The role of CIO is changing, says David Willis, Distinguished VP Analyst for Gartner Research. A recent Gartner webinar strongly suggests this will include blockchain. After selecting the right use case, the next challenge a CIO faces is implementing a technology that many still find confusing. Worsening the situation are cloud services that lure customers in with the idea of blockchain but provide no genuine value.
“The crypto world has confused the enterprise tech market making them leery of committing,” said Jules Hilliard, CEO of Secure Block Technologies. His firm’s mission is to build a bridge between enterprise blockchain technology and their clients’ needs. They offer enterprise-grade blockchain hardware and solutions.
“If you’ve spent time in a large global network you understand how complicated they can be. It’s not as simple as plugging in an application,” Hilliard said. In this interview he described his company’s most recent use case and some tips on getting started with enterprise blockchain.
Enterprise Blockchain: Not Just Plug and Play
Hilliard’s background in enterprise technology included a firm that was purchased by a publicly traded company. After that he launched Secure Block Technologies and relocated to Blockchain Beach in California, home to over 500 other tech startups.
He and his team researched the market by asking a tough question. “How do we close the gap between enterprise networks and blockchain technology?” The key issues they discovered were interoperability, security, business intelligence and performance monitoring. They built virtual instances in those areas which can now be loaded onto their hardware and delivered as a node or managed in the cloud.
SBT clients use their products or services to test third-party blockchain platforms and protocols. In addition, they can be used to create multiple blockchain applications and are interoperable with legacy applications.
These capabilities enable IT departments to slowly integrate blockchain applications with a mesh network environment. A solution can be overlaid into an enterprise network affordably and without risk. Further, Hilliard added “We’re using blockchain to change the risk reward formula on hacking.”
Changing the Risk to Reward Formula
There’s no industry-standard architecture framework for cybersecurity. Companies have traditionally have used a layered defence system similar to a castle and moat to protect their assets. The effectiveness of this approach is now in doubt.
The New York Times recently reported Facebook expects a 3 to 5 billion dollar fine for mismanaging 30 million user’s data. This cost may’ve been avoided with a decentralized approach to security. Hilliard believes CIOs can eliminate their securty risk with blockchain.
“We believe blockchain technology can change the risk to reward formula on hacking,” he said. Hackers are opportunists looking for the biggest payoff with the least effort. A blockchain protected environment increases their visibility while limiting their access. A hacker sniffing networks for possible targets would undoubtedly see legacy applications as the low hanging fruit. But there’s more to it than that.
Quantum computing has been called blockchain’s kryptonite. It could be used to hack blockchain. “It’s a lot closer than people realize,” added Hilliard. IBM recently introduced the world’s first quantum computing system. Google and Intel are also working in that direction. While there’s no need for quantum tools yet, SBT hardware has built-in quantum security. “Quantum computing is as scary as people think it is. It’ll be a game changer,” said Hilliard.
In addition to quantum proof encryption, SBT SuperNodes server houses enterprise grade capabilities for a complete blockchain solution. For added support they provide Blockchain Application Management (BAM) and a Virtual Blockchain Officer (VBO), terms created by the SBT team. Their full-service solution is about to be implemented on a lending platform.
Lending Platform to Cut User Fees with Blockchain
SBT hardware will soon be used cut user fees for a firm in the financial services industry with 2,000 employees. The company wants to streamline their approach to the lending market by giving everyday investors more access. They think blockchain is the way to go.
SBT created a plan to build their platform and network so it integrates SBT functionality with existing technology. The goal is to create an end-to-end blockchain solution lowering user fees with reduced management costs. Investors will be able to connect directly with the lending platform’s services.
The SAAS solution will use SBT’s hardware to implement virtual instances for integration, security, real-time dashboards and BI. It will be tested using SBTs Distributed Enterprise Blockchain Lab (DEBL). This is a blockchain technology sandbox they’ve created to let companies test and evaluate their platform until it’s production ready.
Hilliard said larger companies will need a HyperNode or two to serve as a fundamental core for their blockchain architecture. This allows them to have applications on premise or in the cloud. Their HyperNodes are for companies looking for an entire blockchain environment. “They’re blockchain in a box,” said Hilliard. He suggested a few tips to help enterprises get started with blockchain.
Getting Your Enterprise Blockchain-ready
The first piece of advice Hilliard offered to CIOs is to get started as soon as possible. Unlike technologies of the past, blockchain is being rapidly adopted in areas like finance and supply chain. A 2018 IDC report projected blockchain spending will reach 12.4 billion by 2022. “If you don’t start planning now, you might never catch up,” he said.
Further, he recommends creating a budget for bringing in a team that’s agnostic to your industry. SBT spent significant time and energy getting to know blockchain protocols and third party applications. “I’m still amazed at the time, energy and horsepower we had to put in to overcome all the hype surrounding blockchain.” He suggests you hire someone who’s already up to speed on blockchain to save time.
Hilliard’s final tip is about security. He believes you must work with a team experienced in enterprise environments and who understands enterprise level security. “Only then can you can comfortably move forward.”