Accenture enables business process synchronization between Digital Asset, R3 Corda, Hyperledger Fabric and Quorum distributed ledger platforms. It has has developed and tested two technology solutions which enable different blockchain enabled ecosystems to integrate. This, if proven in enterprise practice, would solve a critical challenge for broad adoption of blockchain technology.
According to David Treat, managing director and Global Blockchain Lead, Accenture: “This is a game-changer that can help accelerate adoption of blockchain technology. The key challenge was to develop the ability to integrate without introducing ‘operational messaging’ between distributed ledger technology platforms in order to stay true to the principles and benefits of blockchain technology
“Applying this capability with our clients is already unlocking new opportunities to bring ecosystems together, mitigating key concerns about picking the ‘wrong’ platform or having to re-build if one partner uses something different.”
Accenture’s two solutions
The two Accenture solutions show blockchain platforms – from Digital Asset (DA Platform) and R3 (R3 Corda) as well as Hyperledger Fabric and Quorum – are capable of integrating to orchestrate secure business processes. The technology solutions also:
- demonstrate they can actively share data and information across distributed ledgers
- prove that integration is conceptually possible across the growing number of blockchain and distributed ledger platforms available.
Interoperability is challenging topic among industry analysts and enterprise technology professionals because there are multiple blockchains platforms gaining traction in the market. Different industries and business ecosystems may prefer one platform or another. Concerns will arise about:
- picking the ‘wrong system’
- perceiving challenges when connecting blockchain-based ecosystems on different platforms.
In time is likely enterprise users will demand these connect to each other.
“It’s important for our customers to know that not only does the Digital Asset Platform seamlessly integrate with their existing systems, but also has the possibility to integrate with other DLT platforms,” said Shaul Kfir, chief technology officer, head of Technology Architecture & Innovation at Digital Asset. “Accenture has demonstrated a useful approach which addresses many practical enterprise business needs.”
Integrating distributed ledgers
For different distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) to integrate, each must preserve the ability to audit, trace and verify data elements with complete security and integrity. The Accenture solutions address this with an interoperability node. This resides, and provides the lines of communication, between two or more DLT platforms.
The integration protocol requires leaders of two or more DLT-based ecosystems establish these business rules, policies, standards and governance. This determines how they agree to work together. The business logic resulting from these governance agreements is then used to configure the interoperability node and technical implementation:
- an ‘asset locking mechanism’ for value transfer; at a high-level, assets are transferred from one DLT to another by ‘locking’ the asset on the first chain and then creating a representation of the asset on the second DLT platform
- double-spend prevention that works in an ‘active state’; when building a blockchain integration solution, the solution must maintain as many blockchain-like guarantees as possible.
The interoperability node includes embedded business logic which contains the business standards, policies and guidelines by which the different blockchain platforms have agreed to work together. This enables integration between different blockchain platforms by:
- either allowing for the transfer of a tokenized asset on two blockchain platforms
- or enabling mapping of data to the different blocks that exist in two different blockchain platforms at the same time, with the reference data kept in constant sync.
There is no need for ongoing messaging between the different platforms. Rather, it becomes possible to transfer and maintain an ‘active state’ between the nodes of separate blockchain platforms, keeping them synchronized.
Richard Gendal Brown, chief technology officer at R3 said, “We have said right from the beginning that interoperability is key to avoiding the trapped assets and silos of the past. We made specific design choices when building Corda to ensure that applications built on our platform can interoperate without friction. The successful testing of these technology solutions is a significant step forward for blockchain development and validates our approach.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Blockchain is a distributed database system which maintains and records data in a way that allows multiple stakeholders securely to share access to the same information. Blockchain may be about to revolutionise aspects of operations across government, healthcare, entertainment and freight and logistics.
Accenture says it continue to test its solutions with ecosystem partners. This is in order to establish integration effectiveness between the named DLT platforms, and potentially adding others. The company has filed two patent applications for its blockchain integration technology solution. It expects to file additional patent applications in the near future.
At present, there are several different blockchain implementations available to enterprises. Most notably these include Digital Asset, R3 Corda, Hyperledger Fabric, Quorum. There will be others. With different enterprises adopting different choices there is a clear need for cross-blockchain integration. The problem Accenture claims to address is genuine. But other solutions might yet emerge (for example, the InterLedger Protocol – should it make any progress).