Blockchain as a Service (BaaS): Commonizing the Blockchain Technology
By Saheed O. on The Capital
Despite the sudden proliferation of cryptocurrencies and their widespread acceptance over the past 5 years, with cryptocurrency staying as the most common application of blockchain technology, the foundational concepts of the technology still remain a total mystery to an astonishing number of people. The average cryptocurrency enthusiast has little to no idea of how the blockchain technology works nor the extreme possibilities that exist with its use. Indeed, many people have ideas on what to do if only they could just understand how the blockchain technology works. The limited number of people who have an idea of how the technology works and genuinely understand all its foundational concepts and how to apply them, face another problem still. They do not have what it takes, financially or otherwise, to set up a system through which they can apply the technology to suit their needs. What all this means is that, despite the immense popularity that cryptocurrency has been enjoying, blockchain technology has still not bridged the gap into widespread adoption by people and businesses. The average businessman cannot employ the technology in his business because he either has no idea how it works or does not have the funds to set it up. Until the advent of Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), that is.
What is Blockchain as a Service (BaaS)?
Blockchain as a Service, in keeping with the theme of cloud services, is a system where third-party services create and manage a cloud-based infrastructure that allows users to build, host, and implement blockchain technology in their operations in one way or another. In plain language, the service providers manage the back-end of your blockchain applications, allowing you to focus on functionality and other core aspects that do not involve creating infrastructure. As with all cloud services, what this means is that you pay to leverage the infrastructure already developed by a third party and based in the cloud. The service provider, in turn, ensures that the infrastructure is continually in operation as and when needed. Typical services offered by the provider include the allocation of resources, bandwidth management, data security, hosting requirements, etc.
Benefits of BaaS
The major advantage offered by the advent of BaaS is the bridging of the gap into the widespread adoption of blockchain technology. BaaS offers the potential for deep penetration of the technology into industries where it has never been applied and indeed for the development of new applications. The removal of the need to consider infrastructure before contemplating the application of the technology signifies a new lack of constraint on the boundaries of possibility present in the application of the technology. As it is currently, both small and large businesses can now use blockchain technology to secure their data, set up smart contracts, set up identity access for their employees and so many other functions.
Commonizing the Blockchain Technology
More than the potential for widespread adoption of the technology by businesses, BaaS creates the possibility for the development of more mundane applications of blockchain technology. Individual access is already a reality and it is quite obvious that the technology will be available for uses other than business needs very soon. Since there is no longer a need to set up infrastructure personally, it is a very short hop to developing personal uses for the technology that will simply require signing up with a service provider and you can use blockchain technology to, say, automate subscription for your favorite shows on Netflix.
Top BaaS Service Providers
A lot of big names have jumped into the BaaS game and a lot of unknown names have also come up through it. Quite a number of platforms now offer BaaS, once more encouraging widespread adoption of the technology. These are some of the top platforms offering BaaS services.
1. IBM Blockchain Platform
The computer giants wasted no time developing their BaaS platform which deploys the Hyperledger Fabric and allows organizations to join a blockchain network in-house or to join a private, public, or hybrid multi-cloud. Several organizations including Kroger and Plastic Bank, now make use of the IBM blockchain platform to deploy their blockchain applications.
2. Microsoft Azure
One of the big names currently leading in the BaaS industry, Microsoft Azure is based on the Ethereum blockchain. With three products deployed- Azure Blockchain Service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, and Azure Blockchain Development Kit, and the option to build on several networks for their users, Microsoft Azure offers a comprehensive implementation of the distributed ledger technology, further enhanced by the integration of the platform with other Microsoft applications including their AI-based virtual assistant, Cortana.
3. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
In an attempt to maintain their lead in the cloud computing industry, Amazon Web Services deployed their own BaaS service called Amazon Managed Blockchain in 2018. The platform deploys a high-performance Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) which supports two popular blockchain development frameworks, Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. This gives their users the option of managing both their permissioned and their public ledgers through a single service. Amazon Managed Blockchain boasts high-profile clients like BMW, Sony Music Japan, Nestle, etc.
Corda is an open-source blockchain platform that was developed by global service providers, R3. The platform has a financial focus and reduces deployment time through its R3 managed cloud-based Corda nodes. Existing clients include Monetago and Tradeix. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines also recently made use of the platform. The platform offers privacy, security, and interoperability as its major strengths.
5. Alibaba Cloud BaaS Platform
Alibaba’s BaaS platform was developed in 2018 as a branch of its cloud computing operations. The platform makes use of the Hyperledger Fabric, the Ant Blockchain, and Quorum to integrate their IoT and anti-counterfeiting technologies, creating a Blockchain as a Service solution that enables private deployment, solutions for container services and product traceability.
The above listed are some of the top BaaS service providers currently but there are a lot more and more importantly, there will be a lot more.
With BaaS service providers handling the heavy lifting in the business implementation of blockchain technology, business owners and industry leaders are diving headfirst into the enterprise blockchain waters with nary a thought for safety, all to avoid being left behind. With the potential promise of mundane and easy to implement blockchain applications in the near future, this is probably a wise decision, the doubtful benefits of the enterprise blockchain technology notwithstanding.
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