Welcome!

Log Management Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Carmen Gonzalez, Eric Robertson

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Machine Learning , FinTech Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

The #Blockchain Question | @CloudExpo #FinTech #AI #DX #MachineLearning

One of the challenges is determining, ‘when should I be thinking about blockchain?’

The Burning Blockchain Question - Should I Be Thinking About It?

Shiny new toy syndrome. We all see it, we all experience it. Who doesn't like the shiny new toy?  Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Sadly, frequently without even looking at what problem they are trying to solve. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. The reality is, as Gartner put it, that ‘most initiatives are still in the alpha or beta stages' and ‘Enterprises are still deciding how to navigate this technology.'

One of the challenges is determining, ‘when should I be thinking about blockchain?' It's a question I get asked frequently, both from the business and from technologists as well. I have heard comments as far ranged as ‘I have no use for blockchain as my business has nothing to do with bitcoin' (a common misperception I wrote about a while back Blockchain - Why its so much more than bitcoin) to ‘I want to use blockchain to replace all my database systems' (a definite case of shiny new toy reaction).The reality is, as is usually the case, somewhere in between the extremities. Let's talk about some of the things that might be reasons to think about blockchain as potential tool to help solve a business challenge.

Chain of custody
This is one of my favorite concepts when talking about blockchain. Anyone who has ever watched a police procedural understands the basic concept of chain of custody. If I have a piece of evidence, I need to ensure I can document the entire chain of people/places where that evidence has changed hands. For it to be valid evidence in court, that chain can not be broken. There can be no gap, or gray area, as to who had control at any point in time. This parallels quite nicely into the business world. You have assets, whether they be physical or digital in nature. You need to be able to adequately and reliably track those assets. If that chain of custody is important to the business, and you have had challenges being able to track that chain of custody, then blockchain may be an option. Let take a look at a couple of examples.

  • Mortgages: We are all familiar with mortgages. Banks buy and sell mortgages to each other all the time. Some of you may remember a little problem with mortgages and the economy back in 2009? One of the many problems that occurred was that some banks were selling the same mortgage to multiple other banks. Suddenly home owners had multiple banks and mortgage companies claiming ownership of their mortgage and demanding payment (I had several friends live that problem). The challenge was forensically tracking down who was the true owner of the mortgage. Chain of custody, pure and simple. There is a great blog that discusses how blockchain might have helped in that situation here.
  • Supply Chain: Ultimately, if you think about it, supply chain is all about chain of custody. I have product that originates at its point of .creation. That product moves through various channels, handled by various entities, until it reaches its destination or consumer. For any industry, knowing where that product has been, where it currently is, and where it is going is crucial, and can be a challenge. Some recent examples across industries looking at blockchain as a solution include:

Chain of events
Chain of events is similar to chain of custody and could overlap (such as in supply chain, which as well as tracking the asset, is tracking events that occur with the asset during its lifetime). I call it out separately as there are other business scenarios specific to this concept. Chain of events is exactly like it sounds, tracking a series of events where it is important to know when the events occurred, and have a trusted way of verifying the event and where it occurred in the sequence of events. For example:

  • Coursework and transcripts: There has been a lot of discussion and investigation into using blockchain to help maintain and track course work, ultimately providing the information in college transcripts. University of Texas recently did a fascinating POC in that space
  • Electronic Health Records: Probably the best example of a chain of events. Your health care is a series of events, treatments, medications, tests, etc., that are sourced from many locations. Having a way of ensuring the valid sequence of those events is a critical part of your health care. I recently wrote about how that industry is looking to blockchain as a possible way of solving the challenge.

Trust and Multiple parties
Inherent in both of the discussions above is that there are always multiple parties involved, and, due to that fact, being able to trust the information is key to the success of the system. Invariably in most systems today, all the parties have their own copy of information, whether it's a transaction, an asset, or an event. Duplication of information, discrepancy in the information, causes significant time, resources, and money being spent on reconciling and re-confirming the information.

  • This challenge is well known in the financial services world, which is why there are third-party clearing houses whose sole purpose is to validate and reconcile business transactions, providing that extra level of trust needed between parties. This is probably the most well-known and understood use case in the blockchain space. (and why many third-party clearing houses are spending a lot of time and energy on investigating blockchain)
  • I recently had a conversation with someone in the specialty pharmacy space. One of the challenges they have is that multiple entities are involved in tracking the events that occur with a customer. The simple example they gave me was verifying health insurance. Throughout the process, as each business entity processes the flow for the customer, a check is done with the health insurance for coverage. Even if that check has been done previously, it's done again, because that check was done by someone else. This is time-consuming and costly. They are looking at blockchain as a way of possibly dealing with that rework and trust issue. This falls both into the supply chain as well as the EHR both discussed above.

Technology is the vehicle, not the destination
Those of you who know me, know one of my favorite mantra's is ‘Technology is the vehicle, not the destination, figure out where you want to go first, then choose the vehicle that will get you there.' Blockchain is a fascinating technology that could potentially have transformative impact on a variety of industries. That being said, it's still just a vehicle, just a tool. When to use it should be based on business needs and goals. The scenarios I described don't mean ‘If this happens you should use blockchain.' They are meant to be guidelines as to when you might want to be considering blockchain as the possible vehicle. As technologists, it's our responsibility to help the business understand what vehicles and tools are available, and what the tradeoffs involved are. I am thankful to have blockchain as one of those tools and options available to me. Where it goes is still up in the air, and time will tell if it is transformational or not.

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is VP, Principal Architect at Cloud Technology Partners. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant th...