Book Image

Oracle Blockchain Quick Start Guide

By : Vivek Acharya, Anand Eswararao Yerrapati, Nimesh Prakash
Book Image

Oracle Blockchain Quick Start Guide

By: Vivek Acharya, Anand Eswararao Yerrapati, Nimesh Prakash

Overview of this book

Hyperledger Fabric empowers enterprises to scale out in an unprecedented way, allowing organizations to build and manage blockchain business networks. This quick start guide systematically takes you through distributed ledger technology, blockchain, and Hyperledger Fabric while also helping you understand the significance of Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS). The book starts by explaining the blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric architectures. You'll then get to grips with the comprehensive five-step design strategy - explore, engage, experiment, experience, and in?uence. Next, you'll cover permissioned distributed autonomous organizations (pDAOs), along with the equation to quantify a blockchain solution for a given use case. As you progress, you'll learn how to model your blockchain business network by defining its assets, participants, transactions, and permissions with the help of examples. In the concluding chapters, you'll build on your knowledge as you explore Oracle Blockchain Platform (OBP) in depth and learn how to translate network topology on OBP. By the end of this book, you will be well-versed with OBP and have developed the skills required for infrastructure setup, access control, adding chaincode to a business network, and exposing chaincode to a DApp using REST configuration.
Table of Contents (8 chapters)


Blockchain is a disruptive technology and is the future. However, due to technical complexities, lack of expertise and skills, and operational overhead, the adoption of blockchain is slow. These challenges were gradually addressed by cloud service providers who entered into blockchain solutions with the BaaS offering, which offered clarity on where we should host the solution.

So far, we've discussed DLT, blockchain, centralized and decentralized systems, and ledgers. We also looked at the blockchain structure, blocks, and so on. Now, I want to conclude this chapter by laying the foundation for what's next in the subsequent chapters. This section talks about the center of gravity (CG) of this book. Subsequent chapters will revolve around use cases and the implementation of a use case using Oracle's Blockchain Cloud Platform (BaaS). At this stage, you might be curious about how we will implement this. Consider this section as a glimpse into a blockchain solution provider and where it should reside. There are various steps before implementing blockchain. They start with identifying the use case and choosing the solution providers. Some of the questions you will need to answer are as follows:

  • Why do you need blockchain and what's the rationale behind it?
  • Is there a strategic choice or a tactical push?
  • What are you building and how are you building it?
  • Who is involved, how are they involved, who will decide, and so on?
  • Where will the solution reside-on-premises or on the cloud?
  • Who will be managing it?
  • Who will take care of resilience?

Many of the answers lie with BaaS.

BaaS qualifiers

BaaS is a blockchain platform that hosts a consumer's blockchain applications and solutions. The blockchain platform (BaaS) provider, for a fee, handles the setup, maintenance, and support of the blockchain infrastructure. It is a boost to businesses and entrepreneurs as it offloads a lot from customers and allows them to focus on identifying use cases and developing blockchain applications and solutions. Things such as network availability, scalability, performance, and so on stay with the service provider. Blockchain touches on a wide range of audiences, which includes architects, designers, developers, enthusiastic evangelists, business and process owners, IT strategists, and economists. In addition, BaaS, being a full-stake cloud-based solution, empowers entrepreneurs, enthusiastic evangelists, enterprises, and so on to grasp the potential of DLT and blockchain in a timely and efficient manner. BaaS is turning into a true catalyst to expand the adoption of DLT and blockchain.

The following are some of the qualifying factors to look at when choosing a BaaS provider:

  • Standard: These include the following:
    • Is it an established cloud provider?
    • Is it based on industry standards?
    • Is it compatible and interoperable? Is it interoperable with other ledgers too?
  • Quick setup: Does it allow for the quick provisioning of a blockchain network?
  • Integration and other service offerings: These include the following:
    • Does it support REST proxies for integrating OBP with SaaS, PaaS, and other on-premises applications?
    • Does it offer services such as data security, integration services, and object/document storage?
    • Does it offer cloud services such as containers and compute and storage services?
  • Security and privacy: These include the following:
    • Does it offer integrated identity management and security?
    • Does it take care of privacy, data partitioning, and private channels?
  • Is it resilient: These include the following:
    • Does it offer high availability?
    • Does it offer backup and disaster recovery?
    • Does it offer enhanced performance (both blockchain network and consensus)?
  • Smart contract/chaincodedeployment, versioning, standards, auditing, and testing: These include the following:
    • Does it offer the deployment of chaincode in standard languages such as Java and Node.js?
    • Does it allow rollback to the previous version of chaincode?
    • Does it offer/support tools to test chaincode?
    • Does it have a credible development community?
  • Eat your own pill: Does it offer applications on the marketplace and build on its own BaaS?
  • Monitoring: Does it offer transaction monitoring and dashboards?

