With blockchain gaining ground across a wide range of industries, it’s no surprise that Amazon hopped on the bandwagon and introduced its own AWS blockchain, making it easy for users to create and manage scalable blockchain networks within the AWS console.
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Blockchain was already a serious game-changer by the time Amazon Web Services (AWS), the most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform with total revenue of $45.37 billion in 2020, introduced its own blockchain solution — Amazon Managed Blockchain. It enables users to deploy secure blockchain networks via the well-known open-source frameworks Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum.
The service aims to provide companies and individuals with a quick and easy way to install their own blockchain networks for serving their particular purposes. What’s more, AWS blockchain is poised to remove the need for manually provisioning hardware, customizing software, and configuring networking and security components.
Read on to find out more about Amazon Managed Blockchain, its key characteristics, functioning principles, and the most notable success stories.
Lowdown on Amazon Web Services
Before we actually get started with Amazon blockchain, let’s delve into Amazon Web Services and examine what makes it so special and highly popular.
AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms as well as APIs on a pay-as-you-go basis. Just like other public cloud vendors, such as Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, it takes care of managing and maintaining hardware alongside the entire infrastructure. By doing this, it exempts both businesses and individuals from running and handling the sometimes complex resources on site.
Currently, AWS is used by startups, large enterprises, and even government agencies worldwide. It provides a wide range of global cloud-based products such as storage, databases, analytics, several development and management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications, and much more.
Key benefits of AWS
AWS remains the most popular vendor in the cloud infrastructure services market and controls 32% of the entire market share. Here are some of the most substantial benefits of this sought-after Amazon suite.
- 1. AWS has a rich variety of services, with each of them designed to serve one particular functionality — but you are still free to mix and match different services to meet the needs of your app.
- 2. The entire infrastructure is failure-prone and securely protected. Top security is apparently the number one priority for AWS, which is why it makes use of an end-to-end approach consisting of physical, operational, and software measures, which guarantee adequate protection.
- 3. AWS possesses great scalability capacity. By using AWS tools, including Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing, you can scale your app up and down and adjust it to your current business needs.
- 4. AWS is widely reckoned to be cost-effective. You are asked to pay only for the computer power and resources that you use, without any long-term contracts and upfront commitments.
- 5. AWS demonstrates remarkable flexibility. It allows you to choose any operating system, programming language, database, and so on. You get a virtual environment that enables you to upload the services and software that your app needs. This tends to make the migration process for the existing apps much simpler, while also presenting unique options for creating new solutions from scratch.
What about AWS blockchain?
In the face of the ever-increasing popularity of blockchain, Amazon couldn’t sit on the sidelines. Therefore, back in 2018, the company unveiled its Amazon Managed Blockchain that didn’t take long to prove a success.
Amazon blockchain emerged as a highly scalable solution that supports open-source frameworks such as Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum. It allows users to set up blockchain networks with just a couple of clicks. Each network member pays for their resources based on the pay-as-you-go model with no upfront costs. Hourly rates are billed per second, whereas virtual private cloud (VPC) endpoints, created to access resource endpoints, are billed separately.
Amazon blockchain greatly reduces overheads related to network creation. It automatically scales to fit the individual requirements of each and every app. In sum, the solution contributes to the successful set-up of blockchain networks, simplifies the entire management of your certificates, and provides you with an opportunity to invite new members to join the network.
The technicalities of AWS blockchain
Amazon Managed Blockchain takes on the responsibility for providing nodes, establishing the overall infrastructure, and scaling the network. As a result, customers get a fully functioning blockchain network setup within a short time frame. The solution also offers simple APIs that make it possible for users to vote on membership rights within their networks and scale up and down without breaking a sweat.
This blockchain gives users a lot of options, with various combinations of computing and memory capabilities, enabling them to select the most appropriate set of resources for their blockchain apps. It also secures certificates for access control via AWS Key Management Service, thus removing the need for users to install their own certificate storage. What’s more, Amazon blockchain platform facilitates the replication of all transactions to Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), which provides a fully managed ledger database with a centralized, trusted authority.
Another aspect worth highlighting is that no one actually owns the network. Given that blockchain networks are decentralized by default, they remain active even after the initial creator exits the scene. Each member can vote on network-wide settings and configure voting rules (for instance, they can decide whether the majority rules or one member makes the decision). Blockchain on AWS, for its part, takes care of managing shared components, including the ordering service and network settings.
