Demand for the technology, best known for supporting Bitcoin, is growing so much that it will be one of the largest users of capacity next year at about 60 data centers that International Business Machines Corp. rents out to other companies around the globe. IBM was one of the first big companies to see blockchain’s promise, contributing code to an open-source effort and encouraging startups to try the technology on its cloud for free.
That a 106-year-old company like IBM is going all in on blockchain shows just how far the digital ledger has come since its early days underpinning Bitcoin drug deals on the dark web. The market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $7.7bn in 2022, up from $242m last year, according to researcher Markets & Markets.
That’s creating new opportunities for some of the old warships of the technology world, companies like IBM and Microsoft Corp. that are making the transition to cloud services. And products that had gone out of vogue, such as databases sold by Oracle Corp., are becoming sexy again.
“All of these things will get a new life because of blockchain,” said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of technology for IBM Blockchain. ”Our sales team loves blockchain because a customer that is buying blockchain rarely walks out of the store with just blockchain. They walk out with multiple things in their cart.”
Because multiple companies — such as all parties involved in a supply chain — can use the same blockchain, it’s spurring IBM to revise the way it compensates sales associates. In the past, sales reps got paid when their clients bought IBM technologies directly. Now they will also receive a commission when clients encourage other companies to join them on a blockchain network and use Big Blue’s systems and services, Cuomo said.
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