IBM is aiming to make blockchain technology business friendly enough to be used for multiple transactions and use cases.
Blockchain is widely associated with Bitcoin, an alternative currency. In a nutshell, a blockchain logs all transactions on a Bitcoin network. These transactions are stored in blocks that update a balance and data such as payments, confirmations and orders. The argument is that blockchain technologies are immune from tampering and there's actual supply and demand backing a currency like Bitcoin.
Here's an example of how blockchain would work in an enterprise as a ledger.
For IBM, the attraction of blockchain tools is simple. Many transactions are conducted on IBM's mainframes and if it can use blockchain on its developer and cloud services the company can garner more sales. IBM also sees blockchain as a way to manage business contracts and automate agreements.
Among the key items in IBM's blockchain-as-a-service move:
- IBM contributed 44,000 lines of code to the Linux Foundation's Hyper Ledger Project, which aims to create secure ledgers for any transaction. Hyper Ledger has a series of big-name premier partners including ANZ, ABN-Amro, IBM, Intel, JP Morgan, Red Hat, VMware and Wells Fargo to name a few.
- IBM's Bluemix platform will allow developers to create digital assets, conduct transactions privately and manage blockchain networks. Blockchain applications can be deployed on IBM's z System mainframe. APIs will be available at each step of a transaction. Code samples are on Github.
- Internet of things end points such as devices, RFID tags and scans can be linked to blockchain networks.
- IBM will open design and development centers in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo--the primary financial hubs--to experiment with blockchain apps. IBM's services unit will offer blockchain consulting and design services.
According to the company, Big Blue will work with a series of financial services groups including to the London Stock Exchange.
Use cases for blockchain in the enterprise would include the following according to IBM.