As disruptors race to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain, enterprises want standardized deployment models that enable them to focus on innovation and business processes rather than on infrastructure.
IBM enhanced its Blockchain Platform with the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, which enables enterprises to run containerized blockchain components on the IBM Cloud, on other clouds, and on IBM Cloud Private.
Standardizationenables fast and easy deployment of containerized blockchain components
Flexibledeployment to better manage resource allocation
PaaS approachmoves focus from maintaining blockchain infrastructure to developing apps
Business challenge story
In search of greater flexibility
By providing an immutable, decentralized ledger to record and automatically trigger transactions of value and information, blockchain technology can dramatically reduce process friction and transactional costs for organizations of all sizes. Hundreds of businesses worldwide have already gone live with major blockchain-based applications, and many thousands more are running pilots.
In order to meet the growing demand for blockchain technology, IBM quickly developed the IBM Blockchain Platform on Docker swarm, as the implementation pre-dated IBM’s own managed Kubernetes service offering. IBM Blockchain Platform provides a comprehensive cloud-based environment for building, deploying, running and scaling enterprise blockchain applications and networks.
IBM subsequently found that its initial implementation on Docker swarm did not easily scale and required costly manual intervention. Additionally, the IBM Blockchain service required reverse proxying and internal DNS, requiring IBM to write and support custom code. Updating and patching the blockchain code were onerous tasks, because the support team needed to apply the same changes repeatedly in each and every container.
Moving to Kubernetes
Like its own customers, IBM needed to modernize its blockchain solution to fit growing and changing needs. The IBM Blockchain team saw the newly available IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service orchestration technology as the logical next step for IBM Blockchain Platform. IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service is a managed Kubernetes offering that enables enterprises to build, run and manage containerized applications, providing intelligent scheduling, self-healing, horizontal scaling, service discovery and load balancing.
Mihir Shah comments: “The IBM Cloud Kubernetes offering met our needs for load-balancing and reverse proxying as these functions are part of the service, eliminating one-off code. The solution also solved our scaling and flexibility challenges, enabling us to run multiple Kubernetes clusters and connect them together very easily.”
Today, the IBM Blockchain Starter Plan – an environment for accelerating the testing, development and proving of blockchain applications and networks – is running on IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service. The IBM Blockchain Enterprise Plan – an environment for running major blockchain applications in production – is in the process of being migrated, while the new IBM Blockchain for IBM Cloud Private offering can already be run on any Kubernetes-based infrastructure.
The use of Kubernetes orchestration technology on the IBM Cloud makes it easy for the IBM blockchain team – and its customers – to rapidly scale their environments and ensure high availability by always having multiple containers running for key services. Switching to the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service also provided a fully managed platform, removing the burden of infrastructure management from the blockchain team for dramatically simplified administration and operations.
Jerry Cuomo, IBM Fellow and Vice President Blockchain Technologies, comments: “We are now delivering the IBM Blockchain implementation on the IBM Cloud, on-premises and on third-party cloud platforms, all using the same components for complete flexibility and portability. While this approach eliminates vendor lock-in to the IBM Cloud, enterprises continue to choose IBM Blockchain Platform because of the value we offer. Moving to IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service went smoothly and enables the blockchain team to rapidly increase the value of our IBM Blockchain Platform.”
Standardized and decentralized
With IBM Blockchain Platform running on IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, enterprises can ease the path toward de-centralization of blockchain to deploy the same way anywhere – on the IBM Cloud, on their own premises, or in third-party clouds. A unified approach can dramatically simplify deployment work, enabling enterprises to manage all nodes from a single dashboard and use a single deployment mechanism. This standardization adds to the benefits of containerization in making DevOps seamless. Enterprises enjoy complete flexibility around where and how to deploy their Dev, Test, and Production environments, and can accelerate the roll-out of new releases.
The IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service also brings pluggable storage options and makes it easy for the IBM Blockchain team to upgrade, support and scale the blockchain platform that underpins customer environments. IBM and customer developers no longer get caught up in networking or infrastructure support, freeing them to focus exclusively on building great solutions while the IBM platform handles all of the underlying infrastructure.
“With Kubernetes, it’s much easier to upgrade or patch elements of the IBM Blockchain Platform, because we can select components across multiple containers and update them simultaneously,” says Mihir Shah. “This enables very rapid and highly atomic deployments and makes it easier to stay aligned with the latest releases of software.”
The standardization of the underlying infrastructure also enables IBM to support advanced blockchain environments for its customers. The validity of the infrastructure is assured by the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service or by IBM Cloud Private, which means that the IBM Blockchain Platform team can concentrate on the actual blockchain elements, as Mihir Shah explains: “Instead of needing to troubleshoot elements such as networking, or why a machine is down, or why Docker is not running on a certain machine, we can drill down into what each customer is trying to do, and help them improve their blockchain applications.”
By relieving existing pain-points around flexibility, scale and infrastructure management, IBM Cloud Kubernetes Services makes it easier to manage containerized applications. The standardized deployment model enables free movement not only within the IBM Cloud but also to on-premises deployments or deployments on other vendors’ clouds. Customers using IBM Blockchain Platform on the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service can perform seamless integration with other services running on the IBM Cloud – for example, enabling them to plug in analytics or AI services.
Gari Singh, CTO, IBM Blockchain Platform, comments: “Blockchain is designed to be a distributed network. We’re aiming to unleash the power of decentralization where we can deploy anything, anywhere, creating networks that can span IBM Cloud, other clouds, and IBM Cloud Private.”
IBM is a global cloud platform and cognitive solutions company, which has continually evolved over the past century to remain at the forefront of technological innovation.