We’ll likely never know the moment Fortune 500 companies started taking blockchain seriously. Yet, we could speculate that one of the most pivotal moments came when the mere announcement of Kodak developing its own cryptocurrency sent its stock soaring 60 percent. Executives responsible for explaining stock price gains and losses on a quarterly basis likely perked up upon that news. Perhaps you were one of them.
Since then, we’ve seen an avalanche of companies eager to cash in on the investor fervor surrounding blockchain technology. Well, a few clever prospectors already saw this gold rush coming and decided they would start selling shovels.
The HyperLedger Project & IBM
By late 2017, we’d realized something had snuck up on legacy technology companies. Small tech startups were raising hundreds of millions of dollars every month due to their cutting-edge developments related to the mysterious “blockchain.” However, this changed in late 2015. The Linux Foundation launched an umbrella project comprised of open-source blockchains and blockchain tools. This was a first-of-its-kind initiative based on the scope of collaboration and the clout of the collaborators. Some of the earliest member-companies include Cisco, Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM and Intel.
“The objective of the project is to advance cross-industry collaboration by developing blockchains and distributed ledgers, with a particular focus on improving the performance and reliability of these systems (as compared to comparable cryptocurrency designs) so that they are capable of supporting global business transactions by major technological, financial and supply chain companies.”
And they are well on the path to achieving that objective. IBM now offers Hyperledger Fabric, an enterprise-ready blockchain tool developed through the HyperLedger Project. The turn-key solution helps businesses upgrade their existing legacy systems to the more robust and capable blockchain architecture. IBM also provides necessary guidance for the transition. In short, IBM has simplified the processes required to bring blockchain to the mainstream.
GuardTime and Verizon
For businesses looking to implement blockchain for its enhanced security, the idea of keeping data transactions on a public ledger is simply unpalatable. This holds especially true for those working with proprietary technology or sensitive data. Yet since that description includes thousands of businesses, some alternative is needed.
If this sounds like you, well, Verizon has you covered.
The telecommunications giant partnered with GuardTime to implement their Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI) Blockchain technology into their suite of enterprise business-tool offerings. Through their blockchain-integrated Virtual Network Services (VNS) platform, only encrypted versions of data transactions are posted to the public blockchain. This obscures sensitive data from any nefarious actors.
The technology was first developed for use by the Estonian government and has subsequently placed the country at the forefront of crypto-progressive states. The technology is also being used by companies like Lockheed Martin to bolster network security. As the tech’s benefits continue to prove valuable, more and more companies will seek to use it. Like IBM, Verizon’s decision to create a blockchain-integrated tool suite for non-blockchain centric companies is contributing to the proliferation of the technology as a whole.
Disney and DragonChain
When Disney lets their Imagineers run with a project, the results are creative and rarely disappointing. In 2014, Disney established a division at their tech-centric Seattle office to create an internal secure-asset management system that runs on blockchain. The goal was to create a blockchain that offered complete privacy and required no public-facing ledger. Unfortunately, the project was shelved in 2016 and made open-source. This, however, allowed a group of Disney employees to take the reins and develop it into what we know today as DragonChain.
In other words, the team took DragonChain and turned it from a private chain into a Private/Public hybrid like the one Verizon offers. The “public” part of the chain is essential for detecting fraudulent transactions on the network, which is very important for enterprise applications. DragonChain now features itself as a turn-key solution for businesses that are looking to integrate blockchain with an added layer of privacy. It’s very much in competition with Verizon.
Amazon’s evolution from a digital bookstore into a commercial monolith is one of the most remarkable success stories of the 21st century. Their forward-thinking also allowed them to capture a good chunk of the cloud-based web services market and become a true competitor to tech-centric data companies like Microsoft and Google.
Indeed, AWS is one of the most widely-used hosting services in the world. And now, Amazon allows companies to easily integrate their blockchain-as-a-service solutions through their partnership with APN Technology and Consulting, the primary architects of their blockchain initiatives.
Currently, they have AWS templates that allow users to create Ethereum or HyperLedger Fabric networks with a few mouse clicks. There are official blog posts that explain step-by-step how to establish the basic tokenomics and functionality of a new layer application. Amazon also hosts many support features to help onboard clients who might not fully understand every step of the process. This is crucial, given how complex the fundamentals of this new technology can be. Indeed, the programming-literacy level of your average user being elementary, at best.
The competition is heating up. Expect to see each company invest considerable resources in developing next-gen layer applications. The goal? Differentiation.
That being said, collaboration will also continue to play a significant role in this space. We see Verizon and Amazon partnering with blockchain-specialized firms like GuardTime Federal and APN, and featuring IBM-developed technology like Hyperledger Fabric. I’d say it paints a pretty picture.
Businesses developing industry-wide platforms that promote information sharing and collaboration over walled gardens and mimicked products.
What a time to be alive.