participants can participate within the network as appropriate communication is established between nodes based on each node’s role and permissions. 

Consensus algorithms: 

Consensus algorithms have two critical functions: 

  • Drive consensus by ensuring that a majority of nodes are processing new data with the same state
  • Provide fault tolerance for network

Consensus algorithms must be verified with all possible types of nodes and all probable permissions that can be defined for each node. To verify the consensus algorithms, multiple network topologies are needed. Improper verification will result in the network getting stuck. It would also result in sharing of data with nodes that were not supposed to get the data. 

Any flaw in consensus will result in a “stuck network” and cause the forking of data. Worse, data can be manipulated with fraudulent nodes. Depending upon which consensus algorithm is used, the network topology can be created and verified with all expected features claimed to be working. 

Role-based nodes, along with their permission 

Each platform supports different roles for each node to ensure that nodes get only the intended information based on the defined permissions. Depending upon the different kinds of roles and their respective permissions, various network topologies are created to perform all required verifications. In case there is any missing verification, sensitive data is exposed to unintended nodes. The way data is shared between nodes is governed by consensus algorithms based on defined permission. 

Any flaw in the permission control mechanism can lead to sensitive data leakage. Data leakage is catastrophic, more so for private networks. The importance of accuracy cannot be emphasized more in this case, and it can only be achieved by ensuring a proper testing mechanism is being utilized.

State and transactional data consistency 

As there can be any number of nodes in real-time, it is highly critical to verify that each node has the same state and transactional data. All complicated transactions must be performed with an adequately defined load to ensure that all nodes have the same state and transactional data. 

Resiliency-based verification must be performed so that all nodes can get to the same state and transactional data, even when a fault is intentionally introduced to randomly selected nodes with a running network. 

Conclusion

To conclude, infrastructure testing should not be substituted with any traditional functional testing process. Furthermore, as this is a niche area, infrastructure testing must be entrusted to a partner with industry-wide experience and capable resources having a sound understanding of all the factors underlined above. A real-time experience in establishing testing processes for such platforms is a highly desired prerequisite.  Without infrastructure testing, it is perilous to launch a product in the market. 

Magic FinServ has delivered multiple frameworks designed for all the above factors. With an in-depth knowledge of multiple blockchain platforms, we are in an enviable position to provide exactly what the client needs while ensuring the highest level of accuracy and running all frameworks following industry standards and timelines. As each customer has their own specific way of developing such platforms and choosing different algorithms for each factor, choosing an experienced team is undoubtedly the best option to establish an infrastructure testing process and automate end-to-end infrastructure testing.

To explore infrastructure testing for your Blockchain/DLT applications, write to us at mail@magicfinserv.com

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By Abhishek Jain

Senior Consultant

February 19, 2021

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    Magic has built a strong eco-system of partners to ensure that we are able to provide high quality solutions to meet our client's ever growing business needs and help them navigate complexity of environments & technology.