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IBM’s largest-ever contribution of open-source code to Hyperledger and enterprise blockchain development demonstrates the company’s dedication to Hyperledger and enterprise blockchain development.
The global blockchain technology market size is projected to reach $72 billion in the next five years. In order to ensure this growth, however, blockchain solution providers must continue to advance and innovate.
For example, as startups like ConsenSys strive to push acceptance for open, permissionless networks, public corporate blockchain use has been a recurring theme this year. On the other hand, it is crucial to note that private blockchains are still being used by organisations and will continue to be used as innovation progresses.
Advancing open, permissioned blockchain networks
Most recently, computing giant IBM announced that it has open-sourced a large portion of its IBM Blockchain Platform code to help drive up adoption rates for enterprise blockchain use cases.
Kareem Yusuf, general manager of AI and blockchain applications at IBM, told Cointelegraph that this is one of IBM’s largest contributions to open-source code. He further noted that the company is unveiling a new Hyperledger Fabric support offering, along with donating the code that supports token exchanges on Hyperledger Fabric, known as Fabric Token SDK. Yusuf said:
“Our intent is to make sure we have a vibrant and active Hyperledger community. To support this, we have announced two key moves. One is the donation of our management console code capabilities, which was in our IBM Blockchain Platform, into the Hyperledger Labs world. Another is making available a support offering for those wishing to use Hyperledger Fabric with full-product support from IBM.”
According to Yusuf, IBM’s substantial code contribution will make it easier for Hyperledger customers to adopt Fabric, which is an industry-grade distributed ledger platform that supports a wide range of corporate use cases. Hyperledger Fabric powers IBM’s blockchain platform.
It’s also worth noting that the Linux Foundation founded Hyperledger in 2015 as an open-source collaborative effort to improve cross-industry blockchain technology. Fabric is one of the corporate blockchain initiatives hosted by Hyperledger.
Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger, told Cointelegraph that IBM’s new contributions will specifically make it easier for every developer to build on top of and manage a Fabric blockchain network. He further noted that these new efforts are organized as “Labs,” which are separate projects from Fabric but are used to build upon the Fabric framework.
Behlendorf, for example, stated that Fabric’s “Token SDK” will assist standardise the methodology for handling tokens on top of Fabric. Building tokens on top of Hyperledger has always been viable, since Metacoin (MTC) was the first Hyperledger-based cryptocurrency to attain mainnet status in 2018. Although this is a feature available to developers, Behlendorf highlighted that it previously required a significant amount of “do-it-yourself” effort. “That gets a better-supported approach now,” he observed.
Behlendorf also mentioned that another Lab, the “Fabric Smart Console,” makes monitoring and controlling a cluster of Fabric nodes over a network considerably easier. Both of these Labs should become more accessible to developers once IBM’s full-service solution becomes available in the Red Hat Marketplace later this autumn. Access to IBM-certified images, code security checks, and round-the-clock customer assistance will be included in the offering. Yusuf went on to say:
“Being able to manage Hyperledger Fabric has been challenging. A major thing to consider here is support. If all costs of support are embedded in a single project, this can’t be monetized across other projects, and it becomes more expensive. A standardized support offering, however, can be very well structured to fit across multiple use cases.”
Arun S.M., a Hyperledger contributor, leader in the Hyperledger India chapter, and member of the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee, told Cointelegraph that the announcement of Fabric Smart Console, the heart of operations for IBM Blockchain Platform, surprised him, noting that the secret sauce has now been revealed:
“There are projects within Hyperledger (including Labs) that can deploy a network, help to visualize and monitor deployed networks, including performing operations to varying degrees. What brings in excitement around the latest announcement is that IBM Blockchain Platform is used in many production applications. It is mature and seasoned. Having a self-hosted management portal with an intuitive UI that can hide complexities and reduce the network administration is a blessing in disguise for many.”
Finally, Yusuf stated that these new services would aid in the adoption of business blockchain use cases that seek to use permissioned networks. Furthermore, Yusuf stated that open-sourcing the Fabric code will aid in cost reduction, which has been a major barrier for small-to-medium-sized businesses wishing to use permissioned networks.
This is important for a number of reasons. For instance, even though one industry report shows that public blockchain adoption has emerged as the leading market segment, Yusuf mentioned that enterprise use cases that leverage a shared, permissioned blockchain are still critical — especially for use cases like supply chain management:
“By definition, a supply chain is a network that involves sharing information between suppliers and different parties, so you need a blockchain infrastructure to tackle inventory visibility, provenance, responsible sourcing and more.”
By allowing Hyperledger Fabric’s base foundation to be open, Yusuf believes this will encourage more people to engage and collaborate using permissioned networks.
Hyperledger community is expected to grow
IBM’s efforts may attract additional developers to the Hyperledger community, in addition to increasing business blockchain adoption through the use of open, permissioned networks.
The effect of IBM’s open-source products, according to Behlendorf, will drive more developers to Hyperledger Fabric and the community as a whole. “Hopefully, this will inspire more people to become contributors and core maintainers,” he said.
As such, enterprises leveraging Hyperledger Fabric are likely to grow. For example, the Filecoin Foundation recently announced that it has become a member of the Hyperledger community. Marta Belcher, board chair of the Filecoin Foundation, commented that Filecoin’s (FIL) decentralized storage capabilities have tremendous potential in the enterprise space. “We’re thrilled to join Hyperledger, a leader in enterprise blockchain technology, to explore these possibilities,” she said.
It is also worth noting that IBM’s contributions to Hyperledger Fabric indicate the company’s dedication to the advancement of business blockchain. This is important to note because it was recently reported that IBM Blockchain’s team was “dissolving.”
Yusuf stated that looking ahead, he is mainly concerned about size and acceptance. “You can expect to see use cases that leverage blockchain to bring actual end value to our customers,” says IBM.