On February 28, 2017, a group of the world’s most advanced enterprise and startup blockchain innovators met in New York to form an alliance with the purpose of building and promoting Ethereum-based technology best practices, standards, and a reference architecture known as Ent.Eth 1.0. The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) seeks to augment Ethereum to serve as an enterprise-grade technology by investigating hybrid architectures that span both permissioned (private) and public Ethereum networks.
As previously reported by ETHNews, the alliance became public knowledge after rumors began circulating in December 2016, when a then “secret meeting” took place in New York, which included former members of the R3 CEV consortium, a stock exchange, and a major software provider.
The official launch took place at Brooklyn’s 4 MetroTech Center with a crowd of about 500 people representing global banks, startups, and competing blockchain consortia. Founding members of the EEA rotating board include Accenture, Banco Santander, BlockApps, BNY Mellon, CME Group, ConsenSys, IC3, Intel, J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, and Nuco.
Additional founding members include AMIS, Andui, BBVA, brainbot technologies, BP, Chronicled, Credit Suisse, Cryptape, Fubon Financial, ING, The Institutes, Monax, String Labs, Telindus, Tendermint, Thomson Reuters, UBS, VidRoll, and Wipro, among others.
According to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Live Updates Mega Thread, which summarized the presentations at the launch event, the main goals of the EEA are:
- Governance and standards body for Enterprise Ethereum protocol
- Retain compatibility with and enhance public Ethereum
- Rapid technical innovation and enterprise-grade governance.
Also discussed at the announcement were private and public blockchains, comparing them to http (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which are neither public nor private. Because of this, a protocol for blockchain usage can be developed for everyone, regardless of the privacy practices sought out by individual enterprises. The long term difference between a private and public chain is a firewall configuration, with no differences in protocol between public and private chains.
Other topics discussed at the launch include the implementation of zK SNARKS in the next 12 months along with details of how Ethereum’s upcoming Metropolis phase “will allow for sending unsigned transactions from a special ‘entry point address.’” According to the thread, “This will allow people to make their own verification function (ie. get rid of nonce, change state signature scheme, etc.). Any account in call execution chain can pay for gas. Move block hashes and state roots into the state. EIP86: ability to send to not-yet existent contracts, more flexibility for who pays for the gas.”
One of the main themes communicated at the launch was how interoperability is beneficial for both public and private blockchain systems. The EEA is collaborating with the Ethereum Foundation to develop multiple codebases (Parity, Geth, etc.) to possibly swap out modules and set up custom blockchains with the option of implementing proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanisms.
The EEA members will work together to develop industry standards and facilitate open source collaboration in order to build a collaborative framework that will enable mass adoption at a level unachievable with individual corporate silos.
While the EEA is a collaboration among its member base as well as with Ethereum’s chief scientist and inventor, Vitalik Buterin, it is open to any members of the Ethereum community who wish to participate in the EEA’s shared goals, such as providing insight to the future of scalability, privacy, and confidentiality of the public Ethereum permissionless network.
“The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance project can play an important role in standardizing approaches for privacy, permissioning and providing alternative consensus algorithms to improve its usability in enterprise settings, and the resources the project and its members are contributing should accelerate the advancement of the Ethereum ecosystem generally. I look forward to continuing to work with everyone involved.”
With 2017 hailed by many in the Ethereum community as the year that blockchain technology will go mainstream, efforts made by the EEA signify a leap forward in advancing the technology to a critical mass level.
“We need to collaborate, we need to build this together. This year we need more not less,” said Sandra Ro, from CME Group and panalist at the EEA event.
With the main goals of optimization, safety, and scalability, the EEA views Ethereum as an essential part of Web 3.0. Part of the scalability initiative is that public (permissionless) blockchains must be accessible to consumers using laptops, while private (permissioned) chains can utilize higher bandwidth for faster finality and server-to server transfers (tx/s).
“We’re moving to a World Wide Web that is decentralized and peer to peer,” said Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys and EEA founding board member.
Big Names And Big Moves
One of the most prominent EEA members, Microsoft, announced that J.P. Morgan’s Quorum project is now available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, which hosts a range of blockchain-as-as-service tools. Quorum is designed to handle up to hundreds of transactions per second and can also allow smart contracts to be validated by parties involved with the contract. As an enterprise-focused blockchain service built off of the Ethereum codebase, Quorum is designed to meet industry demands of faster speeds and high throughput processing. Other benefits of Quorum include potentially faster clearing times of transactions executed in a collaborative manner through a shared transaction ledger.
“At Microsoft, we are proud to be a founding member and board member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to continue the advancement of enterprise grade blockchain platforms. Participating with the Ethereum community to implement open standards will accelerate deployment of blockchain solutions. In addition, Microsoft Azure’s open, global scale cloud infrastructure and platform services provide fertile ground for the evolution of Ethereum into the enterprise,” said Gray.