Blockchain: Governance not technology now the greatest challenge, IBM says

The technology to build scalable, enterprise-ready blockchain solutions is ready for prime time, but governance remains a challenge for many organisations, according to the head of IBM’s local blockchain practice.

Rupert Colchester, IBM’s head of blockchain and consulting practice leader for Australia and New Zealand, said much of his work is focused on how companies or networks of companies or consortiums can establish the “governance model that’s required to share data in a new way”.

“Sometimes that sharing of the data is underpinned by a shared business process of sorts,” Colchester said. “Sometimes it is simply sharing data on which everybody carries out their own business process. But agreeing those data models, the ownership of data, the governance models — from the legal perspective, commercial perspective, and technology perspective — that does require time.”

“The reality is you can get from no lines of code to a live pilot, let’s say, in 10 weeks or so now,” he said. “It really can be very quick. The journey to production and hardening things up for an actual regulated enterprise of course takes a little longer, but they are increasingly things we have experience in doing and can do it at speed now for people.”

Although it still requires talented software engineers, blockchain technology “by and large can deliver what people want it to deliver at the moment”.

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IBM And Maersk’s TradeLens Blockchain Shipping Service To Be Used By Russian Ministry Of …

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Russian Ministry Of Transport Plans A Try Blockchain Shipping Solution TradeLens

TradeLens has become one of the biggest names in international shipping. Recently, they added another big project to their resume. The Ministry of Transport of Russia recently announced that they have plans to try TradeLens as a blockchain shipping solution.

The news was broken by Russian financial media Kommersnt who received a copy of a letter addressed to Maxim Akimov, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. The platform will operate on the basis of smart contracts and should replace labor-intensive paperwork. The system was developed by Maersk-IBM joint venture, where Maersk has 51%. They are creating a single digital space that unites all participants in the supply chains: traders, transport companies, ports, carriers, government agencies, etc.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has cleared the project. The FSB recommended working out devices to overcome information security risks, ensure the independence of the Russian segment, attract Russian specialists, and also separately discuss the issue of guarantees of the continued participation of Russian organizations in the application of US sanctions.

TradeLens is essentially a service that was devised by IBM and Maersk to serve as the foundational base for a whole host of digital supply chains (in order to streamline international barter and exchange). It is also worth mentioning that as things stand, there are more than 100 financial entities across the globe that have shown a keen interest in taking part in the pilot program. The Customs Authorities of Saudi Arabia, recently announced that they successfully completed the testing of a pilot scheme that will link the country’s native cross-border trade platform FASAH with TradeLens.

TradeLens was built on top of the IBM Blockchain, which uses Hyperledger Fabric, an open source relative of Linux, which opens the possibility of IBM using this product together with other Hyperledger projects. Other platforms like TradeShift and Citigroup’s project are also targeting this same area and it means that even if TradeLens tries to market itself as neutral as possible to get the market, it will have many other companies trying to take its place.

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Blockchain Accelerator Technology Announced By Samsung SDS

Maricel Custodio

Samsung SDS, the Internet technology solutions unit of Samsung Group, has developed its own blockchain accelerator technology designed to boost transaction processing speed.

During the IBM Think 2019 conference, Samsung SDS announced its new accelerator technology, called Nexledger Accelerator, which is expected to significantly improve the performance of Hyperledger Fabric, an open source cross-industry blockchain technology created by IBM.

“In order to improve transaction processing speed, which is a key consideration in applying blockchain technology, Samsung SDS has developed its own Nexledger Accelerator, which can be applied to Hyperledger Fabric,” Samsung said. “Samsung SDS tested the Nexledger Accelerator in Hyperledger Fabric last December and found that the transaction processing speed was significantly improved.”

The Korean company said that it will share Nexledger Accelerator’s technology roadmap and testing kit in GitHub to allow easy access to outside developers.

“As a contributor to Hyperledger Fabric, Samsung SDS is working to improve fabric capabilities and actively contributing its new “Accelerator” code to the open source community,” Samsung said.

