A full-stack developer with an extensive background in tech, Dan Popescu, Head of R&D at Modex, highlights a series of new features and functionalities that come with the new Modex BCDB release, explaining which factors helped establish the direction of the project, while also highlighting his personal experience at Modex.
Last week we saw the launch of a new major release for the Modex Blockchain Database (BCDB) solution. Can you briefly talk about some of the new features and changes that come with the new release?
We worked hard during the past few months to put the finishing touches on this new major release for the Modex Blockchain Database (BCDB) solution. Besides the obvious bug fixes, we primarily focused on enhancing the performance and stability of the BCDB software. We’ve also concentrated our efforts on delivering a new set of functionalities and changes that better reflect the demands of the market.
For example, we have eliminated data wrappers to streamline the interaction with the product, while also improving the communication with the blockchain and the database engine. We also took the time to revamp the code of Modex BCDB, focusing development on features that will have the biggest impact on our clients. Furthermore, by restructuring and simplifying the code, we laid a solid foundation that will enable us to deliver new features in future releases.
What were the main factors that helped you and your team decide the direction of the new BCDB release?
One of the biggest factors was the demands of the market. After carefully analyzing the needs of the companies with which we interact on a daily basis, as well as the valuable feedback we received from developers that have hands-on experience and know exactly the pulse of the market, the direction for the new release became increasingly clearer. As you can imagine, we have a series of principles that dictate the final shape of our product.
Our objective is to streamline the way in which companies and enterprises interact with distributed systems, with blockchain. But in order to achieve our end goal we need to listen to the needs of our clients and potential clients to outline a set of expectations that the market has from the technology and how we can deliver them. This approach made us realize that some functionalities that we initially considered to be a secondary objective were in fact highly sought after by companies.
Another major factor that helped us set a trajectory for the new release was the fact that we were constantly present at tech events and conferences that provided an ideal environment for exchanging ideas and discussing with our peers. As such, in terms of establishing a direction for new functionalities, I would separate them into two categories: the necessary functionalities that are the result of client feedback, and developer-oriented functionalities that help us structure our product to be developer-friendly. Usually the latter represents the feedback we received from developers during tech events and conferences.
The advent of COVID-19 had a deep impact both on our personal and work lives, but you and your team still managed to revamp the code of Modex BCDB while also delivering a full suite of new features. Can you describe how the pandemic has reshaped the development process and the general workflow at Modex? Which were the biggest challenges?
COVID-19 certainly came as a challenge, as it forced us to deviate from a familiar work pattern. For the past months, we have been working remotely, from home which means that online meetings have become deeply ingrained in our work habits. Isolation affects people differently, and because we are a team, we need to think about the health and safety of each of our members.
It was indeed a serious blow, luckily we managed to adapt pretty fast because the company already had a strong procedure and infrastructure that facilitated work from home for an extended period. Communication was always a strong point of our team and thankfully we adapted quickly to the new communication channels. In my opinion, the fact that we work in IT means that we could adapt to the new changes more easily.
The biggest challenge I would say was to maintain the social interaction between team members, an essential element that helps build team cohesion. To address this, we continued our weekly event, Modex Talks in an online format during which we shared a drink over the webcam and talked about other things besides work.
Modex has recently partnered with UiPath to enhance the traceability of operations involving software robots by leveraging blockchain’s innate potential to facilitate data immutability. Does this mean that you have decided to focus your efforts on one facet of blockchain technology, namely immutability?
No, that isn’t the case. It’s all about the necessary features and market priorities, but this doesn’t mean that we’re only focusing on this facet of blockchain technology, on immutability. We made sure that the data immutability feature falls in line with the standards of UiPath and other potential partners or clients.
We’ve prioritized immutability in the context of our partnership with UiPath, but this doesn’t mean that we are ignoring the other facets of blockchain technology. For us, decentralization, data distribution, encryption, permission mechanisms, all these elements even if they are not fundamental to what we bring in our partnership with UiPath, are still integral components of Modex BCDB. As a matter of fact, we have almost concluded the development of the data immutability functionality, all that remain are minor enhancements.
