Blockchain development

A look at the operations in blockchain-anchored business networks

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office workIn building a blockchain platform-centric business network, it is very important to define and build a network with operational efficiencies for sustainability. In our previous post, we discussed how important trust is to building these networks and the key role blockchain plays to enable trust and transparency for all participants. We also laid out the four dimensions which are key considerations to building effective business networks.

To be successful, business platforms must focus on all four of these dimensions — business, operations, legal and technology (BOLT) — at the same time from the early stages of development. We want to take this opportunity to look at the operations dimension in more detail.

In building blockchain platform-centric business networks, operability plays a key role in the success of the blockchain business network execution. Most of the time user reflection about the network is based on its operability. Hence, it is paramount important to define and build operational efficiencies right from the beginning.

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1. Participants: Network impact is based on more participants and more transactions on the network

It is important to have a well-defined step-by-step process to enable organization to onboard and offboard onto the network for both direct and indirect participants. This includes the need to categorize the participating organizations to assess their complexity and onboard them to both network and application components. You should focus on automating the processes to make it robust, safe, easy and quick.

Security compliance is a key aspect to bringing confidence in the market. It is required to configure and maintain the identity, access control, keys and certificates in a safe and secure manner while onboarding organizations. Be sure to assess the integration protocol and the external systems to be integrated for both inflow and outflow of data. Auditing capability is another key aspect. Create and verify the activities checklist and consensus mechanism among participants for the onboarding and offboarding compliance.

2. Day two operations: The second day after deployment is critical for a go-live network

Define and execute a network operating model for both business and technical teams that cover a comprehensive network principle, technical administrative tasks, business operations and a commercial model for operationalization. Also, define and execute security standards like considerations for identifiable and verifiable participants and access control with certificate configuration.

It is required to define the health check mechanism to enable automated and manual verification on the business, system performance and capacity checks. Also, define governing entities, network operating rules, indicators like transactions per second (TPS), read throughput, transaction latency, various agreed key performance indicators and verification mechanisms to monitor the implementation.

3. Support model: A robust support model avoids business disruption

The support model should focus both business and technical perspectives. Defining and executing end-to-end solution monitoring includes a consolidated log for your blockchain platform, applications and services. Implement an automated way of log segregation, analysis and proactive alerts and actions. Also, create and execute a monitoring dashboard to enable service management for all managed services, application components and business metrics.

Define and execute the backup strategy for both the blockchain platform and any applications with the support team and establish easy recovery procedures including disaster recovery approach. A well-defined release management will operate and run the network including planned enhancements, SLAs for incident management, various severity of ticket handling, maintenance release models and other tasks.

4. Technical and functional enhancements: Scaling up both business and technical capabilities

Future enhancement to expanding the network is very crucial to sustaining your network. A detail-oriented thought process needs to be applied and broadly categorized into the following areas:

  • The ability to provision business expansion like adding new functionalities and more use cases on top of the existing network, in an adoptable fashion
  • The ability to handle increased transactions to adopt volume expansion
  • Adding more organizations on to the network to enable member expansion
  • Replicating the network across geographies, that is run multiple instances of the network in various and/or expand the network across geographies

Planning your operations perspective right from day two support to business technology expandability and scalability is the key success in running and maintaining your blockchain business network.

Stay tuned for our future posts which will continue our in-depth into the other dimensions with which to build an effective business network. For more information and discussion on this topic, please feel free to reach out to us.

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Executive IT Architect working in IBM Blockchain Services

Ram Viswanathan

IBM Fellow, CTO - IBM Blockchain Services

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