There’s been a lot of enthusiastic noise around blockchain for a number of years now. From Bitcoin to Ethereum, Corda to IBM Blockchain, there are many frameworks that we can consider if we want to implement a blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) solution. The NonStop division at HPE have put their weight behind the R3 Corda solution, and have a brand new reference architecture showing Corda in a hybrid environment of Linux and HPE NonStop, with NonStop providing the SQL/MX-based data store for the solution.
But how do these frameworks translate to real-world implementations? As importantly, how will these implementations work with your existing HPE NonStop solutions, to enhance them and keep them relevant in today’s distributed world?
Bitcoin caused quite a splash as it grew in the early 2010s, with many making a lot of money through its stratospheric rise in value. However, Bitcoin is now generally recognised as not being able to scale to anything like the sorts of performance needed for typical online financial transaction processing. DLT solutions like R3 Corda show greater promise in this area, but it is really outside the consumer payments arena where blockchain solutions can shine.
Before we get into some specific real-world use cases, here is a quick refresher on blockchain. A blockchain, often also called a distributed ledger, is exactly that. A ledger of transactions, whose integrity is maintained via cryptography and links between blocks of transactions, a complete copy of which is distributed among participants. Different blockchain protocols use different mechanisms to protect the chain, but the basic principles remain the same.
Boeing has recently embarked on an impressive Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain-based project to track every part through the aircraft manufacture and assembly process. This approach provides Boeing with complete visibility and control of every component through aircraft production, and this information can be shared with aircraft owners and maintainers, and government regulators. It will also be used through the life of the aircraft to track maintenance and allow for planning of new parts when needed. Given the massive complexity of today’s modern aircraft and the number of stakeholders involved in these aircraft, this is a perfect application of blockchain technology.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) recently completed a blockchain trial tracking seventeen tonnes of almonds from Victoria, Australia to Hamburg, Germany. In addition to the financial aspect of the transaction, partners could track the shipment and monitor temperature and humidity inside the container provided by IoT devices. The test included digitization of operations, documentation and finance, and used a blockchain to track container information, task completion and shipping documentation, including bills of lading, certificates of origin and other customs documents. This trial was built on the back of an earlier CBA trial with Wells Fargo that tracked a Letter of Credit transaction of a cotton shipment. This latest trial used a private blockchain network using the Ethereum protocol.
In the government sector, city state Dubai recently announced its intention to become the first blockchain-powered government. According to Smart Dubai, Dubai’s blockchain strategy could save 25 million person hours per year, equivalent to $1.5B in savings. These savings will stem from moving to paperless government, removing around 100 million paper transactions per year.
Of course, blockchain solutions such as these, and many more, could be implemented on HPE NonStop systems, achieving the availability and scalability for which the platform is well known. R3 Corda and Ethereum, among others, can be run in the fault-tolerant environment that we know well. But another concern that NonStop users will have as they watch the emergence of blockchain technologies will be “how do I make sure that my existing NonStop applications aren’t left behind, and can integrate with, and take advantage of, all the capabilities that the new blockchain solutions will bring to my enterprise?”.
The best way to future-proof your NonStop applications, for blockchain and any other new applications and technologies that emerge, is to make sure your applications play nicely with others by using modern, standardized approaches.
Programmableweb.com, which maintains a directory of all public APIs, is now tracking over 22,000 APIs as of June 2019. Of those APIs, the vast majority (over 81%) are REST-based. Blockchain solutions are no different: all will support some sort of REST interface. In the NonStop world, it’s important for us to understand how REST impacts our applications: how will we consume data from REST services where needed, and how will we make our valuable application capabilities and data available as REST services?
If you need to prepare your NonStop applications for integration with blockchain solutions and other modern applications, you probably need to take a look at REST-enabling those applications. This will ensure that they integrate quickly and easily with whatever new applications and solutions are deployed in your enterprise.
LightWave solutions from NuWave are the ideal way to quickly, and simply, REST-enable your NonStop applications. Whether it is to make NonStop transactions and data available as REST services, or to consume REST data from elsewhere in the enterprise, or externally, LightWave ServerTM and LIghtWave ClientTM can help.
LightWave ServerTM, for example, can be deployed, along with one of NuWave's sample client applications, in less than 30 minutes in your own environment, quickly showing you how it works, and how it can be used with your own applications. Check out our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/nuwavetech for short videos showing how it can be done!