A great debate exists over the pros and cons of centralization and decentralization in cryptocurrency and blockchain. With customers in mind, Amazon Web Services (AWS) decided to cater to both sides in its blockchain endeavors.
Customers And A Centralized Approach
For some individuals, the aspect of decentralization may not be as vital as it is to other parties. AWS discovered that some “customers wanted an immutable verifiable record of every change that had taken place, but they were okay with centralized trust,” AWS blockchain GM Rahul Pathak told me in an interview.
Catering to this type of customer, AWS created Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB). “The idea is that you have a cryptographically verifiable, immutable, tamper-proof ledger that you can query and interact with, but that is owned by a single entity,” Pathak said. This type of solution is effective for “cases where you’d want to audit trails, but don’t care about distributed trust,” Pathak explained.
Customers And Decentralization
Addressing a crowd seeking a more decentralized approach, however, AWS also built the Amazon Managed Blockchain. This group of customers desired the “ledger”, without one single player owning the operation, Pathak explained. “They did want a decentralized trust model,” Pathak said. “There we saw the need to offer Managed Blockchain, and we really focus on the enterprise blockchain use cases for private and permissioned blockchains.”
AWS announced the preview for both of these models, centralized and decentralized, in late November of 2018, according to a press release. At the time of the July 3, 2019 interview with me, Pathak noted, “Quantum Ledger Database, QLDB, is still in preview,” while “Amazon Managed Blockchain went into General Availability at the end of April.” While in preview, customers can gain free access to these projects by filling out a form and signing up, an AWS representative clarified via email. When released for General Availability, anyone can use them.
“Our Managed Blockchain service supports Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum,” Pathak added. Amazon Managed Blockchain launched usage with the Hyperledger Fabric framework in late April 2019 with Ethereum availability coming up, he noted.
Customer Usage Trends
Based on customers’ applications of the blockchain services from AWS, the cloud service provider has picked up on a few use case trends, Pathak noted. Telecom giant AT&T and food industry powerhouse Nestle are examining the tech for their respective supply chains to enhance elements such as “traceability and transparency,” Pathak mentioned.
Investment holding company Singapore Exchange (SGX) is utilizing Amazon Managed Blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric to improve settlement and financial asset clearing times, Pathak said.
Additionally, “Sony Music in Japan just announced that they’ll be using the service for their digital and music rights management platform,” Pathak detailed.
AWS blockchain customers also include the likes of Guardian Life Insurance evaluating using the tech in the payments category, as well as Legal & General’s use of Amazon’s Managed Blockchain with Hyperledger Fabric in the area of “pension deals and annuities,” Pathak said.