The following diagram highlights the key qualifiers for a BaaS platform:

BaaS qualifiers

BaaS use cases

To keep it simple, BaaS solves cost, efficiency, and transparency challenges. It allows the business to explore, experiment, experience, and then engage in blockchain. It takes away the intricacies of implementation and allows the business to focus on the core. It's analogous to an aged whiskey. You can trust its manufacturer and pay for it to enjoy it. You do not need to get into the details of where it was manufactured, under what conditions, how it was treated, and so on. Blockchain enables product provenance.

There is an explosion of ideas around use cases, which can be advantageous for DLT, and blockchain and BaaS will drive the wave in the adoption of DLT and blockchain, thereby realizing and fulfilling these ideas for enterprises, customers, and entrepreneurs. There are various use cases that can be addressed by leveraging BaaS:

  • Prowess (education and profession): A ledger of prowess can act as a single source of truth for certificates, assessments, skills, and so on. It offers prowess ownership, full authority on the asset (certificate, transcripts, skills, evidence, and so on), and offers a solution to fully track and trace an individual's certificates, skills, and knowledge. There are various use cases beyond certificates. For example, while hiring someone, organizations need authentic and trustworthy information about the credentials of an applicant. A ledger of prowess will offer the ledger that holds the applicant's certificates, skills, experience, expertise, and other relevant reports, immutably. In addition, as these records are immutable, even the applicants cannot fabricate it to meet specific job requirements. We easily calculate the risk involved in hiring an applicant who has fabricated his/her skills.
  • Supply chain: A ledger of supply can act as a single source of truth for asset management, procurement, product life cycle management, logistics, provenance, fraud detection, and so on. It can go beyond the provenance (tracking of products) to a full life cycle of SCM on blockchain.
  • Government: Government agencies hold citizen data and various other kinds of sensitive information. The sensitivity quotient poses security and privacy risks. Blockchain's public repository, along with hashing, cryptography, and other proven technologies, can take care of hacking, data modifications, loss of information, and so on. A ledger of trust can take care of citizen rights, votes, donations, and so on. A voting platform with ledger of trust can ensure fraud-free voting and fraud-free counting, and check vote rigging. Results are quick and the entire exercise of executing elections can be made cost-effective, timely, and trustworthy. A ledger of unique identity (UID) can digitize secure identity management.
  • Real estate: A ledger of ownership can act as a truth for the ownership of properties, ease the listing of properties, allow the transferral of ownership in minutes, reduce the cost of listing properties, and so on.
  • Healthcare: A ledger of wellness can evolve as a truth to track patient and doctor information. This will take care of drug counterfeits, secured and controlled exchange of information such as prescriptions and medical history, and so on. The current system stores medical information in silos with massive restrictions on sharing and its usage. A ledger of wellness will lead to storing information on an immutable and secure ledger, where discrete stakeholders have access to it based on their privileges. Blockchain and its chaincode can automatically keep audit and track an individual's health and history, and can even allow patients to monetize their medical records for research, which is a huge gain for humanity.
  • Insurance: A ledger of assurance can be a source of truth from policy sales to settlement, which includes sale of a policy, maintenance of a policy (renewals, terminations, adjustments, and so on), claims, evaluation and evidence, and settlements. This will eliminate cumbersome processes, reduce third-party involvement, allow for faster settlements, and so on.
  • Intellectual properties: A ledger of IP can be a proven source for patents and trademarking of IP; it reduces IP abuse, ensures IP owners receive credits and monetary benefits for their IP, and so on.
  • Fintech: A ledger of affluence can be the base for cross-broader payments and faster B2B transactions. It eliminates reconciliations, infuses trust among traders, and so on. It can also be used for clearing and settlements, trade finance, KYC, and AML.
  • Other industries: These can use BaaS as well, and they are as follows:
    • Travel: It can be used for passenger processing, travel trace and tracking, single source of truth for passenger identity, and so on. With critical documents being on the ledger, passport forging, pass-through, illegal immigration, and so on can be checked.
    • Humanitarianism: It can be used for charity, donations, and so on.
    • Transportation: The use cases include track, trace, and so on.
    • Oil and gas: It can be used for freight management, payments, shipments, and so on.
  • Analytics: I'm pushing analytics as a horizontal industry here, as I believe in the quote: Where there is data, there is analytics (Vivek Acharya). Referring to the aforementioned example on Healthcare—patients trying to monetize their medical records also serves humanity a lot. If that happens, it needs an efficient analytics platform to make sense of the blockchain data. Other than that, transactional data on ledgers can lead to greater insights. Blockchain, along with AI, can lead to better forecasting, effective predications, and answers to business and end-users questions in real time.

