A New Foundation for Evolving Blockchain As a Fundamental Network Technology

By Arti Loftus June 12, 2018

There are now thousands of blockchains, and unless you are a cryptophile, you won’t recognize most of them.

According to TokenMarket, Ethereum is powering nearly 900 different blockchains today. Blockchain (the company) weigh in at less than 10% of those, with approximately 67 assets.

From there we go way down to Waves, with approximately 22 assets, Bitcoin with 13, Stellar with 11, Neo with 7, Graphene with 5, the Bitshares, NEM, Qtum and EOS with 4 each. Omni, Komodo, Ethereum Classic are tracking at 3 assets each, with Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger at 2, equal to Counterparty, Cordano, Steem, Nxt, Dash and Lisk.

The others (subject to daily changes) manage one blockchain asset each.

The 80/20 rule is skewed in the world of blockchains, with 97% of blockchains managed by 3% of the blockchain companies.

We can write that off to “early in the cycle,” and can only guess that as the industry itself matures, the balance of power will continue to shift, but not always in favor of the enterprises tasked with choosing which blockchain they should adopt for which purposes.

No matter how this shakes out over the next few years, one thing is certain: no large enterprise wishes to repeat the mistakes of the past and onboard too many technologies without considering how they are going to manage their way through the “gold rush” fragmentation, followed by industry consolidation.

This is not just a challenge for enterprises, per se, to figure out; their communications service providers, systems integration vendors, open-source partners, and applications service providers also need to build awareness around how the ever-growing tapestry of blockchains will be woven into a reasonably managed fabric.

We’re starting to see more and more industry-specific blockchains rolling out after seeing most of the traction happening in the financial vertical for all the obvious reasons.

Law enforcement, ride hailing, messaging, fundraising, electronic medical records, voting, critical infrastructure, dark networks established by governments, asset management, fleet management, precision agriculture and food safety and security, smart cities, smart buildings, and more all can do a better job transmitting, sharing, storing and monetizing data and content using blockchain.

To one new organization, Cognida, which was unveiled yesterday in NYC at a blockchain conference, the issues enterprises will face with any blockchain will have similar attributes: identity, authentication, authorization, administration, security from end-to-end, and the “control of everything.”

In the brave new world of APis and ecosystem models, controlling content and data is becoming more difficult, and the stakes are high for those enterprises who ignore the growing attack surface, brought to you by the age of collaboration.

In the more regulated world following last month’s launch of the General Data Protection Rule in the EU (which applies to any company in any country who has a digital presence), consumers are also being empowered to control their data, and only those companies who enable that by abiding with the new rules have a chance of being around in ten years.

Given over 900 blockchains, primarily controlled by the “first movers,” it’s not surprising Cognida chose not to launch another blockchain, but instead focus on the problem closing in: how to manage all the existing and new blockchains an efficient way.

Though blockchain’s ledger is public, its data communications are sent and verified using advanced cryptographic techniques ensuring that data is coming from correct sources and that nothing is intercepted. That’s great, but when blockchain adoption grows, the probability of hacking may increase as the incentives grow.

That said, blockchain technology is more robust than legacy systems, enabling much more scalable data authentication and control as blockchains verify transactions whether on public or private (“members only”) blockchain networks, or extranets.

In their news release, Windmill Enterprise (the original developer of Cognida) previewed a new, non-profit foundation that is designed to bring entire industries together to make counter-parties interact using multiple blockchains, without giving up control and transparency.

Invoking the word “agnostic” Cognida, which was incubated over the last several years in Fortune 100 projects, is remaining neutral by design.

“With the promise of scalability and efficiency that new blockchain technologies offer enterprises across every sector, there is a growing security challenge that we’re committed to addressing – security between blockchains” said Michael Hathaway, Co-Founder and CEO, Windmill Enterprise. “With the launch of the Cognida Network as well as the Cognida Foundation, we will equip companies with more tools to secure digital assets and shared information in the enterprise and in the cloud. Our platform and network establish a blockchain secured service layer that runs on top of the Internet, ensuring trusted service relationships, and putting the enterprise in control of who has access to which data.”

Former Gartner analyst Akshay Sharma, who himself has moved away from network infrastructure into software and blockchain, took a consumer angle when he commented “In the current GDPR environment, with newer enterprise privacy controls needed, along with IoT security requirements, enterprise expectations for end-to-end privacy controls will continue to grow.”  Sharma, a fiercely independent principal analyst at neXt Curve wrote, “within next generation networks, service providers and enterprises alike need a solution for applying policy management across multiple secured interconnections. This will ensure a seamless experience, with privacy controls, across legacy subscriber, device, and application databases, as well as blockchain deployments, supporting newer policy and key management.”

The Cognida Network, expected to go live July 20th, is an enterprise network as a service, designed to help enterprises manage multiple blockchain networks while still maintaining ownership and control of their data.

Windmill Enterprise, which previewed Cognida this week, was co-founded by Michael Hathaway of Information Xchange, Inc, and Bing Byington of CareConnex.

We’ll continue to follow developments, while looking at other platforms and service providers who – instead of starting another blockchain – are building businesses, or in this case open source ecosystems to rationalize the “blockchains of everything” dynamic we’re experiencing today.

And while blockchain is just an enabler of Bitcoin, it’s becoming clearer every day why bitcon and other cryptocurrency companies are still coming in hot.

Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Special Correspondent

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