Not every supply chain product is built with the modern world in mind — TradeLens eBL is different

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Do you remember what it used to be like when you bought software? Buying the box from the store, bringing it home, then the tedious process of installing the software one disk at a time. That was part of the customer experience. From a developer standpoint, the cycle was slow, complex and inefficient; with installation, updates, fixes, error capturing and maintenance, taking ages before you can use the software as intended.

This landscape has evolved drastically in recent years to be much more agile. From a customer perspective, access to software running on the cloud as a software as a service (SaaS) offering is so much simpler! You purchase a license and you’re off, using the most up to date, powerful version of the software without any additional work. When we set out to develop and ultimately launch our new electronic bill of lading we wanted to ensure it was a product built with a SaaS cloud mindset. 

Advantages of SaaS cloud-based solutions

Most of us in software development are familiar with the advantages of SaaS cloud-based solutions, which can be defined as the delivery of on-demand computing resources over the internet. In other words, available at the click of a button without the need for installation or setup. The most recent version of your software is available to you at any time, and often installs automatically. People who play videogames — think PlayStation Now or Stadia — might be familiar with this in a more domestic setting, but the approach is exactly the same.

Cloud computing enables greater flexibility to update, adjust, maintain, and scale the individual components of the software through “microservices architecture”. This minimizes software development costs as applications can be modified using common DevOps methodologies.

A cloud-based solution means increased security for your network and access to the newest version of product quickly — more important now, than ever before as we have seen with the recent SolarWinds supply chain attack. SolarWinds — like other “on premise” software puts 3rd party applications behind your firewalls. With SaaS, that software stays outside your core systems, keeping you safe.

How TradeLens leverages SaaS

Application modernization is key to the digitization of the global shipping ecosystem. TradeLens uses the same comprehensive security embedded in mission-critical platforms that IBM manages for Fortune500 companies.

The TradeLens solution uses microservices architecture for its SaaS cloud-based solution, composed of dozens of Kubernetes clusters distributed across different data centers to support the reliability and scalability requirements of global trade.

All TradeLens users benefit from the same standards of security, robustness, and scalability that underpin platforms used by some of the world's largest corporations.

One of these cloud services is the IBM Blockchain platform, which provides the trusted, decentralized source of truth for document sharing as well as eBL business process — the digitization of bills of lading.

Electronic bills of lading are made possible through recorded and digitally signed transactions. Our TradeLens eBL does this within a blockchain ledger that runs as a cloud-based SaaS service, and includes all the advantages discussed earlier.

The TradeLens eBL demonstrates that transportation partners can successfully process a bill of lading as a digital asset from issue to transfer to surrender. Other eBL offerings require software to be downloaded to your network increasing potential risks of exposure to malware.

If you’re looking for an electronic bill of lading service, you should check out the TradeLens eBL. Pass this along to your technology team and consider getting involved in our pilot program.

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