In addition, Samsung SDS said that it will prepare to become IBM’s key go-to-market reseller partner of IBM blockchain platform in Korea. Ted Kim, Vice President, Blockchain Team from Samsung SDS America, has been named to the IBM Blockchain Board of Advisors.

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Samsung SDS and IBM Collaborate to Strengthen Open Source Hyperledger Fabric and …

SEOUL, South Korea–(BUSINESS WIRE)–During IBM THINK 2019, IBM’s annual conference focused on technology and business, Samsung SDS announced it is continuing its collaboration with IBM in support of advancing Hyperledger Fabric, an open source cross-industry blockchain technology, with recent code contributions, research and a new white paper.

As a contributor to Hyperledger Fabric, Samsung SDS is working to improve fabric capabilities and actively contributing its new “Accelerator” code to the open source community. The new code is expected to significantly improve Hyperledger Fabric performance for specific use cases.

Samsung SDS is also making a new white paper available, “Accelerating Throughput in Permissioned Blockchain Networks,” co-written by IBM. The paper validates the applicability of Accelerator to Hyperledger Fabric, provides a roadmap and also illustrates performance improvement in terms of transactions per second. A copy of the white paper and the Innovation Sandbox environment is now available for external developers to test. (https://github.com/nexledger/accelerator)

While this technical initiative is being rigorously validated from the open source Hyperledger community, Samsung SDS will prepare to become IBM’s key go-to-market reseller partner of IBM Blockchain Platform in Korea.

Ted Kim, Vice President, Blockchain Team from Samsung SDS America has been named to the IBM Blockchain Board of Advisors. Additionally, during the IBM Think Conference in San Francisco, Kiwoon Sung, Head of Blockchain Research Lab, Samsung SDS, will discuss the company’s blockchain innovation efforts at a session entitled, “New Blockchain Solutions emerging from the IBM Blockchain ecosystem.”

Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration including leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and Technology. The Linux Foundation hosts Hyperledger under the foundation. To learn more, visit: https://www.hyperledger.org/.

About Samsung SDS

Samsung SDS was founded in 1985 and has been leading the digital transformation and innovation of its clients for over 30 years. With the vision to become a data-driven digital transformation leader, Samsung SDS utilizes advanced technologies such as analytics platforms, AI, blockchain and cloud to serve a diverse range of industries including intelligent manufacturing, global logistics, enterprise mobility, financial services and retail. For more information, visit https://samsungsds.com.

About IBM

IBM is recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. The company’s research, technical and business experts teams have broken barriers in transaction processing speeds, developed the most advanced cryptography to secure transactions, and are contributing millions of lines of open source code to advance blockchain for businesses. IBM is the leader in open-source blockchain solutions built for the enterprise. Since 2016, IBM has worked with hundreds of clients across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications, and operates a number of networks running live and in production. The cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform delivers the end-to-end capabilities that clients need to quickly activate and successfully develop, operate, govern and secure their own business networks. IBM is an early member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. For more information about IBM Blockchain, visit https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/or follow us on Twitter at @ibmblockchain.

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Chris Ferris on how IBM has led the way in open technologies and

Few people have been more involved in the evolution of open source and open standards technologies than Chris Ferris. The IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO of Open Technology has been an enthusiastic proponent of open governance for two decades, and was instrumental in IBM’s efforts to take a leading role in developing and promoting open technologies. Chris recently sat down with IBM Developer’s Kevin Allen to discuss IBM’s role in the evolution of open technologies, including Hyperledger. What follows are some key portions of that conversation. (Watch the entire interview here.)

Chris Ferris

Kevin Allen: What are some of the things that you learned early on that have bridged your career — the keys to creating, maintaining, and having successful open source communities?

Chris Ferris: I recognized early on that doing anything in a sort of a closed, proprietary manner in terms of developing software was a losing proposition. It’s a slower process, you are limiting your innovation to the people that you have, and so forth. And what I was perceiving was that when things are developed out in the open, they just exploded. They would develop an order of magnitude more quickly, and then you’d have this blossoming ecosystem of sub-projects, related projects, tooling, and so forth that would develop around them … that’s what really what brought me to IBM — I was invited to bring some of that appreciation to IBM, to help IBM sort of get it, to be more involved and to take this beyond just the things that we were doing around Java and XML, and apply that pretty much across the board.

