Blockchain

Five must-haves for an enterprise-ready blockchain platform

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No business operates alone. Regardless of your industry, your business is part of a large, diverse network of organizations and individuals, from parts suppliers and financial services firms to distribution partners and customers.

Traditionally, all transactions and contracts among these network participants have been recorded in independent ledgers. But reconciling these various views can be slow, costly, prone to errors and vulnerable to tampering.

That’s where blockchain can help. A decentralized, shared digital ledger technology, blockchain can facilitate secure, online transactions among network participants. It can work to save time, reduce costs and minimize risk.

Still, not all blockchain platforms meet the needs of enterprise businesses. Public blockchain implementations—such as bitcoin—are open networks with anonymous participation and public visibility of all transactions. But enterprises need the ability to select who can see information that’s relevant to them. Through permissioned participation, companies can have greater control over whom they transact with and preserve privacy for assets and terms and conditions between parties.

Consider these five core blockchain properties

If you’re considering blockchain technology, make sure you select an enterprise-ready platform with the following five key attributes:

  • Open governance: How will the blockchain platform you’re considering handle change? What happens when there’s a problem that needs resolution? Make sure the code base you select helps you to establish clear, open processes for making changes, updates and enhancements.
  • Confidentiality: To safeguard sensitive information, you first need to find ways to control who participates within your network. Blockchain with permissioned membership helps ensure that you know those who are part of your network because you approve their participation. In addition, make sure the solution can keep transactions and contracts private—that is, they must be visible only to the participating parties. Non-participating parties shouldn’t be able to see information such as special pricing or expedited shipping.
  • Modularity: As you expand your business networks or create new ones, you need a platform that can accommodate various regional regulations, industry standards and technical needs. For one network, you might decide to allow a single party to set the rules for the whole network. For another network, you might employ a more democratic, consensus-based approach. Adopting a solution designed for modularity gives you that flexibility.
  • Developer tools: You need tools to simplify and accelerate the process of modeling your business network. This modeling process includes assets, participants, access controls and transactions. In addition, you need ways to integrate non-blockchain applications without a massive development effort. And you need tools to create custom application user interfaces from your data model in minutes, not days or weeks.
  • Security: Protecting sensitive data is a critical, baseline requirement—you can’t transact and exchange assets at an enterprise level without adequate security. In addition to requiring permission to join a blockchain and maintaining the confidentiality of transactions, an enterprise-ready blockchain platform should encrypt data, maintain an audit-trail pedigree for all transactions and protect the environment from malware.

Implement an enterprise-ready blockchain platform

Ready to take the next steps toward implementing an enterprise-ready blockchain? Start by exploring the Linux Foundation Hyperledger Project™, a fast-growing community project that advances blockchain technology as an enterprise, cross-industry open standard. The Hyperledger Fabric offers an enterprise-ready alternative to public, non-permissioned implementations such as bitcoin.

Learn more about how you can leverage advances in blockchain technology to transform and secure business transactions.

IBM Fellow, Enterprise Solutions

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