Don’t we all just love when things are made easy for us. We look for the easy wins in life; the gratification with little effort. The same goes for technology: it should be created with ease of use in mind, no matter how complex the underlying hardware and software is under the hood.
It must be said, for the average enterprise leader (never mind the average layman!) blockchain is a pretty sophisticated technology, with consensus mechanisms, nodes, cryptographic hashes and the like. But what if the focus could be shifted away from the technological foundations and concepts on which blockchain is based; extrapolated to a simple “I signed up and it works”. The question is, what do we need to optimize blockchain as a service and how to make it simple?
“I signed up and it works”
The emergence of cloud computing was seen as a way for enterprises to simplify their operations by switching to a service model. Instead of paying for costly infrastructure, platforms and software, in addition to the large salaries that employees demand to set up and maintain the technology, computing resources can now be bought as a service package. Gone is the need to add expensive inhouse blockchain knowledge and the droning of computer servers; here are the service level agreements and call center employees on the other end of the phone to remedy your problem. Pay and own only what you need.
This will greatly simplify IT aspects of enterprise, no matter what size the organization. Similar advancements have meant that your local photo-studio doesn’t need stacks of hard drives and can share your wedding photos with you without you having to download them, nor does a company the size of Kodak need its own servers to set up and run its client database.
As-a-service also seems like an optimal route for wide-scale implementation of blockchain.
Blockchain is a computer network which relies on nodes (computer resources) to compute data transactions, with the result that calculations are shared across the network as a whole. Blockchain-networks that involve deploying a node take up space and need maintenance, while cloud-based networks typically sacrifice security since private keys are stored on a node provided by a third party. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t keep your PIN written on your credit card, nor would enterprises want to store passwords along with sensitive data.
Businesses shouldn’t have to trust third parties so much when using cloud-based nodes; instead they should use a blockchain cloud service which makes using their own nodes superfluous and at the same time keeps private keys separate from data and public keys. Blockchain is lauded for creating distributed trustless networks — ones in which we don’t have to rely on intermediaries to provide security or other guarantees — this feature should be reflected in all aspects of its implementation.
Why blockchain, why now?
Blockchain is a transformative technology that is able to sync databases across entire business networks. Where before data was stuck in disparate silos, now there is a golden copy of documents for all parties concerned. This can greatly reduce audit times, disputes and their associated costs. In short, the tech is perfect for transparency and collaboration. But enterprise is unlikely to sign up to a difficult and expensive piece of technology whose promise is yet to be fully realized.
What enterprises need is a cloud-based blockchain that stores data encrypted, but that is not all. It needs to be easy to use.
Laying the groundwork
An ideal blockchain platform would provide templates so that users can develop blockchain-based applications without special knowledge of the technology. Afterall, you don’t need to be a motor mechanic to drive a car, nor should you be a blockchain whizz to use the tech. Enterprise should be able to use the most common programming languages — Golang and Java — to write on top of blockchain. This would simplify the current issues surrounding app development on blockchains in that business logic should be created for each process. What businesses really need are prefabricated elements that speed up app creation; they can’t be wasting resources on creating logic from scratch. Nowadays setting up your own website is simple and everyone can do it, with or without coding knowledge. Blockchain for business should be just as easy.
The platform as a service model allows users to set up and deploy applications without specialist knowledge since they involve the use of templates. We can transfer this into blockchain terms, integrating business logic into the platform to define data objects in templates. Doing so means that smart contracts can call to each other without having to set all parameters and define all objects from scratch before calls can be made. This saves a lot of resources and means applications can be deployed rapidly and without specialist blockchain tech knowledge. Moreover, this type of blockchain deployment can avoid the expense and storage of on premises hardware as it employs cloud computing, meaning space can be freed up for that hammock you always wanted in the office.
Blockchain adoption won’t just come out of the benefits of the tech, but about how to use it. The simpler providers make the user experience, the faster and further adoption will travel.
Insolar is a global technology company that builds public and private blockchain solutions on the Insolar Blockchain Platform, the most secure, flexible and scalable blockchain for business.
In addition to the platform, Insolar provides blockchain services and ecosystem support for companies that are looking to develop and deploy blockchain solutions.
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