[Around 2010], inside IBM we had six independent, non-interoperable, prototypical virtualization platforms, and we were thinking this could become cloud. The problem is we had six of them, they were all different business units, they were competing against one another. So that was when I started looking at open source as being an answer to what we were doing, and we started looking around at some of the various projects, and that led me to OpenStack. At the time, OpenStack was still very young, it was fairly immature from a software development perspective — but you could tell that there was something special about it, and it was the community that really was what attracted us to the technology platform.

KA: OK, so you were able to start to use OpenStack as a way to articulate our cloud story, and to make a cohesive offering?

CF: So we thought about this. We could take these six non-interoperable, non-workload-portable implementations and try to consolidate them, unify them into a single, coherent offering of an IBM data center virtualization/private cloud kind of a solution. Or we could adopt for this emerging technology in OpenStack that seemed to be garnering both a community of dedicated developers and interest from a large number of vendors — and make a go of that. And so we managed to convince the business that the right thing to do was to start new. And that helped significantly to transform IBM from a closed, proprietary software development shop to one that was really fully embracing open source, and I think that was a nice turning point for IBM.

KA: How did you get from OpenStack to starting to work on Blockchain?

CF: So OpenStack then led to CloudFoundry. We [saw that] this Platform as a Service was going to be an important aspect of what we deliver … We had the beginnings of a cloud, but where developers were moving was beyond just provisioning VMs and deploying things into a virtual machine context, to wanting to just focus on the application development, not so much on the infrastructure details. So we started looking around and we saw CloudFoundry, and we said again, another really good opportunity. And so I worked … to help establish the CloudFoundry Foundation. So now I’ve got a reputation inside of IBM: I know how to sort of get these communities up off the ground and engage IBM in them and ramp up our contributions and so forth into those, build a community, build an ecosystem, and so forth.

So fast forward to 2015 … we’d been exploring Ethereum and bitcoin and a lot of the lightning and sidechains and various other things, but none of them seemed suitable for the enterprise. And so we started to build our own proprietary blockchain technology. [IBM Vice President of Blockchain Technology Jerry Cuomo], in his infinite wisdom, felt that if this is going to be successful, it can’t just be IBM. It has to be open source. And so I said we should definitely open source it. Again, a technology that’s intended to be essentially ubiquitous has to be open source. If it’s going to be successful, it can’t just be IBM. So I worked with the Linux Foundation because we had worked very closely with them most recently on CloudFoundry and Node.js and a few other projects — and that’s how Hyperledger began. I approached them with a proposal and we built a set of initial sponsors and formed the governance model, and the rest is history. We’ve grown nearly tenfold since the launch in February of 2016. So I think an impressive start. It’s actually the fastest-growing community at the Linux Foundation of all time.

KA: So how does someone get involved in Hyperledger, specifically?

CF: Basically if you go to Hyperledger.org, there’s a number of different pages and then a number of different tabs. One of them is “Projects.” We now have 12 top-level projects, five of which are blockchain frameworks, and then we have some tooling and so forth to go with those. So I would start there.

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Intel Launches Commercial Blockchain Package Based on Hyperledger Fabric

Intel has launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger ecosystem, according to marketing materials published on Feb. 12.

Intel, which is a member of the Hyperledger collaboration — hosted by the Linux Foundation along with IBM and other major financial institutions — has announced that its new product is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain fast and effectively.

The ecosystem will be based on the Hyperledger Fabric — a foundation for developing applications or solutions with a modular architecture. At the same time, the product will use Intel’s hardware, such as Xeon processors and Ethernet Network Adaptors.

The system has the base configuration that contains the necessary minimum to launch a Hyperledger-driven blockchain. According to Intel, the pack is enterprise-ready.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, other tech giant IBM has also launched its own Hyperledger-based blockchain platform in its data center located in Melbourne, Australia. The move will reportedly allow customers to run their applications on the company’s cloud.

