For IBM, there's no time like the present for enterprises looking to build their first of potentially many blockchain applications.
Blockchain is ready to get to work with today's introduction of the "world's first enterprise-ready blockchain platform," Angel Diaz, vice president of Developer Technology and Advocacy at IBM, told Datamation. The IT giant today officially launched its IBM Blockchain Platform, enabling developers to harness the IBM cloud and the high-performance compute and end-to-end encryption capabilities provided System Z hardware running in its data centers to build and deploy secure blockchain applications for business.
The portfolio of cloud-based blockchain services and technologies represents a major leap from the blockchain development and testing programs that have cropped up in recent years, according to Diaz.
Developers who may have dabbled in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or attempted to create immutable transaction platforms and systems of record can now help usher in "new types of business models" along with an assortment of "fundamentally new services and offerings" that can solve problems and have a concrete impact on how organizations conduct business.
Key to building momentum on an ecosystem of enterprise blockchain applications is to remove many of the technical obstacles that are keeping coders from delving into the technology, said Diaz. For starters, IBM has streamlined the process of creating trusted blockchain networks that enable businesses, their suppliers and partners to process transactions.
In addition, IBM offers resources called Developer Journeys for blockchain that include documentation, open source code, APIs and on-click deployment of Git repositories.
IBM Blockchain Platform can also serve as a template, of sorts, for improved collaboration between developer teams and the business units they create software for. By firing up the intuitive toolkit, a developer can "sit with the business person in real-time and very quickly build the policies" that govern a blockchain-based trust network, Diaz said.
Supplementing the platform's technical capabilities, customers can engage with IBM Global Business Services' blockchain practice. An army of 1,600 consultants are standing by to help organizations plan and deploy their blockchain projects, said Diaz.
Leading growers and food suppliers are already banking on the IBM Blockchain Platform to help improve food chain safety.
Each year, 400,000 people die worldwide because of contaminated food and one in ten get sick, according to the World Health Organizations. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if the source of the contamination was identified quickly.
IBM teamed has partnered with several leading food companies and retailers, namely Dole, Driscoll's, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart, on a blockchain pilot program to improve food traceability. The pilot program aims to slash the time it takes to trace contaminated food from two weeks or more to mere seconds, Diaz said.
IBM Blockchain Platform is now open for business, with prices starting at $0.50 per hour.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.