There is hardly an IT director today that does not have to answer questions by his superiors as to if, how and when blockchain technology can be adopted in the business. The technology that underlies the digital currency bitcoin is taking a range of industries by storm due to its inherent features of immutability, decentralized consensus, and transparency that can increase operational efficiency, enhance security, and decrease costs.
There are a number of businesses and startups that are harnessing the power of the blockchain in order to increase productivity, ease workflow, grow customer satisfaction, securely store sensitive data, decrease fraud, and otherwise meet different challenges in a wide array of industries.
Though the technology is revolutionary, there are certain barriers to entry that prevent businesses from adopting this new technology. A company would have to create its own blockchain to meet its specific needs, which would require a substantial amount of money, time and expertise. In addition, the blockchain technology space is relatively new and proficient professionals are few and very expensive. This makes building in-house blockchain solutions very challenging for most businesses.
As global demand for blockchain technology grows, with the space expected to be worth upwards of $2,312 million by 2021, certain firms have risen up to meet the demand by introducing blockchain-as-a-service offerings.
These firms are creating blockchains that are tailor-made for specific industries and are able to handle specific industry needs. These solutions are leading to an increase in blockchain adoption due to their relatively low costs as well as ease of use.
Technology giant IBM has created a service that seeks to help businesses better themselves through the use of the blockchain. The IBM Blockchain platform has been built on open-source code made available through the Linux Foundation. The platform utilizes Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Composer to create an easy-to-use blockchain solution for businesses.
“The IBM Blockchain Platform provides a managed, full stack blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) offering delivered through the IBM Cloud, allowing members to develop, govern, and operate a network with the performance and security necessary for regulated industries. The IBM Blockchain Platform leverages Hyperledger Fabric to enable a new kind of distributed business network founded on the principles of finality, trust, and privacy,” IBM states.
IBM claims its platform is “the only business-ready end-to-end platform to enable institutions to activate a decentralized blockchain network in record time.” The platform is scalable for growth as well as showcasing built-in high-security infrastructure.
As is explained in the whitepaper, the platform features a “user interface to support business operations in an active blockchain network. Updates are made without the need to take down the network or halt operations. Smart contracts represent a core feature of a blockchain network by automating the exchange of information and assets. Users of the IBM Blockchain Platform are easily able to deploy and upgrade smart contracts across the network through a single user interface. Additionally, users are able to edit the policies of a channel which govern consensus.”
New York-headquartered blockchain startup R3 has leveraged distributed ledger technology to create a platform that is specialized for the financial industry. R3 is a consortium composed of a large number of financial institutions that are collaborating to develop the platform upon realizing the potential that DLT has to offer for the financial industry.
The group, which is composed of more than 100 financial institutions, created the Corda platform which is specifically tailored to meet the needs of the financial industry. The platform was born out of a need to ease bureaucracy between different financial institutions. Corda provides “a global logical ledger with which all economic actors will interact and which will allow any parties to record and manage agreements amongst themselves in a secure, consistent, reliable, private and authoritative manner.”
The platform can be made permissible, is designed to be able to easily integrate with legacy systems as well as grow with newer technology. This lessens costs as it prevents a complete system overhaul initially as well as allowing for progression at the same rate with current financial technology. Corda also supports multiple consensus mechanisms allowing each set of data to comply with all necessary regulations applicable to it.
As is explained in the white paper, R3 hopes to have “a possible end-state is one in which we have moved from authoritative systems-of-record maintained within firms to global authoritative systems-of-record shared between firms.” This will save both time and money, refining transactions and day-to-day functions in the financial industry.
Microsoft Azure is a “rapid, low-cost, low-risk, and fail-fast platform for organizations to collaborate on by experimenting with new business processes—and it’s all backed by a cloud platform with the largest compliance portfolio in the industry.” This platform seeks to bring the blockchain to enterprises by creating a solution for businesses of all kinds to interact with blockchain technology in an easy-to-use manner.
The platform features templates that businesses can choose from based on suitability for the industry. In addition, the platform provides support as it “offers tools that reduce the time you spend building and configuring your blockchains’ network infrastructure, so you can focus on building your workflows and smart contracts.”
Microsoft Azure also claims to use the other technology present within Microsoft’s ecosystem, such as its AI, in order to create larger benefits. “Our Data and AI platform provides unique off-chain data-management and analysis capabilities that no other platform offers. And the vast Microsoft partner ecosystem extends the capabilities of our platforms and services in unique ways that fit specific workload and industry needs.”
In addition, Deloitte has created a blockchain solution named Rubix for businesses and governments while web giant Amazon is collaborating with the Digital Currency Group to create its own blockchain-as-a-service platform.
By reducing the barriers to entry to developing industry and company-specific blockchain solutions, BaaS solutions are increasing blockchain adoption as they allow businesses to interact with the technology in a way that has been simplified while offering the necessary support in order to ensure efficient and effective functionality.