DefraDB: Bringing the Power of Data Back to the People

// July 17, 2023

In our intro blog, we welcomed you into our project's vision, purpose, and how our products will help deliver a truly decentralized world and web3 landscape.

Now, let's dig a little deeper into how our vision — and the Source Stack — come to life via the pillar of our infrastructure: DefraDB, our peer-to-peer, decentralized, NoSQL database layer.

If Source's Decentralized Infrastructure Stack is a planet, DefraDB is its core. But before we get into some of its features and technicalities, let's get some basics out of the way.

What’s a SQL Database?

SQL Databases are relational, meaning data is stored in tables and organized into rows and columns. For those of us familiar with Excel, this should ring a bell. When we want to add more data to a SQL database, we can add another data table tied back to the original table with an ID. If we want to access data from one table, we must access multiple tables simultaneously, which requires scaling. SQL databases scale vertically, which requires more storage, computing power, and memory. Think of it like an Excel sheet that grows beyond the boundaries of your screen, requiring additional screens and computing power (i.e., more $$).

What’s a NoSQL Database?

NoSQL Databases, as you may have gathered, can be non-relational. Instead of requiring data to be stored in related tables, NoSQL databases offer flexible storage and data-model options: key-value, graph, wide-column, column-based, and document-based. Developers like ourselves love NoSQL databases because they provide more flexible data models that allow us to store structured (tables), semi-structured (documents and graphs), and even unstructured data like images, video, and social media posts off-chain across NFTs, DeFi, or DeSo.

NoSQL databases are built for horizontal scale and high performance, meaning they can support colossal amounts of data and traffic by distributing computing power across multiple servers.

Now that we know more about the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases let’s get back to the star of the show: DefraDB.

DefraDB: a Next-Generation, Decentralized Database

DefraDB is a NoSQL database; but that doesn’t mean it’s identical to others. While NoSQL databases thrive in flexibility, they often have a common flaw — they’re centralized. This realization means that most of the data that powers our favorite and most-used applications does not belong to us (end users looking for transparency and management over their data) but to the owners of the centralized databases on which it lives.

Countless aspects of data creation, authorship, management, sharing, and utility are broken; built on dated infrastructure that didn’t consider our migration from analog to digital systems alongside the advent of modern computing. As our journey from web1 to web2 brought on a new era of applications, data requirements, and opportunities for leveraging data (both good and bad), we’ve reached a crossroads where the only option for protecting our data from a centralized application is not to use a product.

DefraDB changes that, giving power and flexibility over data management — including providing privacy-centric access and co-management features to end users — back to developers, providing control over the data we need to build and deploy apps that stay true to the web’s ethos of trust and transparency for all.

These opportunities come to life on DefraDB through multiple frameworks. We leverage the power of immutable IPLD (Inter-Planetary Linked Data) formats, which enables the semantically linked data schemas stored in DefraDB, where digital signatures verify the authenticity and integrity of documents. Merkle CRDTs (Conflict-Free Replicated Data Types) represent these immutable data structures, where each document version is identified by its cryptographic hash. The immutability of IPLD data structures ensures data integrity and enables efficient content-based addressing and linking across different systems.

Through this focus, DefraDB offers us a decentralized, user-centric database built for nearly infinite scale that uniquely prioritizes user-centricity (privacy, user consent, and ownership), flexibility (freedom of choice over deployment environments), and verifiability (integrity of data history and access). As a fully decentralized database, we’ve built DefraDB to support a true peer-to-peer network with no centrally controlled entity sitting on top.

What DefraDB Can Mean For You

Not many of us realize what companies and developers do with our data because we lack visibility and control over how it's used, stored, and shared. As we like to say as a warning (and battle cry) here at Source Network: "Not Your Keys, Not Your Data." What we've built with DefraDB gives control back to all who deserve power over our data — and that's everyone.

DefraDB leverages familiar tooling like GraphQL and powerful end-to-end encryption to ensure privacy and security to chart a decentralized path forward where companies no longer have free reign over our data. Instead, we, the people, gain ownership over the use and management of data within web3's applications. For developers and app users alike, DefraDB offers protection against the many data-driven single points of failures that have led to stolen assets, lost personally identifying information, and countless bad headlines for web3. With DefraDB, we look to a better future where innovators can leverage the full potential of an open data management system to build applications faster, cheaper, and more efficiently without sacrificing decentralization. We can't wait to bring you on board. Learn more about DefraDB.

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