"Blockchain is moving into banks and is processor-intensive and should lend itself to both IBM hardware and their tight relationship with banks—this is likely why IBM is getting behind this technology," Said Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group. "Once blessed by banks it created an additional competitive exposure particularly if it remains optimized for x86 platforms, and IBM wants to make sure that doesn't happen."
IBM is working with a number of global partners, including London Stock Exchange Group and the Finnish business development organization Kouvola Innovation.
"London Stock Exchange Group is directly engaged in the development of the open blockchain technologies with IBM and we are excited to help enable the creation of solutions that will help manage risk and bring additional transparency to global financial markets," said Moiz Kohari, executive vice president and group head of technology innovation at London Stock Exchange Group, in a statement. "We believe this technology has the potential to drive change across the industry but will need to be developed in partnership with customers and industry participants under an open source approach."
"Blockchain provides a revolutionary approach that enables businesses across industries all around the world to completely change their logistics business and operations," said Mika Lammi, head of IoT business development at Kouvola Innovation, in a statement. "We see the potential for blockchain to transform logistics value chains into a more seamless process that provides a trusted view of every piece of cargo. The IBM Blockchain fabric, together with the Watson IoT platform, offers great potential to bring together the physical and digital worlds in a way that has never been done before."
As a founding member of the Linux Foundation Hyperledger Project, IBM's code was developed through the collaboration of more than 35 global IBM researchers and software developers, and more than 100 technical architects focused on making blockchain ready for business.
"In just a few short months, IBM's vision for making blockchain a powerful new business solution across multiple industries is becoming a reality as our clients begin piloting innovative new code, services and z Systems optimized for distributed ledgers," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of IBM Research, in a statement. "These advancements are making it easier for developers to move from understanding the potential of blockchain, to actually using it to change their business processes in powerful new ways."
IBM brings vast capabilities to the project, including a pluggable architecture to enable developers to use software modules that best suit their needs, a new consensus algorithm developed by IBM Research tailored to specific blockchain use cases, advanced identity management built with the latest cryptography, smart contracts that can be written in popular programming languages such as Java or Go and executed in containers, and fine-grained privacy and confidentiality control that allows authors of smart contracts to precisely specify both who can view them and who can execute them.
"Getting in early on commercial blockchain development is a wise move for IBM and could lead to significant business opportunities," King said. "In fact, the current state of blockchain bears some similarities to the early days of Linux where many supporters of the OS regarded it as a means to what they considered Microsoft's hegemony in desktop computing. IBM took another path, recognizing the potential value of Linux as a lingua franca for the data center and garnered significant benefits as a result of those efforts and investments."