As a leading technology partner that helps clients in the private, public and third sector organisations achieve their digital solution goals, our consultants at Triad Group Plc are focussed on understanding the potential of emerging technologies.
In the first part of this article, I’m going to briefly explain the approach we took to test the potential of Blockchain smart contracts utilising the popular Ethereum platform alongside some of the issues we identified. The second part, available soon, then discusses how the Stratis Platform is well placed to overcome some of these issues.
In October 2017, I was asked to carry out an assessment of the potential opportunities of Blockchain and its impact on Triad’s clients. A small team was assembled to understand potential use cases, gain an understanding of the technical implications of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and demonstrate the supporting design and architectural considerations required to implement such a solution.
By December , we had produced a number of Solidity Smart Contracts on the Ethereum platform and integrated them into a web-based solution. The key objective of this research was to evidence how smart contracts could be used to deliver transparent sharing of immutable data on a decentralised network, increasing trust between organisations and reducing transaction costs through disintermediation.
The Proof of Concept used a simplified version of a well-known domain – courier parcel tracking – to demonstrate how smart contracts could deliver cost efficiencies by enabling collaboration between multiple couriers. It demonstrated how DLT could provide parcel recipients with a single view of parcel tracking information across multiple couriers. It also demonstrated how DLT could be used to provide transparent, accurate and near real-time performance data across multiple couriers.
Triad’s Smart Contract Proof of Concept in action
In only three months, we’d been able to demonstrate the significant opportunity smart contracts offered some of our clients. However, we’d also identified that, whilst it was evolving rapidly, the technology was still immature.
- The Proof of Work algorithm employed by Ethereum meant throughput of transactions was low so there was a sizeable impact on performance when writing to the blockchain.
- It was problematic to integrate Solidity contracts into our quality assurance procedures because they were difficult to test in isolation.
- Finally, utilising smart contracts introduces not-insignificant complexity into solutions, mainly due to the asynchronous nature of mining their transactions.
While these findings enabled us to engage with clients and advise about the potential impact of DLT, we took the decision to mothball our Proof of Concept due to the technology’s immaturity at the time.
Fast forward to September 2019. I was asked to sit in on a call with the team from Stratis to understand how its Blockchain platform might help us overcome some of the issues we’d identified.
See part 2 of this article to see how the Stratis Platform promises to offer a fast and scalable “Blockchain as a Service” utilising a Proof of Stake algorithm and side-chains for higher transaction throughput, smart contracts written in C# and a modular and configurable full-node solution to tailor network features.
A senior consultant for Triad, a UK-based IT consultancy that provides the skills, commitment and people to help companies in the public, private and third sectors achieve their digital transformation goals by quickly delivering specialist teams across Agile and waterfall projects.
Matt has 16 years’ experience in full-stack development, architecture, continuous integration/deployment, development process improvement, technical strategy and full lifecycle quality assurance.