IBM and Oracle are working to get their blockchains communicated. Revolutionary interoperability work is taking place on blockchains built using Fabric, Oracle developers told the Hyperledger Global Forum last week in Phoenix, Arizona.
Mark Rakhmilevich, Oracle's senior director in managing blockchain products, said that Fabric's interoperability initiative started shortly before the first Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland, in late 2018.
"We did full tests with IBM and SAP," said Rakhmilevich in an interview. "So if someone wanted to manage a network on Oracle by having some members who prefer to be on IBM, we could explain to them the process that we have experienced, tested and certified."
To some extent, it's about making blockchain nodes work on IBM and Oracle clouds. But this also opens the doors to connecting consortia of companies grouped on the two platforms. Technical aspects include the exchange of information between networks in a format that the other party can accept.
“The long-term goal should be to create a simple user interface where you can click and start the configuration. For now we have manually tested the transition and connection, ”said Rakhmilevich.
The example of shipping services
The corporate blockchain is a team sport, as often heard in the environment of distributed ledger technology (DLT). However, groups of companies are often aligned with different platforms even when, in some cases, they are facing the same use case (for example, shipping container monitoring) while using the same underlying open-source blockchain (such as Fabric).
A good example is the Oracle Blockchain consortium and CargoSmart Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), which includes couriers like CMA CGM, COSCO Shipping Lines and Hapag-Lloyd and uses Fabric. Meanwhile, IBM and Maersk launched TradeLens in 2018, which also counts CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd as members, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company and Ocean Network Express, and runs on the Fabric-based IBM Blockchain Platform.
Both consortia also include a number of shipping ports around the world, as well as shipping companies and the like, which means that any step towards harmonizing these projects has potentially huge value for industry participants.
A look into the future
Building consortia is hard work and it's not surprising that tech vendors want to protect big names on their platforms. To make the process more agile, Rakhmilevich recommends starting with "the first code", while heavy work to establish a formal consortium can be done in parallel.
The blockchain teams from IBM, Oracle and SAP are optimistic about creating harmony between the companies that participate in several quotations by Fabric. Business decision makers, on the other hand, might see things differently.
"Large IT companies have a history of competition, but it makes sense to collaborate on a technical level, whether it's formal or informal standards," said Rakhmilevich.