Industries around the world are quickly finding the value that blockchain has to offer, but not everyone is prepared to implement it with their current infrastructure.
EY, one of the Big Four firms that deals in professional services, has been working on free software that is finally ready to roll out, which will ensure that corporate clients are able to easily use the Ethereum blockchain.
On Tuesday, EY announced the creation of the Nightfall protocol, which was developed over the course of the last year as an effort between 200 blockchain developers. It will not be published for public use until May, but it was developed as a way to apply the blockchain to more use cases, including supply chains, public finance, food tracing, and more.
Nightfall uses zero-knowledge proofs, which make it possible to perform private transactions that are logged on a shared ledger, which is a lot like the way that other enterprise blockchain platforms work. However, to set themselves apart, the software from EY is designed to specifically run on the public Ethereum network, rather than a private ledger.
EY is also breaking the mold on the handling of intellectual property with their software. Rather than just open-sourcing the code for developers, it will remain on the public domain with absolutely no license. The global innovation leader for blockchain at EY, Paul Brody, spoke at a press briefing about this decision, saying that the company’s goal is to “maximize adoption and community involvement.”
The whole point of creating this software is that the public will adopt, adapt, and even improve the protocols. Brody feels that, if EY decides to license it and establish direct ownership, there may be less participation from the public in these improvements. As he said, the “cleanest” option is to “just give it away with no strings attached.” Still, the decision was difficult, as Brody admitted that the software is “a million dollars’ worth of stuff we’re giving away.”
Consumers should remember that there is a significant difference between “open source” and “public domain.” Preston Byrne, who is a partner at the Byrne & Storm law firm, points out that the two phrases mean different things from a legal standpoint, even though people in the industry like to use them “interchangeably.”
Open-source software is available to developers and other users to take advantage of without the need to pay royalties, despite being licensed. The author of the software is the owner, and they can change or withdraw the license at any time.
Byrne noted that he has never witnessed this kind of change in cryptocurrency before, adding that the option of playing around with a code is often the selling point for adoption.
Public domain, however, means that the author or creator no longer holds on to the rights of the software, which Byrne says is relatively rare. In not assuming ownership, it is possible for disputes to arise if the software ends up on a copyright-waived codebase. However, there is no real risk in making the software available in a public domain.
The Nightfall solution is made to work on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, which should assure potential clients that the protocol is more familiar than they realize. The solutions are already involved with SAP’s enterprise software as well, and there is already testing of the system in several endeavors.
One such solution tested is for the Xbox video games platform, where the protocol will help with the tracking of software license transactions. Microsoft has the ability to watch over interactions involving game vendors, which can eliminate their battle with royalty payments as well.
The protocol is being tested with Carriefour, a European grocery chain, helping to trace oranges, eggs, and chickens on the blockchain. Carrefour is already a participant of the Food Trust blockchain, which is a program implemented by IBM. Other participants in the testing include the Placido Volpoine Italian winery, an “Italian buffalo mozzarella maker,” and “a big Japanese car maker,” according to Brody.
Over the last year of development, Brody has been praising the way that blockchain technology can help enterprises, which has helped to keep EY in the public eye and connected with the fintech. Brody commented that there is a place to use private blockchains, but a public blockchain is more suited to “massive, scalable transformation” that needs to happen in supply chain management.
Brody feels that enterprises will warm up to public blockchains with the same approach and speed that these companies did with public cloud storage. He also is confident that the companies will ultimately chose to work with Ethereum over any other platform, due to the substantial involvement with companies on their blockchain and Ethereum’s smart contract language – Solidity.”
The EY blockchain leader added that this “momentum” alone gives him confidence that “Ethereum is the choice.”