Amazon Web Services (AWS) has finally launched two blockchain-specific managed services for customers today at re:Invent, with Amazon Quantum Ledger Database and Amazon Managed Blockchain.
The first is actually an external version of something Amazon had built internally to track data plane changes across its EC2 and S3 customer base.
"We had an epiphany," AWS CEO Andy Jassy explained. "We had to build something like this ourselves a few years ago to have a transactional log for every data plane change to make operations and billing easier, so we didn't build that in a relational database and built what we call QLDB, an immutable, transparent ledger that we thought we could externalise."
The result is a fully managed ledger database, with a central trusted authority and built-in cryptography so that all entries are immutable and transparent to everyone with permissions.
The second product has been launched to help AWS customers run the two most popular blockchain frameworks with less of the heavy lifting.
So for customers that know the number of members they want to access the ledger they tend to choose Hyperledger Fabric, and for those that don't know the number of members and want a more open blockchain platform they tend to choose Ethereum.
AWS engineers have been getting their hands on these two popular frameworks to make them easier to run, finding that there was way too much functionality to wade through.
The result, he says, makes it "much easier to get started and operating with blockchain in a few clicks, simply configure the nodes. It saves a lot of time and is much more efficient."
Customers can get started far more quickly as AWS creates the network and automatically scales to meet demand, complete with a central place to manage and maintain that blockchain network, track certificates, invite new members to join and see operational metrics.
The managed blockchain service is available immediately for Hyperledger Fabric and coming for Ethereum in a "couple of months", Jassy said.
Speaking more generally about how the vendor decided to wade into the blockchain space Jassy explained during his re:Invent keynote that: "We hadn't seen many examples in production or that couldn't be solved by a database. Many assumed this meant that we didn't think it was important, but we didn't understand the real customer need.
"The culture at AWS is we don't build for optics, we want to understand the problem you are trying to solve. So we spent the last part of 2017 and first half of 2018 talking to hundreds of customers for what they want and found two jobs" - the above two services aimed at these two common use cases it came across.