Following from an article we published earlier (see VMware approach to bringing Blockchain to the Enterprise), this article focuses on VMware Blockchain’s approach to delivering virtual computation environments to run decentralized applications. 

Deploying and managing business-critical decentralized applications in the enterprise is a complicated endeavor that involves navigating complex systems and related deployment and operations. What’s more, the fact that various smart contract languages employ different technology stacks translates into reduced flexibility and agilityas well as lock-in into a particular smart contract language. To address this, VMware Blockchain provides virtual computation engines in a flexible and extensible architecture

We’ve tackled the complex tech — Byzantine Fault Tolerant state machine replication, fast consensus, and cryptographically verifiable data integrity, among other things — abstracting away the complexity of the underlying technology, allowing enterprise participants the freedom to focus on their multi-party business processes and application development, and making it easy to deploy and manage business-critical multi-party applications.

The virtual compute engines rely on the same replicated state machine that provides all participants in multi-party systems with the same source of truth at any given time. This single source of truth brings several benefits to multi-party business processes where data silos (and the data reconciliation required today) cause significant inefficiencyThese benefits include real-time multi-party transactions, tracking and auditability, lower counterparty risk, dispute resolution, and more. 

In addition, by designing the VMware Blockchain platform to support virtual compute engines for multiple smart contract languages, we provide a single platform where enterprises can run multiple applications written in different languages. Decentralized applications developed independently and in preferred languages will be fully supported across the network. In multi-party networks, this allows each organization to nimbly participate with its current skill set while maintaining future flexibility in the choice of smart contract language.

Figure 1:

 

VMware has a strong legacy in virtualization — one that has enabled customers to deliver traditional and modern applications faster and more securely while reducing the cost and complexity of connecting and protecting the distributed enterprise.

What is a virtual machine?

A virtual machine is a compute resource that uses software instead of a physical computer to run programs and deploy apps. One or more virtual “guest” machines run on a physical “host” machine.  Each virtual machine runs its own operating system and functions separately from the other VMs, even when they are all running on the same host. This means that, for example, a virtual MacOS virtual machine and a Windows virtual machine can run on a physical PC.

 

As a natural extension of VMware DNA, we are bringing our industry-leading virtual machine benefits to the VMware Blockchain platform to make it fully agnostic, flexible, and extensible. Researchers within the VMware Office of the CTO have been focused on bringing these benefits to VMware Blockchain, including approaches such as SBFT: a Scalable and Decentralized Trust Infrastructure. We’ve designed VMware Blockchain to be the digital foundation upon which decentralized applications written in any language can be deployed, run, and managed. We bring a unique advantage of a layered architecture that decouples the ledger from the smart contract language, via the elegant abstraction of virtual machines.

Figure 2:

Ease of deployment and management

Figure 2, above, is a conceptual representation of how an application is decentralized to run on the VMware Blockchain platform, with virtualized environments for App1 and App2 running on the same ledger. The platform reduces complexity by deploying the application to multiple nodes. The platform reduces complexity by deploying the application to the multiple nodes that comprise the blockchain, running the computation, ordering, consensus, and updating and maintaining the replicated state. In this way, VMware Blockchain provides the foundational elements required for decentralized multi-party applications. A smart contract becomes an application run across nodes in the blockchain network, freeing the user, developer, or maintainer of the application from worrying about the complexity of deployment and management of a decentralized application.

Mixed-mode transactions

The VMware Blockchain architectural approach not only enables the use of any virtual machine (DAML, EVM as examples) but also to run multiple different machines on the same ledger!  App1 and App2 in Figure 2 can be written in different smart contract languages. Since they both rely on the same state machine replication layer, a transaction can be completed between apps written in different languages.

Putting it into practice

Financial Services and other industries are crossing the chasm to take advantage of this new way of transacting. In areas such as clearing and settlement and repo transactions, we are building solutions that enable multiple parties to transact efficiently in real time with simultaneous settlement, tracking and auditability, lower counterparty risk and dispute resolution, and more, by providing access to a single shared source of truth.

Whether you are a service provider or an enterprise looking to deploy private or permissioned blockchains, VMware is building the enterprise-grade blockchain platform in a future-ready architecture that will allow you to deploy your multi-party apps in production with confidence.

1 VMware Ranked No. 1 in Worldwide IT Automation and Configuration for Third Consecutive Year by Global Analyst Firm

Tanya Shastri is VP of Products, Blockchain at VMware where she leads product management and go-to-market for the Blockchain Business Unit in the Office of the CTO. Prior to this, Tanya was at Google where she headed Strategic Business Development for Google Cloud technology partnerships. Tanya co-founded Natero (acquired by Freshworks), a SaaS big data analytics platform. Earlier she worked to productize innovative technology in the CTO’s office at NetApp and started her career at Cisco where she held several roles in product management and software engineering. Tanya holds an MBA from Haas, UC Berkeley and an MS in Electrical Engineering from SUNY, Stony Brook, NY.