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Salesforce launches code-free blockchain platform

Written by Thu 30 May 2019

Cloud giant launches first blockchain product, based on the Hyperledger Sawtooth framework

CRM heavyweight Salesforce has launched a blockchain platform that it said will “extend” CRM by enabling organisations to build trusted networks of partners.

Announced at TrailheaDX, Salesforce’s fourth annual developer conference, Salesforce Blockchain enables organisations to share distributed ledgers between partners and third parties and integrate them with Salesforce functions.

Information that is published to the ledger on the platform appears and behaves as normal, but behind the scenes, Salesforce Blockchain ensures the data is recorded according to blockchain principles, i.e. publishing new entries to represent the modification or removal of records, instead of updating or overwriting them.

From Salesforce Lightning, using a low-code interface similar to App Builder, companies can create blockchain networks, apps and workflows. For instance, companies can plug in blockchain data to existing process automation or search queries, or integrate distributed ledgers into sales forecasts.

Salesforce said the platform will be of particular use to those organisations in need of a single ledger for regulatory compliance, or a “granular, historical record” of data that tracks changes over time. Early adopters of Salesforce Blockchain include Arizona State University, using the platform to share and verify student performance, and financial analytics firm S&P, using it to expedite KYC approvals.

“We help companies build for the future by making breakthrough technology accessible and easy to use—today we are doing just that with Salesforce Blockchain,” said Bret Taylor, president and chief product officer, Salesforce. “Now, companies will be able to create new ecosystems and achieve new levels of interconnectivity through trusted partner networks.”

Toothless?

Although the platform is based on Hyperledger’s Sawtooth, a subproject focused on improving the security and safety of smart contract execution, Salesforce Blockchain can integrate with other (as of yet unnamed) blockchains via APIs.

Theoretically, companies can then just add keep on adding partners and ledgers, using Salesforce Lightning as their blockchain command centre. Whether this is technically achievable is another matter, given blockchain’s well-documented struggles with scaling.

In a blog post, Salesforce lead developer evangelist Zayne Turner said the “blockchain network can handle scaling to accommodate a large number of partners on the network”.

According to its official documentation, the Sawtooth framework uses a Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET) Nakamoto-style consensus algorithm that can achieve the scaling capabilities of the Bitcoin network without the same draw on power. Whether the performance of the Bitcoin network constitutes “enterprise-grade” is another matter, given that it can take up to an hour to execute a transaction on the network.

Salesforce Blockchain is currently available to select design partners and expected to become generally available in 2020.

Written by Thu 30 May 2019

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Blockchain hyperledger salesforce
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