100th Member Joins Hyperledger Atlanta

Hyperledger Atlanta Meetup adds 100th Member.

Atlanta’s interest in Hyperledger Blockchain for Business continues to grow at a rapid pace. Our 100 Meetup members join over 16,438 others across 66 groups around the world. Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 was just released, so let the implementations begin!

In fact, IBM has announced several new major solutions under development, including:

London Stock Exchange Group collaborating with IBM to develop a securities data blockchain solution for European SMEs on July 19, 2017,

AIG, IBM, Standard Chartered Deliver First Multinational Insurance Policy Powered by Blockchain on June 15, 2017, and

Seven Major European Banks Select IBM to bring Blockchain-Based Trade Finance to Small and Medium Enterprises on June 26, 2017.

There’s still time to join today’s Webinar with Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf at 1pm ET and our next monthly Atlanta Meetup is this coming Monday, Aug 7, 2017 at Tech Square Labs.


Hyperledger Blockchain: Why the MVE is more important than the MVP.

Minimum Viable Ecosystem tops Minimum Viable Product in Hyperledger Blockchain for Business.

As Hyperledger Blockchain continues to gain traction in enterprise organizations, patterns and best practices are starting to emerge. One of the clear new perspectives is the importance of the network, or ecosystem. Blockchain for Business enables trust across participating entities instead of just the miners and owners of a crypto currency, and defining, creating, operating, and enabling those networks is key to achieving the maximum benefits of a business blockchain.

Supply chain management presents a clear example, as most products are touched by many hands among the raw materials suppliers, the transporters, the manufactures, the wholesalers and retailers, and end consumers and regulators. The elimination of duplicate data input, data transport, data reconciliation, and data synchronization delivers good benefits when even just 2 entities of the supply chain share a blockchain distributed ledger. But the results become great and even more dramatic when all entities are using the same blockchain.

Data / asset provenance is a valuable benefit of Blockchain generally, and even more so in supply chain management. However any missing members could negate many of those benefits, especially for recalls or other defect tracking. The more important provenance is for a business network use case, the more important it is to identify the crucial members. It may not be as important to track an automobile purchaser back to the dealer as to track a defective air bag component back to the manufacturer. However a food supply chain may need the grocery store and the distributor and the transporter and the farmer to effectively track the source of an e. coli outbreak.

So while identifying the application functionality is of course required, designing and building the MVE is necessary to accurately define the MVP. And building the full ecosystem is strongly desired to receive the maximum benefits. A fantastically built application is useless without adoption across a network and organizations should identify and build the MVE before finalizing the MVP.

Hyperledger Blockchain for Business is really about the network even more than the application functionality. Belltane works with organizations in the critical task of identifying, defining, and implementing blockchain business networks as well as providing the applications and services for those networks to create total Hyperledger Blockchain solutions.

Thanks to IBM for sharing their learning and experiences with the Hyperledger community and their contributions to Hyperledger Fabric and Composer.


Confusing Bitcoin with Blockchain

Bitcoin is but one of many Blockchain Implementations

I just finished reading the European Parliament report How blockchain technology could change our lives. All in all it is a most excellent summary and highly recommended. Nevertheless there are several points I wish to dispute, and they all confuse Bitcoin with Blockchain.

Blockchain as a concept primarily requires immutability of records and consensus across the distributed shared ledgers. Bitcoin is a specific implementation of Blockchain that addresses these in a manner judged most suited to the currency use case. Other use cases may not be well served and might even be hindered by the same approach.

Notably, Bitcoin utilizes PoW (Proof of Work) as the consensus mechanism to insure all participants in the ledger agree on the value of a record. PoW imposes a cost to participants and encourages wide-spread participation by providing a reward for running a node on the Bitcoin network. This is generally referred to as ‘Mining’, and the assumption that mining and extra cost are inherent in Blockchain underlies much of the report.

