Blockchain has been around for a few years now and has had a slow and steady rise up the technology hype cycle.    For those not familiar with Blockchain it is viewed as the main technical innovation of bitcoin where it serves as the public ledger of all bitcoin transactions. 

Many analysts believe that Blockchain will be a highly disruptive technology and could have a huge impact on the world economy.    One of the main innovations that will drive the disruption is the ability to not only transfer information but also transfer value with its tamper proof distributed ledger architecture. 

For more details about Blockchain, I’d recommend viewing these blogs and notes. 

http://scn.sap.com/community/business-trends/blog/2015/08/07/beyond-bitcoin-how-the-blockchain-could-disrupt-our-financial-system

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain_(database)

http://scn.sap.com/community/banking/blog/2016/05/17/blockchain-is-the-supreme-friend-of-data-management

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Will Blockchain and de-centralized Applications Kill the Cloud?   I don’t  think so.  There is space for both to work together to create innovative solutions.  Blockchain is a horizontal technology that has the potential to impact all industries and is complimentary to SAP’s Cloud and On Premise solution portfolio.

SAP’s Extensible Cloud Platform

There are many use cases for both cloud and Blockchain applications in the same way that there are use cases for both cloud and on premise applications. 

Many on premise applications have shifted part of their processing into the cloud for various functions and workloads making them more hybrid applications.  For example an SAP S/4 HANA on premise customer might decide to create a new application that leverages SAP FIORI as a Service through our SAP HANA Cloud Platform.


In a matter of hours or days a customer could now create a hybrid application.   SAP has seen this trend growing and is making it easier for customers by providing online development environments such as the SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) as well as integration technologies such as SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI).

How could Blockchain fit in with SAP’s Cloud Solutions?

There are many startups in the financial sector offering everything from alternative Crypto Currencies to payment systems.  Many in the established financial sector are seeing Blockchain as a disruptor while others are now looking to see how they can leverage this technology to provide a safe and secure means to offer new services. 

 

I see the same happening in the future with de-centralized applications such as Blockchain.  There will be cases where there may be a transfer of value in a Peer to Peer Blockchain application that will then need to integrate with a back end system. 

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For Example

Bill is sitting in his office in Cleveland and needs to get to the airport.  He could use a centralized car sharing solution such as Uber or he could use a New App built on Blockchain.  This New App could be a Peer to Peer system that connects him directly with a driver in his area.  This way neither the driver nor the passenger need to pay a fee to a centralized car sharing company making the transaction cheaper with less steps  involved.  The financial payment has been disrupted.  No centralized system was touched.  No fees were taken from a ride sharing app or a credit card company.   

Now Bill needs to do his expenses.  In this case his company uses SAP Concur for travel and expense management.  So now he needs to copy his receipt and upload it into the system to get reimbursed.

This leaves a great opportunity open for an application developer to come in and build a cloud extension for Concur in HCP that retrieves the information from the Blockchain so when Bill goes into Concur his receipt is already waiting for him. 

This is just a quick example of how Blockchain and the SAP Cloud can work together to provide a better customer experience. 

So will Blockchain potentially disrupt how cloud applications are created and consumed?  There is a good chance that it may as it becomes more widely adopted.   But will Blockchain kill the cloud?  I believe that it will not kill the cloud but rather it will allow people and companies to explore how a distributed ledger technology can extend or enhance a cloud solution to provide new forms of value to their customers.     

Thanks, 

Tony

Credits: 

Deloitte Study on Blockchain in Financial Services: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ie/Documents/FinancialServices/IE_Cons_Blockchain_1015.pdf

Richie Etwaru on Blockchain in Healthcare:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO9Q7i-IcA8

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2 Comments

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  1. Megha Jain

    Hello Tony,

    Thanks for explaining about the possibilities of Blockchain integration with SAP in such an easiest way. I’ve been reading about Blockchain these days, but this is surely the simplest one to consume and understand 🙂

    Could you please also provide some technical details on how HCP could retrieve information from Blockchain? Some steps followed for this integration or reference documents may be?

    Best Regards,

    Megha Jain

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    1. Tony Lusk Post author

      Hi Megha,

      Many thanks for your feedback.  Much appreciated. 

      I think about Blockchain like any other data source.  Then there are a some different options to work with the data in HCP.  My colleague Terence Chue has a great detailed 3 part blog about using HCP Integration Services.  

      You can find part 1 here:  HANA Cloud Platform Integration Service – Part 1

      Additionally this infographic is useful to guide which service or technique of HCP might best fit your integration needs: 

      https://hcp.sap.com/content/dam/website/skywalker/en_us/PDFs/Unify%20Your%20Enterprise%20Landscape%20with%20Integration%20Services%20from%20SAP%20HANA%20Cloud%20Platform.pdf

      From the Blockchain side the data just needs to be exposed.  Depending on what chain you are querying there may already be APIs available.

      Here are a couple of ways of querying with Bitcoin and Etherium. 

       

      Query Existing Blockchain – BitCoin

      https://blockchain.info/api

      There is a simple query API and more robust Data API to return the data in JSON Format. 

      Query a transaction from Etherium

      http://ethereum.stackexchange.com/questions/3475/how-to-query-local-ethereum-blockchain-for-a-specified-transaction 

      Once you have the data you may need to do some parsing / transformations on it as part of your data flow. 

      And finally here is another cool example of how Blockchain was used with HCP and SAP’s payment engine to transfer value around the world

      http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/atb-financial-sends-one-of-the-worlds-first-real-time-payments-from-canada-to-ge…

        

      I hope this helps and good luck in your development!  , 

      Tony

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