blockchain for business

Blockchain and the Enterprise

Understanding what is the blockchain can be difficult when first approaching the subject. A second challenge is understanding its relevance beyond cryptocurrencies and potential use for the enterprise.  This article seeks to give a high level overview on what the blockchain is and how it could be potentially useful tool to businesses.

How did Blockchain come about?

Blockchain technology was invented in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto published a proposal for a Peer to Peer electronic cash system.   Some mystery is added to the exact origins of the technology since Satoshi has never been identified and the name is likely to be a pseudonym for a person or group of people.

The Blockchain system that was proposed was a distributed ledger that allowed transactions to be recorded in a verifiable and permanent way between non trusted parties.

blockchain for business

How does it work?

The best way to understand the blockchain is to run through an example of a transaction, we will use the Bitcoin network since it is the best known example of a blockchain.

  • Transaction – A Bitcoin user spends Bitcoin, this is recorded in a transaction.
  • Blocks – Many thousands of transactions are occurring on the Bitcoin network, these individual transactions are grouped together and written into blocks every ten minutes.
  • Hash – Each block has a unique hash based on its content i.e. the transactions in the block.
  • Blockchain – As blocks are written they contain not only the transactions that have occurred but a link to the next and previous block. The link refers to the blocks unique hash, this chained group of blocks is called a blockchain.
  • Distributed – The blockchain is not held on a single system like in traditional IT but distributed across thousands of nodes across the world. Nodes in the Bitcoin network race to solve a math problem and become the first to add the next block to the blockchain.  When a node is first to add the next block it broadcasts the solution to its neighbours which in turn broadcast it to its neighbours, thus propagating it across the entire network. This enables all nodes to have a record of the same blockchain.

What are it’s Properties?

The design of the blockchain leads to have some unique properties:

  • Trustless – Blockchain has solved the challenge of transactions between trustless parties. Today we rely on institutions such as banks to ensure that every one plays fair in a transaction, blockchain removes the need for middlemen.
  • Decentralized – Blockchain systems are distributed across many nodes removing single points of attack and public blockchains do not require control by any one body, the architecture and code act as arbitrator. Code is law.
  • Immutable – Since each block is written with a unique hash and then linked to the previous and following blocks the vast computing power that would be required to recalculate an entire chain of blocks makes it immutable. The longer the chain the harder that it is to change.

Potential use cases?

Blockchains allow trust without trusted parties which becomes increasingly important as more transactions take place across the internet between untrusted parties at distance. But it is not just payment that blockchain is useful for, every asset you can think of cars, houses, land, software, artwork can be registered tracked and transferred via the blockchain. Some examples of companies currently using the blockchain:

Walmart supply chain management – As food products are transported to store they must go through several hops from producer to store, each step along the way the food could spoil if not managed correctly.  Blockchain allows the journey to be tracked between untrusted parties, and the results stored in an immutable form all have access to.  Walmart are working with IBM to deliver their blockchain solution.

De Beers Diamond tracking – De Beers are using blockchain technology to ensure that Diamonds have been ethically mined and their authenticity can be tracked as they are traded. CEO Bruce Cleaver told Reuters “It’s a huge public ledger, as immutable as anything invented, it’s a much more un-hackable system than anything on a single server.”

Ford, General Motors and BMW – Have joined a consortium to look at how the Blockchain can help the automotive industry.  They are utilising blockchain to track the identity and history of cars. Future plans include investigating blockchains role to collect data from multiple parties to facilitate insurance, energy, congestion, pollution infrastructure etc.

Sony – Is using blockchain for digital rights management DRM

Differences with a traditional database?

Blockchains are essentially a type of database, so when should an organisation consider deploying a blockchain rather than a traditional relational DB?  Blockchains whilst useful have a specific use case and will generally require significantly more computing power, be slower than a traditional DB plus require new skills to support it.

Blockchains will be a good choice when multiple untrusted parties require access to the system, immutability of data and security is important with scale and speed being less so.

Deployment options

When organisations have chosen to pursue using blockchain they have several deployment options.

Public v Private – First they must choose between creating their own blockchain or utilising an existing public blockchain such as Ethereum.  Public blockchain will allow quicker time to deployment and greater security due to the computing power of the network.  Choosing a private blockchain may be influenced by the need for greater control and the nature of the data stored and the laws governing it.

Self-hosted or BaaS – Several of the large cloud providers now have BaaS (Blockchain As A Service) offerings. This allows blockchain to be deployed in a cloud model allowing quick deployment, an opex model and reducing some of the complexity of the initial setup. BaaS are based on blockchains such as Corda, Hyperledger and Ethereum.

Conclusion

Blockchain has many interesting use cases but businesses using it should be clear on the unique business benefits it would deliver for them.  Often deploying a more traditional database would be simpler and give more performance.

Businesses that do decide to deploy blockchain G will need to invest the time to understand it and plan the deployment considering key decisions such as if to use a public or private blockchain and if to use a BaaS provider. Let us know in the comments if your business is considering using blockchain.