Our recent focus on data immutability should be perceived as another use case for the BCDB solution. In fact, it is a good example that showcases the ability of the product to deliver to a client only features that are relevant for their business logic. But this doesn’t mean that data immutability is the only functionality of our product, it’s not even our main functionality from my point of view as a developer working on this product.
Tech companies are known for their fast-paced development and expansion, Modex is no exception. Can you tell us a bit about the company’s plans for the future? Are you preparing new technological collaborations and integrations?
What I know for certain is that a new round of expansion is gradually happening. In this context, expansion means more developers, more workforce that will help us deliver new features faster, more integrations, and more research. Because blockchain is at the edge of the global technological ecosystem, a significant segment of the work we do at Modex is related to research.
The next step for Modex BCDB is to significantly increase the number of blockchains and database engines that can connect to our infrastructure. It’s imperative to cover as large an area as possible, plus to integrate with as many cloud infrastructures, and as many types of containers as possible. This strategy enables us to expand the functionality of the product through a set of components that fit various enterprise contexts.
We are also engaged in multiple discussions on future technology collaborations with big names in the tech industry such as Microsoft, Amazon, MongoDB, and Elasticsearch.
Modex BCDB is touted as a middleware software that has an agnostic take on the blockchain and database engine it uses. Is it possible to use the BCDB solution to complement other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), or cloud computing?
Modex BCDB is a middleware software that not only complements existing software frameworks but also augments the functionality of the chosen blockchain and database engine enabling companies to unlock the full potential of the technologies. We basically come as an additional layer that combines the advantages of a traditional database system with a blockchain infrastructure to expand a client’s existing software application.
In the case of AI, IoT, and cloud computing Modex BCDB can be used to complement these technologies, not enhance them per se. Let’s take AI, for example, our infrastructure can add a layer of utility to AI applications, but not in the sense that it will directly improve AI, but rather complement it by enhancing data security and trust through immutability and decentralization.
For the past year, Modex has had a strong presence at top tech events and conferences. What is it like to attend these large-scale events as a representative of a tech company? What was the feedback you received from attendees? Did you receive out of the box questions that caught you off guard?
It generally depends on the event, but overall it is an interesting experience because you get the chance to see a lot of tech companies working on ingenious projects. It always puts a smile on my face when I see people make a concentrated effort to somehow push technology even further, to offer something new to the community while finding a gateway through which they can bring their ideas and concepts to consumers worldwide. When you are at a tech booth and see people approaching, you can for a brief second see it in their eyes how they are arranging their thoughts and getting ready to ask all sorts of questions related to your product.
Receiving feedback is essential during tech events, and thus far people have been very receptive and positive towards the work we do. In general, people are surprised that there are companies that work on developing blockchain solutions for the enterprise sphere. Usually, when they hear the word blockchain, they immediately assume you are crypto-related. It’s gratifying to prove to them that your product is something different, and most of the time I had discussions with people that spanned almost 30 minutes just to satisfy their curiosity and explain the concept behind our product and how it works.
I can’t say I was ever caught off guard by a question. We work with a segment of technology that is often considered a niche, and such there are very few people that know the ins and outs of blockchain. I’m proud to say that me and my colleagues are experts in the field we work in. We did encounter some questions that made us think about how we could improve the product in certain directions, or what features would appeal more to developers.
You have been with Modex since the company’s early days. Can you talk about your experience at Modex and your expectations for the future?
Yes, I’m one of the first members of the team that began work on Modex BCDB. My experience at Modex is a positive one. I have always worked for startups, small companies that are characterized by enthusiasm and a strong desire to grow. Modex has grown for the past two years and I think this is just the beginning. I enjoy the fact that I have the opportunity to work with professionals, with people specialized in various areas.
The skills of the colleagues I work with cover the various requirements for growing a company, from developers to testers, this on my side that I am used to, but also content writers, PR, marketing, including everything that means product promotion, meetings, to the tech events we previously discussed. All these various elements are necessary for ensuring a natural development for a company, and for me as a developer, it makes me feel like part of a team that gives their best to achieve the same goal.
As for my expectations for the future, I want to continue to contribute to the growth of the project and bring it to its intended form. After that, I would like to continue to explore the potential of BCDB even further and find new practical implementations.