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Busy with Blockchain

Hello there, coffee (and other beverages) drinkers,

Last Thursday or November 15 was a busy day for corporate blockchain even if there are signs of fatigue for the terminology itself. What is interesting is that SAP, along with IBM and Microsoft have revealed a little bit more about their strategies of how to deliver blockchain technology, and yes it is more than databases&spreadsheets, to the marketplace. All three companies have decided on a combination of cloud and open source or devops to channel their platforms to the potential accounts. I'm not sure why Oracle has remained in the shadows, but maybe with recent defection to Google it has given up on cloud blockchain and decided to stick to their core database product. I know, just kidding.

In any event, I wanted to post this news here in SAP devops coffee corner to see how much interest, if any, there is for cloud blockchain development. there is a lot of noise and hype around this topic, which has been dominant in 2018, but in my mind, if developers here or on any other platform don't pick up on the APIs, integration, or even simple POC's there is going to be simply a write-off of most of the blockchain investments in 2019.

Your thoughts? How about HANA Express with the Blockchain Explorer web client sandbox?

P.S.

Just in case, here are the links from November 15, and they may expire quite quickly or get archived somewhere on the interwebs, so no promises as to their availability going forward:

1. https://blogs.sap.com/2018/11/02/sap-hana-blockchain-is-now-generally-available

2. https://console.bluemix.net/docs/services/blockchain/howto/remote_peer_aws.html

3. https://github.com/Azure-Samples/blockchain/tree/master/blockchain-development-kit

This blog is rather marketing oriented, but is more current than the first one:

4. https://blogs.sap.com/2018/11/15/sap-hana-blockchain-service-explained-in-simple-words

[Update: Nov 29, 2018]

Since this is a new information that has transpired since November 15, I thought to update the post as it seems to change the cloud and database, if not blockchain, competitive landscape:

5. https://docs.aws.amazon.com/managed-blockchain/latest/managementguide/known-issues-limits.html

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17 Comments

  • Nov 19 at 03:32 PM

    Has someone finally found a decent business case for blockchain?

    Can't say I'm following this technology closely (or even care tbh) but of all things this one seems to be either way ahead of its time or simply much ado about nothing.

    • Nov 19 at 05:18 PM

      Hi Jelena,

      thank you for responding and voicing your opinion and others don't have to be shy about it, either. in my mind the business case was confirmed about 10 years ago, but it goes as far back as recording of transactions has been around. it's not all that new but rather a novel way of putting together what we have used databases, spreadsheets, and abacus for. whether it will flourish as a business remains open, but it's been more than a hot air bubble, at least for those who are in the middle of it.

      thx, greg

      • Nov 26 at 05:47 PM

        yet you haven't actually mentioned that business case.

        To me , I still do not see how blockchain is better than existing technologies implemented correctly.

      • Nov 26 at 06:39 PM

        "Business case" would include not just "hey, I think we can use blockchain for this" but also specific value. ROI, WIIFM, that sort of thing. "Anything you can do I can do better" is usually an insufficient justification to buy into a technology.

        Another factor is "ecosystem", which would include anything that needs to happen around the technology to support it. E.g. you can't have "cloud" without a fast Internet access and cheap[er] hardware. And "Internet of things" requires, well, both Internet and things. :)

        When both of these factors align for blockchain then we'll see what's what. Right now I don't see either happening, at least not en masse. Of course, if a software vendor, like SAP, wants to be ready for mass adoption they have to take a chance and invest in technology right now. But there is no rush for buy-in for the customers, from what I see. Which, naturally, annoys the sales department a lot.

        • Nov 26 at 06:57 PM

          ""cloud" without a fast Internet access and cheap[er] hardware" is called mainframe ;)

        • Nov 26 at 10:59 PM

          Hi Jelena and Denis,

          thank you for your comments. the business cases that i'm aware of and that are in production are diamonds, lettuce, and prescription drugs, and not necessarily in this order. i realize that not everyone can be an expert in those goods or familiar with the services around them, but in my mind anything whose digital timestamp can be stored in a database, added up in a spreadsheet, and queried upon via a browser is a good candidate for a blockchain solution.

          the biggest motivator is the fear of missing out, or seeing your competitor being ahead of the game. even though they were not mentioned on Nov 15, i'm aware of two implementations by the anyDB company and in quite unexpected places.

          cloud is not necessary, but it is helpful, and internet is indispensable.

          cheers, gm

          • Nov 27 at 03:30 PM

            So, how exactly is blockchain better for "

            anything whose digital timestamp can be stored in a database, added up in a spreadsheet, and queried upon via a browser" than current solutions ?

            • Nov 27 at 05:10 PM

              in its purest form, it's better in assuming that an adversarial party will try to game the network they are a part of. current solutions rely on central admin and a whole bunch of human assurance providers to do that.

    • Nov 21 at 08:24 AM

      ...or to be another way to waste the planet's resources...

      • Nov 21 at 12:22 PM

        Hi Volker,

        yes, that's one argument, which is not really applicable to corporate blockchain, but in the wild, decentralized, world, some consider the amount of resources needed to 'break the code' a security feature.

        Thank you for making the comment,

        greg

  • Nov 26 at 01:07 PM

    I am following what is going on with blockchain a little - not much with everything going on. Right now I'm on the fence. I agree with Jelena. I don't see a huge gain for my particular business. Yes, security is a high priority. However, how much security depends on how open you are. IE do you do most of your transactions via the net with tons of security around them. Or do you do your transactions on a one on one basis. (Old fashion B2B / B2C) And what is still the most used way to transmit data - IDOCs. That isn't a comment on blockchain, it's just showing how slow things can / do move.

    Now lets fast forward a bit. We are moving towards shared data. As we open our companies more the security has to be tighter. So using block chain it could keep us anonymous. We'd use a bit more than just that. Perhaps a dedicated server, etc.

    So along with the open data we are moving towards an open market / vendor portal. That is perhaps coming even faster. Amazon and other retailers use it. So to make each transaction more secure. Blockchain sounds like a good option. But if it is such a good option why isn't it used more?

    With all that said, right now, I can't see using it. The future will bring many other advancements in security. So is it blockchain or is it something else?

    • Nov 26 at 02:00 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      thank you for making the comment and i have already started to lose hope that SAP coffee drinkers want to do their work only as they have always done it for the last 20 or 30 years. if you were to follow the links they should take you to some kind of open source initiative and that's the main point i was trying to get across. the topic itself is surrounded with mystery and confusion and that may be 'by design'.

      the good news is that the building blocks of blockchain is what most of us have been doing for those last 20-30 years. the bad news is that 'everyone' is trying to do it, and most of those efforts will fail. a good question to ask is then: how is this relevant to what i'm doing today or 'what's in it for me'? in all of the points that you have brought up blockchain is making its way: B2B, IDOCs, Amazon (Web Services). it may not be obvious but if you were to start scratching the surface you will find the connections.

      since this is an SAP hosted coffee corner, i figured we should chime in with SAP first and then venture into other corners of the enterprise software. at the risk of repeating myself, how about HANA Express with the Blockchain Explorer web client sandbox? do you think that it's a bad idea to ask SAP to spin one up for the good of the ecosystem or not?

      cheers, greg

      • Nov 26 at 02:06 PM

        I think it would be a great idea! I believe that's what they do / used to do. Try different ideas out. I know I've seen different technologies worked on (River) fail or succeed or be re-named. Or be reworked into something different / better.

      • Nov 26 at 02:06 PM

        Clicking on links now. ;)

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