Everyone is familiar with digital currencies in the form of Bitcoin. The foundational blockchain cryptology technology that enables that currency to be securely shared may wind up having the biggest impact on the economy.
IBM this week announced plans for a blockchain-as-a-service offering that resides on the IBM Bluemix cloud. At the same time, it is contributing 44,000 lines of code to the open source Hyperledger Project that was recently launched by the Linux Foundation.
In addition, IBM is making blockchain software available on its mainframes and is opening “garages” in London, New York, Tokyo and Singapore to provide developers with access to blockchain technology. IBM also revealed that it has developed a consensus algorithm tailored to specific blockchain use cases, while also moving to integrate identity management with the cryptography technology.
IBM is also working with customers to create “smart contracts” written in programming languages such as Java or Golang and executed in containers. Those contracts allow their authors to specify both who can view them and who can execute them.
Blockchain was created to provide a secure mechanism for anonymously transferring Bitcoins using a SHA-256 encryption. Now vendors are rushing to make use of blockchain technology to secure all kinds of financial transactions.
In fact, Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president of IBM systems, says the Hyperledger Project is far and away the fastest growing open source project that IBM has ever participated in.
It’s too early to say what impact blockchain cryptography will have on IT security. But given how secure Bitcoin transactions have been, chances are the level of IT security that is about to be embedded inside enterprise applications will substantially increase. The irony of that, of course, is that at that rate, the blockchain technology used to create Bitcoins will probably long outlive the digital currency itself.