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IBM Blockchain Technology Developing Down Under

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

| B + T |

IBM has made its blockchain platform available out of the IBM data center in Melbourne, allowing customers to run their applications on the company's cloud and abide by data sovereignty requirements.

The platform will also be available via the data center in Sydney by the end of March, with head of blockchain and consulting practice leader for IBM in Australia and New Zealand Rupert Colchester saying the reason for a second location is largely for availability and redundancy: "By its very nature, it's a distributed ledger technology so often ledgers are running in different locations and the demand for two is through clients and customers in this geography wanting to have high availability in the event of downtime and the like."

The IBM Blockchain Platform is built on top of Hyperledger Fabric, an open source blockchain project from the Linux Foundation.

Having the physical infrastructure in-country also means that data never crosses physical boarders, with Colchester noting this provides the security required for highly regulated applications, particularly from government and financial services.

Big Blue has already made the platform available out of its data centers in London, Frankfurt, Toronto, Dallas, Tokyo, and Sao Paolo. According to Colchester, this reflects the progression of major production-grade projects through the world, including in Australia. "Customers who are deploying blockchain applications have reached a maturity of projects that requires the data to be stored in Australia." he continued.

In Australia, the most common use case for blockchain is in the supply chain. "Obviously Australia is unique, as is every country ... in the case of Australia, the whole supply chain is a huge area of interest, discussion, and activity. How can one track food, right from its inception in a farm all the way though to retailers to prove the providence," he explained.

"That is just one simple supply chain that is particularly active, there are others around the trade of high value goods or providing transparency down to shipment or logistics companies. In the world of financial services ... the reality is financial services was probably always the forerunner in blockchain applications in business, exploring the potential applications on the likes of digital identity and tracking financial trade."

Colchester said blockchain is "pretty much active" across all industries in Australia; he also said organizations in Australia have an increasingly good grasp on where blockchain is applicable.

"I do very few education sessions nowadays, but there is a lot of discussion whereby clients are trying to understand how best they can apply it to the business problems they have," he expressed. "The nature of having this platform in Australia really facilitates the quick creation of blockchain networks here in Australia."

According to Colchester, standing up the platform in Australia is a big investment by IBM, reflecting the potential the company sees. "While Australia has not been particularly high on the innovation index globally ... what it does reflect from a blockchain perspective, it's a very interesting country because it's small enough to make things doable, people know each other well, it's a very strong ecosystem of relationships in the business world across the economy, but large enough to ... provide revenue opportunities for companies that are based here " he explained.

CSIRO's Data61 announced partnering with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in August to build a blockchain-based legal contracts network on the IBM Blockchain.

It is expected the Australian National Blockchain will enable organizations to digitally manage the lifecycle of a contract, from negotiation through to signing, and continuing over the term of the agreement.

"It provides potential for Australian companies to store contracts in the blockchain network running within Australia only, no data passing outside of this country," Colchester said of the ANB initiative and the speed in which it can now get off the ground.

"It will be able to get going really quickly and provide the necessary security around it. Security that can't be achieved with some other blockchain solutions across cloud."

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