By Alan Ren
In the first post in this series I offered a perspective on the overall open source landscape in China and looked in some detail at open source developments in the local cloud native space.
Spurred in large part by the success of these cloud-native projects, the Chinese open source community is rapidly expanding its engagement into other areas.
Perhaps the most well-known of these is blockchain. Chinese developers have received global attention over the last couple of years for their enthusiastic engagement with blockchain-enabled currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But there’s another, more interesting and far more sustainable story to be told here.
People in China’s open source community foresee blockchain being used across multiple verticals. Local startups are already deploying it to solve enterprise problems that require decentralized distributed ledgers in areas like logistics and asset tracking, fintech, smart manufacturing, and the IoT Edge space. And they are contributing too. Around 25% of Hyperledger’s membership, for example, is now China-based.
At VMware China, we’ve been incubating our own blockchain-related solutions for the past few years, nearly all of which are on their way to being open sourced.
A multi-ledger perspective
One of our first moves into the field was in the form of a Flings tool for deploying Hyperledger fabrics on Kubernetes & PKS. Flings are binary apps and tools built by VMware engineers for the community to try out and experiment with. Our Hyperledger Flings tool received over 600 downloads and some of the code was used in another internal blockchain effort called Project Andes.
Andes began as a Beijing-based VMware xLabs incubator project that asked what it would take to develop enterprise-level blockchain solution. Led by China R&D’s Technical Director Henry Zhang and similar in scale to the early work that became the open cloud registry Harbor, the project generated some of the code that underpins VMware’s recently announced Project Concord, a highly scalable, energy-efficient decentralized trust infrastructure for digital consensus and smart contract execution.
Our overall vision for blockchain, however, is ledger-agnostic. We predict the emergence of a multi-ledger world where people will want to use different ledger technologies and will need them to interoperate.
That expectation has led us to contribute to Hyperledger-related projects such as Project Cello, a partnership with IBM, Oracle, and the wider open source community. Cello enables an on-demand “as-a-service” deployment model for the blockchain ecosystem. VMware engineers are now Cello maintainers and have worked in particular on advancing it to enable the deployment of Hyperledger on both vSphere and Kubernetes.
Building China’s blockchain open source ecosystem
As with our open source cloud native efforts, we also support the local blockchain ecosystem. We are currently talking with a variety of promising startups focusing on areas such as using blockchain for infrastructure and enterprise solutions. While we are in a very early stages of understanding the use cases they are solving for and how we can help, we do expect to be announcing a number of strategic partnerships in the near future.
Our aim here is to focus on our core competencies in infrastructure and platform solutions while enabling business growth and opportunity within the Chinese open source community.
Part of that involves evangelizing for open source solutions in our region. We’ve teamed up with the Linux Foundation management team in Greater China, for example, to reach more developers and to promote Hyperledger in China.
Blockchain, in the form of Blockchain-based apps, also has a role to play in the development of what we call the Future Intelligent Cloud, a truly efficient and self-managing system that allows us to run any application on any device from any cloud. But what will really make that vision possible will be advances in open source AI, ones that VMware China and the Chinese open source community are also actively helping bring to fruition. That’s what I’ll write about in my next post.