 

VeeamON Why Go

VeeamON Virtual

VeeamON is due to hit screens near you in the near future.  VeeamON is an online webinar held annually by Veeam covering data management tips and tricks, industry trends plus the latest product updates. The online webinar format makes it handy to fit around your work day, but like a transitional conference there will be a number of learning tracks available: Business, Technical or Cloud.

VeeamON Why Go

My picks for the sessions to watch will include Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 4 . I like to see whats new with the product and the direction the team is taking it in.

Veeam predictions 2019 – Backup used to be boring, not now with an ever changing landscape of multi-cloud and massive data growth, I will be tuning into this one to see what Veeam thinks is around the corner.

Save your data securely off site with Veeam Cloud Connect – this should hopefully answer something customers regularly ask me about, Where can I offsite data? Should i use the cloud and how? Take a look at the agenda to see what other sessions are available.

There will also be chat rooms where you can ask any questions you may have.  I will be helping out in the chat rooms so pop in and say hi.

Registration is free

 

 

 

 

3PAR Saturation

3PAR SSMC 3.4 – What’s New ?

HPE have just released SSMC 3.4, it looks like a small update, but it brings a big change and many new features. Therefore, I would say the right Version should be 4.0.

This guest post is brought to you by Armin Kerl, if you fancy trying you hand at blogging check out our guest posting opportunities.

What’s New in SSMC 3.4?

The key new features in SSMC are:

  • Appliance Deployment – Now a Linux based appliance VM
  • New Setup Sizing Guidelines – Small, large or medium deployments available depending on the number of 3PAR systems you are managing
  • InfoSight Integration – Tighter integration with InfoSight
  • Performance Analytics – Includes simplified reporting indicating if system is overstretched or performing well
  • Replication – Enhancements to management

Let us get a deeper look at the new features:

Download SSMC

To get the latest 3.4 version of SSMC you can download it from the HPE Software Depot. Once downloaded you will find an ISO with the name format HPESSMC-.iso. When you mount the ISO you will find the appliance image file in there HPE_SSMC__VMware_Image plus the migration tool (HPE_SSMC__Migration_Tool) which will allow you to migrate your current settings to the new appliance.

SSMC Appliance

In the Past, we installed the SSMC as a service on an existing Windows or Linux Host, now it is a standalone Linux based appliance. Today supported operating systems to run the appliance on are VMware ESXi version 6.0, 6.5, 6.7 or Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 or 2016. The 3PAR OS can be 3.2.1, 3.2.2 or 3.3.1.

SSMC Deployment

During the Deployment you can choose the initial settings like IP address and you can choose between three Sizing Options:

SSMC 3.4 Deployment

Small

Use the Small deployment option to manage up to 8 arrays and 128K objects. This deployment needs 4 vCPUs, 16GB memory and min 500GB Disk Space.

Medium

With the Medium deployment option, you can manage up to 16 arrays and 256K objects. This deployment needs 8 vCPUs and 32GB memory and min 500GB Disk Space.

Large

The large deployment option allows management of up to 32 arrays and 500K objects. This deployment needs 16 vCPUs and 32GB memory and min 500GB Disk Space.

SSMC Migration

If you are already running SSMC 3.2 or 3.3, you can use the migration tool contained in the SSMC ISO, install it on the same host where the older SSMC is installed and migrate the configuration to the new appliance.

The Text-based User Interface (TUI)

Once the SSMC appliance has been deployed using the initial setup wizard you make any further configuration changes through the The Text-based User Interface (TUI).  To access the TUI you will open the console of the SSMC appliance and logon with the username ssmcadmin.  You can find the password for the ssmcadmin account on page 55 of the Admin Guide.

The Text-based User Interface (TUI) used to manage SSMC appliance

InfoSight Integration

If configured, The SSMC is now able to pull information from HPE InfoSight back into the SSMC Console.This brings you advanced system performance and reporting analytics into The SSMC. You have to enable it in SSMC “Global Settings > Application” and enable InfoSight, as described in a previously in  Configuring 3PAR with InfoSight.

SSMC Global Settings

Performance Analytics

In the past, we were able to get a lot of Performance Information from 3PAR Storage – how many IOPS, MB/s, latency, for disks, volumes, groups, HBA etc. but you needed specialist skills to interpret the values. A common question was are these performance values good or bad.

Now InfoSight and SSMC calculate saturation levels and headroom availability with respect to throughput and shows it on easy to interpret graphs. This can be done in Real-time, because analytics from InfoSight are now built inside SSMC. New Statistical models detect hotspots, saturation and a lot more. Thanks to the connection with InfoSight, it is also showing “How is my 3PAR performing against other similar Systems in the whole World”.

To see this, add the new Panels to your Dashboard or use the new Dropdown Menu “Analytics” on the System Page.

3PAR Saturation

There is also a new “Advanced Analytics” category in the System Reporter.

SSMC 3.4 Advanced Analytics

Initially all the analytics features will only work with all-flash (SSD only) arrays.

Replication

There are also some enhancement for Synchronous Data & File Persona Replication Configuration and management.

SSMC Documentation

The following new manuals are available for SSMC 3.4

Admin Guide

Release Notes

User Guide