The enterprise managed blockchain, or blockchain as a service (BaaS) space, is one which though nascent has many of technology’s fastest horses running in the race. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, who continue to conduct their battle for cloud infrastructure, have well-known stakes in blockchain, as well as many of the ‘second tier’ cloud provides, from Alibaba Cloud, to IBM, to Oracle.

A new report from Everest Group has assessed the runners and
riders in managed blockchain platforms – and has put IBM and Microsoft Azure at
the top of the tree.

In total, 12 vendors were assessed, with fully half – Alibaba,
AWS, Azure, IBM, Oracle and SAP – placing in the all-important top right segment,
indicating high market adoption and capability maturity.

IBM scored strongly across all areas according to the analysis,
which combined what Everest calls its ‘proprietary service provider
intelligence database’, alongside conversations with enterprises and vendors. The
company scored full marks on platform configuration and ecosystem, ease of
adoption, enterprise adoption and business value. The only other vendor to
score full marks on any topic was Azure, in vision and strategy – the only segment
IBM failed to get a full house – and ease of adoption.

Of the 12 vendors classified, seven use Hyperledger as at
least part of their stack. AWS, for instance, uses a mix of Hyperledger Fabric
and Ethereum, while Azure bakes those two in alongside Corda and IBM is on
Fabric only. Sovrin, a private sector non-profit, is the only one to differ
from Fabric, utilising Hyperledger Indy.

At the other end of the scale, VMware and HPE both scored
poorly. The report however did note that VMware was ‘poised for enterprise
adoption’ given its promising feature set and ‘long-term ecosystem vision.’ HPE
was praised for its outlook across critical financial infrastructure, for which
the company has a long heritage.

One company not analysed in this report is Google Cloud; the
third of the ‘big three’ cloud hyperscalers, depending on which analyst one follows.
While the company’s efforts in blockchain are not as pronounced, initiatives
are taking place, such as the partnership
announced with Cypherium
in August. Here, this can be seen as more of an
infrastructure deal to ‘provide enterprises with a full-stack solution to harness
the potential’ of distributed ledger technologies (DLT), as Cypherium put it at
the time. The company also has deals in place with IBM Cloud and AWS.

Everest outlined the rationale for managed enterprise
blockchains – and how this is set to continue. “Enterprises are betting big on
blockchain technology and are actively looking for easy ways to understand,
prototype, and deploy blockchain-based solutions,” the report noted. “Although
open source blockchain frameworks have exploded in popularity in recent years,
many enterprises today are looking for mature and deployment-ready solutions that
are easy to adopt, maintain and manage, presenting an interesting market
opportunity for vendors to build service-focused platforms on top of such frameworks.”

Yet such solutions are not an ideal fit for all
organisations. Writing for sister publication CloudTech in June, Eric Dynowski, CTO at
ServerCentral Turing Group, noted the four tenets required to consider managed
blockchain:

  • You have to be a big organisation – or at least
    have a developer team used to building software and systems. “The blockchain by
    itself is useless,” Dynowski wrote. “To make it work, you’ll have to figure out
    how to build it into an application, which means you’ll [need] the internal
    resources for that project
  • You need to be willing to share your data – a no-brainer,
    and ‘non-negotiable’ as Dynowski puts it
  • You need an immutable ledger. “This is probably
    the easiest criterion to meet, but needing an immutable ledger alone isn’t
    reason enough to adopt blockchain,” says Dynowski
  • You need to ensure that implementing blockchain
    does not add to your complexity. “This is the real kicker,” Dynowski concludes.
    “If you’re only using blockchain to use blockchain, it’s not a good solution”

The complete list of vendors analysed were Alibaba Cloud,
Amazon Web Services, BurstIQ, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Jelurida, Microsoft
Azure, Multichain, Oracle, SAP, Sovrin, and VMware.

You can find out more about the Everest Group report here (pdf download, client access required for full report).

Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.







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