26 Jun Blockchain as a Service
We hear more and more recently about “Blockchain as a Service” or “BAAS” solutions from large corporations such as Microsoft, IBM, JICS Tech and Oracle to name a few. But what do they really mean? I decided to investigate.
The Redmond giant promotes blockchain solution under the Azure brand. It seems to be a template which allows you to quickly spawn an Ethereum or Hyperledger Fabric private blockchain. The Ethereum private blockchain still relies on proof or work so can be useful for prototyping but not for production usage, still unclear why one would need this private network since you can always use the Ethereum testnet for prototyping purposes. Hyperledger Fabric is the IBM offering, which I’ll touch in a moment. The Microsoft solution seems more like a way to sell Azure services since it’s unclear what’s the point of using a blockchain which is controlled by the single entity who spawns the Azure nodes. I recently watched a Microsoft exec who demonstrated how to launch an Ethereum private blockchain quickly without even understanding what is a blockchain. Good marketing for Ethereum but pretty useless otherwise.
The IBM Blockchain as a Service offering is based on the Hyperledger Fabric project developed by the Linux Foundation as an open source project. Like everything which comes from IBM it is a complex and heavy product with lot’s of dependencies, and major focus on large organizations. Blockchain applications are developed from scratch using Node.js without any UI support. The platform is designed with permissioned blockchain in mind. All users has to be authenticated and need permission to connect. If you are a large organization which already has connections with IBM this should be a natural choice for your business. I predict anyone else who will try using this platform will run into problems quickly and will have to hire IBM services to help with the implementation.
Oracle has recently started to push its own blockchain offering described here, it’s not immediately obvious which blockchain technology is being used since the company does not seem to develop any blockchain offering by itself. Perhaps it relies on Hyperledger Fabric (mentioned once) but it’s unclear why Oracle would want to use a technology which is clearly associated with its arch-rival IBM. In fact Jelurida’s Java based blockchain offering makes a lot of sense as a platform for Oracle cloud services. In my view the whole BAAS terminology is misleading. Unlike other cloud services where it makes a lot of sense that one large software provider will manage a centralized cloud service used by multiple customers. In a blockchain environment you actually want to achieve exactly the opposite, many nodes distributed over the internet each controlled by a different entity. This is the only way to achieve decentralization which is a key motivation for development of blockchain applications.
Blockchain technology is transforming the landscape of digital information in terms of data collection and preservation. Commonly referred to as a public ledger distributed in a nodal arrangement, blockchain eliminates the need of reconciliation of transactions. Decentralized cryptocurrencies based on blockchain technology have found their way into changing the digital transactions creating an online economy. Decentralization is the future of technology making blockchain backed applications inevitable. JT’s expertise will enable you to explore and navigate the potential of Blockchain and pilot solutions customized to your business line.