Enterprise blockchain is a collective term describing DLT platforms that are capable of supporting enterprise-grade solutions and applications. In some cases this is the result of a platform having been built with that specific purpose in mind, while in other cases it comes as a by-product of their more general design. Whatever the case, though, enterprise blockchain platforms some of the strongest real-life applications of distributed ledger technologies are likely to come from.
Types of enterprise blockchain
As we alluded above, enterprise blockchain platforms come in different shapes and sizes. One of the key factors of differentiation is the type of DLT networks that are used. Based on that, we can broadly define three types of enterprise blockchain solutions:
While enterprise blockchain solutions can be built on public protocols that is usually not the preferred option. This is because of the transparent nature of such networks, which is great for general use, but it can be an issue for businesses, who often deal with sensitive information and need to ensure a certain level of privacy. At the same time, there are considerable advantages to using public blockchains, as they offer unmatched levels of decentralization, trustlessness and security.
Private protocols enable the creation of permissioned networks for a limited number of verified participants. These could be partnering companies, supply chain stakeholders or departments within a single company, to name a few. The most important thing about private networks is that they allow businesses to take advantage of some of the strengths of blockchain technology without having to put their sensitive information on public display. In addition, their members are verified, these networks can use lighter consensus mechanisms like Proof of Authority which are more energy efficient than Proof of Work.
On the downside, private networks cannot ensure the same level of security as their public counterparts and require an established level of trust among the network participants.
There are ways to combine the best of both worlds and these usually come in the form of hybrid solutions – private networks that retain a certain level of privacy, but submit encrypted proofs about their operations on a public blockchain. This approach allows companies
Top blockchain enterprise platforms
Before we move on to what we think are some of the best enterprise blockchain platforms today, we need to acknowledge how much of a juggernaut Ethereum is in the blockchain space. The general purpose blockchain created by Vitalik Buterin has been an unstoppable force in the space over the past few years. Due to its ability to run smart contracts, Ethereum is highly programmable and is capable of supporting a wide range of applications, including enterprise-grade solutions. And while it’s rarely used directly, it serves as a foundational technology for some of today’s top enterprise blockchain platforms. In fact, some of the platforms we cover in the following paragraphs are implementations of Ethereum adapted to best fit the needs of businesses.
In the world of enterprise blockchain, there is hardly a more recognizable name than Hyperledger Fabric. And for good reason. It is an open source blockchain platform for building permissioned enterprise-grade distributed networks. The platform allows for network participants to remain in control of their adata and choose what can be revealed to the other stakeholders in their permissioned network.
Another great feature of Hyperledger Fabric is its modular design, which provides developers with a large selection of plug-and-play components that can be used to create solutions tailored to the specific needs of their users. With thousands of developers already contributing to the continued development of the platform, you can be certain that the tools and modules on offer meet the highest industry standards.
While Hyperledger Fabric is its own platform, it is compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which allows for an easy integration of Ethereum-based applications and smart contracts.
While Fabric and Besu are both part of the Hyperledger family of projects, the two protocols are quite different from each other. Unlike Fabric, which is built from the ground up to support enterprise applications, Hyperledger Besu is a Ethereum client that seeks to utilize the Ethereum mainnet. This approach means that networks built on Besu can benefit from the whole array of concepts and mechanisms that have already been established on Ethereum. To learn more about Hyperledger Besu, you can check out our Hyperledger Besu Explained article, which examines the protocol in great detail.
Another enterprise implementation of Ethereum, Quorum was developed by US banking giant JP Morgan Chase. Last year, the platform was acquired by ConsenSys, one of the premiere Ethereum developers. Following the acquisition, Consensys united its enterprise blockchain projects, including its own protocol, under the newly launched brand Consensys Quorum (it’s worth mentioning that development on Hyperledger Besu is led by Pegasys, an engineering team linked to Consensys).
With a strong focus on the financial sector, Quorum comes with a number of useful features such as private transaction manager and private key storage and management.
Another well-known name in the enterprise blockchain sector, R3’s Corda platform was initially aimed at financial institutions, but has grown to support a broader range of solutions. Still, one of the platform’s biggest selling points is that it’s specifically build to serve businesses operating in highly regulated industries, such as banking, capital markets, insurance and trade finance. Corda has an open-source core and has garnered an active developer community that’s been adding features and functionality to the platform. Corda supports its own version of smart contracts that are used to specify what kinds of transactions are allowed in a Corda-based network.
Whilst not built specifically with enterprise solutions in mind, Hedera Hashgraph has a couple of unique features that makes it a viable alternative to the platforms listed above. Hedera is a public DLT protocol that uses a data structure called direct acyclic graph (DAG) instead of a blockchain. This is what sits at the heart of Hedera’s robust ‘gossip about gossip’ consensus mechanism, which ultimately enables one of the protocol’s signature features – the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS).
The HSC allows applications and permissioned networks to take advantage of the hashgraph consensus algorithm. Essentially, the HCS acts as a trust layer for any application or permissioned network. This is what makes Hedera Hashgraph capable of supporting enterprise-grade solutions.
In addition, there’s also the Hedere Token Service (HTS), which adds even more utility to the platform. Developed by LimeChain as part of a larger collaboration with Hedera, the HTS allows for applications to mint and manage digital assets.
The future looks bright for enterprise blockchain
In today’s increasingly digital world, it seems inevitable that blockchain technology will continue to impact the enterprise sector, aiding businesses in their quest for digital transformation. Eleven at this relatively early stage of its development, blockchain technology is already being successfully applied for replacing inefficient legacy systems and powering a new generation of robust enterprise-grade solutions for industries like healthcare and pharma, supply chain management, real estate, manufacturing, finane and more.
The past couple of years has also brought into focus the increasing importance of blockchain-powered digital assets. In Deloitte’s 2021 Global Blockchain Survey, which polled over 1,000 senior executives, focusing on global financial services industry (FSI) leaders, the vast majority of FSI respondents agreed strongly or to some degree that their organizations would lose competitive advantage if they failed to adopt blockchain and digital assets. Furthermore, 76 percent of respondents believe that digital assets will serve as a strong alternative or even replacement for fiat currencies in the next five to 10 years. The survey’s findings are a strong indication of the growing sentiment that businesses can no longer afford to overlook the blockchain revolution.