Check out the console.dev interview with Jerónimo Irazábal, Chief Architect of immudb

What is immudb? Why did you build it?

Full interview: https://console.dev/interviews/immudb-jeronimo-irazabal/

immudb is a cryptographically verifiable multilayer database. This is often assumed to mean immutable, but whilst immudb is indeed immutable, it’s also important to highlight that everything that is written into immudb can be verified by a client application later on.

You can use immudb for logging events which can then be retrieved by the event identifier and verified, however, immudb can be used as a standard key-value store and as a relational SQL database, with the added benefit that everything is verifiable.

This allows client apps to check whether the data has been tampered with, even if someone has access to the file system or underlying storage. This can be detected.

The database is also intended to be run by a single owner, which is one of the differences when comparing immudb to blockchain. With blockchain, ownership is decentralized, whereas immudb can run on a single server. Clients do not need to trust the server because of the underlying verification capabilities.

When I started to work on immudb, there was nothing else that allowed for single ownership with verification. The only alternative was to use a blockchain platform, but that comes with much more complexity, such as smart contracts, limited throughput, wallets etc.

Another factor was the focus on use cases. When you look at the general database landscape, none were being built from scratch with immutability in mind. Today, we see more and more special-purpose databases, however, none that I could find offered high scalability, ease of use, and cryptographic verification, as well as the ability to travel through the change data in time.

This retention of history makes immudb very suitable for regulated organizations, where they don’t want or can’t use a blockchain. I thought people want to have a database, they don’t want a blockchain. They want to store rich data, not just hashes for transactions. They want to trust the whole database content. That is why I started working on immudb.

Over time, immudb users showed us lots of new use cases. For example, protecting important documents. We even know of one organization storing the last known location of a submarine in immudb running on board. That’s very interesting because there is no internet connection on a submarine, thus blockchain is not an option. But they still want to make sure everything is stored tamper-proof, so that they can retrieve the location data when the submarine is back in the harbor, and ensure that everything is still tamper-free.

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Use Case - Tamper-resistant Clinical Trials

Goal:

Blockchain PoCs were unsuccessful due to complexity and lack of developers.

Still the goal of data immutability as well as client verification is a crucial. Furthermore, the system needs to be easy to use and operate (allowing backup, maintenance windows aso.).

Implementation:

immudb is running in different datacenters across the globe. All clinical trial information is stored in immudb either as transactions or the pdf documents as a whole.

Having that single source of truth with versioned, timestamped, and cryptographically verifiable records, enables a whole new way of transparency and trust.

Use Case - Finance

Goal:

Store the source data, the decision and the rule base for financial support from governments timestamped, verifiable.

A very important functionality is the ability to compare the historic decision (based on the past rulebase) with the rulebase at a different date. Fully cryptographic verifiable Time Travel queries are required to be able to achieve that comparison.

Implementation:

While the source data, rulebase and the documented decision are stored in verifiable Blobs in immudb, the transaction is stored using the relational layer of immudb.

That allows the use of immudb’s time travel capabilities to retrieve verified historic data and recalculate with the most recent rulebase.

Use Case - eCommerce and NFT marketplace

Goal:

No matter if it’s an eCommerce platform or NFT marketplace, the goals are similar:

  • High amount of transactions (potentially millions a second)
  • Ability to read and write multiple records within one transaction
  • prevent overwrite or updates on transactions
  • comply with regulations (PCI, GDPR, …)


Implementation:

immudb is typically scaled out using Hyperscaler (i. e. AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) distributed across the Globe. Auditors are also distributed to track the verification proof over time. Additionally, the shop or marketplace applications store immudb cryptographic state information. That high level of integrity and tamper-evidence while maintaining a very high transaction speed is key for companies to chose immudb.

Use Case - IoT Sensor Data

Goal:

IoT sensor data received by devices collecting environment data needs to be stored locally in a cryptographically verifiable manner until the data is transferred to a central datacenter. The data integrity needs to be verifiable at any given point in time and while in transit.

Implementation:

immudb runs embedded on the IoT device itself and is consistently audited by external probes. The data transfer to audit is minimal and works even with minimum bandwidth and unreliable connections.

Whenever the IoT devices are connected to a high bandwidth, the data transfer happens to a data center (large immudb deployment) and the source and destination date integrity is fully verified.

Use Case - DevOps Evidence

Goal:

CI/CD and application build logs need to be stored auditable and tamper-evident.
A very high Performance is required as the system should not slow down any build process.
Scalability is key as billions of artifacts are expected within the next years.
Next to a possibility of integrity validation, data needs to be retrievable by pipeline job id or digital asset checksum.

Implementation:

As part of the CI/CD audit functionality, data is stored within immudb using the Key/Value functionality. Key is either the CI/CD job id (i. e. Jenkins or GitLab) or the checksum of the resulting build or container image.

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