Earlier this week, the Trusted IoT Alliance announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind testnet for blockchain, enabling software engineers worldwide to access a realistic, open-source test environment for the development of blockchain solutions. The multi-protocol, testnet should prove to be a major step in raising the visibility of blockchain among Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems while advancing best practices and operational procedures in this increasingly diverse market.

Additionally, the testnet will help developers overcome the many challenges of innovating in an environment that reflects real-world applications for blockchain. Today, the Alliance’s testnet spans North America and Europe with nodes in Silicon Valley, Toronto, and Berlin. By creating a testnet with a global footprint and nodes thousands of miles apart, Alliance members are able to explore blockchain interoperability for IoT use cases at planet scale.

It’s gratifying to know that Cisco helped materialize this “sandbox” with our $100,000 investment last year to accelerate testnets. Through the award, Alliance members can procure the necessary equipment to join and access the testnet while at the same time help grow its footprint. The award can also be used to fund the creation and evaluation of software tool sets that will be open sourced.

By assessing the effects of distance and network impediments on new and existing consensus protocols and smart, IoT contracted technologies, the Alliance can help paint a clearer picture of the costs and benefits when integrating blockchain with an internet connected thing. We expect that over the next few months, nodes in the UK, Asia, and Australia will also come online.

The testnet will host a mix of both public and enterprise blockchain protocols where, for the first time, questions around public and private blockchain interoperability can be fully explored. With a focus on IoT use cases, the Alliance recognizes that the interplay between public and enterprise blockchain networks will require additional scrutiny. Add to that the dimension of 50-billion connected devices in the near future, some of which that will need to connect to blockchain networks while others may be blockchain nodes themselves, and we have the makings for a sophisticated heterogeneous operating environment with a potentially very complex multi-stakeholder ecosystem.

On the device side, whether they be simple devices or sophisticated edge nodes within the Fog, the Alliance’s testnet represents an environment where multi-protocol blockchain client interaction and software characterization can take place. One of the objectives of the Alliance is to conduct research in this area and make available its findings to help establish best practices for blockchain and IoT client and application development.

We look forward to seeing the advancements that the extended blockchain community and alliance membership make by leveraging this new testnet. As a group, we will uncover answers to old questions and discover new questions that need to be answered.

To find out more, please visit the Alliance’s official blog post.