05 Aug 2021

Walking the DLT Landscape: Deciphering the evolving distributed ledger technology market

Csilla Zsigri is VP of Marketing & Strategy at Blockchain Technology Partners (BTP), and a former technology industry analyst covering the distributed ledger technology space, among other areas. In this insight, she discusses the creation of the DLT Landscape

The idea to create the DLT Landscape was first conceived in conversations I had at the Hyperledger Global Forum in early 2020 in Phoenix - the last in-person work event I attended before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world. (‘Fun’ fact is that the social event of the conference was held at a place called Corona Ranch.) 

Inspired by Market Complexity

The creation of the DLT Landscape was inspired by the growing complexity of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) space, in particular, the increasing number of projects and companies innovating in areas outside of the core ledger layer, which has considerably transformed the DLT vendor landscape in the last couple of years.

In my prior life as a technology industry analyst - covering DLT among other things - I often found that people were using the same terms for very different things, comparing apples and oranges, ultimately creating a lot of confusion over the technology and its components, as well as where specific projects, company offerings, and networks fit into the overall ecosystem.

Creating a business stack with a technology foundation to reflect and at the same time decipher the complexity of the DLT vendor landscape, seemed like a useful tool to not only help mitigate the confusion by providing a better understanding of the market, but also to create a strategic tool that would allow organisations to better position their offerings and find the right partners to go to market.

About the Layers

 

Structurally, the DLT Landscape starts with the basic compute infrastructure layer and goes on to distributed ledgers or core protocols, where we differentiate between permissioned, permissionless, and hybrid ledgers. Since the launch of the Bitcoin blockchain over a decade ago, a number of distributed ledger protocols have emerged catering to enterprise-focused use cases and a variety of application areas. Organisations continue to use a variety of distributed ledgers, and make decisions depending on use-case requirements, existing technical skills and vendor relationships.

With DLT hardly living on its own, and the myriad of application areas where technology combos can provide powerful value propositions, I believe that technology intersections, whether AI, IoT or other, are key for DLT adoption - and that is what the technology intersections layer represents in the landscape.

Also, by currently living in a multi-ledger world, and not forgetting about business applications and legacy systems that organizations use, as well as with usability being a key requirement for adoption, interoperability in the DLT space is critical to allow people and organizations (as well as machines!) to transact smoothly and seamlessly. 

Smart contracts and digital tokens also play a critical role in the DLT landscape. Smart contracts, on the one hand, have become known to the world as transaction protocols running on a distributed ledger, embodying the self-enforcing business logic of a multiparty application. Smart contracts formalise and automate the relationship between individuals, organisations and machines that participate in a network. Digital tokens, on the other hand, can improve the accessibility, efficiency, liquidity and transparency of existing asset markets, whether that’s money, commodity, diamond or a piece of art.

There is a dedicated layer to business tools and integration into existing applications in the landscape, which mirrors the availability of a wide range of industry-specific implementations, ranging from business networks that enable the traceability of specific assets, as well as decentralised marketplaces for trading data, and other assets like in-game collectibles.

On the two sides of the landscape, you will find platforms and services. Overcoming shortages in IT skills and resources is a key challenge associated with DLT, and these vendors seek to address that, and free organisations from pains involved with building and running blockchain networks and applications.

A Living Landscape

Launched in April 2021, the DLT Landscape is a living segmentation of the evolving DLT market, modelled after the CNCF Landscape, and is based on the same open-source code. It is curated and hosted by BTP, but it is independent of the company. The whole DLT community is invited to help shape it, which is the reason why it was launched as an open-source initiative. 

This insight is part of techUK's new Blockchain Reimagined campaign. You can read more about this here

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

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Sue Daley

Sue Daley

Director, Technology and Innovation

Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.

This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.

Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

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