Blockchain does not require a specific form of consensus and therefor allows agreement mechanisms to potentially be better matched to each use case. If Company A and Company B set up a Blockchain network to trade just with each other, what would be the point in forcing an extra computational cost on their selves? As noted in the report, ‘In 2014 the Bitcoin blockchain was responsible for electricity consumption comparable to that of Ireland, and has only grown since.’ The inherit benefits of using a shared ledger provide more than sufficient incentive for participants to run their own nodes on the network without any additional reward.

Bitcoin is the simplest use case of Blockchain technology. It tracks one asset, a currency. It has one attribute, an owner. And it has one action or method, change owner. That’s not to disparage the Bitcoin implementation of Blockchain. That’s just all a currency needs. Blockchain defines this abstractly as any asset, with any attributes and any actions.

The report also generally assumes the Blockchain network is open and anyone can participate, or the network is closed and centrally managed. It is Bitcoin that requires the first and “‘mainstream’ actors such as banks and governments” attempting the latter. There are arguments for both use cases, but Blockchain does not require an either / or proposition as stated. Any network may utilize a Blockchain among its participants that is closed and permissioned, yet still not centrally managed and controlled except by consensus of all of the participants.

We at Belltane think it dangerous to mistake many of the assumptions of the specific implementation by Bitcoin as required or appropriate for many Blockchain use cases. We are convinced the Hyperledger Project delivers the appropriate abstractions that allow specific Blockchain implementations to utilize the most beneficial aspects of different approaches for its use case without requiring any one in particular.

The Hyperledger Project even includes an implementation mechanism where the consensus mechanism is hardware based (Sawtooth) and the recent addition of the Indy Identity Management project under the Hyperledger umbrella offers a solution to many of the identity concerns cited in the report.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in the best Blockchain overview I have read to date to check out the excellent EU Blockchain report, while noting Belltane and Hyperledger believe some portions to confuse Bitcoin the specific implementation with Blockchain in the abstract.


The Technology Trifecta – Blockchain, IoT, and AI.

The Convergence of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Distributed Shared Ledgers (Blockchain).

It seems trite to say, as seems to happen multiple times a day, that the latest technology revolution is really here. I do say that now, although not for a single technology, but from the convergence of 3 technologies that unite to form a complete system of automation.

IoT devices are self-generating data into self-executing Blockchain Smart Contracts self-created, self-operated, and self-governed by Artificial Intelligence.

The real world process of gathering data, securely trusting, storing and transacting on the data, and creating, implementing, and monitoring the definitions and flow of data and its action methods can now be fully implemented by combining these 3 technologies in a unified system.

It’s great that your smart refrigerator can read the bar code from your milk container and generate a shopping list when consumed or expired. It’s even better that your smart refrigerator can soon place the order using blockchain purchasing networks on your behalf. But it’s the application of AI to analyze and anticipate your needs, to monitor the purchases for mistakes, fraud, or regulatory compliance, and create new and specific Smart Contracts that really seals the deal.

We have identified 3 main areas where AI can be applied to Blockchain. This reflects our current thinking but should not be considered definitive or exhaustive and we solicit and welcome any and all input to continue to refine this perspective model. Continue reading

Sovrin Blockchain Identity Management Joins Hyperledger

Hyperledger solves Identity Management with Sovrin.

I am just giddy with excitement and pleasure at the announcement last week that Sovrin has joined the Hyperledger Project. So much so, in fact, that I broke open one of the last bottles of my prized Balvenie 17 collection (Madeira cask to be precise) and raised a wee dram in toast. Thanks all!

The Sovrin Foundation is a private-sector, international non-profit that was established to govern the world’s first self-sovereign identity (SSI) network. Self-Sovereign Identity  is an identity that is 100% owned and controlled by an individual or organization. No one else can read it, use it, turn it off, or take it away without its owner’s explicit consent. This simple form of identity is private, extremely secure, and goes where you go.”

Sovrin will operate as Project Indy within the Hyperledger umbrella that includes Fabric, Sawtooth, Iroha, and Burrow.

