Blockchain has evinced considerable interest amongst the business community. Gartner estimates blockchain will generate $3.1 trillion in new business value by 2030. Hence, there has come a point in this new technology now when businesses should be asking themselves “Are we building the right blockchain?”. The right blockchain could be the one that is purpose-built for the enterprise and its partners so that this blockchain network will serve the best interests from ROI, usability, security, compliance, extensibility, deployability and scalability perspectives, for one and all of the stake holding organizations and partners.
So, how can Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) platforms help in building the right blockchain network? By basically addressing all the nuances of blockchain building in an automatic fashion (zero code to write) such that the rigor of all this process is hidden and made easy for the organizations that adapt to the BaaS. Let us see how.
Selecting the basic platform for building blockchain networks
Primarily it starts from selecting the right blockchain platform to build your blockchain network. This selection depends on the use case, the purpose and the nature of the transactions that are going to be done with the blockchain. Let us say for example, if the intent is to build a highly secure, privacy oriented private permissioned blockchain, then Linux Foundation‘s Hyperledger may be the way to go. But for some reason if ease of transactions and easy deployability were the goals of the use case and project, then Ethereum may be the right choice. A good BaaS platform can help take away the madness from the method by giving the right choice to implement any of the above.
Devising the right strategy for blockchain deployment
The next step is to select the cloud provider where the blockchain needs to be deployed. The various choices available are public cloud, private cloud, on-premises. In each we have multiple choices. Fundamentally we need to select a blockchain platform that is capable of running in any and all of these environments without issues.
This is because organizations need to be able to run in environments, they are comfortable with for the reasons of cost, ease of deployment or other such factors. Therefore, a Multi/Hybrid Cloud supporting blockchain platform, executed seamlessly with the help of a BaaS could be an ideal choice.
Integrating IT infra of the enterprise with the established blockchain network
Next comes the integration of the right blockchain network we are building with the IT infra of the organization. This is supremely important, as normally the blockchain use case would have to be executed with an existing software (like a supply chain, financial services, Retail etc. software that the organization is using).
Typical integration items to consider are APIs, Webhooks, UI based integration, Batch processes, Machine to Machine web services etc. Also, any security and performance techniques like access control, API Security, Authorization Permissions, API throttling should be considered so that payload processing across the interoperable enterprise layers are secure and scalable. BaaS systems can help by offering the above methods seamlessly, in an UI selectable, auto-build fashion.
Building smart contracts for blockchain
Once the integration is setup, the user agents have to talk to the blockchain with the help of smart contracts. Smart contracts can be thought of as programs that communicate with blockchains by way of APIs in order to record or query transactions into/from the blockchain. A carefully selected BaaS will help in writing the smart contracts automatically given certain inputs to the smart contract generator (by way of an UI application). This will considerably reduce the programmer time that is needed to write the smart contracts. The generator will take care of the grunt work to produce the smart contract programs.
Ensuring seamless blockchain building from concept validation to solution launch
We see that several key decisions (with cost and time optimizations in mind) need to be made in order to proceed towards building a right blockchain, considering failures can happen in every step. So how do we know we are in the right path of building the right blockchain? By way of validations at every stage.
From the POC/prototype stage to the final deployment stage, there needs to be a guide (by way of a BaaS) that can help the organization surmount all complications, by repeatedly validating the deployment. If any change needs to happen in any of the above steps, for example change in IT infra to integrate with, change of smart contract, change in cloud provider, change of even blockchain platforms, a good BaaS should be able to take care of it so that the effect of rework of any process above would not result in cost or time overruns.
An intelligent BaaS platform that has all the above key deployment features should definitely help in delivering right blockchains resulting in a better ROI for the stakeholders.
The author is CTO, SecureKloud Technologies.