Furthermore, IBM announced a project this month using blockchain and the Internet of Things to manage the use of groundwater and thus combat drought in the United States state of California.

Microsoft also released a blockchain-development kit back in November 2018. The kit is a serverless solution dubbed Azure, which contains features like off-chain identity and data, as well as monitoring and messaging application programming interfaces (API) in a format that can be used to develop blockchain-based apps.

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IBM releases its blockchain main net in Melbourne, Australia

As per the recent article published, IBM has launched a new blockchain main net out of its data center situated in Melbourne, Australia. This new release will supposedly let their clients run their submissions and requests on the company’s cloud.

The policy will also be obtainable through the information center in Sydney by the end of March, with the head of consulting and blockchain practice leader for IBM in Australia and New Zealand Rupert Colchester statting that the reason for an instant place is mainly for convenience and joblessness. In September of last year, Australian real estate major Vicinity announced it will trial a blockchain solution for its energy network. Through a partnership with Australian energy tech company Power Ledger, the trial became a part of Vicinity’s $75 million solar energy program in Castle Plaza — a mall located in Adelaide, South Australia. Additionally, with the establishment of physical infrastructure, customer data will not have to cross borders and would provide security for regulated applications in government and financial services. Colchester said, “Customers who are deploying blockchain applications have reached a maturity of projects that require the data to be stored in Australia.

The IBM platform has been created on Hyperledger Fabric. Hyperledger is a development that aims to recover cross-industry blockchain machinery that is presented by the Linux Foundation. Having the corporeal substructure in-country also means that information never crosses corporal boarders, with Colchester noticing this offers the security needed for extremely controlled requests, chiefly from government and monetary services. The best description of Hyperledger is a hub for open blockchain development for industries and enterprises. The developers of Hyperledger see blockchain as a technology influential enough to compare it with web technologies and want to use it for the development of blockchain-based operating systems for marketplaces, micro-currencies, digital communities and data-sharing. Zealand Rupert Colchester mentioned the reason for a second location is largely for accessibility and severance.

“By its very nature, it’s a blockchain so often ledgers are running in various locations and the request for two is through customers and consumers in this layout wanting to have high obtainability in the event of stoppage and the like,” he told ZDNet.

On Jan 31, IBM completed a blockchain-based trial in which it shipped 108,000 official oranges from China to Singapore, thus IBM has been vigorously increasing its use of blockchain technology. The technology allegedly reduced form-filling handling and charges for the shipment.

The company even recently announced that a project expending blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) to the battle dearth in the United States state of California is underway. IBM Research and sensor tech provider SweetSense collaborated with the University of Colorado Boulder and the non-profit Freshwater Trust to use blockchain and IoT to achieve the use of groundwater.

Colchester sated that blockchain is pretty much active across many industries in Australia; he also stated that companies in Australia have a progressively good grip on where blockchain is appropriate.

It is predictable the Australian National Blockchain will allow companies to numerically accomplish the development of a contract, from negotiation through to signing, and ongoing over the term of the contract.

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Ford and LG to Use IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain to Track Supply Chains to End Child Labor

Ford-and-LG-Will-be-Working-with-IBM-to-Fight-Against-Child-Labor-Using-Blockchain-Technology

IBM will be working in order to improve the supply chain in the metals industry using the Hyperledger Fabric as a blockchain platform. The intention is to track cobalt that is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo until it reaches a car maker plant. Another project will also be tracking metals from Mexico until they reach the Ford Motor Company plant.

The first project will start with a 1.5 ton of cobalt that will be mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After it, it will be transported to China, where it will be refined. In Korea, it will be used to create a battery and it will be used in the United States as a battery for an electric car. However, everything will be tracked using IBM’s blockchain.

With this pilot, each company will be checking that the material has been treated with the standards followed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The information was shared by IBM’s general manager for global industrial products, Manish Chawla.

