Universal Interoperability: Why Enterprise Blockchain Applications Should be Deployed to Shared Networks

Business needs the universal interoperability of public networks but with the privacy of private networks. Only the Corda network can deliver this.

The tl;dr of this post is:

  • Most permissioned blockchains use isolated networks for each application, and these are unable to interoperate. This makes no sense.
  • We should instead aspire to deploy multiple business applications to an open, shared network. But this needs the right technology with the right privacy model.
  • Corda, the open source blockchain platform we and our community are building, was designed for just this from day one. But there was a piece missing until now: the global Corda network.
  • In this post I describe the global Corda network for the first time in public and how it will be opened up to the entire Corda community in the coming months.
  • If you’re building blockchain solutions for business, you need to read this post…

Think back to how excited you were (well, was!) when you first heard about Ethereum. The idea of a platform for smart contract applications, all running across a common network, with interoperability between all these different applications written by different people for different purposes. It was mind-blowing.

And it’s not just a vision, of course. The public Ethereum community have actually delivered it! Indeed, emerging standards such as ERC20 are a demonstration of the power of a shared, interoperable network and the power of standardisation.

So the question we asked ourselves at R3 back in 2015 was: imagine if you could apply that idea to business… imagine if different groups of people, each deploying applications for their own commercial purposes, woke up one day and discovered that those apps could be reassembled and connected in ways unimaginable to their creators but in a way that respected privacy and which could be deployed in real-world businesses with all the complexity that entails.

It seemed obvious to us that this was the right vision. And that it would require a universal, shared, open network, the topic of this post.

But it dawned on me recently that this is not how everybody in the permissioned blockchain space sees it. The consequences for users could be serious.

The rest of this post is continued at our medium site here!

View at Medium.com

45 thoughts on “Universal Interoperability: Why Enterprise Blockchain Applications Should be Deployed to Shared Networks

  1. You’ve got an interesting supposition, but I think it glosses over one of the more fundamental characteristics of business operations. I have found that they don’t particularly care about having a common platform for functionality. Case in point: Java, .Net, Node, all are platforms that interoperate on the most isolated level, avoiding real interop frameworks for network-based service interactions. Moreover, despite all of the push over the past 10-15 years with web services, there’s constant churn to have “just enough” connectivity, not universal connectivity. As long as the business can accomplish its goals, the technical merits of ubiquitous interactions are frankly moot. I’ve seen the same effort in other areas as well, such as a common API for mail (e.g. remember MAPI, OCE, etc.) or document management. These efforts rarely become the foundation of anything more than demonstrators and lowest-common-denominator gateways. Similarly, interoperable blockchains are not a significant push for business. They want instead operability among their communication chains. Interoperability will IMHO always be a lofty goal, but I believe you will always find the effort to be a side project.

  2. Hi Darrin – that’s a really fair point. I COULD be completely wrong… but this is also a one-way hatch… once you’ve made the decision to deploy on separate networks, it’s effectively impossible to bring them together. So all you’re left with is integration, two-phase commits, silos, the mess of today. BUT… the opposite isn’t true: start on a platform that supports this interoperability natively AND deploy to that common network and it’s like a free/low-cost option. IF such interop proves important (as I believe it will), you’re on the right side of the hatch. If not, you’ve not lost anything and if, as you suggest, the operational concerns become too big, you can leave the shared network easily. ie the path from one state to the other is effectively trivial. The path in the other direction simply doesn’t exist. So this is also an argument about preserving optionality.

  3. BTW nevertheless, if R3 can support a level of blockchain interoperability, such a technology option be a welcome feature for client consideration. I look forward to the advances you all are making, and I welcome hearing more.

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  8. We should instead aspire to deploy multiple business applications to an open, shared network. But this needs the right technology with the right privacy model.
    so cool

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