IBM launches blockchain as a service for the enterprise

Big Blue's blockchain service is touted as a way to control transactions in large user ecosystems.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

IBM has announced the launch of IBM Blockchain, a commercial service aimed at giving enterprise players the option to build their own scalable and secure blockchain networks.

The new service is based on the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0, IBM said in a press release.

By utilizing Hyperledger, a cross-industry open-source effort to bring blockchain to businesses, Big Blue says that developers can quickly build and host secure blockchain networks via the IBM Cloud.

In order to enhance security, IBM Blockchain is also underpinned by IBM LinuxONE, a Linux server which is heavily influenced by security.

On Monday at the IBM InterConnect conference in Las Vegas, IBM said that IBM Blockchain will provide a framework for corporate blockchain networks "that can quickly scale as new network members join."

According to the company, the blockchain system will be able to support large user ecosystems and transaction rates of over 1,000 transactions per second.

"IBM has applied decades of experience running the world's largest transaction systems for banks, airlines, governments and retailers, to build the most secure blockchain services for the enterprise," said Marie Wieck, general manager of IBM Blockchain. "IBM's blockchain services are built on IBM's High Security Business Network and designed for organizations that require blockchain networks that are trusted, open and ready for business."

The blockchain first hit the spotlight as the underpinning structure of cryptocurrency transactions, such as the trading of Bitcoin. However, the technology, which is known as a 'digital ledger' of sorts able to record transactions and host multiple copies of the same accounts to prevent manipulation or fraud, can be used for many other purposes.

Large enterprises and big businesses, such as banks and financial payment services, are exploring blockchain as a way to cut down the time required to process customer requests, but where blockchain could really shine is through the most complex or difficult processes -- such as verifying and accepting international payments and transfers.

As noted by the firm, blockchain is generally considered safe, but blockchain networks "are only as safe as the infrastructures on which they reside."

See also: IBM intros cognitive assistant to tackle enterprise device sprawl

IBM says that the firm's High Security Business Network, formed through Linux infrastructure, can help protect future enterprise-grade blockchain networks by protecting against insider attacks, isolating valuable information to prevent data leaks, and through the use of encryption to prevent hardware tampering.

In addition, the network uses secure service containers to protect code throughout the blockchain.

IBM Blockchain will also include open-source developer tools for Hyperledger to help coders create APIs that can be integrated with the blockchain and existing systems.

In support of the new service, IBM has also made new blockchain governance tools available.

IBM Blockchain for Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 is now available through a beta program on IBM Bluemix. Hyperledger Fabric is also available on Docker Hub.

In related news, IBM and SecureKey Technologies used the conference to announce a new partnership designed to create a new digital identity and attribute sharing network based on IBM Blockchain.

The companies say the new solution aims to make it easier for consumers to "verify they are who they say they are, in a privacy-enhanced, security-rich and efficient way," and may be used for purposes such as opening new bank accounts or renewing driving licenses.

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