Blockchain Backers Planning Enterprise Rollouts
Among the growing list of blockchain initiatives launched this year, the open-source Hyperledger Project is gathering momentum with the release of its first production implementations, including the introduction of its first blockchain framework for enterprises.
Launched last year by the Linux Foundation, the blockchain effort is already the open-source advocate's fastest growing project, according to Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project. "The technology foundations have now been set," Behlendorf asserted in a blog post this week. "In the coming year, that will turn into more production software releases [and] real world implementations…."
The initiative aims to scale blockchain technology through a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers that promises to transform global business transactions. Distributed ledgers are secure tools that could underpin new enterprise networks used to track and trade practically anything of value.
Organizers said the open-source project is designed to integrate code from as many contributors as possible to develop a "neutral technology platform" that members can use to develop differentiated products on a standard blockchain fabric.
Membership in the Hyperledger Project totals nearly 200 companies, ranging from financial services firms like American Express NYSE: AXP to IT giants such as Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and SAP (NYSE: SAP). Thirty member companies contributed to the release of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 in July. The objective was "allowing consumers and vendors of technology based on Hyperledger Fabric to advance to the next stage: production deployment and operations," organizers noted.
A competing group called the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance counts more than 150 members, including banks, credit card companies and regional government agencies. Recent additions include Mastercard (NYSE: MA) and ScotiaBank (NYSE: BNS).
Behlendorf said the Hyperledger Project plans additional code rollouts in 2018 along with more production deployments, including a medical claims processing blockchain due out from Change Healthcare early next year. The provider said its distributed ledger would be used to speed claims processing and reimbursements.
As blockchain frameworks like the Hyperledger Project target enterprise deployments, the Linux Foundation has stepped up training efforts to meet soaring demand for developers. The group claims 2,500 new enrollments per week for online training courses.
Behlendorf said other priorities for 2018 include blockchain standards and interoperability efforts. Among the incubator projects launched this year is Hyperledger Quilt, which is focused on promoting interoperability among different blockchain frameworks.
"The industry got a lot more serious about interoperability above the layer of the [distributed ledger technology], and [is] looking for simple and open cross-blockchain approaches," Behlendorf noted. Distributed ledgers are a type of database spread across multiple sites, regions or users.
Blockchain technology got a boost earlier this year with completion of the first international real estate transaction. Propy, an international real estate broker based in Menlo Park, Calif., announced in September it used the Ethereum blockchain to purchase a $60,000 apartment in Kiev, Ukraine, for TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, an early backer of the startup.