Many enterprise blockchain projects start with a few participants in their inception phase, and then grow to encompass a larger and more diverse set of organizations. As these networks grow, new organizations need to deploy their blockchain nodes to store their copy of the distributed ledger and execute the smart contracts. Where the nodes are deployed can be subject to regulatory constraints, such as data residency (local copy of the data must be available in the country where the organization operates) or data sovereignty (broader concept that data is subject to local laws and regulations, e.g. HIPAA in US or privacy regulations in countries covered by GDPR). And sometimes the organization policy on what data can be in a public cloud vs. staying within the enterprise data center or selection of a cloud provider dictates deployment choices.
Oracle Blockchain Platform Enterprise Edition, based on Hyperledger Fabric, enables this flexibility by providing an option to deploy blockchain nodes in customer’s data centers or on 3rd party clouds, while still connecting to Oracle Blockchain Platform nodes provided as managed PaaS offering in Oracle Cloud.
Consider a global logistics consortium, such as maritime shipping blockchain network (also described in an earlier blog post) or an Electric Vehicle battery supply chain consortium involving Volvo Cars, their electric vehicle battery suppliers CATL from China and LG Chem from South Korea, together with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tier suppliers behind them involved in mining new cobalt ore and recycling cobalt from existing batteries. Some members operate in countries with specific regulations imposing local residency and sovereignty controls over data that’s exchanged with other members who are based in the same country vs. data that’s exchanged with participants outside the country. In Oracle Blockchain Platform, users can set up independent channels to isolate groups of participants and specific transactions so it’s possible to separate transactions that involve only in-country members (e.g., logistics within China) or those within a broader group subject to specific regulations (e.g., EU members subject to GDPR) from those that involve foreign entities (e.g., shipments between China and US ports).
The maritime shipping blockchain network has been deployed using a mix of OBP EE instances running on-premises in customers’ data centers in one country and OBP cloud service instances in OCI data centers across the world. Members that are based in that country can share local channels (and therefore copies of the ledger) with other in-country members without that data going abroad. Transactions that involve organizations outside of that country use channels connecting these on-premises instances and cloud instances in OCI. Data subject to GDPR controls can be shared on the channels whose member nodes are deployed within EU data centers. While OCI data centers are continuously expanding, there are organizations that operate in countries without an OCI data center who would like to deploy in a 3rd party cloud data center that meets local data residency requirements.
Blockchain networks operating in a real world have to be flexible enough to cater to organizational policies and regulatory regimes around the world. Oracle Blockchain Platform enables this with an interoperable combination of cloud PaaS nodes and enterprise edition nodes that can operate outside of the Oracle Cloud to meet diverse customer needs. To achieve this, OBP has common architecture that separates core functionality from certain implementation specifics, such as provisioning UI, authentication, patching, logging, etc. so the latter aspects can be implemented differently for the cloud service using native OCI capabilities and the on-premises enterprise editions, using pre-integrated components. For example, authentication requirements for the OBP Console and REST proxy are provided using IDCS in the cloud, while enterprise edition can use local directory services, such as LDAP, Microsoft Active Directory (AD), and Oracle Internet Directory (OID).
In addition to hybrid deployments, the increasing blockchain momentum in governments/public sector drives deployments of OBP Enterprise Edition. These include US and foreign government agencies, in civilian and national security segments. Customs, immigration, tax authorities, healthcare regulators, and defense ministries and departments are some of the governmental organizations deploying OBP EE on-premises to support their missions using fully on-premises networks. However, in some scenarios where an ecosystem involves both the public sector and private companies, hybrid deployments are being explored to enable the private sector to use cloud-based nodes.
As the ecosystems expand, their members might naturally prefer a multi-cloud approach as well, whether it’s interconnecting Hyperledger Fabric nodes from multiple cloud providers or deploying OBP EE on 3rd party clouds to interconnect with OBP cloud service in OCI. Oracle has supported the interoperability of OBP with open source Fabric nodes from its initial GA in 2018.
More recently, Hyperledger Fabric Interoperability Working Group inaugurated at the last Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland has been working to promote the interoperability of Hyperledger Fabric network services when the blockchain nodes are provided by different vendors. The current state of this effort and related documents are available on Hyperledger Wiki. Oracle blockchain team has supported this effort from its inception in Basel, and provides testing nodes for other Hyperledger members who want to test interoperability from their cloud nodes to OBP nodes in Oracle Cloud (see Interop Testing page for details.)