IBM has announced new technology and business consulting initiatives to rapidly advance the use of distributed ledger technology across multiple industries. The company is deploying a Blockchain-As-A-Service offering for developers.
Using the new blockchain services available on IBM’s open standards cloud applications platform Bluemix, developers can create, deploy, run and monitor blockchain applications on the IBM Cloud. Blockchain applications can also be deployed on IBM z Systems high performance mainframe computers.
"Blockchain is about reimagining some of the most fundamental processes we use every day, from supply chain to trade settlement,” Jerry Cuomo, IBM vice president of Blockchain Technologies, told Bitcoin Magazine. “We want customers to focus on the potential use cases. The cloud helps remove any of the technological barriers that IT puts in place so organizations can spend more time developing business solutions. Using IBM’s new blockchain services on Bluemix, the developer could instantly be running a fully configured blockchain environment so they can focus on creating applications."
The Wall Street Journal notes that IBM is becoming the biggest backer of blockchain technology, and taking a leading role in the development of innovative, next-generation blockchain applications beyond Bitcoin.
“I think the number of places that a distributed ledger can be used could become almost limitless,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of IBM Research, and mentioned applications to coordinating back-end systems for supply chains, tracking stock or real-estate ownership and settling international financial transactions.
“IBM’s vision for making blockchain a powerful new business solution across multiple industries is becoming a reality as our clients begin piloting innovative new code, services and z Systems optimized for distributed ledgers,” said Krishna. “These advancements are making it easier for developers to move from understanding the potential of blockchain, to actually using it to change their business processes in powerful new ways.”
The tech giant is making nearly 44,000 lines of code available to the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Project to help developers easily build secure distributed ledgers that can be used to exchange most anything of value. IBM is persuaded that Hyperledger could make blockchain-based services faster, more scalable and easier to use, and expects Hyperledger software to provide special advantages for owners of IBM hardware, said Krishna.
IBM’s blockchain code includes a new consensus algorithm developed by IBM Research, tailored to specific blockchain use cases, and advanced identity management features. The pluggable architecture of IBM’s code allows developers to use software modules (consensus module for example) that best suits their needs, and write smart contracts in popular programming languages – such as Java or Golang. Fine-grained privacy and confidentiality control allows authors of smart contracts to precisely specify both who can view them and who can execute them.
IBM and Japan Exchange Group (JPX), Japan’s largest stock exchange, announced an agreement to test the potential of blockchain technology in low transaction markets. IBM will work with JPX to jointly evaluate how the IBM open source code blockchain code could be used for trading and settlement in low liquidity markets.
As the Hyperledger Project evolves, the joint IBM and JPX evaluation work will transition to use of the code produced by that effort. IBM is also working with the London Stock Exchange Group to enable the creation of solutions that will help manage risk and bring additional transparency to global financial markets.
IBM is expanding its blockchain consulting practice for the financial services and logistics industries, and will open IBM Garages focused on blockchain technology in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. IBM Interactive Experience (iX), which according to IBM is the largest digital agency network worldwide, will support clients in the creation of new business models based on blockchain technology.
“IBM blockchain is open for business,” states the IBM Blockchain website. “Learn how blockchain will fundamentally change the way we do business. Then let us help you give it a try.”
With the momentum around blockchain growing exponentially, and interest shifting beyond financial services to its potential as a game-changing initiative for other industries, IBM is claiming a leadership role. The Wall Street Journal notes that IBM’s entrance into the nascent blockchain market will push more large companies into testing the technology.