Simplifying the Deployment and Management of Enterprise Blockchain Infrastructure
We are excited to back Blockchain Technology Partners (BTP) in their mission to bring the benefits of distributed ledgers, smart contracts, and information security to businesses.
Blockchain Technology Partners ( BTP) is a leading enterprise blockchain company with a mission to bring the benefits of distributed ledgers, smart contracts, and information security to businesses. Its flagship platform Sextant helps to radically simplify the deployment and management of enterprise blockchain infrastructure. We have recently participated in their £2M Seed round alongside B2B venture capital firm Force Over Mass.
Seven Industries That Blockchain Will Disrupt in 2017
In 2016 blockchain technology broke into the news circle of disruption technologies, which are widely viewed as technologies that will fundamentally change whole industries and redefine the way we live and interact. blockchain labs were set up, banks started trading cotton using blockchain and the Royal Mint made gold trading available via blockchain. Traditional banking was about to get shaken up and their silos to be broken open to be rebuilt on democratic protocols accessible to everyone. Then, in 2017 other industries would follow and it would become the year of blockchain.
Indeed, while cryptocurrencies and tokens flourished, every enterprise blockchain proof-of-concept announcement was celebrated as a milestone closer to mainstream adoption. Walmart and their food supply chain, IBM, FDA and electronic medical records, Porsche, XAIN and the car of the future. By 2018, nearly every industry had started exploring blockchain. However, nothing really stuck, no proof-of-concept project made it into production. Without a tradable token it seemed blockchain was really just a slow and clumsy distributed database.
Enterprise Blockchains: From Consortia to Early Adopter Companies
Nevertheless, development in blockchain continued and what was deemed dead just took some time off from hypes to develop better fundamentals. Until 2020, the main drivers for enterprise blockchain adoption had been blockchain-focused consortia which were founded with the intention to identify and develop rather specific use cases. This has not proven to be successful in the long term. The consortia model is now fading away as it is ponderous and slow and was not successful in encouraging blockchain implementations at scale.
Increasingly, early adopters are going alone to develop business-specific use cases and applications, mostly involving only a smaller number of partner companies. However, across the world, public and private organizations interested in deploying blockchains are struggling to find technical expertise and resources skilled in this emerging and fast-changing technology. The main problem is the high complexity of deploying and monitoring blockchain infrastructure, which requires a highly specialized and experienced development division. As a result, many have turned to cloud service providers that support blockchain protocols for assistance in developing, deploying, and operating blockchain-based applications. Others are currently relying on specialized blockchain consulting firms or other third-party software or services vendors with blockchain expertise to lead them through the blockchain project life cycle, from initial setup to monitoring in production. Increasingly, they are asking these companies to run the entire application for them, which is expensive and inefficient.
The Shift from Services to Infrastructure and Applications
For many enterprises, the benefits of using third-party software or service vendors outweigh the costs, as long as they retain logical control of their blockchain applications. Still, this prevents broader blockchain adoption and slows the growth of the enterprise blockchain market, as most enterprises still rely on customized professional and system integration services, rather than seeking a provider who can manage the full stack of blockchain infrastructure on their behalf.
According to research and advisory firm Deep Analysis, the enterprise blockchain market is currently dominated by service providers that make up around 70% of all companies in this space (Figure 1). However, by 2025 their market share is predicted to decline to 40% while blockchain applications and blockchain management infrastructure solutions will take over the market with 30% each.
This shift will be mainly driven by more consistent use cases emerging from the enterprises’ previous research projects while the low-level blockchain layers get simultaneously standardized and commoditized further simplifying access to blockchain infrastructure.
Thus, companies can increasingly rely on lower-cost infrastructure options from cloud providers and vendors. Although most of the use cases developed by enterprises are still in the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage, products are slowly starting to go into production now.
A survey by Deloitte in 2020 (Figure 2) shows a strong increase in enterprises bringing blockchain applications into production, compared to the year before. A recent example is the XCEED platform, a new blockchain solution for the European automotive industry to certify the compliance of vehicle’s components from design to production, by Groupe Renault.
On the other hand, the 61% of companies still struggling to get their PoCs into production could indicate a lack of scalability (or better yet unsolved complexity) of the underlying infrastructure.
BTP Enables Organizations to Build Multiparty Applications by Taking Care of the Underlying Technology Infrastructure
Implementing and managing blockchain infrastructure and applications is highly complex for larger enterprises. The lack of simple and reliable infrastructure platforms for enterprises has led to the emergence of many independent professional services companies that often run the entire vendor stack and lifecycle of specific applications on the blockchain.