On the matter, Chawla commented:

“Blockchain is the most effective technology to provide real-time access to all the due diligence processes, provide visibility to the supply chain from the miners to the market. Our role in IBM is that we are bringing people together for this project and developing the platform.”

Although the intention is to improve the supply chain and have better control over the products handled there is still going to be needed human intervention. There will be inspectors controlling that the mines work properly and following international standards.

Currently, if there are workers that are working in bad conditions, the employee will be recording this on the system and the RCS Global headquarters will be alerted. In this way, they can inform the mine that the batch that they will deliver does not meet the international guidelines.

If everything goes as expected, the employee will just print a code bar that allows other companies and parties in the supply chain to confirm that this batch was mined according to international regulations.

Using blockchain technology the process will be easier. The initial monitoring will take place at the mining site. RCS employees will not have to be there full-time. Instead, everything will be auditing information provided by the management of the mine. Barcode tags will be used for assets on the blockchain and audits and other reports will be stored using an IBM server.

Each of the participants will be working as validators having their own nodes. As more companies join this pilot and program, the will have the possibility to have their node supported by IBM.

At the same time, using Hyperledger technology, customers will be able to protect their information. Companies will be able to share the information they have with third-party partners such as NGOs. In the future, and if the project succeeds, other companies could join such as automakers or electronics manufacturers.

IBM is also working with other companies such as the Canadian startup called MIneHUb Technologies, Goldcorp, Wheaton Precios Metals and many others, including ING Bank.

Back in 2018, IBM and other mining companies and refiners started to work together to leverage blockchain technology and improve the mining industry in different countries in Africa.

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Tensions emerge between IBM and Intel, Hyperledger’s biggest supporters

The governing board of Hyperledger agreed to a new supply chain project earlier this month, and this move signified a departure from their normal business model. The project which is called Sawtooth Supply Chain has generated lots of waves because it is the first by Hyperledger to inhabit the application layer of the software stack. The supply chain will be built on top of the Sawtooth framework which was developed for the consortium by Intel.

Before the approval of this project, Hyperledger has mostly limited its work to the lower layers and focused on custom-design of blockchain application code which usually targets industry players. The vendors had been left to handle the job, and IBM has been leading the way in its now-launched food-tracking supply chain platform it started with retailers like Walmart.

Sawtooth received massive support

Despite the usual business model, nine of the 11 Technical Steering Committee (TSC) members voted to approve the new project earlier this month. The project was approved as a high-level one, and this helped in massively boosting its profile, venturing into the Hyperledger’s formal project lifecycle and earning the support that the consortium has.

The other two members who voted against the project where skeptical as they are not sure where the project belonged within the scope of Hyperledger. It so happens that both members, Arnaud Le Hors and Chris Ferris, worked at IBM. This disagreement has led to a little tug of war starting within Hyperledger and its members. On one end of the tug is IBM and Fabric, it’s preferred implementation project while on the other side is Sawtooth which has received the backing of Intel. Intel seemed to have the upper hand as the head of the TSC is Dan Middleton works at Intel and is the lead maintainer of Sawtooth.

Sawtooth Supply Chain is a unique project because it is now the first to become to be sponsored by a non-tech company, U.S. food giant Cargill. This implies that this project will most likely have a faster deployment and implementation process than the other Hyperledger projects. Since Cargill is involved, it is most likely that Sawtooth will challenge IBM’s Food Trust network.

Tensions might lead to bigger problems

Despite the initial tensions being valid, there is a sense of fear that it will brew to something bigger and will center on governance of the consortium. IBM is of the view that integrating Hyperledger’s imprimatur on an app-level project will most likely undermine the position of the consortium as a neutral player. Some players in the consortium don’t share that view though as they regard that comment as resistance by IBM towards the project.

James Mitchell, CEO of Bitwise commented that “This is fundamentally a discussion about what is open source software. And is the structure of an organization like Hyperledger ultimately to be protectionist around a set of commercial interests, or does it have a different set of goals?”

Diversity needed within Hyperledger

Some proponents look at the Sawtooth project as a way for the consortium to move away from its origin as a body that is dominated by IBM. While talking about this, Middleton noted that part of his job as head of TSC is to ensure that diversity is created within the consortium and for them to be able to regain their strength from the benefits that blockchain technology has to offer.