Walkthrough overview of Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum frameworks
Initially, Amazon Managed Blockchain provided support only for Hyperledger Fabric. In March 2021, AWS announced that its blockchain solution was finally available for the popular Ethereum blockchain platform too.
If you’ve been wondering how Hyperledger Fabric differs from Ethereum, we suggest taking a look at the table below to find out more about their technical aspects.
|Basic description||Umbrella project of open source blockchains and related tools||Decentralized, open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality|
|Governance||Linux Foundation||Ethereum developers|
|Smart contract language||Golang, Java, and NodeJS||Solidity|
|Application type||Suitable for a variety of applications but is more popular among enterprise-grade applications||Suitable for a variety of applications but is more popular among decentralized applications (dApps)|
|Consensus mechanism||Uses primarily the Kafka consensus algorithm, though it can offer Solo and Raft protocols too||Configured to use Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm for public network and Proof-of-Authority for private networks|
|Number of transactions per second (TPS)||2000+ tps||About 20 tps|
Tips on how to properly deploy Amazon Managed Blockchain
The most striking thing about Amazon blockchain-as-a-service offering is that it’s fairly easy to install. With just a couple of clicks, you’re up and running as a user.
Equally importantly, AWS provides an all-encompassing Quick Start reference deployment that highlights the steps needed to be taken in order to successfully launch the network on the AWS Cloud.
The Quick Start is intended for users who want to create and take part in decentralized apps that are shared across a consortium of Amazon Managed Blockchain users. It assists the automatic set-up of an available AWS blockchain architecture with a single initial member that spans two Availability Zones (AZ).
The release manages the following components: the network, the first member, and the peer nodes.
This is how the initial architecture of AWS blockchain looks like.
The Quick Start requires a basic familiarity with AWS. But if you haven’t dealt with it before, you can get detailed insights at the Getting Started Resource Center. In addition, it’s advisable to check out the AWS Training and Certification website: it offers a wealth of materials and programs aimed at helping users to develop relevant skills.
Returning to the deployment process itself, it’s worth noting that it takes about 15 minutes and consists of the following steps:
- 1. Sign up on the AWS page and sign in to your account. Bear in mind that once you’ve signed up, your account will be automatically connected with other AWS services. However, you’ll be charged only for those services that you use.
- 2. Launch the Quick Start and make sure that your account has been configured according to the specified requirements.
- 3. Integrate with the deployment by creating a dApp on top of the infrastructure that you have already made use of.
Most notable AWS blockchain use cases
AWS blockchain has proved a highly convenient and sophisticated solution. It has already been embraced by a number of world-renowned companies, all eager to implement the powerful blockchain in their processes. Let’s find out more about how exactly the Amazon blockchain solution has helped them address various challenges and bolster their efficiency.
Nestlé, a global food and beverage giant and the largest procurer of coffee, has always been zealous in bringing proper transparency to the origin of ingredients used in its products.
To deliver a premium coffee experience, Nestlé wants to provide its customers with an opportunity to track coffee from farm to packaging as well as learning about tasting attributes such as location, plantation type, processing method, coffee grade, freshness and roasting level.
To make this happen, Nestlé turned to AWS blockchain. This enabled it to record all supply chain transactions in a transparent and verifiable way, allowing partners to smoothly and efficiently interact with each other. The company has made use of Hyperledger Fabric and invited supply chain participants to cooperate with updating the data at each stage. As a result, both partners and consumers are now able to track coffee on the blockchain from crop to cup and have access to relevant information about its origin and quality.
Accenture is a leader in technology innovation that provides a wide range of services and solutions in areas such as strategy, consulting, and digital transformation. The company has been working alongside partners across the entire blockchain ecosystem to introduce groundbreaking solutions to its customers.
For its recent project in collaboration with a major aerospace/defense company, Accenture opted for AWS blockchain because of its relative ease-of-use for developers and clients. The company developed a DLT-based solution capable of providing top levels of transparency to the client’s manufacturing supply chain.
Their sophisticated track-and-trace solution was developed with Hyperledger as well as other blockchain-related technologies deployed on AWS.
TrackX is an enterprise asset management company that provides SaaS solutions for the tracking and management of returnable and reusable assets, including beer kegs, bulk and chemical containers, and plastic pallets.
TrackX recently integrated AWS blockchain into its Global Asset Management for Enterprises (GAME) platform. With the help of blockchain’s decentralized ledgers, it will be possible to enhance asset tracking throughout a network of stakeholders, which are typically located all over the world.