Key advantages of BaaS

BaaS is a platform with a magnitude of features on the top of a platform such as Hyperledger Fabric. Using BaaS offerings, customers can create networks and channels and build and deploy chaincode and dApps. Cloud service providers take care of the mundane necessary activities such as infrastructure agility, scalability, and operational efficiency, while customers can focus on building applications and chaincode. BaaS is a major boost to the adoption of blockchain, which is a BaaS offering in most of the major cloud solution providers.

With a cloud platform such as Oracle's Blockchain Cloud Service, you don't need to bring your own security, identity management, container management, admin console management, infrastructure, HA, and recovery. It is all with the cloud service provider. The following are a few of the key advantages of BaaS:

  • Fast provisioning
  • Ease to configure
  • Quick on-boarding of members
  • Embedded identity management
  • Enhanced security and confidentiality
  • Efficient development and testing
  • Enhanced integration with processes and applications
  • Better performance and scalability
  • High availability and operational resilience
  • Excellent scalability
  • Decouples infrastructure from the customer's primary task of developing smart contracts and applications
  • Allows customers to explore the magnitude of possibilities with their legacy applications and business processes.

Oracle's BaaS – OBP

BaaS offers a lot on top of its base (also known as its core). Hyperledger Fabric (base) is not preassembled. Hence, the enterprise needs to build chaincode and benefit from Hyperledger Fabric; they need to set up the Hyperledger Fabric infrastructure, handle its prerequisites, and configure and maintain it. The enterprise needs to ensure the integration of the installed Hyperledger Fabric environment with a security stake and manage the life cycle of all of the containers. The enterprise needs to handle the patching and upgrades and needs to ensure the system's huge availability, performance, business network management, and so on. Oracle's blockchain platform is based on Hyperledger Fabric. With OBP, the enterprise's responsibilities to set up, manage, and maintain the blockchain platform will shift toward Oracle (BaaS provider), and the enterprise can continue to focus on building work class blockchain applications and solutions.

Linux foundation's Hyperledger Fabric is the foundational base (core) for OBP. With Hyperledger Fabric being the base, any vendor (including Oracle) offering solutions on top of it must automatically adhere to industry standards. Blockchain platforms, such as Oracle's Blockchain platform, ease the creation of a network where participants from different organizations can participate and work together. Interoperability challenges such as governance, naming convention standards, and unified data models need to meet common consensus. For example, a consortium where participants mutually agree on standards, rules of participation, sharing of cost and profits, governance mechanism, and collective risk mitigation, along with the inclusion of analytics, auditing, and validation to ensure smooth blockchain network operations.

OBP offers a console to manage networks, channels, and users. It offers a REST proxy and various other infrastructure services to set up, build, and maintain a blockchain network. It's built on top of Hyperledger Fabric and adds a lot of rich features to allow for the ease of operations, enhanced security, and high accessibility. Oracle OBP is a BaaS offering from Oracle, which has the potential to address enterprise DLT/blockchain use cases. The Oracle offering includes infrastructure services and various embedded resources such as compute, containers, storage, event streaming, and identity management. Oracle has the following features:

  • Standard-based: Oracle BaaS's core is Hyperledger Fabric; hence, it automatically adheres to industry standards. As a result, applications built on OBP are interoperable and compatible. This feature matches the BaaS qualifier standard listed in the previous section.
  • Preassembled: Oracle's blockchain platform includes a preassembled identity solution (Oracle's identity management), object store (embedded archiving), and RESTful APIs. The Oracle offering includes an operational console to configure and manage the entire blockchain business network. Onboarding of B2B partners to the blockchain network is simplified and partners can be verified with a built-in identity solution. This feature resembles the BaaS qualifiers: quick setup, security, privacy, and chaincode management and monitoring.
  • Pluggable: It offers integration services with Oracle Integration Cloud Service (OICS), which allows for quick integration with SaaS and PaaS applications. This feature fits into the BaaS qualifier integration and other services, which are as follows:
    • The enterprise can leverage OICS tools in order to process cloud services to build and extend BPM (workflow) applications. The enterprise can extend its SaaS applications using SDKs or RESTful APIs.
    • Applications built on the Oracle development platform (for example, VBCS) can invoke operations on chaincode using various standards (Java, Node.js, and Go) and APIs.
    • Enterprises can build applications on application container cloud services, Java cloud services, mobile cloud services, or application builder cloud services and can initiate blockchain transactions using SOA cloud services, process cloud services, and APIs.
  • Enterprise-grade solution: It is a managed service with high availability, enhanced security, and continuous backup of ledgers. This feature resonates with the BaaS qualifier—resilience.
  • Automated: Oracle's autonomous database anchors OBP. Hence, it leverages the benefits of Oracle's autonomous database, such as self-provisioning, auto upgrades, enhanced security, and monitoring. It auto-applies security patches without a downtime, enhancing security multifold and storing data in an encrypted state. It offers self-repairing features, which ensures the highest availability and reduces planned and unplanned downtime to less than two and a half minutes. This feature fits into the resilience and monitoring BaaS qualifiers.
  • Privacy: Hyperledger Fabric offers channels and private data collection (refer to Chapter 3, Delving into Hyperledger Fabric for more details) to allow the enterprise to conduct confidential transactions. The Oracle offering allows only approved peers to join channels. This feature fits with the security and privacy BaaS qualifiers.

