By Pete Harris, Co-Founder and Research Principal
While some might think of IBM as primarily a vendor of computer hardware, most of its revenues actually come from huge software and services businesses. For some time, it has been active in the supply chain space with its analytics offerings, and more recently it has invested heavily in blockchain technology. Now, it’s begun to experiment with how blockchain can be applied to supply chain management and trade finance while also creating a robust commercial offering that global businesses can rely upon.
To first look at the technology it has built, IBM’s core blockchain offering is called simply IBM Blockchain and, at least for now, it’s being offered ‘as a service’ delivered via IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform. In this cloud model, IBM hosts the hardware and systems software and blockchain platform in its data centers, and customers pay a monthly fee to host their specific applications.
IBM Blockchain is built on top of an open source offering, called Fabric, which is administered by the Linux Foundation via its Hyperledgerproject. Fabric, which was just released as a 1.0 alpha version, includes a lot of IBM code and IBM continues to be a key developer of it, but other companies are playing an increasingly important role in making Fabric ready for mission-critical applications, supply chain management being one of them.