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How Enterprise Blockchain is Transforming Legacy B2B Back Office Systems

Since this post was written, Hyperledger FireFly has reached 1.0. Learn more here!

Enterprise Blockchain is commonly used by organizations to digitally transform legacy B2B collaborations and custom applications in the back office.  This is due to the game-changing efficiency of shared ledgers and digital constructs like digital assets (tokens). Blockchain and its associated stack of technologies are all about B2B collaboration.  

B2B Communications is a Key Requirement for a Business Network

At Kaleido, we get to work with some of the largest companies in the world across all major sectors (financial services, insurance, manufacturing, travel, manufacturing, etc.). We’ve seen many blockchain projects since 2015, from small Line of Business ones to the biggest, most ambitious industry-wide transformation initiatives.  We’ve found that one of the most consistent technical needs expressed by consortia is for organizations to exchange messages and store and exchange documents off-chain.

That’s why we’ve devoted an entire section of our platform to B2B Communications (read the product update here).  The services within the B2B category make solving some of the difficult and time-consuming plumbing tasks click-button simple.  While messaging or document exchange sounds simple on the service, the decentralized nature of a consortium adds some new and tricky wrinkles into the mix. The Kaleido services exist in the same security, operational and tenancy models as the blockchain (data plane) and admin console (control plane), which is uniquely built for consortia non-functional requirements.

Kaleido uniquely provides the full B2B tech stack required by modern business networks.  Within this blockchain technology suite are the key ingredients to build and run data exchanges or marketplaces.  These tend to be critical and valuable components of many enterprise blockchain consortia: 90% of the time business network members are seeking to exchange documents or other data off-chain.

B2B transactional Decentralization workflow image
B2B Transactional Decentralization

What’s New in Kaleido B2B Communications

Our off-chain communications layer has had a big upgrade this month, with brand new user experiences for both App to App Messaging and Document Exchange. The upgrades aren’t just skin deep, with new monitoring dashboards and APIs, as well as additional deployment t-shirt sizes for large documents and high volume transfers.

Enterprise Decentralized applications (DApps) have a fundamentally different architecture and design to traditional applications. With the shared ledger of Blockchain at their core, they communicate on-chain and off-chain between multiple participants to orchestrate end-to-end decentralized business transactions and capture some data as immutable proofs.

They build on core Blockchain programming constructs like 'tokens' to link assets and data from external systems to a unique 'hashes' on-chain. Actions and data are pinned to organizational identities, sometimes masked for privacy, which can be traced back to real business entities permissioned into the Business network.

A common example: taking a closer look at Private Data Sharing use cases

The opportunities for improving business to business data sharing processes are real and being proven out every day.  Kaleido clients are already building “Private Data Marketplaces” in a variety of industries, allowing business network members from multiple entities to leverage the collective knowledge of the consortium while ensuring that each member is fairly compensated for its data collection efforts.

How do these data-sharing networks work?  First, several entities agree to share specific data with each another using a data marketplace that is managed with blockchain tokens. A network member who needs to obtain up-to-date information can choose either to collect the data themselves and then sell it to other consortium members or to purchase it from members who have already collected it.

A name and description for each data payload are listed on the marketplace, along with the date it was collected, its cost in tokens, and a score based on the quality ratings of other buyers, allowing members to make informed purchasing decisions. Consortia members contribute to data collection using a controlled supply of tokens.  The blockchain-based solution allows members to share the type of data they have, sharing only enough detail to allow other members to determine if it is something they need and want to purchase.  

When data is available for purchase, all network members are notified of the new item available for purchase.  Any network member interested in purchasing the vendor information can view the details, assess the cost, check out the ratings to assess the quality of the data, and purchase the data directly from the network member who owns the data.

The exchange is done securely off-chain and the transaction is hashed to the blockchain for transparency.   The solution leverages Kaleido’s Blockchain Business Cloud, using integrated features and Services like Document Exchange, Smart Contract Management, On-Chain Registry, REST API Gateway, and Event Streams.

Use the document exchange service to securely upload and transfer files within a Kaleido environment. With blockchains being poorly suited for large payloads and sensitive data such as PII, an ancillary file sharing utility that can exist next to the chain provides immense benefit at both a business and security level. Transactions simply need to reference a file’s hash, rather than dealing with the file contents directly.

Any uploaded or received file can be conveniently organized using intuitive folder structures, and persisted in either Kaleido hosted storage or cloud-delegated and user-controlled services such as AWS S3 Buckets or Azure Blob containers.

All transferred data is deterministically hashed, signed, compressed, and asymmetrically encrypted in-flight using proven public key infrastructure techniques, offering provable guarantees that only the intended recipient can effectively decrypt the packet.

The service leverages the On-Chain Registry service for address lookup and certificate functionality, as well as the Kaleido network’s Kafka backbone for high throughput, fault-tolerant reliable delivery, and transport. Interaction with service is flexible, with support for the in-console graphical user interface, Kaleido RESTful APIs, and socket.io connections for reliable event notification.

If you’d like to explore what you can do with Kaleido, get started for free.

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