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VMware announces Project Concord, an open source permissioned blockchain

VMware broke the news at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, announcing a blockchain-based “Trust Infrastructure” open source project named Concord (full story on VMware Blogs). Concord would be used by enterprises and organizations in a permissioned environment, where access to the blockchain is controlled and restricted (in opposition to public blockchains accessible by virtually anyone, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum).

VMware seems to has put some serious efforts behind the project, as this announcement is backed by the release of source code on GitHub as well as the release of a very interesting white paper named “SBFT: A Scalable Decentralized Trust Infrastructure for Blockchains”. BFT here means Byzantine Fault Tolerance and the S likely stands for scalable.

VMware claims notable performance / throughput achievements (in terms of transactions per second and tolerance to byzantine faults) over similar blockchains. They also claim that their blockchain project is greener than energy-hungry “Proof-of-Work” based blockchain projects. TECHunplugged finds these claims, while correct, to be a borderline marketing stunt, since it is well known that permissioned blockchains, while decentralized, do not have the requirement to mathematically prove the exactitude of a block’s validity that is inherent in public, zero-trust permissionless blockchains such as Bitcoin and others.

While this all sounds like hype, there’s an important premise in Project Concord. One of the goals of the project (coming in the next months, per VMware) is the ability to execute code on the blockchain in a similar way as EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) on the Ethereum / Ethereum Classic blockchains. This leads to interesting applications, as Project Concord could be eventually used to execute smart contracts on a permissioned blockchain, perhaps a novel way to execute targeted code on the blockchain, in a way that might remind serverless/lambda.

It’s interesting and refreshing that VMware is living with the times and doing research on blockchains. In TECHunplugged’s view this is yet another sign of the adoption of blockchain technology, which remains however to be tempered with the emergence of real use cases in the enterprise world.