As blockchain continues to grow in popularity you may be wondering if the technology is a good fit for your company or how to start implementing it. VMware Inc. is attempting to help solve those issues with its new blockchain software-as-a-service (SaaS) for enterprises.
The virtualization software and services company announced VMware Blockchain, a new SaaS solution on Tuesday at VMworld 2018 Europe, touting it as a way for enterprises already using VMware tools to adopt blockchain technology and move blockchain projects into full production.
VMware Blockchain will provide permissioned blockchain for enterprises, which a press release stated will provide a decentralized trust (a blockchain-style system) while making it easier to manage, as well as more secure and reliable.
This new software service provides “the tools, support, and integrations that enterprises need to fully adopt blockchain and make the leap from ‘stalled pioneers’ stuck in pilots to full production,” VMware’s senior director of blockchain, Michael DePetrillo, told ITBusiness.ca.
According to VMware, VMware Blockchain will be integrated into existing VMware tools and is meant to address three areas:
- Give enterprises true decentralized trust – with the ability to deploy nodes across multiple cloud environments (including on-premise nodes)
- Offer tools centred around ‘day two’ operations (i.e. auditing, data control, enterprise monitoring) and;
- Is developer friendly because it is compatible with the Ethereum network and Ethereum-based applications as well as offers tools for smart contracts, API documentation, and sample code.
Permissioned vs. public blockchain
A permissioned SaaS solution means that it is more secure than a typical public blockchain.
A typical blockchain is a decentralized public ledger that allows anyone to make changes or add new blocks into the chain/ledger system.
A permissioned system runs similarly to any other blockchain but allows users to assign participants who are given permission or authority to change or validate changes made to the ledger. This can make blockchain technology seem more reliable and secure in the world of enterprise processes and projects.
“VMware Blockchain is a service that will provide permissioned blockchain for enterprises, which is intrinsically more secure than public blockchains,” VMware said in a press release. “[It] will provide the foundation for decentralized trust while delivering enterprise-grade scalability, reliability, security, and manageability.”
VMware Blockchain beta testing
The SaaS is currently available in beta and several companies including Dell Technologies and Deloitte are helping develop the software.
At VMworld, the company demonstrated on stage how companies like Deloitte and Wipro Ltd. (an India-based information technology company) are using the new SaaS in the supply chain for fraudulent goods detection. Wipro, for example, is tracking expired drugs and verifying that they have been incinerated.
“The number one use case category right now is digital rights management,” DePetrillo said. He noted that this has been popular with governments for land records and the film industry with post-production movie clips.
“I like the use case because it’s easy to tie in ROI,” he said, “we spend money to implement blockchain and we will be able to gain a percentage increase in royalty payments.”
He also called these use cases interesting because of data anchoring. “Customers with information already being stored elsewhere can take a hash of that high-value content and store that in the blockchain. It becomes anchored in the trust network that blockchain provides, detecting when an asset has changed.” DePetrillo noted that this allows companies to ease into blockchain and start using it alongside existing data sets.
Verizon is also part of the VMware Blockchain beta, using the service in a way that combines blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Creating a SaaS blockchain
VMware has been doing research on blockchain technology for more than four years and this SaaS is essentially the combination of a lot of that work, DePetrillo said.
It is a combination of a new consensus algorithm, enterprise-grade security, and the open source Project Concord, which makes it possible to offer enterprises blockchain technology as a service. The service will integrate “into existing VMware tools to help protect the network and compute functions that underlie a true enterprise blockchain,” according to the release.
VMware Blockchain is only available in beta at this point with no word on when it will become available for general release.