Blockchain is already here. It is no longer an abstract concept and it is no longer relevant only to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. In the first couple days of IBM InterConnect 2017, that fact has been made abundantly clear.
Blockchain transforms business processes
Business networks are home to various participants: customers, suppliers, banks, partners and others. Assets (goods and services) are exchanged through transactions across these networks. Keeping track of these transactions is a complicated, paper-intensive process because businesses have multiple ledgers for the multiple business networks in which they participate. This system is inefficient, expensive and vulnerable.
Companies are reimagining their fundamental business processes with blockchain. Through a distributed ledger, participants can share transaction and contract records. In the “Introduction to Blockchain” session on Monday, John McLean of IBM described the ledger as a “trusted source of information.” Blockchain built for business is trusted because it has theses features:
Consensus, because all parties must agree to network verified transactions.
Immutability, because anything written on the ledger cannot be altered.
Provenance, because there are records of where each asset has been.
Privacy, because permissions and identity ensure appropriate visibility of transactions.
All of this enables untrusted parties to work together in the new digital economy. Check out Bloomberg’s interview with Arvind Krishna, IBM SVP Hybrid Cloud to learn more about the potential of permissioned blockchain and the value it can bring to enterprise ecosystems.
At InterConnect, one of the first examples of blockchain in action came from the diamond industry. Founder and CEO of Everledger, Leanne Kemp, discussed her experience with the technology in the welcome keynote on Monday and again in the blockchain keynote on Tuesday.
Relying on paper-based certification systems to prove the authenticity and provenance of diamonds leaves the industry exposed to document tampering, fraudulent claims, synthetic stones certified falsely as authentic and double financing along the pipeline. There was a need to create a single point of truth for all stakeholders along the supply chain, from producers to cutters to bankers to insurance companies.
Now, 1.2 million diamonds are secured on the blockchain. Through blockchain, all parties in this business network can collaborate and share records of transactions through a decentralized ledger. Benefits have included security, immutability, speed and scale.
Blockchain is ready for production
As you probably realized from Leanne’s talk, blockchain solutions are in production right now. The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric is at Version 1 and it is ready for production workloads. Fabric is the operating system that is at the heart of IBM Blockchain, the world’s first blockchain as a service for enterprise-grade networks. This recently announced service enables developers to rapidly build and host security-rich production blockchain networks through Bluemix on the IBM Cloud. Ross Mauri of IBM had this to say about it: “IBM blockchain runs on the industry’s most secure Linux servers in the IBM cloud. It’s an architecture that’s built end-to-end for security and performance.” To learn more about Hyperledger and IBM Blockchain, check out about the top 6 technical advantages of Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 and the top 6 reasons to use IBM Blockchain service.
Ross Mauri discusses blockchain architecture design at IBM InterConnect.
Another tool that can help you get started with blockchain is Hyperledger Composer, which is a suite of high level application abstractions for business networks. In his session on Monday, Anthony O’Dowd of IBM taught attendees how to use it. He showed how Fabric allows the members of a network to maintain control, but does not require any one of them (or any third party) to be in control of the system. This encourages open governance, which is a principle that IBM advocates through The Hyperledger Project.
IBM supports blockchain
Though the technical aspects of blockchain are difficult, working with blockchain doesn’t have to be with support from IBM. IBM has already done a lot of the heavy lifting needed to move blockchain from concept to reality — from proof of concepts to production. You’ve seen this demonstrated by several clients through various use cases at InterConnect. Everledger, Northern Trust, Mizuho and Postal Savings Bank of China are just a few examples.
Blockchain is here, now. Working with IBM means you will have the support of an experienced partner that believes in blockchain that is open, trusted and ready for business.
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