How to create real-world interoperable applications for enterprise blockchain environments worldwide

By: Rebecca Clinton-Floyed

30, April, 2019

Categories:

Blockchain -

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A Gartner report published in 2017 had predicted that the global enterprise software market would reach $538 billion in 2021 [1]. An article, titled Enterprises Blockchain Has Arrived, which was published a year later, stated that enterprise blockchain would disrupt and hold a lion’s share of the aforementioned market.

The most talked about cryptographic technology is already having a transformational effect on many enterprises that are investing heavily in blockchain-based applications, owing to its transparent mechanism to track ownership of assets digitally, potential to mitigate costs, along with curbing counterfeit activities, as evidenced by its proofs-of-concept for pilot initiatives across the globe.

Other advantages include working together over shared business processes, paving paths for new frontiers for cross-organisational alliance, and developing new business models. However, businesses looking for implementing an enterprise blockchain framework should be thoughtful before adopting one, as choosing a framework could be one tricky affair. That is why, it is important for businesses to first evaluate their variables and factors before, after and throughout the implementation process.

Decision to implement

A 2018 PwC study, which surveyed 600 executives from 15 territories, found 84% respondents saying that their organisations are at least in some or the other way involved with the blockchain technology. [2]

Organisations intending to implement blockchain framework solutions should be cautious about their strategic business priorities before determining their framework of choice. Before adopting blockchain, such businesses should consider:

  • Requirement of security, privacy, speed, and scalability at different levels
  • Deciding to use an enterprise-grade blockchain platform
  • Deciding which blockchain should be put to action — public permissionless blockchain/private permissioned blockchain
  • Deciding to join a blockchain framework consortium

Private permissioned blockchain networks are usually preferred by organisations due to its exclusive characteristics. Its main advantage over public permissionless blockchain networks is that private networks reduce most data-relevant and transaction privacy-related issues. Nevertheless, participants in a private network assuming a high-level of trust is one major offset.

Most public blockchains are ‘Byzantine fault tolerant’, which is an unusual feature of distributed systems that are able to defend against one-third of unreliable participants in the network. In terms of averting fraudulent network transactions, private blockchain’s consensus algorithm is not strong enough compared to the public networks. And when it comes to speed and privacy, private networks score more than the public networks.

Enterprise blockchain standards

There are multiple options available today for enterprises to opt distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and consensus protocols. Hyperledger, Ethereum, Quorum, Corda, MultiChain, and Fabric & Sawtooth are some of the popular options. These protocols can be implemented by any organisation on modified code bases wherein client DApps that cooperate with different versions of these protocols use custom APIs and tools developed by each of those organisation.

Availability of multiple DLT protocols is far more beneficial for the enterprise blockchain industry. Adoption of these protocols in the industry would be very difficult for consortiums without the presence of these open standards. This is because each of the organisations will have to determine their own set of standards. Additionally, they will have to figure out how they will administer their consortium in both, on-chain and off-chain modes.

Creating interoperable applications

There are more than 500 member organisations in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), whose aim is “to deliver an open, standards-based architecture and specification” to expedite adoption of the Ethereum platform.

EEA focuses on creating a universal set of practices, which everyone should pursue while designing their respective blockchain applications. For instance, open standards makes sure that a DApp formed by one initiative is attuned to the blockchain running on the same protocol that is developed by another project.

Many open source projects that help blockchain developers are supervised by the Hyperledger Project. Their aim is to promote open source code within the blockchain area. In mid-October 2018, both the Hyperledger Project and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance announced an alliance to jointly develop open standards for enterprise blockchain implementations. [3]

It is not necessary for enterprises to follow the EEA’s open standards, if they are adopting a DLT protocol. But still, it is recommended for them to do so that their implementation effort would allow solution compatibility with capabilities and tools that comply with these open standards and make it easy for the growth of consortiums.

Final call

Blockchain has the power to improve certain processes of an organisation. By implementing enterprise blockchain frameworks, organisations can greatly advance product and customer data tracking, security processes, and also reducing instances of fraud.

In addition, features like high scalability, sustainability and governance empowers organisations to employ enterprise blockchain system via a platform of their choice — Hyperledger, Ethereum, Corda, etc., and drive institutional adoption of the technology.

References:

[1]

https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3838764

[2]

https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/blockchain/blockchain-in-business.html

[3]

Other sources:

https://www.toptal.com/insights/innovation/blockchain-applications-create-enterprise-solutions
https://medium.com/chainstack/open-standards-for-enterprise-blockchain-implementations-d787f5dfefa