Whether you’re thinking of quitting your day job or wondering how to make sure your kids learn a valuable skill, it appears blockchain technologies are quite a safe bet. According to a recent study by job search engine Joblift, UK jobs requiring blockchain expertise are being filled twice as quickly as the average for all jobs – and demand has risen by an average of 25% a month in 2017 compared with last year.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following tech news: innovators have been looking at blockchain solutions beyond Bitcoin for a while. Last year, Gartner announced that blockchain was nearing the peak of the 2016 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.
Blockchain – also called a digital ledger, is a distributed database or timeline that can be programmed to record a wide range of different processes, transactions, agreements and contracts from various sources and objects by using encryption to make entries permanent and tamper-proof.
Blockchain provides a secure way of creating and recording any type of data that needs to be recorded and verified as having taken place by creating public lists of data sets – otherwise known as ‘Blocks’ – and distributing them in a decentralized manner to a network of computers. Every ‘Block’ gets a timestamp and link to the one preceding it, ensuring that each copy of the distributed blockchain is kept in sync.
According to the Gartner report, blockchain’s ability to store multiple transactions in one centralized ledger, accessible by all parties and regulated by a decentralized network, will have a transformational impact on business. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty goes as far as stating that “What the internet did for communications, blockchain will do for trusted transactions.”
Blockchain used to be known primarily as the technology behind Bitcoin, after a mysterious entity known as Satoshi Nakamoto posted a paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System in 2008, and later released the first version of Bitcoin Software. The paper promoted the idea of a decentralized currency system that would enable performing transactions without going through a financial institution, to help prevent errors such as double spending and fraud.
The financial industry was one of the first to invest heavily in blockchain, and everyone – from established investors and industry giants, to up-and-coming start-ups in a wide variety of industries – is following suit. They are all beginning to understand that blockchain can be leveraged as a solution for everything from IoT security to improved food safety.
As blockchain continues to gain traction across industries, many open source projects are providing development tools and platforms to take part in the game and help it flourish, with some big names joining in on the fun.
Both IBM and Microsoft have joined forces with the open source community to develop their blockchain solutions: this March, IBM announced the new release of IBM Blockchain, the first enterprise-ready blockchain service based on the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric version 1.0, and more recently, Microsoft announced the Coco Framework for enterprise blockchain networks.
While the fact that big commercial players are throwing their hats in the blockchain ring certainly adds to the hype, and their resources will help advance the open source blockchain projects, Christopher Tozzi points out that the blockchain community shares some of the philosophy that rose with the open source community: both systems uphold and sustain some shared attributes like transparency, decentralization, efficiency and low cost.
Much like with open source adoption, organizations integrating blockchain and moving away from proprietary solutions, need to remember that they are adding a new component to their ecosystem. A wisely integrated blockchain solution can reduce the cost and complexity of maintaining cross-network records and processes. However – without continuous integration and deployment throughout the application development lifecycle, these solutions might be extremely risky, time consuming and expensive.
This is where employing DevOps processes is crucial. If blockchain related projects use outdated manual testing and deployment techniques, they risk many delays and even security risks.
As open source development continues to grow blockchain solutions, the same security management processes that open source components demand must be applied for blockchain adoption. This means bringing the DevOps approach into the development process.
A well-planned DevOps cycle, integrated into the application development process, can help organizations under continued pressure to innovate and stick to tight release timelines stay on schedule without compromising quality for slow and late manual testing and bug fixing.
An automated DevOps driven production and delivery process will ensure that organizations leveraging cross-network innovations like blockchain keep ahead of the market.