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  • October 22, 2018

Oracle OpenWorld & The Future of Blockchain and Infrastructure

Aditi Mishra
Product Marketing, Big Data

According to a new Gartner report, blockchain’s business value add could reach $3.1 trillion by 2030. But enterprises need to think beyond simply deploying distributed ledger technology to choosing the right deployment platform.

So, companies need to think about the kind of infrastructure and blockchain technology that they require to drive businesses value. And Oracle provides that desired, robust infrastructure and blockchain technology with its Oracle Blockchain Cloud. If you’re attending Oracle OpenWorld this week, you’ll want to check out this Tuesday session: “Making Enterprise Blockchain a Reality: Oracle Blockchain Cloud Use Cases [BUS4591]” to learn how your enterprise can simplify and accelerate blockchain adoption.

Oracle also continues to be a leader in providing infrastructure engineered to optimize performance across a broad range of data workloads. For example, Exadata enables the Oracle Database to ensure the highest levels of performance, scalability, flexibility, availability, and security. So make sure to check out this session at Oracle OpenWorld, “An Overview of Oracle Infrastructure Technologies in Oracle Cloud [PRO5904],” which uncovers details about Oracle’s cloud infrastructure, and how it supports massive data and database workloads to drive business transformation.

Oracle Blockchain Cloud and Oracle’s powerful Exadata engineered systems offering are both exciting technologies that are driving innovation and business value. So it is worth your time to check out both solutions and how they can improve your IT and business performance today.

When it comes to blockchain, one thing that is clear: blockchain has moved beyond theory and into practical application. Blockchain expert Mark van Rijmenam believes that the new technology is starting a revolution that is dramatically changing the way people do business with each other and interact online. He even makes the case that blockchain could someday help eliminate world poverty.

In an earlier post, we spoke to van Rijmenam about what’s happening in blockchain technology today. In this post, we’re following up with him about future uses of blockchain technology and what enterprise companies need to know to stay on top.

Van Rijmenam is the founder of Imagin and Datafloq, a faculty member at the Blockchain Research Institute, and author of the best-selling book Think Bigger. He also recently published a new book on blockchain for social good called Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World.

In a recent interview, you said that blockchain is the biggest invention since the Internet. What characteristics will enable it to change the future of transactions?

Inside a blockchain, data is immutable, verifiable, and traceable. These characteristics create a single version of truth that makes data more trustworthy. It also makes all kinds of processes more flexible and efficient.

The fact that you now can really trace the life of products and data creates new levels of transparency which, in turn, creates trust. This impacts every industry, especially supply chain and retail. But you also see the effect in energy and fair trade, for example.

Another game changer is the elimination of intermediaries—like money transfers. Currently, if I wanted to transfer money to someone in a different country, and our banks didn’t know each other, they would need an intermediary to complete the transaction. With blockchain, you don’t have that problem anymore.

Another killer application of the blockchain is smart contracts. If I sell you my house using a normal contract, there are ways that I could just take your money and run away with it. But with smart contracts, when you transfer money to me, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. The moment it hits my bank account, you automatically become the legal owner of the property.

It sounds like, on a high level, the structure of businesses are going to change because roles that used to be necessary are going to disappear. For instance, we might not need an escrow company anymore when we close on houses.

Online, people don't trust each other because they don't know each other. With blockchain, there’s a new possibility for individuals to collaborate with other individuals, organizations—and even with things—in a seamless way where everyone is happy. That’s exactly what we're trying to achieve with my new company. Our goal is to change how people collaborate.

In addition to that, we also see that competitors all of a sudden can share their proprietary data with each other while remaining in full control over who gets access to the data, when, for how much, for how long, how, etc. That offers all kinds of new possibilities as well, but it also requires organizations to completely rethink how they deal with data.      

Can you tell us more about this new company you’re creating and what kind of collaboration might take place?

We are creating a decentralized collaboration platform, using blockchain technology, which will allow individuals, organizations, and things to collaborate with each other on any kind of trade.

