April seems to have been a big month so far for Digital Asset. Only a week after their announcement regarding their open sourcing of the platform, they have now published a press release stating that they will be also be integrating DAML with VMWare’s Software as a Service (SaaS) Platform, and they have also hinted that they may also integrate with other platforms.
The VMWare blockchain platform that DAML will be integrated with was conceived by a VMWare research team in 2017 (as project Concorde), and it has now been rolled out in a beta phase as a stable solution. VMWare customers that want to create enterprise applications using blockchain architecture and network topologies can use this service to set up a node and deploy smart contracts relevant to their business needs (up until now using the Ethereum blockchain).
The VMWare blockchain as a service vision is similar to Digital Asset’s platform in respect that they both focus on private networks and do not use a Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism. In fact the research team at VMWare have created their own consensus protocol called Synchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerance (SBFT) the details of which can be found in a detailed white paper. The VMWare version is based on byzantine fault tolerance (BFT), but scalable to support hundreds of virtual machines, in a way that traditional BFT cannot. The platform also boasts a high throughput of data transactions (not based on quorum communications), and simple reconfiguration and membership administration. It differs from the DA platform in the sense that it is a hosted service, which is designed for, and can only be run in, VMWare infrastructure.
Although the technical details of the integration have not yet been released, we understand that the DAML runtime engine will be completely integrated into the VMWare blockchain platform. This means that when a user opts to create a DAML application on the platform, they will be using this instead of the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). Although this seems like a small detail, it is actually quite important, since it differentiates the DAML integration with VMWare from the integration of other cross-platform programming languages such as Solidity.
Although Solidity has traditionally been linked to the EVM, it has also been ported to platforms such as Cardano where it works on top of their IELE virtual machines. This affects Solidity’s interaction points with the virtual machine and some contracts may need to be re-written. As Digital Asset (DA) have wisely chosen to fully integrate the DAML runtime engine into the VMWare blockchain platform (and hopefully any subsequent integrations), interoperability between working on VMWare’s blockchain platform and DA’s own platform should not require significant changes to the DAML code.
Efficient & multi-platform blockchain
In my opinion, this is the first building block that enables the use of DAML and (crucially) DAML runtime as an interoperability layer between platforms. You can switch and choose the platform as you wish, but your carefully crafted, tried and tested DAML code will not have to change. This potentially will make switching platforms easier, and facilitate the ability to work efficiently on multi-platform projects. This in turn should have a positive impact on the cost of development when thinking about migrating to a new platform or working on a multi-platform project. DAML code will no longer have to be re-written for individual platforms (or worst, such as changing smart contract languages altogether), so there is a large saving in the amount of time and effort it requires to take on such tasks.
It is worth noting that this is a different approach than that of ‘traditional’ interoperability solutions. Solutions such as Interledger and Polka Dot do not have their own smart contracts language, as their focus is providing adaptable interoperability; defining new smart contract languages or enhancing existing smart contract languages is not their business. The integration of DAML and the DAML runtime engine not only provide the glue between platforms, but also allow you to use Digital Asset’s award winning smart contract language for defining workflows between network participants.
This move indicates a sea change in the way that people think about and use DAML. Businesses can potentially make huge savings on code refactoring when thinking about platform migration or running distributed multi-platform solutions. As with the news regarding the ‘open-sourcing’ of their tech stack, integrating with the VMWare SaaS platform will drive adoption of DAML by providing wider access to a completely new set of users.
And with the recent suggestions that they are looking at potentially more platform integrations (VMWare being the first of many), it will be interesting to see what may be next in their integration pipeline.
In my opinion, all of this can only be good news for Digital Asset, DAML, VMware, and blockchain as a whole, where a plethora of disparate platforms point to a need for standards and interoperability. Against this background, Digital Asset are re-inventing themselves in an intelligent manner and trailblazing a path for platform-inclusive, future-proof and extendible workflow automation.
Exciting times lay ahead for Digital Asset, DAML and the blockchain and DLT communities!
Watch this space!