We’re already one month into 2020 and it’s clear that this will be an exciting year for the enterprise blockchain space. Compared to previous years, the number of upgrades and advancements in the major protocols is unparalleled. This is no surprise, as it comes at a time when enterprise customer demand is growing exponentially from all major commercial sectors. In early 2020, significant international companies like the Spanish telco giant Telefonica, its German telco competitor Deutsche Telekom, and Spain’s third-largest bank, CaixaBank, are all investing time and money into the enterprise blockchain space. Deutsche Telekom is the leader in the newly formed blockchain-as-a-service offering at the German Blockchain Ecosystem (GBE), while Merck and Walmart partnered with IBM in the newly launched Pharmaceutical Utility Network.
In 2019, we said that blockchain technology had to mature before it could move to the next step of adoption. We did not have to wait long, as things moved quickly in the distributed ledger technology and blockchain space. The Chainstack Enterprise Blockchain Protocols Evolution Index 2020 report ―which focused on the GitHub activities of the major enterprise blockchain protocol code repositories―gave us a lot of data about, and insights into, how the space is evolving over time.
Hyperledger Fabric upgrades to version 2.0
One of the leading enterprise blockchain protocols, Hyperledger Fabric, can celebrate its second major release with lots of important improvements. Those improvements are significant because they enable greater control of features and are optimized for distributed governance in a private consortia ecosystem. Now, the companies that are part of the largest provenance supply-chain consortia, like Walmart, Carrefour, and Nestle, can be more selective about the smart contracts they run on their nodes. Working with the 2.0 version of Fabric provides the confidence that the protocol is well-thought-out and generally polished, with sufficient granularity in the setup options and enhanced data privacy. This upgrade and the features included inside come from strong customer demand and is the next step for finding the best recipe for product-market-fit blockchain network and governance structure.Today In: Money
Enterprise Ethereum Alliance launches TestNet and EMINENT
This is positive news for enterprises that focus on building on the Ethereum protocol and, specifically Hyperledger Besu. Led by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, the TestNet initiative has the goal of providing a playground and testing environment for enterprises that want to validate a use case, run security or integration tests, or simply prepare for a blockchain migration. Use of the Hyperledger Besu protocol makes a strong statement in the competition for the title of leading enterprise blockchain. This is one of the teams in the space that continue to ship and deliver upgrades that are meaningful with strong developer focus like Plugin APIs and Orchestrate services.
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On the other hand, the recently launched Ethereum Mainnet Integration for Enterprises (EMINENT) is a task force effort focused on bringing Ethereum Mainnet closer to existing enterprise applications and services like CRMs and ERP systems. The group is a joint effort between EEA and the likes of the leading oracle service Chainlink, the low-code integration service platform Unibright, and Anyblock Analytics, which all bring important skillsets and experience to the task force. The topic of exposing the usually closely maintained and private enterprise data services to the public Ethereum mainnet is a very interesting and important one, as it relies on privacy protection and validation services like multi-party computations (MPCs) and zero-knowledge proofs.
Microsoft provides Hyperledger Fabric on Kubernetes
As mentioned before, the mass adoption of blockchain-enabled services and business processes depends upon the maturity of cloud providers with respect to blockchain technology. This is what Microsoft has been actively doing for the last three years. The company recently announced that Kubernetes templates can be used to deploy a fully functioning Hyperledger Fabric network on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) clusters. This is a major development, as most advanced financial services companies are already heavily using Kubernetes. The move will smoothen the transition to blockchain and decentralized technology at scale.
What we have seen in the past month is simply the impressive start to an interesting year in the enterprise blockchain space. The growing momentum around central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and large private blockchain consortia like B3i, we.trade, and FoodTrust is a strong validation of the benefits of the adoption of distributed ledger technology and blockchain-enabled services in the enterprise space. It remains to be seen what the first big technology win for 2020 will be, as China’s DC/EP and CBDCs are taking center stage.