As enterprises are looking to embrace blockchain, they face numerous challenges along the way. It is no longer important to have a single server operating at all times — with blockchain, the infrastructure is decentralized requiring more work to maintain all nodes in the network. Nonetheless, benefits of such (decentralized) system are well worth the effort. And… it doesn’t have to be that hard, with consultants and developers across the globe racing to provide help enterprises need to move their business to the “era of blockchain.”
Some of those willing to assist big clients are the major consulting firms, as well as tech giants like IBM, SAP and Microsoft. Plus, there are smaller players fighting for their place under the sun. This is the story of one such company, which wants to make it easier for enterprises to embrace blockchain.
Blockchain administration is a pain
It involves any number of tasks and many hours developers must spend on things like node deployment and configuration, as well as maintenance activities, such as ensuring run-time and language dependencies. And so the Mumbai, India-based company called Elemential wants to make that process easier.
The Elemential team, the CEO Raunaq Vaisoha and CTO Anil Dukkipatty, were working with blockchain some time now and have identified all the pain points other companies could face along the way.
“When we started looking at blockchains, whenever we tried to take an application to production things would always go wrong,” Elemential’s CEO Raunaq Vaisoha recalled, adding: “As developers trying to build business value on top of blockchain, we had to spend way too much of our time actually worrying about the risk and actually automating stuff at the protocol levels.”
And so they came up with a node-level software called Hadron and a decentralized protocol for administrative communication and decision-making called the Federated Network Protocol (FNP).
“What we are trying to solve here is the logistics of decentralised decision making for large-scale enterprise networks,” Vaisoha said.
Needless to say, this is a real problem companies face, and some prominent venture capital firms were willing to back Elemential’s idea; these include the likes of Matrix Partners, Lightspeed India Partners and Digital Currency Group, among others, who recently put a combined $1 million into the company.
Hadron helps with many tasks
Elemential’s Hadron software enables administrators to automate and coordinate many of the tasks involved in the maintenance of the system, such as allowing another member to join or leave the network.
For example, if a new member has to be added to everyone on the network, the admin will have to whitelist the new member’s IP, open certain ports and make changes to configuration files like the genesis file. Automating these sort of things is what the mentioned FNP (Federated Network Protocol) is all about, acting like a “hall monitor” to ensure nodes are behaving in the way they supposed to.
“Coordinating a decision on important activities such as adding or removing network members, network topology design [and] scaling up the network requires federated as opposed to a centralized method of decision making,” Vaisoha said.
The FNP is also monitoring network validators, and their health, at all times — allowing Hadron to predict the point of failure on the network and prevent it by spinning up temporary validators that keep the network alive while participants are alerted to the imbalance and instructed to remedy it.
Right now, Elemential is working with the National Stock Exchange of India on a “Know Your Customer” (KYC) compliance scheme that’s built on a private blockchain. The pilot includes ICICI Bank, IDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, IndusInd Bank and RBL Bank, as well as the Mumbai-based brokerage, HDFC Securities.
A promising pipeline…
Elemential is also working on a solution that would work across private blockchains so that one organization using Hyperledger Fabric could connect to another organization running Hyperledger Sawtooth. Furthermore, the company wants to delve into public blockchains.
Down the road, the idea is make managing a blockchain network a risk-free and seamless one-click experience. That is why Elemential dubs itself the “WordPress of blockchain,” with the vision to popularize blockchain across the board.
“A lot of work has been done at the protocol level, but now it’s about time that people start building applications – and we can see what’s holding them back,” Dukkipatty concluded.