Over the past decade
, blockchain has witnessed a significant change in its public perception, shedding for the most part its association with the realm of cryptocurrency. This marked an important step in the evolution of the technology as it facilitated the rise of new ventures that seek to further explore its capabilities and how to integrate them into large scale enterprise business operations.
The first to take charge in exploring the uncharted landscape brought forth by the emergence of this innovative technology were startups, led by entrepreneurs that were capable to look past the immediate benefit of blockchain and extrapolate how it can be molded to complement existing technologies and usher in a new approach to business operations. Not ones to be left behind, especially when it comes to technologies that can spark a new trend in the enterprise sphere, giants of the tech industry quickly mobilized to explore and develop their own blockchain solutions.
American tech giant IBM has established itself as a leader in the blockchain space, filing since 2014 a myriad of patents that make use of blockchain.
In 2014 IBM was extensively researching the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) which eventually led to a collaboration with the South Korean tech giant Samsung. The efforts of the two tech powerhouses were concentrated on overhauling the existing developments in the field of IoT which took the shape of the Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT) project. ADEPT was developed as a proof of concept aimed to explore the possibilities of domestic appliances to autonomously interact with their environment. To demonstrate the new range of possibilities enabled by the project, the two companies showcased how a Samsung washer was able to reorder detergent, service parts as well as how it self calibrated its power usage to be more efficient. The ADEPT PoC led the groundwork for future development in the field of IoT by highlighting three essential functions of a decentralized system in an IoT environment: peer-to-peer messaging, distributed file sharing, and autonomous device coordination. In the Samsung washer use case, ADEPT used Telehash for messaging, BitTorrent for file sharing, and the Ethereum blockchain to coordinate complex functions.
The success of the ADEPT project acted as a powerful example of blockchain’s potential which stimulated IBM to further their work in the blockchain space. A year later, in 2015, IBM set the foundation of what has come to represent their defining work in the blockchain sphere, IBM Blockchain, an enterprise blockchain solution aimed at large scale businesses and corporations. The IBM Blockchain platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric, a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation, including leaders in finance, banking, IoT, supply chains, manufacturing, technology, IBM ranking among the top contributors.
Designed as a flexible software as a service (SaaS) offering delivered through the IBM Cloud, the IBM Blockchain platform enables companies to join existing blockchains or build secure blockchain networks that fit performance use cases requirements found across a wide spectrum of regulated industries such as finance, supply chain, healthcare, retail among many more.
At the moment of writing, the IBM website indicates that their pool of blockchain experts is involved in over 500 projects that make use of their blockchain platform. A notable project powered by the IBM Cloud and IBM Blockchain is the TradeLens Platform developed by shipping giant Maersk and IBM. Designed as a permissioned blockchain network, TradeLens provides every entity involved in global trade with the digital tools to share information and collaborate securely, with the added benefit of enhanced tracking and traceability. Another notable example is the collaboration between IBM and American retail giant Walmart that engaged into a collaboration in 2016 to develop a blockchain platform to enhance product tracking across every segment of the supply chain from origin to shipment as well as the current status of the product. In 2018 the project evolved into the IBM Food Trust Blockchain and now also includes giants of the food industry like Unilever, Nestle, Carrefour, and many more.
Few companies can claim to have a bigger impact on the IT and technology sphere than Microsoft. Since its inception in 1975, the company has quickly established itself as one of the top players in the operating systems market. Over the past decades, Microsoft has started to branch out to provide a wide range of technological and software services. Blockchain ranks among the newest technological offerings from Microsoft. Following a similar approach to IBM, Microsoft focused on developing a platform that could deliver blockchain as a service solution for the enterprise sector.
Microsoft used as a starting point for its first venture into the blockchain space, the Azure cloud computing service, an expanding set of cloud services designed to help companies to build, manage, and deploy a wide range of internal and external services. Designed as a branch of the Azure cloud computing platform, the Azure Blockchain Service enables companies to effortlessly develop consortium networks and applications by using pre-built network and software components. By utilizing this approach, Microsoft aims to significantly reduce development time and any overhead costs associated with building large scale solutions. Developers can make use of the Azure Blockchain Workbench to quickly deploy a network using existing infrastructures and a wide range of modular software components, including automatic ledger deployment, network construction, and pre-built blockchain commands.
In 2018, United States-based coffee chain Starbucks announced its “bean to cup” initiative, a blockchain program based on Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service, that will enable customers to track the production and provenance of coffee beans, while also unlocking potential financial opportunities for coffee bean farmers on the backend.
Another major player that utilizes the Azure Blockchain service is global aviation company GE Aviation that relies on Microsoft’s solution to enhance the traceability and the documentation of aviation components across every segment of the supply chain.
Microsoft for startups
Kubernetes is quickly becoming the operating system for the cloud and has the potential for massive benefits for technology organisations and developers. With all major cloud providers now offering their own native Kubernetes service, and several container orchestration platforms rebuilding with Kubernetes as an underpinning, Modex was seeking a way to accelerate the development of scripts that enable rapid deployment of a blockchain node cluster in any customer’s cloud infrastructure.
Modex looked for the right partner that could help it quickly and efficiently develop the Kubernetes scripts, while also allowing it to benefit from a stable technological partnership and an alignment of sales efforts.
Modex was accepted in the Microsoft for Startups program, which gives Modex access to products and services as well as startup-focused resources to leverage Microsoft networks and expertise. Following our participation in the program, we will be eligible for IP co-selling and the solution we will build together with Microsoft will be featured in the Azure Marketplace.
