Blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is transforming the way people transact. But how do you get started putting blockchain to work for your business? This seems to be a question that both executives and developers are struggling with, so I’m going to provide a three-step guide to help you learn how to take an idea about blockchain to an actual blockchain solution using the newly-released IBM Blockchain Platform. Keep in mind this plan is still in Beta, but it is a great way to get begin.
1. Why blockchain? Start with your use case.
You may know what blockchain is and how it can benefit your industry, but how do you translate that knowledge into a valid scenario for using blockchain in your own business? You don’t want to be wasting valuable time and resources on a project that would be better served by a centralized (or decentralized) database!
That’s why the first step to building a blockchain is picking a use case that makes sense for blockchain. An ideal use case for blockchain will likely benefit from one or more of the following:
Have multiple, known parties who want to share information in a permissioned network that doesn’t require a single authority to manage the data or rules of governance (decentralized governance is OK).
Speed up transaction processing by reducing time and demand for reconciliation and intermediaries.
Track the provenance of items through transparent, immutable records.
Connect additional participating members to create a more powerful network.
Join an IBM Blockchain Workshop to fully examine your use case with help from consulting experts who can help you determine if it will address your business needs.
2. Who do I work on blockchain with? Determine who to work with to address the use case.
By activating or joining a blockchain network, you are creating an ecosystem of organizations that can trust the data on the blockchain (even if they don’t fully trust each other). For many, this requires a big change in mindset. Yes, you can work with others — and you should! With blockchain, even traditional competitors can benefit from each other by using shared data to streamline their business processes.
Determine the types of organizations that might join your blockchain before you start development to accelerate the move into production. You can start with a small group, but blockchains deliver the most value when done with multiple parties.
3. How do I build a blockchain?
Building your solution from the raw open source code is always an option, but why take the complicated route when there are great resources available to assist you? IBM Blockchain Platform provides tools designed to accelerate the development, governance and operation of your multi-institution business network.
With the newly introduced Starter Plan, you get access to development tools, tutorials, and a development environment to help you define your business network using The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Composer.
You can follow these steps to get started with the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan:
In one click, set up a preconfigured blockchain network with two members, each with one peer, and one channel, where you can test your proof-of-concept.
Add more members to scale your network and simulate multiple organizations.
Deploy the provided sample applications to your blockchain network.
Test the blockchain applications you’ve developed.
Get the same experience as the Enterprise Plan, including all the capabilities of Hyperledger Fabric, in the development environment.
From this overview, you can see that getting started with blockchain may not be as hard as you originally thought. With the new IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, you can quickly learn, build and try out your blockchain network in an environment designed for development and testing. When you’re ready to go into production, get the level of infrastructure and security your business requires by migrating to an Enterprise Plan.
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