Let’s Talk Interoperability
It’s hard to decipher the signal from the noise in today’s complex biztech landscape. At Data Gumbo, we receive a lot of questions regarding interoperability. For the most part, questions about interoperability between smart contracting platforms and their underlying distributed ledgers are a big red herring. Once we step outside of the crypto-obsessed world of Ethereum tokens and NFTs, artificially constrained by the needs of a public ledger running on gas and tokens, interoperability between smart contracting systems used to execute real business-to-business (B2B) use cases look the same as any other integration: REST APIs – short for representational state transfer application programming interfaces.
First, what exactly do we mean by interoperability? In short, interoperability refers to the basic ability of any computerized systems to connect, communicate, exchange and interpret shared information between applications, databases and other systems that drive the modern economy.
Taking this a step further, interoperability for smart contracting platforms means that information is accessible, comprehendable and transactable across environments. There are three different levels of interoperability:
- Foundational - Enables the exchange of data between systems without the systems being able to interpret data.
- Structural - Enables the exchange of data between systems in a defined, uniform structure. Information at this level of interoperability can be interpreted but not interacted with or used.
- Semantic - Enables the exchange of data between systems that allows for information to be both interpreted and used.
As such a fundamental component of the global distributed network of commerce and value, a smart contract platform’s “architecture must satisfy the same fundamental goals of the Internet architecture” including semantic interoperability.
From our perspective, the way to achieve this level of interoperability is via standardized APIs. Whether we write a data collector to pull from another system or they push to our APIs, whatever blockchain is being utilized on the other side of an interface doesn’t matter. Rather, our focus is on the data necessary to automatically execute transactions between companies. Be it delivery notes, purchase orders, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) channel data, pictures or other documents, GumboNet™, our smart contract network, offers hundreds of standardized endpoints for such data across a variety of use cases.
Additionally, in order to further improve interoperability, we offer APIs for the creation of entities and assets so that reference data such as the billing address for a specific corporate unit, the division of interest in a well or the precision of a flow meter can all be automatically populated into the platform. We expose APIs for the automated instantiation of GumboNet Standard™ smart contracts so that customers can utilize their existing commercial platforms while running GumboNet as plumbing. See for example, here or here. As a result, users can write smart contracts in other platforms that both read and write data, as well as triggering and executing smart contracts in GumboNet through the use of standard APIs.
By focusing purely on REST APIs to interoperate with other platforms, GumboNet’s private, permissionless blockchain sidesteps many of the common interoperability issues raised in the blockchain press and by other platform developers. Our blockchain is interoperable with any system through REST API and better yet, we store data on-chain.
For business use cases, automating smart contracts with GumboNet enables customers, suppliers and vendors to tap real-time sensor level and field data to validate transactions. Pulling specific data into an encrypted distributed ledger yields a verifiable, auditable record that proves any trail of events and corresponding transactions.
As we move toward a fully digital economy, the value-exchange protocol inherent in blockchain’s design and its connectivity, accessibility and interoperability will play critical roles in radically transforming commercial relationships.