The Advent and Rise of BaaS – Blockchain as a Service

Data & Research / 10.07.2020

When Big Money Enters the Market

A recent article in Bitcoin Magazine predicted that the blockchain technology market would reach $7.7 billion by 2024. However, many industry insiders put their figures much higher, particularly given the phenomenal gain in popularity of blockchain-based technologies resulting from 2017‘s meteoric rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Just about any company could find use in blockchain’s ability to keep immutable and transparent records. However, certain expectations have to be managed. Leadership must be clear about what advantages and benefits blockchain could bring. It’s also important to underscore that blockchain can offer much more than cryptocurrencies and ICOs/IEOs/STOs.

Blockchain’s potential as a Service (BaaS) has already been recognized by some of the world’s largest software companies. In fact, the ’big‘ three cloud providers, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have developed BaaS platforms that are already available to their cloud customers. Other companies like Google have bought up blockchain technology firms like Firebase to secure a foothold in what is shaping up to be a highly lucrative market.

What is BaaS?

Beyond the hype, ‘Blockchain as a Service’ (BaaS) is a term making its presence known in the commercial technology world. For people into business development, you might have heard of Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS is how businesses subscribe to and access cloud-based software. Blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) is its distributed ledger equivalent. Today, BaaS is utilized in industries such as fintech, IoT, supply chain, and telecommunications to give businesses exposure to the blockchain without getting their hands dirty.

Blockchain, a distributed ledger technology, offers a novel innovation called smart contracts. Smart Contracts are mechanisms that offer anyone the benefits of automation and efficiency. Businesses realized soon that they too could make use of Smart Contracts. With the recent advent in BaaS, the technical barriers to implementing blockchain are getting lower, allowing companies to improve their infrastructure without bearing high costs.

What are the Advantages of BaaS?

One of Blockchain’s reasons is being experimented with in every imaginable area because several people understand the advantages of having a single trustless, data preserving mechanism. Let me indulge you in a thought experiment. Imagine every area of virtual information propagation is handled directly or indirectly by some form of the open-source blockchain (too utopian to imagine, I know).

Your transactions, certifications, and social network reputation; everything that can function without an intermediary is being done without an intermediary. One can imagine that most people are comfortable with it. Because of blockchain’s ability to protect privacy and stimulate automation, it is not hard to imagine that there could be a mechanism that integrates all of the information propagation to help in societal governance. A ‘Blockchain of Blockchains’ of sorts.

Blockchain-as-a-service platforms allow disparate businesses to experiment with blockchain apps and smart contracts while letting service providers manage the network itself. Also, the BaaS model allows developers to pilot blockchain solutions, then scale them without significant hardware or architectural headaches. The potential of seamless access to existing cloud staples such as storage, network security, and virtual server capacity is also a key benefit.

An influential report by Business Wire, discussing the advantage of BaaS, said, “The potential of blockchain-as-a-service has been recognized by few of the world’s largest software companies.” The article also mentioned, “… three big cloud providers, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have developed blockchain-as-a-service platforms that are already available for their cloud customers”, highlighting the fact that big players are entering into the market as we speak.

Top 3 BaaS Vendors

By favoring a commercial third-party procurement model, companies can advantage of blockchain tech’s many oft-cited benefits. Some of the lucrative advantages of blockchains, such as improved transparency and accountability, data security, and trust minimization, can greatly increase companies’ internal functioning. Companies instead choose to hire third-party vendors to do it for them without developing their blockchain ecosystem or investing in expensive in-house computing resources.

The following are the top 3 Commercial platforms offering Blockchain as a Service:

1. Azure

Microsoft’s Azure platform enables clients such as General Electric and T-Mobile to deploy blockchain networks, build apps with confidence, and store data off-chain. Clients can choose to build on several networks, and three products are available – Azure Blockchain Service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, and Azure Blockchain Development Kit. Microsoft has been especially keen to elide the differences between Azure and AWS, pointing out that the latter is “five times more expensive than Azure for Windows Server and SQL Server” and that Azure’s compliance offerings are more comprehensive. In any case, Azure’s integrations with other Microsoft products such as Logic Apps and Flow make it a dependable choice for enterprises seeking to harness blockchain.

2. IBM

IBM is a major player in the world of enterprise blockchain, offering a blockchain platform based on Hyperledger Fabric and launching blockchain pilots with large companies like Walmart and Aetna. IBM’s blockchain-as-a-service business deploys Hyperledger Fabric and has been used extensively in the food supply, media, advertising, and trade finance. The Hyperledger Fabric is known for its Scalability, strict privacy regulations, and periodic network updates, making it the most lucrative commercial BaaS platform in 2020.

3. Amazon’s AWS

Amazon’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) is another third party vendor that supplies a high-performance, immutable Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB). This QLDB lets businesses of all stripes deploy and manage private or public blockchains using Amazon Managed Blockchain, launched in 2018. There’s even an option for companies that wish to manage their network in the future but need assistance with the initial setup (AWS Blockchain Templates). Naturally, Amazon has the resources to support thousands of blockchain applications at scale, which has ensured a steady stream of high-profile clients such as Nestlé, BMW, Accenture, Sony Music Japan, and the Singapore Exchange.

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Sudarshan M is a long time crypto-enthusiast. Pulled in by bitcoin early on, it did not take long for Sudarshan to divert all of his academic attention from business studies to blockchain by doing his Masters and eventually pursuing his PhD in the subject.