Accenture figures out how to make blockchains interoperable

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Accenture says it has developed and tested two technology solutions that enable two or more blockchain-enabled ecosystems to integrate, potentially solving a critical challenge for broad adoption of blockchain technology.

The two Accenture solutions show that that blockchain platforms from Digital Asset (DA Platform) and R3 (R3 Corda) as well as Hyperledger Fabric and Quorum are capable of integrating to securely orchestrate business processes. The technology solutions also demonstrated they could actively share data and information across distributed ledgers, proving that integration is possible across the growing number of blockchain and distributed ledger platforms in the market.

Interoperability has emerged as a hot topic among industry analysts and enterprise technology professionals, who acknowledge the high probability of multiple DLT platforms gaining traction in the market. Additionally, different industry verticals and business ecosystems may prefer one platform or another, such that over time, market players will see value in connecting with each other. Concern about picking the ‘wrong system’ or looking ahead to perceived challenges to connecting blockchain-based ecosystems that may be on different platforms has been a hindrance in moving the technology forward.

Industry analyst Gartner has estimated that the number of blockchain platforms could continue to grow to more than 70 before competition and consolidation narrow the field to a much smaller number of dominant providers.

For different distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) to integrate, they must preserve the ability to audit, trace and verify data elements with complete security and integrity. Accenture says its technology solutions solve this challenge with an interoperability node that resides, and provides the lines of communication, between two or more DLT platforms. The interoperability node includes embedded business logic that contains the business standards, policies and guidelines by which the different blockchain platforms have agreed to work together.

The solution enables integration between the different blockchain platforms by either allowing for the transfer of a tokenized asset on two blockchain platforms or allowing mapping of data to the different blocks that exist in two different blockchain platforms at the same time, with the reference data kept in constant sync. With the solution, there is no need for ongoing messaging between the different platforms. Rather, it becomes possible to transfer and maintain an “active state” between the nodes of the separate blockchain platforms, keeping them synchronized.

David Treat, managing director and Global Blockchain Lead at Accenture, said the solution is “a game-changer” that can help accelerate adoption of blockchain.

“The key challenge was to develop the ability to integrate without introducing ‘operational messaging’ between distributed ledger technology platforms in order to stay true to the principles and benefits of blockchain technology,” said Treat. “Applying this capability with our clients is already unlocking new opportunities to bring ecosystems together, mitigating key concerns about picking the ‘wrong’ platform or having to re-build if one partner uses something different.”

“Business is conducted across multiple ecosystems and, in many instances, we’re seeing these ecosystems align to “fit-for-purpose” platforms. But for blockchain to achieve its full potential these different platforms must interact seamlessly with each other, and our technology solutions show that this is possible – while still delivering the security and transparency benefits that blockchain offers,” said Emmanuel Viale, managing director, Accenture Labs. “This is a crucial step to ensure that growth and innovation continue with this dynamic technology.”

Accenture says it will continue to test its technology solutions with ecosystem partners to establish integration effectiveness between other leading DLT platforms. The company has filed two patent applications for key elements of the underlying technology used in the integration technology solution and expects to file additional patent applications in the near future.

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