On InterConnect conference in Las Vegas this week, IBM is announcing new features for its open source cloud-hosted blockchain service in an attempt to bring this distributed database technology from its initial use of powering Bitcoin to a broader market, including the financial services industry. Vendors such as IBM and Microsoft are attempting to commercialize blockchain technology by offering customers a platform for hosting their own implementations. Analysts say the market to do so is just emerging.
Interconnect conference is the scene for IBM unveiling its Hyperledger-based Blockchain application Monday. The finished product, IBM Blockchain, is a one-stop shop for tailored networks allowing up to one thousand transactions per second. Confirming the release, the company described it as the first enterprise-ready Blockchain service based on Hyperledger.
IBM posted in Twitter:
“IBM launches the first enterprise-ready #blockchain service based on Hyperledger Fabric. via @TechCrunch”
IBM has supported blockchain implementations for more than a year, but this week the company is announcing a beta version 1.0 of its service, which is based off the open source Hyperledger Fabric. It’s available in IBM’s Bluemix Cloud. IBM says Hyperledger can process up to 1,000 transactions per second.
Hyperledger aims to bring Blockchain solutions to global enterprise via a team of developers collaborating on bespoke projects. Notably, on the subject of security, Cuomo noted that while he couldn’t guarantee the impenetrability of IBM Blockchain, measures had been taken to ensure as far as possible the resilience of the network for business clients. These include isolating the ledger from the general cloud computing environment, building a security container for the ledger to prevent unauthorized access and offering tamper-responsive hardware, which can actually shut itself down if it detects someone trying to hack a ledger.
Also new in the 1.0 version are a series of tools that IBM says will make it easier to manage blockchain implementations. These include policies for administrators to set up blockchain networks, assign roles and levels of visibility, manage membership and enforce compliance. IBM is also launching a Fabric Composer, which is a platform for making APIs that integrate with the hosted blockchain service. The idea is that IBM would host the secure, cloud-based infrastructure that blockchain implementations would run on.
Gartner Research Director Rajesh Kandaswamy noted that the market is still in its earliest stages.
Rajesh Kandaswamy said:
“It’s a really interesting market because there is so much potential. Tegelijkertijd, there’s this disconnect between the work that’s in trials and proof of concept versus what is going on in production.”
“It is a write-once and append-only system, it’s distributed and at least partially replicated in multiple locations; it’s crypto-secured through a public or private key infrastructure and it uses hashes. The hash functionality is particularly important. Each individual transaction is hashed into the chain, and each block, which contains a bunch of transactions, is also hashed, which links it to the previous block. The moment anyone tries to change a transaction, everyone who has access to the chain would know immediately that it’s been tampered with because the hash wouldn’t match.”
She also noted that this creates a platform where multiple parties can share data, but all have proof that past records have not been changed. However this platform is in the very early stages of maturity. The fact that IBM has commercialized the 1.0 version of Hyperledger fabric in Bluemix and introduced some management tools are good steps. Bovendien, Gartner estimated that blockchain could produce $176 billion in business value-add by 2025.