In my job of helping clients evaluate and adopt blockchain for their business networks, I often get these questions:

“Why should I consider IBM Cloud for blockchain? Can’t I just run blockchain on another cloud or on-premises?”

They’re great questions. We believe that blockchain for the enterprise is a team sport: Your blockchain network can only be as fast as the slowest member or as secured as the least secured member. This is why we offer the IBM Blockchain Platform. When you adopt the IBM Blockchain Platform, a full stack Blockchain-as-a-Service platform available in the IBM Cloud, you raise the bar for all members and you make sure that critical capabilities are taken care of so that you can focus on developing, governing, and operating your network.

Support for the full lifecycle of your blockchain network

The IBM Blockchain Platform provides a unique set of capabilities to support the full lifecycle of your business network on blockchain: developing, governing, and operating. These capabilities are described in the IBM Blockchain Platform Technical Overview. But let’s set that aside for a moment. And let’s set aside the general benefits of the cloud, independent of blockchain – such as self-service, predictable spend, and in-place upgrades.

What’s really unique about IBM Blockchain in IBM Cloud

Beyond these benefits, what specifically makes IBM Blockchain in IBM Cloud unique? Five key attributes:

  1. Open: Blockchain is a foundational technology that is going to have a profound impact on trusted transactions. It is too foundational for just one company to make most of the decisions. The IBM Blockchain Platform is based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, which includes contributors from a wide range of industries and follows a true and proven open governance model. With IBM Blockchain Platform, you develop your application using the Hyperledger Fabric APIs, and you have access to the Apache 2-licensed source code. Your code is portable and you can decide to run it in an environment other that IBM Cloud (for example, on another cloud service provider or on-premises). In the IBM Cloud, in proximity to the IBM Blockchain Platform, you have access to open source-based capabilities required for your blockchain application, such as Apache CouchDB document store.

  2. Tamper-proof: The IBM Blockchain Platform leverages IBM’s Secure Service Container (SSC), which encapsulate application and operating system into a secured and well-controlled appliance. The appliance follows a robust boot process (validation, decryption, loading) to ensure that no malware or modified software can be inserted. Then, the only interaction that is possible with blockchain is through a set of REST APIs that communicate directly with the trusted software running in the Secure Service Container. No other access is possible. As a result, the only things that any insider or outsider can do are those things implemented in functions accessed through the REST APIs. Even privileged users cannot gain access to the internals of the blockchain software or to the blockchain data.

  3. Encrypted: Cryptography is at the core of blockchain. All of your blockchain data is encrypted in storage using keys that are held securely in the Secure Service Container appliance. The IBM Blockchain Platform uses the LinuxONE Hardware Security Module (HSM), which provides cryptography and key protection designed to meet the stringent requirements of NIST FIPS 140-2 Level 4, the highest level defined. The integrity and immutability of the blockchain is protected using hash functions. IBM Blockchain Platform uses LinuxONE’s high-performance, low-latency cryptographic engine for the required hashing and for symmetric cryptographic operations.

  4. Performant: Based on optimized software, firmware, and hardware, LinuxONE is a perfect fit for blockchain’s demanding transaction validations, cryptography, and ledger access. LinuxONE is engineered so that high volumes of data can be delivered and processed through its scalable I/O system, very large memory, the fastest commercial microprocessor in the industry, and the largest cache. Communication between blockchain network peers takes place over a high-speed network where communication is highly secure with no data leakage.

  5. Resilient: In a blockchain network, an outage of a peer required to participate in consensus and ledger replication can impact the entire network. LinuxONE systems are designed to be the most available servers on the market. (Remember the last time a mainframe went down!?) The blockchain nodes are deployed in multiple logical partitions to provide high availability. Always-on operations means that the network just keeps running.

Next steps

You now have a glimpse into the importance of the full-stack blockchain and the value of IBM Blockchain in IBM Cloud. These resources can help you learn more and get started:

Learn more

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