Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS): Solution to Blockchain’s Complexity

For around two decades, businesses of all sizes have been using the Software as a Service (SaaS) model to access services and capabilities unavailable in-house. As blockchain technology developed, it was only a matter of time before the SaaS model was adopted within the industry.
Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) has been around since the mid-2010s, with large enterprise technology companies, such as IBM, Oracle, and SAP, at the forefront of its adoption.

What Is Blockchain as a Service (BaaS)?

Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) refers to cloud-based remote access to blockchain infrastructure and services without having to operate a blockchain platform internally and without requiring the development of blockchain services directly on networks such as Ethereum (ETH).
BaaS is essentially a replication of the SaaS concept applied to blockchain infrastructure. Despite the numerous benefits of blockchain technology, many companies find setting up operations and apps on blockchain too complex or expensive. BaaS solutions help these companies develop, run, and maintain blockchain-based applications by “renting” the underlying blockchain platform via cloud access.
BaaS services are not limited to the simple lease of a blockchain platform. Many leading BaaS providers offer a variety of services, including development, consulting, integration, and cross-chain interoperability.

What Are the Benefits of BaaS?

The BaaS model offers numerous benefits to companies, such as:
1. Quick and low-cost initial setup on a blockchain platform
2. Speeding up the development effort by using modular pre-packaged solutions offered by some BaaS providers
3. Access to blockchain development skills unavailable in-house by using development consulting services on BaaS platforms
4. Access to consulting skills to conceptualise, design, and implement your own blockchain applications
5. Taking advantage of the cryptographic security offered by blockchain technology to make enterprise systems more resilient to hacker attacks and other vulnerabilities
6. Automation of business processes via the use of smart contract-capable BaaS platforms
7. Ability to access other blockchain networks, particularly industry- and consortia-based networks, via cross-chain capable BaaS platforms
8. Support and consulting for ongoing operations and maintenance of the company’s blockchain applications

Who Are the Leading BaaS Providers?

The BaaS field is expanding. Some of the largest BaaS providers are big technology companies well-known beyond the blockchain field, e.g., SAP, IBM, Oracle, and Amazon. Another big BaaS player is R3, the owner of the blockchain platform Corda. Until late 2021, another technology giant, Microsoft, had also been active in this niche.
IBM offers businesses probably the widest range of BaaS services, from access to a blockchain platform to complete consulting for complex enterprise-grade integrations and system mergers. IBM’s BaaS platform is based on Hyperledger Fabric, a modular open-source development framework for creating blockchain solutions. Hyperledger Fabric is by far the most popular development framework used by companies that offer BaaS services.
SAP entered the niche in 2018 with a BaaS platform that is also based on Hyperledger Fabric. Another technology giant, Oracle, has also based its BaaS offerings on none other than Hyperledger Fabric.
Unlike the three providers mentioned above, R3, another leading BaaS provider, is not a company that is widely known outside of the blockchain arena. R3 is the company behind the Corda blockchain network, a platform used by businesses to create private blockchains. R3’s Corda is a leading blockchain platform for the finance industry. Many banks and other financial institutions develop and host their own blockchains using Corda.
Until late 2021, Microsoft had also been among the leading BaaS providers. One of the pioneers of BaaS, Microsoft first launched a BaaS service in 2015 via its Azure cloud platform. However, in September 2021, the company announced the discontinuation of the SaaS product and advised clients to move their blockchain solutions to Quorum, a blockchain platform owned and maintained by Microsoft’s partner, ConsenSys.

Given the complexity and novelty of blockchain technology, using the BaaS service to deploy blockchain-based secure solutions makes great sense for companies of all kinds and sizes. The Baas model will hopefully be among the leading accelerators of the blockchain’s adoption in the business world. If your company ever thought about being on blockchain but gave up on the idea due to the complexity of the task, you might want to give BaaS a go.