With all the chatter about bitcoin unicorns and the volatility associated with early blockchain companies, 2018 may be the year when this technology matures beyond the “hype cycle” into adoption by enterprise IT teams, enhancing the legacy approaches they have in place now – and eventually replacing them.
There are now dozens of stories coming out every day on new blockchains, with companies from Samsung to SAP announcing specific blockchains for specific purposes or industries, signaling that more and more large global companies are digging in, which must be somewhat troubling to the incumbents who have been securing networks and applications, and supporting exchanges and transactions in what could soon become “the old-fashioned way.”
Consulting companies like EY and Accenture, systems integrators like IBM and SAP, are scrambling to attract talent to build blockchain practices, including the skills and software that will be necessary to manage not just one – but many blockchains across the enterprise.
We’ve seen this coming: look back at the history of cloud computing and now cloud communications, and you’ll find an evolution (a relatively rapid evolution) from public clouds to private clouds to hybrid clouds and now multi-clouds.
Even before the requirement to normalize all these clouds (and applications), the telecom industry paved the way for interconnection, interworking, and requirements for industry standards to keep pace with the demand for Internet-based services, moving off TDM and before that “copper” networks.
Rather than introducing yet another blockchain, a company based in Austin, Texas, USA set out to build a platform and network designed to solve in advance for the inevitable headache IT teams will face as the increasingly fragmented world of private and public blockchains grows faster that our ability to manage that world can keep up.
Windmill Enterprise has taken the “IP” from two companies, one a pioneer in IoT and Industrial IoT, and the other a pioneer in digital health records, and has quietly gone about building Cognida, a multi-blockchain and multi-cloud platform and network which is being launched sometime this summer.
While Windmill has been operating in stealth mode since 2017 and deploying blockchain agnostic technology since January of this year in the energy, oil and gas and healthcare industries, when word got out on Telegram, a popular social platform for bitcoin and blockchain enthusiasts and more, Telegram followers grew to over 8,000 in a matter of weeks.
“To say we were surprised by the number of people who flocked to Windmill and Cognida before we even introduced the company formally is an understatement,” co-founder and CEO of Windmill, Michael Hathaway said.
Hathaway, working with co-founder and author Bing Byington, had to immediately begin hiring a crew, which has been at work on “officially” launching the Cognida idea, including a presence at a blockchain conference this week in NYC.
The Cognida Network, expected to go live July 20th, is an enterprise network as a service, designed to help enterprises manage multiple blockchain networks while still maintaining ownership and control of their data.
The Cognida Network and its open source platform enable enterprises to more securely manage connected devices, systems and shared information using blockchain agnostic technology. Cognida’s technology was developed by Windmill Enterprises and is being contributed to the Cognida Foundation, a US-based, non-profit organization that will be governed by its members.
While Hathaway didn’t go much further beyond the news release, he did say he admires the open source communities already making a difference in democratizing blockchain in the enterprise world. One of the contributing companies that formed Windmill Enterprise (IXOT) is a member of the Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry, and while Hathaway is not in conversations with the Hyperledger project also under the Linux Foundation’s umbrella, he sees the value in entire industries figuring out how all this will work – together.
“Amid the media frenzy surrounding bitcoin a few years back, we have been focused on the tremendous disruptive potential made possible by open, shared ledger platforms,” Hathaway said. “But where we see real lift is from permissioned blockchains, and the intersection of private and public blockchains. For that to work, network and systems admins in enterprises need tools. We’re committed to becoming the go-to power tool for managing the multiplicity.”
Blockchain consortiums—including the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, Hyperledger Project, R3, and B3i—are developing an array of enterprise blockchain solutions, but Cognida sees the world as more of a democracy and exchange of blockchains today and in the future.
With the proliferation of platforms and protocols in the marketplace today, no solution has emerged as the clear winner, including Etherium.
As a result, few if any technical or process standards are on place.
As has been the case historically, large enterprises often have challenges organizing internally; when you add external and community-based data sharing and it becomes inevitable that frameworks will be key.
We’ll continue to follow Cognida and will check back in when the network and platform is up and operating, and their non-profit, open-source foundation opens their doors.