Cloud computing giant Red Hat may be looking into using a blockchain-based system to track software usage.
New marketing models for selling software on a cloud platform require new methods of tracking usage, and a blockchain may be able to efficiently track and store this information, according to a patent application released last Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The filing outlines how a blockchain would track transactions across a given platform, where each transaction represents an instance of a customer using the company’s products.
As the application explains, “software products have often been licensed on an annual basis. A predetermined fee is paid, and the fee allows usage of the software product for one year.”
However, software products are now likely to be licensed based on either time or a use count. As a result, “fees are thus based on a number of uses of a software product, and/or a total amount of time the software product was used, over a particular period of time.”
The application goes on to say:
“The examples record, in a blockchain, a billing rules transaction that identifies usage rules for one or more software instance types for a timeframe. Authorized transactions that identify software instances that have been authorized to execute during the timeframe are also recorded in the blockchain. Because blocks in the blockchain, for practical purposes, cannot subsequently be modified so long as a sufficiently robust consensus method is used to create the blocks, the blockchain accurately records both the actual software instance usage and the rules under which the usage occurred.”
This type of system could help vendors track usage across different networks without requiring the customer to build new infrastructure to enable tracking, saving both parties time and money, the application noted.