IBM Launches Enterprise-Strength Blockchain as a Service

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IBM on Monday unveiled the first enterprise-ready Blockchain as a Service offering based on The Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0.

IBM Blockchain, which lets developers quickly establish highly secure blockchain networks on the IBM cloud, is a transformative step in being able to deploy high-speed, secure business transactions through the network on a large scale, the company said.

The platform offers the world’s safest Linux infrastructure, with tamper-responsive hardware security modules, a highly auditable operating environment, protection from insider attacks, and secure service containers, according to IBM.

Safe and Secure

“IBM developers were very substantial contributors to the Hyperledger Fabric project, and

they have also been great at pulling developers from other companies into the center of the development process,” noted Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger.

“This means the architecture has been scrutinized by a much wider community than you might otherwise see for a commercial project, and there are many different commercial options for support available,” he told LinuxInsider.

Hyperledger — an open source consortium of companies in finance, banking, IoT and other industries — was created to advance blockchain technologies.

Hyperledger Fabric is the project designed to implement blockchain technologies into applications or solutions.

IBM Blockchain for Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 is available through a beta program on IBM Bluemix. Hyperledger Fabric is available on Docker Hub as an IBM-certified image for download at no cost.

In a related announcement, IBM and SecureKey Technologies said they will launch a new digital identity network for Canadian consumers based on IBM Blockchain. The network currently is undergoing tests in Canada and is scheduled to go live later this year. Consumers will be able to opt in through a mobile app.

IBM also announced the world’s first blockchain-based green asset management platform under a deal with Energy Blockchain Labs to help lower emissions in China.

A beta version of the platform will be released in May.

IBM Edge

IBM has an advantage from the standpoint that few companies have the skills and experience to capitalize on this emerging technology, noted Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies.

Many companies are hesitant to make the investment to advance what is a relatively unproven technology, he said.

“So in the same way organizations have been able to leverage compute power via the cloud and applications via SaaS, IBM Blockchain will enable organizations to acquire blockchain functionality quickly without the risks and costs associated with buying and deploying the technology themselves,” Kaplan told LinuxInsider. “It gives IBM a good method to quickly win customers and market share.”

The IBM announcement is a significant step in enterprise adoption of blockchain technology, and can be likened to what Hortonworks and Cloudera did for Hadoop or what Redhat did for Linux, observed Stewart Bond, research director for data integration software at IDC.

“IBM is an industry incumbent known for enterprise-scale transaction processing, security and data management, and many enterprises trust IBM applications, processes, transactions and data,” he told LinuxInsider.

“Blockchain is partly about trust, and IBM Blockchain provides a higher level of trust, security, transaction processing and manageability of blockchain data, code and deployments, Bond said.

IBM last summer entered an agreement with Everledger to use blockchain to help the company track diamonds and other valuables.

IBM is the provider best suited for transactional security at the scale required for such a partnership, said Leanne Kemp, CEO of the firm.

“As a business focused on tracking and protecting the provenance of the world’s most valuable items, there can be no compromise when it comes to the security and expertise required to ensure records are stored in a trusted and tamper-proof environment,” she told LinuxInsider.

IBM also is working with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Northern Trust, Walmart and Maersk on previously announced deals to run their blockchain applications in the IBM Cloud.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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