Workflow Management on BFT Blockchains

  • Joerg Evermann Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s
  • Henry Kim York University, Toronto
Keywords: Byzantine fault tolerance, blockchain, workflow management, interorganizational workflow, distributed workflow

Abstract

Blockchains have been proposed as infrastructure technology for a wide variety of applications. They provide an immutable record of transactions, making them useful when business actors do not trust each other, and their distributed nature makes them suitable for inter-organizational applications. However, widely-used proof-of-work based blockchains are computationally inefficient and do not provide final consensus, although they scale well to large networks. In contrast, blockchains built around Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus algorithms are more efficient and provide immediate and final consensus, but do not scale well to large networks. We argue that this makes them well-suited for workflow management applications, which typically include no more than a few dozen participants. This paper is motivated by a use case in the resource extraction industry. We develop an architecture for a BFT blockchain based workflow management system (WfMS) and present a prototype implementation. We discuss its advantages and limitations with respect to proof-of-work based systems and provide an outlook to future research.

Published
2020-12-07
Section
Special Issue on Blockchain Technologies in EM and EIS