Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Intel and SAP partner on blockchain adoption

Steve Rogerson
September 11, 2018



Intel has teamed up with German software company SAP to help businesses adopt best practices on using blockchain technology.
 
Intel and SAP have worked together closely for over 25 years around enterprise infrastructure platforms optimised for real-world, business-critical applications, such as the SAP Hana data management suite. The companies’ collaboration has recently expanded to blockchain technologies, with Intel joining SAP’s industry blockchain consortium to expand and accelerate business adoption and best practices for blockchain in the enterprise.
 
The other founding members of the consortium are Airbus, Amkor Technology, Flex, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and UPS.
 
Enterprise blockchains create a mechanism for re-evaluating and speeding up existing business processes, particularly across corporate boundaries, by reducing process steps and providing greater transaction consistency. Blockchain technologies distribute data across a shared network of computers, functioning as a distributed ledger. By eliminating the need for a central authority, blockchain technology simplifies electronic payments, mitigates transaction risk and increases efficiency. Making use of the blockchain technology in the enterprise is a further step towards decentralising business applications for more flexibility, transparency and scalability in a hyper-connected economy.
 
“By joining forces, SAP and Intel have the potential to address gaps in the market for solutions that power enterprise blockchain workloads,” said Tim Allen, strategic relationship manager for Intel. “SAP and Intel's co-development efforts are geared towards creating superior blockchain technologies and integrating them with new and existing business applications so customers can more easily take full advantage of blockchain’s benefits.”
 
SAP recently launched the Hana blockchain adapter, which integrates with its blockchain cloud platform and enables existing SAP customers to consume and build on blockchain data in Hana using a SQL interface and standard SQL commands, both on-premise or in the cloud. The blockchain adapter makes it quicker and easier for developers to create blockchains that harmonise multi-party transactions and allow users to establish trustful networks and transparent business processes.
 
In addition, SAP offers blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) on its cloud platform, which allows users to integrate enterprise and blockchain data in a pay-as-you-go model.
 
“Intel processor technologies have unique capabilities that can help improve the privacy, security, scalability and trust across blockchain networks,” said Allen. “Intel Xeon scalable processors offer robust performance, advanced reliability, and superior memory speed, capacity and interconnects, making them the ideal foundation for blockchain.”
 
The Xeon scalable processors use optimisation technologies designed into the silicon, such as AVX-512 vector extensions for improved workload performance in high-performance computing. Also integrated into the processors is AES-NI, which is a set of built-in instructions that can improve the compute efficiency of cryptographic algorithms, while offering better performance and improved security. In addition, Intel offers additional security for blockchain source code and data with SGX software guard extensions, which delivers privacy and security to help protect blockchain transactions, and can help improve throughput and consensus efficiency.
 
SAP, Intel and others have joined forces to create a blockchain-based supply chain management proof-of-concept based on SAP’s global track and trace.
 
“Together with Flex, HPE and UPS, we are working to enhance freight, fleet and fulfilment management across networks and for enhanced visibility into global and domestic transportation to optimise logistics, gain new efficiencies and improve service delivery,” said Allen. “These advances allow customers real-time insights into the availability of materials and products across the entire supply chain to better control inventory and manage costs.”
 
In addition to real-world proof-of-concepts, SAP and Intel are performing benchmarking studies to analyse blockchain metrics such as transactions per second to identify network bottlenecks that could be optimised with more powerful, higher performing technologies. This benchmark collaboration is significant for existing blockchain deployments since current blockchains can be associated with latency and slow throughput issues.
 
Benchmarking various SAP workloads should allow Intel and SAP to assess what software or hardware optimisations can assist in increasing blockchain performance and efficiency. Certain workloads may require specific hardware configurations for optimal performance, and Intel and SAP are working on defining these parameters, thereby creating technical standards for individual blockchain use cases.
 
Intel has acquired NetSpeed Systems, a California-based provider of system-on-chip (SoC) design tools and interconnect fabric intellectual property (IP). Deal terms were not disclosed.