On Availability for Blockchain-Based Systems

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Weber, Ingo ORCID ID icon; Gramoli, Vincent; Ponomarev, Alex; Staples, Mark; Holz, Ralph; Tran, An Binh ORCID ID icon; Rimba, Paul ORCID ID icon


Conference Material

International Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems (SRDS), Hong Kong, China, 27–29 September 2017


Blockchain technology emerged to support the Bitcoin cryto currency, but is being explored by startups, enterprise, banks, and governments for many other applications including public registries, supply chain, health records, and voting. Dependability is critical for many of these applications, but deep understanding about the properties of blockchain technology is currently missing. In this paper, we discuss implications of blockchain for dependability properties, and provide a detailed analysis of availability issues for systems that use mainstream blockchains. Our observations and experiments are based on the two most popular public blockchains: Ethereum and Bitcoin. First, we identified that there are no built-in options to abort or effectively re-try transactions in the most popular blockchains. Second, we identified a series of factors that delay the commit time of transactions, including gas price, uncle blocks, and mining strategies. Third, we examine the transaction commit of results of execution of smart contracts, and observe that a substantial number of smart contracts can be killed, resulting in the non-availability of their functions. We propose techniques to mitigate the availability limitations of existing blockchains, and experimentally test the efficacy of these techniques.


Blockchain; Dependability; Security; Empirical Analysis

Distributed Computing not elsewhere classified



Conference Paper - Refereed


Weber, Ingo; Gramoli, Vincent; Ponomarev, Alex; Staples, Mark; Holz, Ralph; Tran, An Binh; Rimba, Paul. On Availability for Blockchain-Based Systems. In: International Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems (SRDS); 27–29 September 2017; Hong Kong, China. IEEE; 2017. 64-73. https://doi.org/10.1109/SRDS.2017.15

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