Corda: Enterprise Business Networks
Corda is a global network of nodes for enterprise-grade, real-time transactions and asset workflows. It is a platform for developing the next-generation of enterprise software where state and processes can be shared and uniform across multiple trusted entities leading to operational efficiency, speed and better customer experiences.
Last week I attended CordaCon in London and was very impressed with the work that has been happening in the Corda ecosystem. Networks are being developed very quickly in a number of industries such as financial services, insurance, trade and many others.
My takeaway from the conference was that this protocol is being built from the ground up with a long term enterprise future state in mind. This is being done at a few different levels:
Business Network Governance (BNG)
Business Network Designers (BND)
Business Network Operators (BNO)
The enterprise software industry will be rewritten on distributed ledger technology platforms like Corda. This is not a matter of if but when. There will be a CorDapp for every single existing cloud or on-premise software service company that exist today.
This means in time there will be an ecosystem of developers and entrepreneurs working as business network designers (BND) of white label products or working on behalf of an existing company to get their particular application on the Corda network. The analogy is the xbox, xbox live and video games. Essentially Corda nodes are the xbox, xbox live is the corda network and video games are CorDapps. Each company downloads the cordapp to their node and can interact with other companies in the network.
This ultimately leads to an ecosystem of cordapps built by partners and produced on the Corda Marketplace. There will be soon be thousands of CorDapps available for use by companies of all sizes. This is where it could get very interesting when you have essentially a global network of nodes where any single company could be reachable for shared business process and transfer of value, not just communication. Today processes may be automated or antiquated, not just at internal companies but across partners, best process can be shared by a portal that exposes underlying internal configured application or data.
What does the Business-to-Business enterprise space look like when there is a real-time network for shared processes, state and transfer of value. Globally reachable like a next gen Bloomberg but not just for trades and messaging but for any front-office, middle-office or back-office application. The future state is that there is much more secure, automated and deterministic business process based; assets and value flow freely across the business network and are interoperable with other sector specific business networks.
At a lower level in the stack there is the opportunity for companies to become BNOs, developing, building and maintaining business networks. This is the secure and scalable infrastructure requirements of running the required node in a given network. The BNO is responsible for provisioning nodes and actually running the node whether in a secure cloud infrastructure or on-premise at the customers location. This is also synergistic with the DevOps movement of dockerized applcations, containers, container orchestration, kubernetes, package management via helm, CI and CD for networks and applications. One of the large challenges today with these types of networks is upgrading and coordination updates across multiple peers for different versions of the applications being used across the network. Leveraging the DevOps stack of tools to automating pipelines and scheduling of updates across multiple nodes solves for the challenge of securely updating the threads of the network.
Business Network Operators today have superpowers at their fingertips to run massive enterprise-grade business networks as an infrastructure provider in addition to the opportunity to develop application specific software to manage the networking and delivery of enterprise blockchain networks.
The first time I looked into Corda my initial thoughts were this was a B2B messaging protocol. Atomic transactions in the form of UTXO’s between nodes in the network; now generalized with any form of mutable state and a history of shared consumed states between nodes. The second time I deep dived into Corda a month or so later I thought of it as a microservices network of application specific nodes, the example being the Thomson Reuters nodes provides an oracle for specific financial data and it is reachable on the netowrk. This leads to the question of what type of Cordapp would company X have etc. After this past week I think that Corda represents a shift towards the future of decentralized and distributed computing in the enterprise. I believe it to be the foundation for the next generation of companies building enterprise software companies.
Enterprise Blockchain Computing is an entire new industry consisting of digital transaction ledgers. Tokenized Applications Networks and Tokenized Assets that can be split, evolved, shared, burned, verified; mutated in any way, effectively giving companies the tools to program money. The financial services applications will be immediate but I believe this technology will reach far into other existing enterprise software domains. There is a chain of signatures that enable companies to have verifiable business processes that are direct, final and not broadcasted to every node in the network. This will augment every existing agreement and contract process across every industry. Create a txn, sign txn, counterparty inspect and verify tx, signs and commit it, then party verifies and commit transactions signatures; representative of application specific flows between companies, this will displace siloed systems of record. Replicated state machines using consensus algos such as Tendermint and Avalanche BFT will drive the notary consensus within networks of entities sharing process, verifiable state and transactions. This System of Intelligence can be operated on called upon by agents that are driving business outcomes by activating the signature workflows across a global network. Every company is in reach, are using the same stacks of enterprise-grade software, and are operating at a much more efficient and effective manner. There will be coverage across networks for tokenized assets and the ability to traverse other tokenized merkle trees as well perhaps leveraging multihash and ipfs as a network layer. There will be a future of global digital mutuals and distributed general ledgers as proposed by the Cordite project. Essentially any generalized mutable object will be able to be sent across the network for no per message fee, to any organization in the world. An abitrary mix of assets and a few catalyst for onboarding the nodes in the network will be needed and over time will emerge. Business Network Operating Companies will develop the next generation of products for server and blockchain network provisioning, configuration and management targeted towards enterprise customers. This in turn will lead to the proliferation of industry and sector specific networks as seen with the Marco Polo Trade Finance Network and B3i’s Insurance network.
In time I believe that we will see a high performance global business network of nodes, a global collective transaction and state layer for all businesses. Applications for front, middle and back office; sales and service, signatures, messaging, general ledgers and accounting, buy and sell side contract automation and straight through processing. It will consist of states, schemas, contracts, and flows; prolog for logic programming to make the contracts adaptive and a search engine across a global business network nodes transacting value and enterprise resources.