The Hyperledger blockchain platform appears to be gaining traction as instances of enterprise-class applications being deployed in production environments steadily increase.
Developed under the auspices of the Hyperledger Foundation, an arm of the Linux Foundation, the open source blockchain platform for processing decentralized transactions across a private network was first launched at the very end of 2015. Since then, the Hyperledger Foundation community has expanded to now include 169 organizations. The bulk of those organizations are IT vendors, but other members include American Express, Bosch, CVS Health, FedEx, Daimler, Siemens, Visa and Walmart. New members that joined the Hyperledger Foundation this week include Banque de France and Central Bank of Nigeria.
Bob Crozier, chief architect and head of enterprise architecture for Allianz, today told attendees at the Hyperledger Global Forum conference that the provider of insurance services has now shifted responsibility for managing its blockchain network to its core technology division. Previously, the blockchain platform had been managed by a group within the IT organization that focuses on pilot projects focused on emerging technologies. “It’s now about real production use cases,” he said. “We’re really putting it to work.”
Rob Palatnik, managing director and global head of Technology Research and Innovation at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), a financial service firm, similarly noted that there is a decided shift toward focusing on Hyperledger integration with, for example, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platforms to make it simpler to build applications. It’s about providing a cohesive set of reference architecture and frameworks, he added. “People are now learning from their successes and failures,” he said.
There are, of course, multiple other issues that organizations still need to tackle that range from sustainability and interoperability to confidentiality. Hyperledger is designed for organizations that are looking to build immutable applications that run across a private blockchain network, while Ethereum is a public network that some organizations are using to build applications. Ultimately, there will need to be a set of interoperability standards for integrating various blockchain platforms.
However, the immutable nature of the blockchain platform can also create confidentially issues because personal data is not easily deleted.
It’s not clear at this point to what degree most organizations will want to build, deploy and manage their own blockchain networks versus relying on a managed cloud service. Blockchain networks today are notoriously difficult to manage at scale. Each IT organization will need to decide for itself to what degree they want to manage a blockchain network versus building applications that take advantage of a service.
The one thing that is clear is the days when blockchain platforms were viewed as being synonymous with digital currencies such as Bitcoin are at an end. A diverse range of applications are now being built and developed that promise to advance digital business transformation initiatives that previously would not have been possible without the existence of an immutable decentralized platform. In fact, the issue is not so much whether blockchain platforms will be employed as much as it is now to what extent.