Will Martino and Stuart Popejoy, two ex-JPMorgan employees, met while working on the investment banking company's Juno blockchain project. With a vision for an enterprise-ready blockchain platform, the two founded Kadena, which has since created the private blockchain protocol ScalableBFT and an EDCC (aka smart contract) language known as Pact.
Various companies have used Kadena's technology, but it has not been made widely available like other blockchain tools, such as Parity's Substrate tooling stack or the Truffle Suite Ethereum development framework. Until now, that is.
Kadena today announced the launch of its free blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS), ScalableBFT: Community Edition, on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace. The free service gives businesses four blockchain nodes at 2,000 transactions per second, whereas the licensed product features 250 nodes at 8,000 transactions per second.
With Kadena's platform now available on AWS, one of the most popular software-as-a-service marketplaces, the company hopes to reach a larger audience and further encourage blockchain adoption, especially at the enterprise level. "The AWS Marketplace is the perfect place to share our technology widely," said Popejoy.
Although several businesses are intrigued by blockchain, especially due to the industry's hype, these companies may never move past the research phase after they learn of blockchain's (seemingly) prohibitive hardware costs and technical requirements. In other words, companies may not believe they possess the resources to even try the technology.
Monica Quaintance, head of research and networks at Kadena, also told ETHNews that there is a "gatekeeping aspect" to the blockchain industry. Individuals may proclaim that the blockchain revolution includes everybody, but then those same individuals criticize or shame people from non-technical backgrounds. A sense of snobbery pervades many of this industry's spaces, whether they be online or in-person. Quaintance said:
"I think that [this mindset] is ultimately completely counterproductive to what we're trying to do, which is provide a new technology to everybody that empowers the individual, allows you to take control of your own data, allows you to protect your own information, [and] allows you to fully understand exactly what happens to the life cycle of a piece of information."
Such gatekeeping, coupled with companies' already-perceived inability to pursue blockchain projects, does not make the technology look any more appealing. It's understandable that a business might want to avoid blockchain based on these characteristics of the technology and the industry more generally.
Greater Enterprise Adoption?
Considering the hesitance of some businesses to adopt blockchain technology, the significance of Kadena's recent AWS launch comes less from the product itself and more from what the launch may signal for the future of enterprise-level blockchain adoption. Indeed, Quaintance said BaaS is a way "to open doors to companies that would normally never" become involved with a blockchain project. She explained:
"Rather than thinking that getting to try blockchain is going to require, like, a 10-person developer team and hundreds of man hours in order to be able to even try this thing … instead having a few-click, easy-install, easy-to-read-and-understand version of blockchain technology will allow a whole bunch of companies that otherwise wouldn't even bother to reach out and try this new technology."
Kadena's AWS offering, then, provides an ostensibly low-risk opportunity for businesses to experiment. Blockchain may not be an appropriate solution for a company, but at least the organization can trial Kadena's enterprise-focused blockchain platform and then determine whether the technology should be pursued further.
The ability to test blockchain is especially important for small businesses, which may have interesting blockchain use cases but are fearful of wasting their limited resources on projects that may not produce meaningful results. Quaintance elaborated, "It's your JPMorgans of the world that got in on researching blockchain technology early, but a small company that is trying to make the world a better place … may not have a huge technology budget."
The BaaS model, too, encourages easier access to the technology. Because blockchain infrastructure and operation are no longer a company's responsibility under such a model, the business can focus more time, energy, and money toward bringing Dapps, smart contracts, and other crypto projects to market. No complex hardware (and the associated costs) required.
If blockchain is truly the next generation of technology, then businesses across many different industries need to adopt it. ScalableBFT: Community Edition, as well as other free BaaS offerings, may just be the push the enterprise world needs. As Quaintance maintains:
"We have a duty as part of the nascent blockchain ecosystem to try to bring people into blockchain as easily as possible. This is a way for us to on-ramp a whole new segment of a whole bunch of different industries that are interested in blockchain but don't necessarily understand it or aren't sure how to integrate with it."