He pointed out that IBM has contributed immensely to the growth of IBM, the same way Intel and others have played their part. He stated that “I think it’s important that no one of those organizations undermines the legitimacy of having an open source organization where we are all developing code transparently. We just want to make sure that we have a good balance among all the contributors.”

Mitchell of Bitwise meanwhile wasn’t all too civil as he claimed that IBM and its early proliferation of Fabric have taken advantage of Hyperledger and used it to market its enterprises, something he regards as “open-source washing.”

While commenting on IBM’s blockchain strategy so far, he stated that “You want to be able to tell a story about how you are building open source solutions. But where it matters, which is the bulk of the application code, you want to be able to retain proprietary ownership of intellectual property and be able to monetize the solution at that level.”

He added that “I think people are savvy to this; they realize they don’t want to be paying rent to a large technology provider for the next two decades on these solutions.”

Mitchel further noted that blockchain may represent an even more aggressive form of lock-in than the previously conceived notion of enterprise software licensing. He stated that “Based on conversations we have had with industry partners we are working with, like Cargill and others, we strongly believe the industry needs to own those solutions instead of the vendors.” He further stated that it could take the form of closed-source, shared ownership amongst those parties or it might even get better and be an open source software that would enable industries to build, contribute and share.

IBM not sure about the expansion

IBM on its part is not sure about the supposed expansion of Hyperledger. While talking about the expansion of the consortium to promote the Sawtooth supply chain project, Chris Ferris pointed out that the opinion is his and not that of IBM. He stated that “When we set up Hyperledger initially, we said we would not go into the application space. And we did that for a reason because we want people to take the frameworks we are building and leverage them. We didn’t want to be perceived somehow as competition to someone who is legitimately trying to build a solution around supply chain.”

Ferris also pointed out that the components that developed in the Sawtooth project are just specific to the project at the moment. This is a cause of concern for him as he believes the Hyperledger Governing Board wants each top-level tools projects to support multiple projects instead of just focusing on one.

Ferris stated that he doesn’t think Sawtooth should be upgraded to a top-level project as he believes that it is better off placed in Hyperledger Labs. This is the perfect place for projects that are too early for TSC approval for incubation are placed, and before they become formal, the project proposal has to be submitted to the body.

While commenting on Middleton’s point about the need for greater diversity within Hyperledger, Ferris stated that Hyperledger has already addressed this over the past few months considering the fact that many developers have joined the body. He pointed out IBM is responsible for 30 percent of the contribution to Hyperledger.

Gari Singh, an engineer, and blockchain CTO at IBM stated that even though it is good for them to hear how much IBM has contributed to the growth of Hyperledger, the absence of a contribution from other big names in the industry is frustrating. He stated that “So you look at Oracle running Fabric; Amazon and their new managed blockchain service takes the Fabric samples and uses it, but no contributions back. There are contributions coming, but they are coming from the start-ups – we would actually like to see it from the big guys,” said Singh.

IBM still commands respect

Despite the recent events, IBM still commands huge respect within Hyperledger. Last week at the Hyperledger Forum in Basel, Switzerland, some prominent members of the consortium took time to show respect to the tech giant.

Casey Kuhlman, CEO of Monax, pointed out that even though Sawtooth Supply Chain project has been adopted by Hyperledger, IBM hasn’t stood in the way of the project and they have behaved like a very reasonable member of the community. He added that “Their actions have been, in my opinion, very reasonably self-serving. Because at the end of the day we are all businesses and we are all trying to make money. We are all self-interested. We should be.”

The director of the consortium, Brian Behlendorf stated that even though Hyperledger is evolving, their focus remains on things that have general applications. He stated that “It’s not going to be just to solving Cargill’s needs for a reusable body of code or template or recipe or whatever for a large number of use cases.”

At the Hyperledger Global Forum, Behlendorf paid his due respect to the tech giant, stating that “We would absolutely not be here if it were not for them.”

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