Five Key Considerations for Monitoring Blockchains

When you put a new blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) into production, you need to start actively monitoring and auditing it. Here are five important steps you should take:

1. Know Your Network and Actors

The same security best-practices that apply to any other networked technology also apply to blockchains. Security should be the first thing you think about when you set up a new blockchain. With a private blockchain, you need to keep track of which nodes have access to the blockchain, and what roles they play. Some key metrics to track include:

2. Benchmark Blockchain Performance

The next thing to worry about is whether or not your blockchain will be able to handle the projected load. You’ll want to run performance tests in a test environment (that simulates production as closely as possible) to measure key performance measures, like these:

3. Establish a Current Baseline

Once you know the maximum load your blockchain can handle, you’ll want to keep track of where you’re currently at on production. Baseline the same metrics as you benchmark, and you’ll be able to set up alerts that notify you a) when your blockchain performance begins to deviate away from what’s “normal”, and b) when you start getting close to the max you currently can handle.

4. Use Change Control for Smart Contracts

Changes to smart contracts (also known as “chaincode”) are propagated to the blockchain network through transactions themselves. The format of these smart contracts are usually opaque, machine-readable blobs of bytecode. To make sure everyone on the network is using the same version of a contract, and is aware of any changes that have been made to it, establish a change-control process for your smart contracts that includes at least these elements:

5. Set Alerts for Critical Events

You’ll want alerts for all of the above, so you’ll know as soon as anything important happens. Set up alerts to notify you when:

Need a Blockchain Monitoring Tool?

It can take a lot of work to maintain and monitor a blockchain. Here are a few tools that can help: