IBM will be hosting the first ever Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 Connect-a-Thon starting on Dec. 17. The Connect-a-Thon is part of IBM’s efforts to become a partner for companies that want to build on the Blockchain ecosystem.

IBM released its version of the Blockchain in 2016, and it is being marketed as IBM Blockchain. IBM’s  Blockchain ecosystem will help startups, independent software vendors and system integrators to get the support that they need to develop their own Blockchain-based business and will also assist in creating an ecosystem around their own solutions by providing visibility to companies involved as well as their work on the Blockchain.

Two steps

IBM sees this as a two-step process. The first part of this process is “code” and “cloud,” and they are leveraging the Hyperledger Fabric code, which is a simple and novel distributed ledger technology for building digital exchange networks.

IBM has significantly simplified the development process and is providing quick and easy options for developing on the Hyperledger Fabric by providing tools such as the Hyperledger Docker Image and the IBM Bluemix using the Blockchain Starter Service. Developers can start churning out chaincode and build on the samples provided.

The second part of IBM’s vision is “community” and “clients.” The thinking being that a number of new Blockchain solutions are expected from developers and in the coming year IBM will contribute to the program by building a Blockchain marketplace while attracting new members to these networks.

Connect-a-Thon is IBM’s showcase of Hyperledger Fabric

To find out what the Connect-a-Thon was all about we talked with Jerry Cuomo, vice president of Blockchain for Business at IBM, to try to get an insight into what the event will be about.

He tells us:

“This event showcases the capabilities of the Hyperledger Fabric open source project showing how it is rapidly evolving as the foundation for the Internet of transactions.”  

He adds: “Once members of a Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 network are assigned their "membership card" (i.e. credentials in the form of digital certificates that permit them to perform tasks in the network), they can dynamically join a Blockchain network and exchange digital assets. To date, almost all permission Blockchain networks are constrained, static and run in what we call "sandboxes." This Connect-a-Thon will turn that on its side because it will show a permissioned network working over the open Internet, with members joining intermittently from different parts of the globe.”

Internet of transactions

At the moment we have a number of public Blockchains such as the one that Bitcoin is based on, yet while these transactions provide anonymity, all the transactions and volumes can still be viewed by anyone. However, with IBM’s Hyperledger based Blockchain the participants will be able to set permissions as to who can view ongoing transactions.

They are planning to showcase this at the event, as Jerry reveals:

“During the Connect-a-Thon, select members of the Hyperledger ecosystem have been invited to download and run code that will allow them to become "traders" in a "Marbles" Exchange network based on the Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 code.  We liken the first marble traded in this dynamic, yet governed network, akin to the first packet of data exchanged over the Internet - as we usher in the era of the Internet of transactions.”

Startups can skip reinventing the wheel

What IBM is looking at doing can be a great asset to startups and businesses that are looking to take advantage of all the benefits that Blockchain technology offers without having to reinvent the wheel.

In fact, many companies are already joining the IBM ecosystem, and these include Cloudsoft, EY, Everledger, The Hive and Loyyal, among several others.

As IBM put it in their press release for the event: “The IBM Blockchain ecosystem is an open environment where organizations can collaborate on shared or complementary technical and business visions using the Hyperledger Fabric, and access education and development support. Because Blockchain is a network business, an environment where all interested parties can share tools, information and relationships is critical.”

The applications for IBM Blockchain range across a number of sectors which include financial services, supply chains, Internet of things, risk management, digital rights management and healthcare.