Japanese IT giant Sony, known all thought the world for its electronics, has manifested an interest and willingness to explore the blockchain space since 2017 when it announced that it entered into a trial project with IT equipment services firm Fujitsu to analyze how blockchain technology can be implemented to improve the integrity of course records and grade data. Based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the platform developed by Sony and Fujitsu enables educational institutions to store and share academic records in a cryptographically secure distributed blockchain network. Through this blockchain-based data ecosystem, educational institutions and companies gain access to a verified, tamper-proof academic records ecosystem that can be accessed in real-time.
Sony has also identified a compelling use case for the music industry that combines artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. According to the Soundmain description page, Sony is developing a new music production platform that makes use of blockchain and AI to streamline music production as well as digital rights for content creators. The software developed by Sony is designed as a remixing and audio rights tool. Artists and content creators can record full sessions and use this software to identify and mix different instruments into individual sound channels. In this use case, blockchain is employed to address any issue that may emerge surrounding the rights to different music samples, helping composers get monetized if their music samples are used by other production studios without their consent.
The Seattle based tech giant, Amazon is following the same trend set by its competition and has developed its own blockchain service through which it aims to help clients develop blockchain networks without the costs associated with creating their own platform. Following the blockchain as a service model, the Amazon Managed Blockchain platform enables companies and businesses to create and manage blockchain networks using popular open-source frameworks such as Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum.
Amazon’s Managed Blockchain platform is integrated into the Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing subsidiary that powers a large number of websites and services. With Amazon Managed Blockchain, companies and businesses can create blockchain networks that span multiple AWS accounts, enabling a group of members to execute transactions and share data without a central authority. One of the advantages of Amazon Managed Blockchain is that it eliminates the need for manually provisioning hardware, configuring software, and setting up networking and security components.
With Managed Blockchain’s voting API, network participants can vote to add or remove members. Once a new member is added, Managed Blockchain lets that member launch and configure multiple blockchain peer nodes to process transaction requests and store a copy of the ledger. Managed Blockchain also monitors the network and automatically replaces poorly performing nodes.
Modex aims to leverage the AWS Network and Marketplace among its enterprise sales team and ever-expanding partner ecosystem to reach key global customers. Modex has become an APN Blockchain Partner and is in the process of building AWS Scripts that will allow customers to quickly deploy Modex BCDB from the AWS Marketplace.
Oracle joins IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon in offering blockchain as a service for businesses and enterprises that seek to deploy solutions based on distributed ledger technology without the overhead costs associated with the in-house development of the technology. The Oracle Blockchain Platform is based on the Linux Foundation’s open-source Hyperledger Fabric platform, a collaboration tool for building blockchain distributed ledger business networks. The Oracle Blockchain Platform is organised as a development platform, through which companies can build their own networks. Oracle states that its service allows blockchains to easily integrate with Oracle software as a service products, and various third-party applications a customer is already using, as well as other blockchain networks and Oracle platform as a service offerings.
Early adopters of Oracle’s blockchain as a service offering include companies like Arab Jordan Investment Bank, CargoSmart, Certified Origins, Intelipost, Nigeria Customs, and Solar Site Design. In early 2018, Tuscany, Italy-based olive oil producer Certified Origins rolled out a proof of concept that utilizes the Oracle Blockchain Platform to enhance supply chain traceability of shipments of its Bellucci-brand of extra virgin olive oil.
Modex BCDB, a custom solution that integrates with existing blockchain projects
Modex Blockchain as a Database (BCDB) was designed to help people without a background in tech, access the benefits of blockchain technology, and remove the dangers posed by the loss of sensitive data. Due to its modular and plug and play design, Modex BCDB is able to complement the blockchain solutions and platforms designed by leaders of the tech industry.
Currently, the majority of blockchain solutions present on the market are oriented towards blockchain as a service, limiting themselves to a rigid view and application of the technology. A company or the CTO of a company can come to the realization, after a bit of study that their business can solve several issues and streamline back-end processes by implementing blockchain. The problem is that in order for a company to implement blockchain technology only through its own tech team, they need to invest a significant amount of time and resources to study what type of blockchain is most suited for their needs, and commence a lengthy process of learning the development specificity of the respective blockchain, as well as scouting for developers proficient in the technology.
Modex BCDB is a new take on blockchain technology which removes the need to invest resources in blockchain training and facilitates fast adoption of the technology in businesses. The solution proposed by Modex is a middleware that fuses a blockchain with a database to create a structure that is easy to use and understand by developers with no prior knowledge in blockchain development. As a result, any developer who knows to work with a database system can operate with our solution, without needing to change their programming style or learn blockchain.
Through our blockchain component Modex BCDB can transform with minimal changes any type of database into a decentralized database that holds the same valuable characteristics inherent to blockchain technology: transparency, increased security, data immutability, and integrity.
Every enterprise is reserved and unwilling to make changes to its database, and for good reason, as data loss or data corruption constitute major risks. Modex BCDB doesn’t work by deleting the existing database, or data entries. The database is maintained intact throughout the process, data integrity is ensured by calculating the metadata of the records and storing it on the blockchain. Moreover, the system does not restrict access to the blockchain or the database, so when a developer needs to make a reporting or ETL transformations, they can always perform warehouse analytics by accessing the database directly. This is because Modex BCDB has been purposely designed to be agnostic. With our solution, clients are able to set up a network, regardless of the type of database employed. In a consortium, each company can maintain what type of database they prefer (Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, MongoDB), and connect them through a blockchain-powered network to ensure cohesion, availability while protecting corporate interests.