BTP’s vision is to bring the benefits of blockchain, smart contracts, and information security to enterprise businesses. This is why their products are designed for ease of technical integration while taking into account the careful nature of the adoption of decentralized technology. In this regard, BTP’s mission is to radically lower the entry barrier for enterprises and drive the adoption of blockchain. Contrary to most service firms who build their product around distributed ledgers and then look at how they fit the customer, BTP has developed its product with the need of enterprises at its core.
As of 2020, most enterprise blockchain business applications are proprietary and were developed by a specific company or government department. A huge driver for the enterprise blockchain industry will be the shift from use case- and enterprise-specific projects towards more general blockchain-based applications that will be used by multiple organizations. These could be developed by startups, professional service companies, or enterprises and will see rapid growth, as the appeal of pre-configured and business-ready applications will replace the need to build one-off applications and reduce the spend on integration and associated consulting services. This in turn will further increase the need for (or will only be possible with) scalable and flexible development and especially monitoring infrastructure.
BTP’s products blend in very well there, as they provide access to core infrastructure and thus greatly simplify the development and management process of blockchain-based applications. Unlike many comparable infrastructure vendors, BTP does not align its products horizontally (i.e., supporting as many blockchain protocols as possible) but vertically and thus aggregates different infrastructure layers, which can be easily linked to each other, in one platform (see Figure 3). Thus, they are well-positioned to capture the full scale of the DLT transformation.
Sextant: A Radically Simplified Deployment and Management Platform for Enterprise Blockchain Infrastructure
At the core of BTP’s stack is their blockchain management platform Sextant. Sextant provides enterprises with the ability to easily implement and maintain a blockchain and blockchain-based smart contract or file system infrastructure. The platform and its modular components allow to account for the different ways enterprises and their partners approach their DLT transformation.
Sextant is currently available in three distinct configurations each of which is implemented using the same underlying product. All three are operating on different technical layers and enable unique use cases (Figure 3).
- Sextant | Blockchain focuses on the deployment and management of two Core Ledger Protocols, Hyperledger Sawtooth and Besu
- Sextant | Daml adds support for Daml which is Digital Asset’s open source smart contract language. Daml is rapidly emerging as the defacto-standard smart contract language for business.
- Sextant | TFS adds support for the Taekion File System which is implemented on Hyperledger Sawtooth. Rather than just storing the hash of a file on the blockchain TFS securely stores the complete file enabling snapshots and full audit.
Sextant itself runs on a Kubernetes cluster and utilizes it to provide easy support for multi-cloud, hybrid and on-premise deployments as well as industry standard logging using the EFK (Elastic Search, Fluentd and Kibana) stack and monitoring using Influxdb and Grafana. Furthermore, BTP offers Managed Service for delivering a fully managed production environment on behalf of a customer.
Enterprise Blockchains Are a Gateway to Mainstream Adoption
In the world of public blockchains decentralization has been often idealized to an almost religious degree. Thus, early blockchain adopters have viewed the rather centralized architecture of enterprise blockchains very critically. However, decentralization is just a means to an end that does not apply equally to all organizations and participants in the digital world. Moreover, fundamental changes to decentralize the internet architecture take time to mature. Theoretically, blockchain technology could unleash an entirely new wave of applications. Practically, the sheer scale of enterprise operations requires a more thoughtful, reliable and secure approach than current public blockchains can offer. At the same time, enterprises increasingly face a regulatory burden over data or supply chain compliance that can only be insufficiently addressed by legacy technology.
Enterprise blockchains offer the optimal trade-off between reliability and security while enabling organizations to already build innovative multiparty applications. Eventually, their private and permissioned setup might give way to a world of public and open networks. However, until then enterprise blockchains present an important and necessary stepping stone towards a decentralized future. BTP’s client-focused approach puts them in the perfect position to bring blockchain adoption to enterprises around the world.
Founded in 2018, BTP has been thoroughly built into a leading enterprise blockchain company with a strong team of experienced entrepreneurs, developers and DLT experts. The two founders, Duncan Johnston-Watt and Kevin O’Donnell have often worked together in the last twenty years and amassed an exceptional track record in open source, operations and cloud.
With the aim to enable simple deployment and management of enterprise blockchain infrastructure, BTP is embarking on the mission to bring the benefits of distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and information security to business. We at Signature Ventures are excited to back such exceptional founders and are grateful for being part of that journey.