TrackX admitted that building a blockchain network on its own would be too time-consuming and cumbersome. Therefore, Amazon Managed Blockchain has proved a useful ally and helped the company to achieve great results without wasting time and effort.
Sony Music Entertainment Japan (SMEJ) aims to help musicians and artists to focus on creating music and free them from the undifferentiated task of filing and processing content rights.
The company decided to equip its digital rights management (DRM) system with blockchain advances to allow all participants to securely share and validate information such as date and time of creation, as well as details about the author, and even to automatically verify the rights generation of any music item.
Given that SMEJ didn’t want to fiddle around with managing blockchain infrastructure itself, the company chose Amazon Managed Blockchain as the foundation of their DRM system. The blockchain solution makes it easy to create highly scalable blockchain networks with the help of Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum.
As a result, the DRM system by Sony has enhanced productivity and contributed to the creation of an environment where music creators can safely and easily launch their content.
Legal & General (L&G)
Legal & General, a leading UK financial services provider, hasn’t been left behind either. It has implemented Amazon Managed Blockchain in its eye-catching solution called Estuare.
Estuare is capable of replacing numerous processes and systems that are typically used to support each stage of reinsurance. Its participants comprise L&G’s insurers as well as other reinsurers that the company has partnered with. The solution has displayed impressive results, having reduced the duration of monthly reconciliation from weeks to just minutes! Legal & General believes that Estuare is able to substantially lower costs, increase overall efficiency and, crucially, do away with the issues related to the pension risk transfer market. This last point has huge relevance to individuals whose pensions largely depend on risk management.
As far as AWS blockchain is concerned, it’s worth reiterating that it has proven to be the most optimal and cost-effective foundation for Estuare. It has allowed L&G to quickly design and deploy a market-ready, blockchain-based platform that boasts a high level of security and helps pension providers deliver better experiences to their customers.
Contura Energy/Alpha Metallurgical Resources, Inc.
Contura Energy (now Alpha Metallurgical Resources, Inc.) is a global coal supplier that exports around 10 million tons of metallurgical coal annually. The company has decided to adopt blockchain technology in order to transform the way letters of credit (payment mechanisms in international trade) work.
With Amazon Managed Blockchain, Contura Energy has succeeded in setting up a fully functioning, scalable, cloud-based blockchain network within a short period of time. AWS blockchain has enabled Contura to create a pilot blockchain-based letter-of-credit system where all terms get automatically extracted and inserted into smart contracts. As a result, all participants have access to verifiable, transparent, and real-time data that is available 24/7.
By reducing the number of manual processes, the company has gained greater operational efficiency and increased its ROI.
Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX)
As the leading, multi-asset exchange in Asia, Singapore Exchange Limited (SGX) provides listing, trading, clearing, settlement, depository, and data services.
Given that the company has always kept abreast of the latest technological innovations capable of disrupting core financial-market infrastructures. This is why it has set its sights on multi-purpose blockchain technology.
SGX has been keen to explore the use of blockchain in depth, in order to codify rights and obligations in a coherent way and contribute to the creation of a digital end-to-end marketplace. The company believes that smart contracts and distributed ledger have the capacity to thoroughly enhance and renovate capital markets and make transactions more transparent and less costly.
Yet, the company faced some challenges when operating and maintaining a blockchain infrastructure on its own. Therefore it decided to move its existing investments in Hyperledger Fabric to Amazon Managed Blockchain.
By leveraging AWS blockchain, SGX quickly managed to set up a sophisticated platform and invite its partners to join the network to build a more efficient and resilient interbank payments platform. The company no longer needs to handle various API integrations across multiple banking systems and can focus on adding business value instead. It also acknowledges that thanks to Amazon Managed Blockchain it has reduced its trade settlement time by up to 60% and has enormously enhanced transaction transparency across a shared ledger.
Amazon Managed Blockchain by AWS is an outstanding example of the cloud and blockchain combination. The solution boasts a host of benefits, including first-class security and scalability, great flexibility, and improved reliability. It provides templates for Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum frameworks and enables its users to quickly and easily deploy blockchain networks.
If you’ve been impressed by the advantages presented by AWS blockchain and want to ensure its smooth deployment, we advise you to reach out to a professional blockchain development company with a proven record of successfully delivered end-to-end blockchain platforms. With skilled, experienced, and savvy developers on your side, you’re sure to hit the ground running and achieve all your targets.