VMware’s launched a blockchain that may be very good. The packaging it's used is more important

Gather ‘round, Blockheads, so we can explain this thing called a ‘virtual machine’ and why it matters


Blockheads are about to get a new appreciation of private clouds and application packaging, after VMware launched a Blockchain product.

Imaginatively named “VMware Blockchain”, the product debuts more than two years after it was teased at VMworld 2018 and quite some time after numerous rivals have brought enterprise Blockchain products to market.

So why is VMware bothering to make a late run?

The answer is that VMware thinks it has a Blockchain that will be easier to implement because it ships as virtual appliances ready for secure connection to other nodes.

That matters because Blockchains are decentralized ledgers and each participant needs its own node. If it's easier to implement those nodes, building a business Blockchain becomes more accessible.

VMware's packaging relies on its flagship vSphere product, the core of its private and hybrid cloud offerings. Virtzilla also offers the NSX network virtualisation suite that does things like creating network microsegments that may only exist for as long as it is necessary to exchange some data.

VMware’s poster child for its Blockchain is the Australian Stock Exchange, which is building a (much-delayed) trading platform built on a distributed ledger and the DAML smart contract language. The ASX's plan is for market participants to run their own Blockchain node so that when they transact with the exchange, each sale of a security is first recorded locally and then propagated across nodes run by each market participant. The bourse decided to work with VMware because its packaging delivers a certain pleasing homogeneity that means every market participant can start with a node that's pre-packaged with both the blockchain application and all of the security and networking settings needed to connect with other nodes.

That this stuff should appeal to Blockheads is evident in this VMware explainer article that includes a section titled “What is a virtual machine?” While that’s a question that anyone who has worked in IT in the last 20 years can answer without much thought, those outside of IT ops clearly need a primer on how to crystalise their crypto dreams as packaged software.

VMware is therefore betting that its core competencies of tending virtual machines and networks gives it the opportunity to spread vSphere into the distributed ledger community.

It’s also betting it has a Blockchain that will excite, talking up its fault tolerance, integrity, and low power consumption. Technical details of its approach to Blockchain can be found here. ®


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