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First Atlanta Hyperledger Meetup Scheduled for May 1.

The first Atlanta Hyperledger (Blockchain) Meetup is set for May 1, 6 – 8 pm, at Tech Square Labs. Looking forward to meeting everyone.

We’ll start with extensive introductions and get a feel of the group’s exposure to Hyperledger. Then we’ll review the current state of Hyperledger, the various projects and components that are part of the Hyperledger project, and explore the architecture of Hyperledger Fabric.

Speakers are invited to request a spot on the agenda.

Members are invited to request other topics for the meeting.

See everyone there.

Blockchain and Identity

Mark van Rijmenam posed some questions on LinkedIn today around Identity and Blockchain. This is an interesting and important topic and my reply would be a bit long so I thought a blog post would be better.

Specifically he asked,

– What is identity?

– What are the current problems with identity?

– Should we put identity on the Blockchain and if so, why and how should it be done?

– What are the advantages / disadvantages of doing so?

– What are the challenges of putting identity on the Blockchain?

– What are some interesting use cases of identity on the Blockchain?

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Belltane Organizes Atlanta Hyperledger Meetup

Belltane has organized the Atlanta Hyperledger Meetup. Interest in this exciting new Blockchain technology is high and over 20 people signed up in just the first 2 days! We are planning our initial meeting, so join now to help set the agenda and location.

Hyperledger is an open standard for Blockchain for Business and is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry Blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration, hosted by the Linux Foundation, including leaders in Finance, Banking, Internet of Things, Supply Chains, Manufacturing and Technology.

The Hyperledger Fabric provides a foundation for developing Blockchain solutions with a modular architecture, pluggable implementations, and container technology. While leveraging open source best practices, Hyperledger Fabric enables confidentiality, scalability, and security in business environments.

Belltane has utilized the Hyperledger Fabric and the Node.js Client SDK running on IBM Bluemix to publish a very basic Healthcare Provider Directory Proof of Concept and continues to explore and develop components, applications, and partners to take advantage of the many benefits of the Blockchain for Business capabilities of the Hyperledger Fabric.

To stay on top of the latest information about Hyperledger, subscribe to our blog and join the Atlanta Hyperledger Meetup.

Storing Images in Hyperledger Fabric (Blockchain)

At its core, Blockchain is data storage and retrieval. Typically the data is assumed to be a transaction. Hyperledger has expanded that assumption to include assets, accounts, permissions, etc. But what about images (or other large files)? The prevailing opinion seems to be to use the Blockchain to hold the pointer to the actual location somewhere else. This is fairly standard in general database design.

But should that be the case with Hyperledger? Perhaps the benefits of Blockchain encryption, security, immutability, etc., might outweigh the standard arguments for not storing images in a database. I wanted to explore this idea further, so I first decided to look at ‘can we’, and then look at ‘should we’.

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Belltane Publishes Blockchain Proof of Concept

Belltane has published a Proof of Concept Hyperledger application demonstrating the use of Blockchain to allow Payors, Hospitals, Regulators, and Medical Schools to share a common distributed ledger recording the payment eligibility status of physicians in a Healthcare Provider Directory.

This very basic proof of concept seeks to illustrate the use of Hyperledger Blockchain to enable a distributed ledger application that ensures data access security. User read and write access permissions are delivered in the SmartContract applied to the Blockchain. Medical Schools create physicians, Regulators create and edit Medical Schools and Hospitals, Hospitals edit physician privileges status and Payors can check eligibility status of Hospitals and Physicians before settling payment.

This proof of concept does not seek to closely approximate the full requirements of a Healthcare Provider Directory. However we have loaded almost 200,000 Physicians, 10,000 Hospitals, 400 Medical Schools, and 50 Regulators into the Blockchain database. Each Hospital, Medical School and Regulator has 2 user names each, totaling almost 10,000 user accounts. In our security scenario, each entity user is limited to the appropriate visibility and write permissions based on its type and location. Regulators can only access physicians and entities in its state, for example.

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