IBM Delivers Multicloud Blockchain Interoperability with Platform 2.0 Release
IBM may live in the shadow of the three largest public cloud providers in terms of scale and enterprise adoption, but the company just took a step ahead of the pack in the emerging blockchain network arena.
The new IBM Blockchain Platform 2.0 comes with multicloud support and a simplified tool set that will make it easier for partners to build and deploy solutions that use the smart contracts technology. The new platform is the first from a major provider to enable multicloud blockchain interoperability, according to Gartner analyst Avivah Litan.
“This is a critical feature for blockchain success,” Litan said. “Users and developers shouldn’t have to worry about the back-end blockchain platforms that they or their partners are using. They just want their applications to work across their partner ecosystem. Other cloud blockchain service providers will inevitably follow IBM’s lead here as their respective customers will push them into supporting blockchain interoperability.”
The current version the new platform replaces runs on Linux-based mainframes and commodity servers, requires IBM’s public or private cloud and orchestration and management tools built around Docker Swarm. The 2.0 revamp replaces the Docker Swarm orchestration with support for Kubernetes tools and infrastructure, thereby opening up the IBM Blockchain Platform. Accordingly, it can run in any Kubernetes-compatible public or private cloud.
“When we reimagined the blockchain platform and rearchitected it to use Kubernetes, that really freed the blockchain to run just about anywhere Kubernetes runs, which these days is just about anywhere,” said Jerry Cuomo, VP of blockchain technology and an IBM Fellow, in an interview with Channel Futures. The software is built on the same code as the recently updated SaaS-based version of the IBM Blockchain Platform, which remains in IBM Cloud.
While IBM insists that it leads in customer adoption of blockchain services, only 100 of the 1,100 deployments (less than 10%) are actually used in production. One barrier to broader live deployments is the fact that blockchain is used for distributed ledgers and smart contracts and involves any number of enterprises. Even in closed-loop enterprise scenarios, these are multiparty or consortia networks such as supply chains.
“What we’re seeing is some pause in or delay in the maturing of blockchain consortiums by decisions like where to run the blockchain network,” Cuomo said. “The chances that they all made the same decision on what public cloud to go to is close to zero.”
And those with the largest enterprise scale deployments that have made the decision have predominantly chosen Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
As an example, Cuomo pointed to IBM customer Vertrax, which provides supply-chain management solutions to the oil and gas industries. Vertrax wanted to create a blockchain network based on the IBM platform, but AWS is its primary cloud provider and it didn’t make sense to add IBM Cloud to the mix. The new software can run in the AWS managed blockchain service, which like IBM, is based on Hyperledger Fabric, led and championed originally by IBM but now is a Linux Foundation project.
“I think they are first now to be running a live consortium network with the IBM Blockchain Platform live on Amazon,” Cuomo said.
“Vertrax said ‘we are an all-AWS shop; we don’t want to have to go to another cloud just for the blockchain solution,’” said Vijay Rathna, director of blockchain solutions at Chateaux, a systems integrator focused on AI, blockchain and other emerging technologies, and the IBM partner that created the solution for Vertrax. “That’s why this is a…