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February 16, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 10:13pm

IBM moves deeper into open source with new IoT and blockchain tools

News: Big blue announces new open source projects.

By Charlotte Henry

IBM has announced the release of new tools as it makes moves deeper into the open source space.

Launched today, the new development tool Quarks is based on IBM Streams, which is a proprietary tool for processing large amounts of live data. It is an open source tool which is meant to allow programmers and manufacturers to build applications on top of connected devices, and take advantage of live data generated from connected devices.

Big Blue is aiming to build a community of developers and firms around the product, with the ultimate intention that this open source development tool becomes the standard way certain types of IoT apps are built.

Possible applications of the technology include safety in mining or other dangerous outdoor industries, or in health. In the health scenario, IBM could possibly link this new tool to Watson Health, reviewing data and providing doctors and patients with feedback.

The firm has also become the biggest backer of blockchain, the open ledger technology which lies at the heart of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Arvind Krishna, IBM senior vice president, said: "I think the number of places that a distributed ledger can be used could become almost limitless."

IBM will contribute to an open source project called Hyperledger, and will introduce new services to help software developers create blockchain services on its mainframe computers and devices using RFID tags.

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Other firms involved in Hyperledger include Accenture, Fujitsu, Cisco, Red Hat and Hitachi.

It is also going to setup a network of "IBM Garages" in London, New York, Singapore, and Tokyo to allow its customers to experiment with blockchain.

Big Blue wants the technology to be used to co-ordinate a variety of back-end systems that it has to use when it leases out computer equipment. "A lot of enterprise clients do have their existing transactional systems on the mainframe," said Krishna. "It will absolutely add workload to the mainframe."

The aim of hyperledger is designed to make blockchain faster and more scalable. It runs on any computer using Linux, and could be used on both IBM mainframes as well as cheaper systems.

It has become just the latest in a list of major firms to become involved with Blockchain technology.

Swiss banking giant UBS has donated blockchain technology to the fight against HIV, and there are growing calls for use of the technology in the public sector as well.

Blockchain technology has been clouded in controversy recently, after one of its core developers, Mike Hearn, called it "fundamentally flawed". A new product called Bitcoin Classic has been released to increase the capacity of blocks to 2MB, double the current capacity.

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