by Joseph Young
IBM plans to target large-scale commercial enterprises with its new product called “Blockchain-as-a-Service” by allowing customers to utilize its public blockchain-based cloud service to construct private blockchain networks.
Jerry Cuomo, IBM's VP of blockchain technology, announced that the IBM Blockchain-as-a-Service includes a broad range of blockchain-based cloud services that can be used by businesses to create and manage blockchain networks to facilitate operations and services in an automated ecosystem.
Since blockchain technology processes information in real-time with increased transparency and tightened security measures, Cuomo stated that the blockchain is particularly efficient in securing identities and settling data transfers.
In an interview, Cuomo noted that IBM began to develop its Blockchain-as-a-Service cloud system on top of the Hyperledger Fabric protocol. Industry leaders in the field of technology and finance have come to a realization that enterprise-grade blockchain for large commercialized platforms is necessary in order for corporations to save operating costs stemming from IT maintenance and development.
“Some time ago, we and several other members of the industry came to view that there needs to be a group looking after, governing and shepherding technology around blockchain for serious business.”
Addressing Security Issues and Improving Blockchain Efficiency
Cuomo admitted that IBM’s cloud-based blockchain system is not completely unbreachable, unlike the Bitcoin network, mostly due to the difference in structure. The Bitcoin network is powered by hash power or computing power that is larger than all of the supercomputers and data centers combined in the world today.
However, each IBM blockchain network will be privately managed and deployed by individual businesses and companies. Therefore, regarding security, IBM blockchain is vulnerable to potential threats. Essentially, IBM’s focus on flexibility led to a trade-off between flexibility and security. While IBM Blockchain-as-a-Service has reduced security measures, it is more efficient than most blockchain networks.
To protect IBM customers from being targeted in potential hacking attacks or breaches such as large-scale DDoS attacks, the IBM development team designed appropriate safeguards to protect their blockchain networks. According to Cuomo, the safeguard operates like a border between the internal ledger of the blockchain and external threats. It prevents unauthorized access and offers tamper-responsive hardware.
The presence of a tamper-responsive trigger is necessary for companies operating with millions of data sets and sensitive information as it allows individual blockchain networks to shut down when they are breached. If the IBM cloud system observes an intruder within the network, the trigger will immediately shut down the network until the problem is resolved. This trigger mechansim grants companies and IBM a long enough timeframe to deal with the attack with a cautious approach in development.
Based on Hyperledger’s First Production-Ready Blockchain Code
On March 14, BTCManager reported that Hyperledger’s production-ready blockchain code was to be released by March 2017. IBM’s deployment of its Blockchain-as-a-Service product signifies that the Hyperledger Fabric protocol is officially ready for production and commercial utilization.
At the time, Hyperledger’s executive director Brian Behlendorf emphasized the involvement of IBM in the development of Hyperledger Fabric and testing the software in a commercial scale. Behlendorf noted that IBM was working on a project based on Fabric for serious production. He said, “Our hope is that it is code that people can put into serious production.”
In the upcoming months, IBM will pursue the vision of both Hyperledger and the industry leaders within the technology and finance industries to demonstrate the potential of blockchain technology at a commercial scale.