A partnership Amazon Web Services has forged to deliver easily deployable blockchain networks has solution providers ready to take a deeper dive into the bleeding-edge technology with the potential of transforming everything from supply chains to multi-national financial transactions.
The cloud leader said Tuesday it's taking its first foray into supporting blockchain through a partnership with Kaleido, a startup just spun out of a blockchain incubator that's already offering a cloud app on the AWS Marketplace.
Enterprise customers can immediately provision the Kaleido Blockchain Business Cloud platform from the online marketplace to start deploying distributed databases, called ledgers in blockchain terminology.
Kaleido was born in ConsenSys, an AWS technology partner that incubates businesses implementing the open source Ethereum protocol for creating blockchain networks.
Blockchain, introduced to the world through the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, is currently being explored for a range of enterprise use cases because of its potential to speed implementation of secure and transparent transactions at global scale.
But the technology's complex peer-to-peer distributed networks and cryptography poses a challenge to potential customers, said Ale Flores, AWS global segment lead for blockchain, in an AWS blog.
"The promise of blockchain technology for many is still out of reach due to the lack of readily available solutions in the market," he said.
To ease adoption, the Kaleido Blockchain Business Cloud platform comes as a SaaS solution.
Delivering blockchain as SaaS "radically changes the project economics and success rates for customers," Flores said.
Adam Muise, chief solutions architect at Pythian, said Blockchain-as-a-Service offerings "are starting to pop up everywhere." But few address the realities of building a private chain, as Amazon's latest service does.
Pythian, a solution provider headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, has tackled some blockchain projects of late, and is seeing the challenges faced by customers, as well as the benefits of adopting the technology.
The Kaleido service offered by AWS is the first that allows users to automatically anchor private Ethereum networks to the public one, Muise told CRN, while also supporting the traditional tool set for an Ethereum blockchain service.
"This provides a unique opportunity for implementers to have certain contract interactions on the semi-centralized private network and then pin the most important contracts to the Ethereum public network," Muise said.
As an example, users can update mortgage contracts with minor edits in a private chain, then commit a final agreed-upon version to the public one.
"Within the private network, you have more freedom to reduce consensus restrictions or increase transaction speeds, but you can still secure the final state of your event in the public Ethereum network, ensuring maximum certainty," Muise said.
That, in a practical sense, is the best of both private and public blockchain worlds in a single deployment, he added.
"Kaleido takes the prerequisite of deep blockchain knowledge out of the hands of users. This happens while distributing ownership and control of the network among the member organizations according to defined and agreed upon governing policies that are automatically enforced," Flores said.
AWS channel chief Terry Wise said at the cloud provider's re:Invent conference last November that Amazon would introduce a partner competency in the AWS Partner Network around Blockchain.