This blog post is an article from a series of articles on the book published in December 2019 “Blockchain with SAP” (Rheinwerk publishing, Bonn, ISBN 978-3-8362-6914-8).

This blog post concerns the fifth chapter of the book, which describes the first steps towards generating your own first block chain.

Preparing the account

Before you can set up your own blockchain, you need to have the relevant account for it. This means that either you have an Enterprise Account or you work within a trial account.

In any case, you must create a new sub-account which must in turn be linked to an execution environment. The Cloud Foundry environment is the right choice here as choosing this environment makes the Blockchain Application Enablement service available in the Service Marketplace.

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag Blockchain Application Enablement (first entry, second row). (Source: “Blockchain with SAP,” p. 173, SAP PRESS, Rheinwerk publishing)

Blockchain Application Enablement

The Blockchain Application Enablement is an interface for using blockchain technologies within the context of internal applications in the SAP Cloud Platform. It provides an abstract interpretation of the functions of the various blockchain frameworks under one standardized interface. In addition to this, it also offers the following basic services for all blockchains:

Timestamping:

  • Timestamping is a service which confirms the entry of data with a reliable time stamp which makes it verifiable. The RFC3339 date and time format is used for this, also known as ISO format 8601. This kind of time stamp has the following JSON format:
{

„timestamp“: „2018-11-26T15:05:07Z“

}

Proof-of-State:

The Proof-of-State service enables data objects to be saved in the JSON format for the purposes of traceability. It serializes data objects explicitly for the purposes of saving them in the blockchain.

Proof-of-History:

Proof-of-History describes the chronological changes to a dataset. At the same time, this is also one of the standard features of each blockchain. Blockchain Application Enablement standardizes the format and makes it available via all blockchains available in the SAP cloud.

SAP HANA Integration Service:

SAP HANA Integration Service enables the inclusion and combination of blockchain data in an existing SAP HANA database.

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag The task of Blockchain Application Enablement is the abstraction of the blockchain framework used under a standardized REST-API.

Function test with Swagger

A general advantage of the SAP Cloud Platform is that you can test a service or a self-created API with an automatically generated Swagger interface. Swagger is a software which is configured using a simply structured language and which is supported on the SAP Cloud Platform.
This allows for fast function tests, such as to see whether a new service is actually available and whether the requests are working as desired in advance of a graphic frontend needing to be created.

MultiChain blockchain

A MultiChain node can only be brought into operation in the context of a paid Enterprise Account. After selecting the service in the SAP Cloud Platform Service Marketplace, you can select the service plan with which you would like to start the service.

Here a node with the service plan “small” on the overview page:

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag Info page on the current MultiChain entities

The first icon in the “Actions” column leads to the Dashboard, the overview page for the current MultiChain node entity. The overview page lists, among other things, its internal Multichain network address, as well as its true IP address, to which additional nodes can apply, or Remote Procedure Calls (RPC) can be made to program and configure the blockchain.

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag IP address of the MultiChain node (Source: “Blockchain with SAP,” p. 191, SAP PRESS, Rheinwerk publishing)

 Hyperledger Fabric blockchain

The SAP Cloud Platform offers what is known as a Dev node, a development node for Hyperledger Fabric. This is the smallest option to get familiarized with the setup of channels, the programming of smart contracts (known as Chaincode) and their testing. A Hyperledger dev node can also be generated as part of a trial account.

Once the node is running, further information can be retrieved from the node’s dashboard:

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag Dashboard of a Hyperledger Fabric node (Source: “Blockchain with SAP,” p. 199, SAP PRESS, Rheinwerk publishing)

Channels

Channels are specific to Hyperledger Fabric. They describe communication channels between network participants and are encrypted. Each channel thus represents its own logical blockchain. The interesting thing is that you can be registered as a participant on several channels. This allows, e.g. one channel to be set up for administration which is independent from the participant channel.

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag Overview page of a channel (Source: “Blockchain with SAP,” p. 201, SAP PRESS, Rheinwerk publishing)

Block Explorer

The Block Explorer is an important tool for investigating the data recorded in a blockchain. Based on the chronological block series, it is possible to see when the blocks were created and to inspect the data within them. The Block Explorer is implemented independently of technology and can display blockchain data from the Hyperledger and MultiChain. A detailed representation of a MultiChain blockchain data block below.

(c) Rheinwerk Verlag

More articles of this series can be found here:

Wollen Sie mehr zur SAP Cloud Platform und der Funktionsweise der Blockchains erfahren? In unserem Buch „Blockchain mit SAP“ erläutern wir Ihnen ausführlich die Funktionsweise und demonstrieren Ihnen anhand zahlreicher Beispiele die Vorzüge dieser innovativen Technologie. Eine ausführliche Leseprobe zum Buch stellt der Verlag online bereit.

Would you like to find out more about the possibilities of Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain? Would you like to know how you can productively utilize the opportunities of the SAP Cloud Platform in your company? Our book “Blockchain with SAP” gives a detailed explanation of the pros and cons of the various blockchain technologies and how to operate them in the SAP Cloud Platform. A detailed extract of the book is available online from the publisher.

 

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