While analyzing the blockchain solution, identifying the use cases, and choosing the most relevant blockchain platform, it's strategically important to look at the core systems, business processes, and benefits the enterprise will reap from the inclusion of blockchain in your ecosystem. We are in an era of cloudifying (cloud) infrastructure, applications, and processes. Blockchain cloud platform is an excellent addition to your cloud strategy. Cloud and blockchain strategies go hand in hand with a vision toward the future of autonomous organizations. This book contains details and practices around Hyperledger Fabric and its realization though Oracle's blockchain cloud platform. We will be going though this in detail in subsequent chapters.

Pre–built blockchain applications

The previous section listed OBP and its features. It also tried to match them with BaaS qualifiers. Almost all of the OBP features matched the BaaS qualifiers, except one (Eat your own pill). In this section, we will expand on the OBP features and match them with the Eat your own pill qualifier. This qualifier essentially displays the capability and maturity of BaaS offerings from a vendor. In this context, Oracle offers many applications that are built on OBP.

Oracle is the pioneer in creating SaaS-based blockchain applications that allow business applications to leverage blockchain technology for traceability, enhanced security, and streamlined consensus. These SaaS-based blockchain applications are built using OBP and run on Oracle's cloud platform. They are seamlessly integrated with other SaaS applications, such as supply chain management (SCM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other cloud-based applications. They are also integrated with machine learning applications and IoT and AI applications.

These applications solve common challenges faced by enterprises such as tracking, tracing, visibility, and root cause analysis. Blockchain is a technology that remembers. It is a technology that removes the hurdle in the tracking, tracing, and visibility of products. Oracle Blockchain Applications allow the tracking, tracing, and analytics for products through their supply chain cycle. These applications also allow root cause analysis and offer recommendations in challenging situations such as damaged products, delayed transportation, delayed delivery, and low quality.

These blockchain applications offer the following advantages:

  • They offer pre-built solutions to common business challenges
  • These applications are configurable, allowing for the faster interconnection of applications with blockchain technology to meet business needs
  • It's a one-stop shop to add B2B partners to blockchain business networks
  • It allows quick solutions to business challenges and saves time for business
  • It leads to business agility for SaaS and on-premise applications, allowing them to quickly leverage the benefits of blockchain technology
  • It seamlessly integrates IoT and AI-based applications
  • It offers a pre-built analytics dashboard to enhance transparency, trust, and visibility among businesses, its partners, and suppliers

These applications offer solutions to business problems such as recalls, disputes, frauds, compliance issues, and counterfeits. They offer analysis and end-to-end traceability across the supply chain. They offer a pre-built dashboard, which surfaces IoT, AI, and blockchain transactions. This allows real-time insights for businesses. The following are the applications offered by Oracle (at the time of writing this book):

  • Oracle Intelligent Track and Trace: It offers end-to-end asset tracking and tracing. It allows a digital footprint for each step and event in the process of the supply chain. It offers real-time insight into these events and steps in the process of the supply chain, from manufacturing to transportation, to sales and delivery.
  • Oracle Product Lineage and Provenance: It allows users to verify the provenance of the product.
  • Oracle Intelligent Cold Chain: It tracks the product's state from manufacturing to sales and offers a full audit trail of it. It emits alterations for excursions and offers preventive recommendations.
  • Oracle Warranty and Usage Tracking: It tracks high-value assets and offers a complete audit trail of an asset's usage. These audit trails are verifiable logs and can be used for product warranty and liability claims.

Enterprises can transform their existing business processes and attain immediate benefits from these business-friendly applications. These applications allow enterprises to develop a blockchain network that allows secure, transparent, and efficient transactions with their suppliers and partners. Moreover, it solves common business problems with tracking, tracing, visibility, and root cause analysis. This is indeed the future for applications. Such applications work seamlessly with existing on-premise and cloud applications. Businesses can use out-of-the-box blockchain applications, set up their blockchain business network with blockchain network templates, and expand and integrate with applications using pre-built integration. We are going to learn more about this in subsequent chapters.