Our initial focus is written content. For example, writing an article or piece of news with another person. But as we evolve over time, the platform will include the ability to create software or games—basically, any type of collaboration you can imagine.

The platform gives full ownership and full control to the content creators. Whatever they create, they will be able to earn a fair reward on fair work. We use a reputation protocol, so the idea is that the higher the quality of your content, the more reliable and reputable you are, and the more money you can make.

The Internet was envisaged as a decentralized global network, but we’ve seen it come to be controlled by a few, very powerful, centralized companies. Blockchain can shift that control back to the individual. It allows secure, reliable, and direct information transfer between individuals, organizations, and things, so that we can manage, verify, and control the use of our own data.

When the creators of the Internet initially developed it, they did a lot of things very well, developing standards around http and domain name servers, etc. But, unfortunately, they left out a few things—especially around the idea of identity. That is, how can we use our offline identity in the online world? A lot of companies are working on a concept called self-sovereign identity to fix this issue.

I think the creators of the Internet also forgot a reputation protocol. Online, you can pretend to be anyone, and that can be a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing if you can't trust anyone because you don't know how reputable they are. That's basically what we're trying to add to the web: a reputation protocol.

What you’re talking about is building trust in shared data. What about security? How is blockchain changing data security? How does the focus change?

Security should always be the top of the agenda for any company. If it’s not, that's just unacceptable. One thing that enterprises need to be aware of is quantum computing, which is coming our way very quickly. Organizations need to look into requiring quantum-resistant encryption. Many organizations don’t have security high on the agenda—let alone quantum resistance—and that’s a massive challenge that organizations need to be aware of.

Security depends on understanding this new technology. For instance, not everyone is aware that there are different kinds of blockchain.

Yes—you have public auction and private blockchains, permissioned and permissionless blockchains, and these allow you to create a whole variety of different blockchains. The Bitcoin blockchain is a public permissionless blockchain. Publicly available means anyone can participate, and you don't need anyone to tell you to be verified. “Can I join first and then show my name?” is perfectly acceptable.

You also have, for example, public permissioned blockchains which, as long as you get verified, everyone has access to it. And then, private blockchains are, by default, permissioned. These are only accessible to a small group of people—for example, four to six banks. In the end, blockchains are just databases, and the differences are who gets access to read, write, and add to it.

So permissioned blockchains are the most secure?

Absolutely. If you have to verify who you are to access something, that's a good thing.  That’s one approach that we are using in the company that we're building. Everyone can access the blockchain, but we want to know who you are, and that's it. Then you have access to it. That creates more trust as well. For a private permissioned blockchain, you can have an extremely high level of security.

How do you see enterprises diving into blockchain?

One thing I’ve noticed is that the entire financial services industry is investigating blockchain quite heavily because they recognize that they have to do something about it. They see how easy it becomes to transfer money all around the world. With blockchain, you don’t need a bank to do this.

In other industries, things are happening within supply chain and retail. Organizations are experimenting with what this could mean for their industry, but it's all in the experimental phase. The financial services industry is definitely at the forefront. You also see the most action coming from startups, which are trying to build or reinvent existing services and products.

What can we expect from blockchain in the near future and why should we be excited about it?

Blockchain helps us redevelop and recreate a society in a fairer and more decentralized way. I think that's a fantastic opportunity that we all have to create a better world and help us take back control our lives. Rather than being overly controlled by these huge organizations that collect and share our information, we can decide who has access, when and how. For that to happen, though, a lot of technology needs to be developed. We’re still in the very early stages.

I also think it’s the responsibility of the government to build more regulation around the technology, especially cryptocurrencies. We shouldn’t forbid cryptocurrency. Instead, we should regulate it in a sensible way that protects investors and enables individuals and organizations to innovate and create these better products and services.  

I think we are really at the start of a revolution—a completely new way of how we run our society. Of course, it takes time before we get there, but the possibilities and opportunities are absolutely endless.

If you’re attending Oracle OpenWorld this week and want to dive deeper into the world of blockchain as well as key infrastructure solutions to enable powerful processing of database and application workloads, here are some sessions you can still catch:

 

 

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