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“We sometimes joke at Vendia that we love nothing better than a failed blockchain experiment,” Wagner said. “Blockchain has certainly been through this incredible hype cycle. We are in this post trough phase of disillusionment. Probably half of our transactions last year are replacements of failed blockchain attempts.

The operational challenges of blockchain technology, including single-machine limitations, lack of throughput and scalability, high costs, and difficulty of integration, have resulted in many pilots failing to deliver value, according to Wagner.

To solve these problems, he and his co-founder Shruthi Rao, Chief Commercial Officer of Vendia, reimagined the idea of ​​cloud-native blockchains and distributed ledgers, launching Vendia in 2020. His Vendia Share platform fully managed and serverless for building true decentralized, point-in-time data applications make it easier for customers to share code and data across clouds, enterprises, geographies, accounts, and technology stacks.

Shruthi Rao and Tim Wagner reimagined the idea of ​​cloud-native blockchains and distributed ledgers, launching Vendia in 2020.Photo: Vendia

“We have this thesis here: cloud has always been the missing ingredient in blockchain, and Vendia has added it,” Wagner said. “We took this very different approach, this very user-friendly cloud-scaling type approach to building it, so at the heart of our technology is a cloud-centric blockchain. By building it in the cloud, we have access to virtually unlimited amounts of storage, unlimited amounts of network capacity, unlimited amounts of processing capacity. This allows us to do things that conventional blockchains cannot: [Deliver] much higher throughput, lower latency, more processing power, much more parallelism, easier integration.

Vendia has received $50 million in funding to date. Its clients range from startups to large mid-market enterprises and enterprises in markets such as settling roaming charges in Africa and Asia for telecom providers; airline supply chains; large-scale construction management; and the mortgage, hospitality and automotive sectors. They include BMW, Aerotrax Technologies and consulting firm Slalom.

“We typically replace first attempts to use Hyperledger Fabric or Quorum or one of those other systems,” Wagner said. “But a lot of it, frankly, is companies looking at the high cost of custom building everything through in-house or outsourced custom development rather than trying to get it as a platform. One of the hardest things a company can do is to ensure that its data and that of its partners is always correct, consistent, complete and up-to-date.

The AWS Connection

Prior to launching Vendia, Rao was responsible for business development for blockchain at AWS, including its Amazon Managed Blockchain product which supports the open-source HyperLedger fabric. Wagner was using the same technology at cryptocurrency company Coinbase.

“The interesting question we kept asking ourselves was, ‘What’s the problem, what’s the missing ingredient here? ‘” Wagner said. “I would simply summarize by saying that this first generation of blockchain technology ignored the cloud. They ignored scalability, they ignored cloud integration, they ignored the fact that everyone was moving to the cloud.

Rao said he met 1,092 unique customers at AWS. Whatever industry they were involved in — financial services, energy, media, entertainment, games — they all had a big story about why they were “desperately” trying to use blockchains, according to Rao. Customers said they have many partners, invested in many data creation mechanisms – from IoT and mobile to edge computing and digital transformation – but the massive amounts of data produced by these business remained stuck in partner and cloud silos.

“For these companies, the problem was, ‘We don’t have access to the data we need to make real-time decisions in a meaningful time frame so we can react quickly to market changes,'” Rao said. “Regardless of the investments they made in AI and ML and analytics and all those wonderful data processing mechanisms, they were only getting a small piece of data.”

“I would simply summarize by saying that this first generation of blockchain technology ignored the cloud.”

Wagner, meanwhile, had served as vice president of engineering in 2018 and 2019 at Coinbase before the IPO, which ran some of the largest regulated distributed ledgers in North America.

“I had this sad realization that while cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers somehow worked for speculation, they didn’t really work for business,” he said.

Prior to joining Coinbase, Wagner spent around six years at AWS and launched what is now called its serverless division – which included AWS Lambda, its serverless compute service – with Rao eventually leading the group’s business development. .

“When I created Lambda, it was about democratizing and simplifying access to the cloud rather than renting a server from AWS,” Wagner said. “We kind of think of Vendia as a similar idea: it’s about democratizing and simplifying the capabilities of blockchain for customers who then don’t really have to understand how it works. We deliver it in SaaS mode. They don’t have to deploy it, and frankly, they don’t even have to really understand it. They can get the business value out of it without necessarily becoming experts in writing strength or hiring Hyperledger Fabric developers or any of those things.

“A sense of commercial urgency”

Vendia was launched just after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which further highlighted business challenges in the supply chain and pressure on the travel industry, particularly airlines.

“It took what was already a wonderful sort of addressable market for us and added a sense of business urgency,” Wagner said. “[It] created even more awareness and attention to the limitations and lack of appropriate data sharing mechanisms, cross-company data sharing needs and requirements. The focus on cost reduction and efficiency and passenger experiences, business travel and the need for companies to be able to reschedule travel – some of these have actually been very beneficial to us.

One of Vendia’s airline customers has approximately eight joint venture partners to deliver passengers to their destinations. When a customer books a flight from San Francisco to Cancún, Mexico, for example, that airline will fly the passenger from San Francisco to Dallas, and one of its partners will then handle the Dallas-Cancún leg of the travel.

The initial passenger booking would come to the airline through its Salesforce CRM system. To pass the necessary information to its joint venture partner in charge of the flight from Dallas to Cancun, in the past, the Vendia client would upload their Salesforce data into an Excel spreadsheet and clean up some of the macros to only share the information that the partner needed to view, such as travel segment, passenger name, passenger name registration number, date, seat number and other details. He would then send the information to the partner, who could use a different CRM system.

“I had this sad realization that while cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers somehow worked for speculation, they didn’t really work for business.”

“It’s all very manual, it’s all very duct-tapey, and add the fact that they have eight joint venture partners and many, many more codeshare and segment share partners… The point-to-point integration on point, especially on these complex flights, becomes all the more difficult,” Rao said.

Vendia Share is more responsible for orchestrating the sharing of data between the different airlines. The product allows businesses to have complete visibility into all activities and transactions without worrying about their origin, as transactions are immutable through the power of distributed ledger technology, according to Rao.

“We’re making sure whoever’s supposed to get the data gets it in real time, within five milliseconds, so there’s no manual movement,” Rao said. “And it’s all on the ledger so you can see who you shared [with]what you shared, when you shared… and you can do a detailed analysis of what was shared.

AWS support is generally available, Microsoft Azure support is in beta, and Google Cloud Platform support is planned for Q1, according to the company.

Vendia announced its latest funding, a $30 million Series B funding round, led by NewView Capital, in May. The company, which has just under 100 employees, is using the money to scale its engineering and continue to develop its cross-cloud platform, including support for Google Cloud Platform.

“There’s just this general idea of ​​meeting customers where they are: the cloud they’re on, the APIs or data access they prefer to use, the systems they have their data in, like Salesforce, for example,” Wagner said. . “On the go-to-market side…we got into automotive, travel and financial services – that’s sort of where we started – and they all have sales networks and really amazing use cases to exploit. But these are equally exciting and challenging opportunities in healthcare, energy and consumer goods, and in many other areas as well. To get there, we need a bigger go-to-market team and more guarantees. This will therefore be the other opportunity: to use these funds to develop ourselves and extend our penetration of the sector. »

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