Why is it good to have a Proof of Concept (POC)?

By June 8, 2018 No Comments

Proof of Concept (POC) of a blockchain application is a working prototype that provides evidence which helps to evaluate if the potential product can be a success. The Proof of Concept can help the owner of the product identify gaps that will harm its chances of succeeding. This is also an opportunity to gain internal feedback about an exciting product and reduce risk. It provides the chance to stakeholders to evaluate design choices before full- scale implementation. It is essential to have documentation of the project as this provides the information for its development. Without this documentation, it is possible for the development to get deviates and for the project to be executed slightly differently which leads to different results.

There is a commonly occurring situation whenever a company tries to adhere to the development of a blockchain application. Some reasons for the deviation are:

  • Improper validation of data and tools
  • Unsuitable methods
  • Incorrect understanding of the scope of the project

In an attempt to overcome the listed issues and other hidden pitfalls, the Proof of concept emerged and established itself as a powerful state of maintaining project consistency from ideation to execution.

Proof of concept (POC) is a contemporary method of evaluating the project’s status. It also evaluates the project’s functionality flow to determine how it is operable and optimized in a live environment.

Here are some of the benefits of POC in Project Development:

Recommends the various choices of testing tools and techniques to build the project with ultimate consistency.

  • Act as a tool to forecast the feasibility of the projects.
  • Saves the businesses time and money.
  • Provides a complete report on project evaluation.
  • Reliable and Portable to furnish the test case design.
  • Helps to get timely and valuable feedback from various stakeholders.

What are the steps involved in a Proof of Concept?

Identify the problem and goal

The process of developing any application starts with defining the problem statement. At this stage, you need to define the problem at hand and how you expect the application to solve it. Blockchain has earned considerable hype in the industry and there are many misconceptions around it. Chances are that you might able to solve your problem without the need of blockchain or maybe it is not solvable by blockchain either.

You need to decide if investing time and resources in blockchain makes business sense. Do a cost-benefit analysis, audit your internal capabilities and identify the issues and risks involved. If this analysis proves to be in favor of blockchain and then move to the next step else you are better off with traditional development.

Identify the most suitable consensus mechanism

Since Blockchain is a decentralized system it requires all the members of the network to authenticate a transaction, this process is called consensus. For instance, Bitcoin uses proof of work as a consensus mechanism. While it is the most popular method there are many other alternatives available based on individual needs.

Among all the substitutes to proof of work, the following are the most popular – Proof of stake, Proof of Elapsed Time, Byzantine fault tolerant, Federated, Round Robin and Delegated Proof of Stake. You can choose the ideal method based on your individual use case.

Identify the most suitable platform

Blockchain platforms help you build a decentralized application without creating a separate blockchain from scratch. Most of these platforms today are open source hence your choice should depend upon the consensus method and the problem you need to solve.

While you make a choice ensure that you audit the pros and cons of each and identify the talent pool available for moving the development further. In case of an enterprise level blockchain app, you should lay special emphasis on the stability and security of the blockchain platform.

Designing the architecture

Blockchain solution can exist on the cloud, in-house or in a hybrid model. There are also multiple options for hardware and software configuration like processors, operating system, memory and disk size etc. Although this looks like trivial work you need to ensure the entire architecture compliments the high-level requirements of the application. We recommend using a cloud framework wherever possible as it supports agile working.

Further, you need to choose between the following types of blockchain solutions:

  • Permission-less – Bitcoin and other major Cryptocurrencies where anyone can become a miner.
  • Permission – Government run land registry, or voting systems.
  • Private Blockchains – Internal contract management systems in hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.
  • Public Blockchains – Ethereum and other asset-backed Cryptocurrencies.
  • Hybrid – A common application for managing shared KYC among several banks like Belrium.

Configuring the application

Configuring a Blockchain application needs very careful planning. There are many aspects of the platform that once configured are very difficult to alter. Some of the key components include user permissions, asset issuance and reissuance mechanism, atomic exchanges, consensus, key management and structure, parameters, signatures, hand-shaking and address formats. This is a critical step so opt for expert consultation if you are still a rookie in this technology

Building the APIs

While you might get some Pre-built APIs for development purposes you’ll need to create most of them for distinct use cases. Some of the common purposes for which an API is needed are:

  • Generating key pairs and addresses.
  • Performing functions related to auditing.
  • Performing data authentication using digital signatures and hashes.
  • Storage and retrieval of data.
  • Management and trigger of smart contracts relating to the issuance, payment, exchange, escrow, and retirement.

Design the admin and user interface

Now that you know what is to be planned in the backed the last step is to create a UI and admin console for the application. At this stage, the decisions need to be made regarding the front-end programming language, servers and external database for the app. You will use this console for managing the soft launch of the application hence do incorporate proper analytics into the system.

Scaling the POC and identifying problems

Since Blockchain is still in its infancy it is recommended to use the MVP model for scaling the application. In this approach instead of developing the complete application, you develop a workable solution that is good enough to prove your hypothesis but not loaded with side features or high-end UI.

At this stage, you need to identify any performance issues, latency, crashes, storage or memory glitches. As and when the problem arises, find a solution, implement it and move further. This way you save critical resources that would otherwise be spent on scaling a meaningless solution.

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