IBM-R3 Pact Shows Tech Trumps Tribe in Enterprise Blockchain

News this week that R3 and IBM are working together raised eyebrows, because each entity has been on different and competing sides since the early days of enterprise blockchain.

From next month, the commercial version of Corda (the version big banks and the like are paying R3 for) will be made available via IBM’s LinuxOne servers, delivering a hybrid of on-premise and cloud offerings. R3 announced the news at its annual developer conference, CordaCon.

Blockchain tribalism – R3’s Corda competes with Hyperledger Fabric, the enterprise blockchain heavily backed by IBM – has been put aside in favor of commercial sense, it seems. IBM’s LinuxOne business is far bigger than its nascent blockchain concern, while many large banks that have vendor relationships with IBM use Corda.

“This started an interesting conversation in IBM, where LinuxOne came to us and said they wanted to work with us,” Charley Cooper, managing director at R3, said in an interview. “If you’re a highly complex, heavily regulated industry, and you want the best technology but you want the name brands to take to your risk manager to say, ‘Trust us, we’re picking the best vendors,’ now they’ve got the best of both worlds.”

Scrappy contender

The enterprise blockchain space, which attempts to retrofit Bitcoin’s distributed ledger technology within the private settings of big companies, has evolved into three broadly separate camps: R3 Corda, Hyperledger and enterprise variants of Ethereum such as Quorum.

There has been some crossover between these tribes. IBM, for instance, has also experimented with other DLTs such as Hedera Hashgraph, and also with the Stellar blockchain, but the vast majority of Big Blue’s blockchain efforts are focused on Hyperledger Fabric, which is the basis of the IBM Blockchain Platform.

“While there’s some sort of tribalism within the blockchain community, it’s not so in the broader technology community,” said Cooper. “They’re not tribal,…

Read More