Blockchain Solutions: Why and When Should an Enterprise Adopt Them?
In this post, our portfolio company AstraKode's Marco Ferretti looks at blockchain solutions as AstraKode launches AstraKode Blockchain (AKB).
Enterprise use of blockchain technologies has been growing over the years. Although blockchain technologies have become more common, there is often a blurred picture when discussing industry adoption and the benefit they could have for traditional databases or solutions.
This post will focus on permissioned blockchain, specifically Hyperledger Fabric, because it is the most used protocol for enterprise solutions. It is also one of the technologies we offer on the AstraKode Blockchain platform.
Let’s start with Hyperledger Fabric, one of the most famous and used permissioned blockchains. How does it work, and how does a company benefit from leveraging this implementation for their processes?
Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source enterprise blockchain project under the Hyperledger Foundation framework, and it is permissioned and a private network.
“Rather than an open, permissionless system, Fabric offers a scalable and secure platform that supports private transactions and confidential contracts. This architecture allows for solutions developed with Fabric to be adapted for any industry.” - Hyperledger Fabric white paper
What are the benefits for a business that adopts a blockchain solution based on Hyperledger Fabric?
Permissioned membership: All the network participants have known identities and need to authenticate to transact or query.
Transaction efficiency: Its modular architecture separates transaction processing into three phases: distributed logic processing and agreement ("chaincode"), transaction ordering, validation, and commitment. This separation confers several advantages, as fewer levels of trust and verification are required across node types, and network scalability and performance are optimized.
Chaincode integration: In Hyperledger Fabric, smart contracts are packaged as chaincode. Chaincode is installed on peers and then defined and used on one or more channels.
Privacy and confidentiality: With the use of channels supported in Hyperledger Fabric, data can go to only the parties that need to know.
Modular architecture: Ease of customization and integration with other systems.
Hyperledger Fabric – Real Life Use Cases
Next, let’s examine some interesting use cases already implemented with the technology.
Blockchain is often associated with food tracking use cases due to two of its fundamental pillars: transparency and immutability.
The most famous use case of food tracking comes from Walmart:
Walmart implemented a blockchain-based food traceability system based on Hyperledger Fabric for two different products (mangoes and pork), reducing the time needed to trace the provenance of those products from 7 days to just 2.2 seconds.
This fast and efficient tracking system for food allows businesses to tackle the issue of foodborne illnesses, helping identify and isolate the contaminated food, reducing waste, enhancing sustainability, and preventing more extensive economic loss in these circumstances.
Another opportunity represented by a blockchain solution choice in the food sector is fighting the counterfeiting of food excellences sold worldwide. Think about the most famous wine brands across Italy and France or the certified Spanish Jamón. Building a blockchain solution that stores every step of the production and certifies the final product protects the final customer from fraud and enhances trust in the retailer.
Moreover, outside of large brands, blockchain solutions have a high impact also on SMEs working in the food industry and selling high-quality (and valuable) products. There is one catch here: quality blockchain solutions are usually complex and expensive to implement. One needs to rely on an expert blockchain developer or software house. In the case of an SME, this “starting” cost might represent an insurmountable barrier to entry.
Another common application for blockchain solutions is within a supply chain. The technology provides transparency, immutability, and security.
The Case of the “Trust Your Supplier” Solution
Trust Your Supplier is an innovative solution developed in a partnership between IBM and Chainyard to address the inefficiencies and risks associated with supplier information management. Built on Hyperledger Fabric, the solution provides both a cross-industry network and a blockchain secured platform to speed onboarding and minimize risk.
As blockchain offers cryptographic security that allows suppliers to control access to their single digital identity, all activities stored on the ledger can be safely attributed to the party that recorded them. Next to enhancing transparency and reducing trust needs, such a system encourages suppliers and buyers to have clean records perceived more positively inside the network.
Conclusion: Blockchain Improves Processes and Innovation
Blockchain solutions could be key for some businesses to improve processes and innovate. Unfortunately, there are some deterrents to blockchain mass adoption, including the high costs of producing a tailored blockchain solution.
How can companies overcome these barriers?
For AstraKode, this was the critical question that led to the creation of AstraKode Blockchain (AKB).
This platform allows users to build a custom enterprise blockchain solution rapidly and significantly reduce costs. At the moment, the platform is still in beta, but there are already some key reasons to try it:
The higher level of abstraction offered also enables less skilled programmers to build their Hyperledger Fabric network.
The platform is currently free to use. In the future, we will maintain an extensive freemium perimeter so anyone can experiment and test the platform without any commitment.
We believe that soon many SMEs will have blockchain commonly adopted and integrated. But, for now, we hope this post inspires some of you to deepen your knowledge of blockchain opportunities.