Making Blockchain Real for Business with IBM and Hyperledger Fabric

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New technologies with the profound power to change entire industries come about only once or twice in a lifetime. I was fortunate to be working at IBM in the early days of e-business and WebSphere and saw the powerful impact the Internet had on the way we share information. This accelerated with mobile and cloud making access to technology so much a part of the fabric of our lives that we don’t even think about it.

In much the same way, I believe blockchain technology will fundamentally change the way we transact and do business, opening up new opportunities for collaboration and growth. Imagine you are a produce distributor with a growing business supplying tomatoes to major retailers and restaurants.

There’s been a series of nationwide recalls of tomatoes and you need to assure your customers that your produce is safe. Your customers don’t want to take any chances: in the U.S., it is estimated that foodborne illness is responsible for 48 million cases of food poisoning, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths per year. The best way to alleviate your customers’ fears is to show them that your produce didn’t come from any affected suppliers.

Traditionally, though, it takes huge amounts of time and effort to trace and prove the provenance of food. Participants in the supply chain do not have an end-to-end view of food delivery. Despite efforts at standardization, companies often work just with their direct partners so that across the food ecosystem, there are siloed records and diverse and incompatible methods of tracking, causing costly delays and waste when safety concerns arise.

Blockchain technology can address this problem by providing a permanent record of transactions within a trusted network – in this case, a network of your produce suppliers and customers, from the farmers who grow the tomatoes to the retailer who puts the tomatoes in the consumers’ hands. Each step in the supply chain would be documented in a permanent record that cannot be altered. Your customers would have a complete view of the provenance of your produce, saving time, money, and worry.

Beginning today, organizations across different industries can begin their own blockchain journeys like the one I just described. This is possible today thanks to a broad community of more than 145 organizations dedicated to developing a new style of blockchain technology that ensures data privacy and consistency, suitable for a wide variety of industry solutions, from food safety and supply chains to banking, insurance, and healthcare use cases.

Transferring digital assets, shipping goods around the world, securing funds and speeding up payments – any of these transactions can now be made more trusted, efficient, transparent and secure with blockchain technology. Hyperledger, a collaborative cross-industry effort hosted by The Linux Foundation to advance blockchain technology, just announced the general availability of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 is an open source blockchain framework and enterprise grade, production ready solution. It’s the first of its kind as a blockchain fabric for real-world enterprise use and is built upon the collective expertise of industry leaders.

Some 159 engineers across 28 organizations contributed to this project, and it’s already being leveraged by more than 3,000 Hyperledger developers. The community is made up of organizations such as American Express, BBVA, CLS, Daimler, Deutsche Boerse, DTCC, Hitachi, Intel, J.P. Morgan, NEC, State Street, and more than 100 others who are dedicating incredible resources to transform the way organizations complete transactions.

Together they are pursuing a mission to create the world’s first openly governed, publicly accessible, and permissioned blockchain solution.

We at IBM are incredibly proud to be a part of this open community. Early on in IBM’s journey with blockchain, we looked at all the existing distributed ledger technologies and found that while each had their own strengths, none truly met the needs of the enterprise customer. None had the open source licensing model, open governance, and permissioned trust approach that we believe will best spur innovation for enterprise use. This gap in the market led us to collaborate with like-minded leaders in the industry to meet this need.

Since the creation of Hyperledger in December 2015, more than 145 leading organizations have backed the project, contributing code, participating in governance, and supporting the open source initiative through collaborative projects.

No other Linux Foundation project has grown so quickly. It is the groundswell of industry-wide support across the technology and business community that has truly given life to Hyperledger Fabric.

General Manager, Blockchain, IBM

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