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Oracle Plans Blockchain ‘Pipelines’


A new patent application from Oracle suggests the database giant is seeking to harness blockchain to improve its internal workflows.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, entitled “Managing Highly Scaling Continuous Delivery Pipelines”, on 27th April. First filed last September, the application details the use of “pipeline blockchains” to act as distributed information points for product delivery flows.

The sole named inventor cited on the application is Duncan Mills, a software architect for Oracle.

The concept, as outlined in the application, focuses on using the technology’s ability to provide transparency as a means to keep data on every employee contributing to a particular work process. This would include how their work is being performed and what their next task entails, in real time.

It further offers resilience for times when access to a central data store is compromised. The application explains:

“By its nature, the pipeline blockchain approach provides a self-correcting mechanism for recording and reconciling the state of a pipeline after a system failure. For example, if the record store becomes unavailable, pipelines can continue to process in a fail-safe mode using peer-to-peer reconciliation of the pipeline blockchain, thus maintaining the state of the transactions for the duration of the outage.”

Oracle’s “pipeline blockchain” concept has security implications as well.

For example, a particular project may deal with sensitive or proprietary information. According to the application, the use of the system could allow a worker to see what task is up next “without having to return control to a central dispatcher”, potentially making their computer vulnerable to outside influence.

“This is particularly important where the worker is not in a position to check back with a central dispatcher because of security constraints,” the application goes on to state.

What’s more, the idea of using blockchain to facilitate the secure exchange of information is something that Oracle has touched on in the past, including in an article penned last year by Subramanian Iyer, one of the firm’s senior directors.

“Clearly, blockchain has the ability to increase secure data exchange in other industries as well. It also has the ability to make that data transfer simpler and easier between entities,” he wrote.

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