What do the mainframes of the 1960s, the databases of the 1990s, and the blockchains of the past decade all have in common? With every new generation of technological infrastructure, the changes start at a very low-level and ripple outwards, soon reaching an inflection point wherein the technology explodes, transforming the very way that business is conducted globally. Every time after that initial explosion comes a consolidation, where the infrastructure becomes abstracted away and applications themselves become the focus. And that’s when the real innovation starts happening. 

“Blockchain” can mean any platform that adds consistency guarantees and commonly includes some form of applications running on these platforms. This technology can bring new properties to an existing category of applications and we don’t need to invent a new blockchain application to get value from technology. Rather, we need to get the technology to support these existing applications.

Take a traditional blockchain example that everyone knows: Bitcoin. It’s the original blockchain app and it remains a high-value application. Blockchain remains highly valued and closely associated with such digital assets, but so far it has rarely ventured beyond such core use. DAML sees the potential to take some of these ideas and apply them to other branches of business beyond cryptocurrency.

We currently find ourselves at such an inflection point. Realizing the historical parallels to these other technological paradigm shifts over the decades, we see in the distributed ledger technology (DLT) of the blockchain space entirely new business opportunities that are well within reach. With this post, we will show examples of the changes and new opportunities that lie ahead in the near future. For this piece, the examples chosen are non-financial, but everything is transferable to the financial sector and other business opportunities.

To clarify, DAML is not a blockchain platform. DAML is an open source tool stack developed by Digital Asset that allows developers to build and deploy distributed applications that run on top of these platforms. We want to enable development teams the world over to build value. But in order to do that, they need to put the application first. 

We identify four key pillars that comprise the Distributed Application:
First Pillar: Abstract away the infrastructure. 
Second Pillar: Bring Agile to applications.
Third pillar: Give developers to tools to build complete applications
Fourth pillar: Make cheap, fast and complete deployment targets available.

 With this post, we will look at the first two pillars.

First Pillar: Abstract away the infrastructure. 

Putting value first means that you need abstraction. Developers can write a program once and just deploy it anywhere it fits, utilizing DLT, blockchain, cryptographic database or any other similar system. Developers generate business value by focusing on the app instead of other structural concerns. 

The benefits can then flow to all sorts of applications. For example, let’s look at project management. These have lots of features, automations, and integrations, features that are seemingly far away from the monetary aspect of blockchain technologies. So nobody would think of this as a blockchain application, but there are strong distributive components, especially centered around qualities like trust, knowledge, and control. A lot of sensitive information gets shared in a project management application and we get used to these applications being centralized, so we work around such limitations.  

Second Pillar : Bring Agile to applications. 
Distributed Applications need Agile in order to keep pace with the modern business world. With iterative scaling, developers can go all the way from a Proof of Concept built-in base to the scale of a national infrastructure. An Agile approach becomes crucial for minimizing risk and reaching solutions quickly. 

Every cycle accumulates risks and costs, so keeping a short cycle is important. Agile allows us to test a product hypothesis with minimal resources, deliver a complete product to customers, and iterate quickly and do regular releases. To allow for rapid development and scale to significant size, we need that infrastructure, upgradeability and tooling to allow developers to be Agile to scale. DAML’s smart contracts can unlock all kinds of new business opportunities and there is more to come. 

In the next post, we will examine pillars three and four to see how each of these pieces works towards the modern conception of working with tools like DAML.