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Alibaba Cloud to debut blockchain service

The Chinese cloud supplier is readying a blockchain node service to simplify and speed up blockchain technology deployments

Alibaba Cloud is readying a blockchain node service to make it easier for organisations to build blockchain applications by abstracting their underlying infrastructure.

Set for launch in the first quarter of 2023, the service, powered by Alibaba Cloud’s compute and storage capabilities, is expected to help developers reduce the operational and maintenance workloads in deploying blockchain applications.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in Singapore, Raymond Xiao, head of international industry solutions and architect at Alibaba Cloud, said the new offering would also support multiple blockchain protocols.

“Every few months, there will be a new protocol, and with our blockchain node APIs [application programming interfaces], developers don’t need to care about installing the protocols, saving them the effort of maintaining those nodes,” Xiao said.

“We will also be launching a developer toolkit and automation tools to help developers build their blockchain apps,” he added.

With blockchain security coming under the spotlight, Xiao noted that Alibaba Cloud’s blockchain node service was built with security in mind.

For example, by placing the blockchain nodes behind Alibaba Cloud’s firewall, only verified users and machines are allowed to communicate with client endpoints.

The nodes are also protected against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Alibaba’s network of traffic scrubbing centres across Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe and the US, Xiao said.

“Driven by enterprises’ increasing demand for simplifying the complex inter-silo dependencies, we can see the popularity of blockchain nodes has grown significantly in recent years in Asia,” said Xiao.

“On top of its flexibility and efficiency, Alibaba Cloud’s stable and reliable enterprise-class node service, backed with comprehensive security features, offers developers an extra layer of confidence as they navigate seamlessly across different frameworks,” he added.

In the lead-up to the launch of its blockchain node service, Alibaba Cloud has teamed up with partners such as Avalanche, which offers an open, programmable smart contracts platform for decentralised applications.

Alibaba Cloud said the partnership would enable users to launch validator nodes through the service and access computing, storage and distribution resources through Alibaba Cloud’s suite of products in Asia. The two sides will also work together to support Web3 projects through developer education and mentorship programmes.

In Hong Kong, Xiao said Alibaba Cloud was working with HashKey Group, a virtual asset service provider, to incubate Asia’s blockchain ecosystem.

“We’ve been launching some hackathons together with HashKey to raise awareness in the market and provide participants with assistance on using Alibaba Cloud services to build Web3 applications,” he said.

Derek Wang, Alibaba Cloud’s general manager of Singapore, South Asia and Thailand, noted that while it was still early days for Web3 technologies such as blockchain, it was already being embraced by organisations in Southeast Asia.

That includes food distributors that are using blockchain to facilitate traceability of fresh produce, as well as pharmaceutical companies that are using blockchain to crack down on fake drugs.

According to IDC, blockchain spending in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach $2.4bn by 2022, representing a compound annual growth rate of 77.5%. Most of the demand for blockchain technology will come from the financial sector, which will account for about half of total blockchain spending.

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