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Academic Advances

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:34 PM


Above photo: The BIT students work in IBM China System Lab as interns All photos courtesy of Tina Tian and Chrissie Che.

Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) is an important IBM Z university partner in China. In 2015, BIT set up the Center of Excellence for Enterprise Computing. Since then, faculty has worked closely with the IBM Z Offering Management team for talent cultivation, curriculum development, joint research projects and ecosystem development, and made significant achievements especially in the Blockchain and LinuxONE areas.

Blockchain Experimental Projects

In 2016, BIT faculty started to explore the blockchain technology. They created a use case, designed a technical solution and defined the system architecture with IBM Z technical advisors help. This solution, Blockchain=Based Consumption Credit Points Exchange System, aimed to help students easily understand the concept of blockchain and its advantages.

Because IBM LinuxONE Community Cloud provides Red Hat Enterprise LInux environments, which can run Docker and install hyperledger fabric, students signed up to LinuxONE Community Cloud, deployed a virtual server instance, built the hyperledger fabric and created a four-peer network. Students could use chaincode for the business logic. IBM advisers GuoQiang Li, Zhenhua Dong and Gong Su provided great technical support and the students learned a lot during the project. This is the first Blockchain experimental project (good scenario design) with business value in China universities, and the faculty professor Che Haiying from BIT demoed the project in 2017 CDUG HangZhou.

It’s a model that can be referenced by other universities. Many faculty members showed great interest in blockchain and IBM Hyperledger after Che’s presentation. BIT students made a video to show the project.

2017 CDUG HangZhou, Academic Track.

The BIT students won the Championship in 2017 China Mainframe Contest with Blockchain Projects.

The Win Case (Blockchain as a Service)

Early 2017, the China LinuxONE team started to engage with a new prospect. This client plans to provide Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) to their customers (small and medium bank, nonbanking financial institution and small enterprise), and they are seeking IBM’s help on solution design and architecture. Because BIT faculty and students have the solid foundation of LinuxONE and Blockchain development experience, they are willing to contribute their effort in the solution development cycle.

The BaaS technical leads Vincent Dong and Steve Zheng and IBM Z Academic Initiative Program Manager came to BIT and talked with faculty and student teams in March, reached an agreement that the students will own the development part of comprehensive monitoring and develop with open source on LinuxONE. The faculty and students are very passionate for BaaS solution and they started to co-work with IBM technical leads.
We have weekly status meetings including the AI Program Manager Tina Tian, IBM technical advisers Zheng, Dong, Xun Zhang and etc., BIT faculty Che and 5 students. Che designed the component under IBM technical lead’s supervision and the students work on coding. Their tasks include:

  1. Status Display: Display Blockchain Info (i.e., Chain Height, Block #, Chaincode #, Tx #) and System info (i.e., CPU, Memory, Disk, Network)
  2. Log Capture: Display the log of each node/chaincode in an unified UI and Support filter to narrow down the log for diagnosis
  3. Alert: Email/Slack notification of resource cap exceeding and error message
  4. Metering: Meter the resource used by node, org, network, etc.
With great enthusiasm, the students not only have done their job quickly but also proposed several innovative ideas for improvement. They applied VM from LinuxONE Community Cloud for development with open source. By the end of May, technical leads showed the demo at China System Lab (CSL) Open Day and obtained excellent feedback.

The deal was closed and the BaaS solution is accepted by the client. This is the first win for LinuxONE + Blockchain in China, also the first reference case for a blockchain on-premises solution.

All the students work in IBM China System Lab as interns through IBM’s Extreme Blue program. The BaaS went live in product environments on Sept. 1. Besides that, the students also have innovation deliverables:

  1. Migrate Prometheus to LinuxONE
  2. Build minimum size busybox and rebuild all the needed tools
  3. Process monitoring
  4. Research on Kubernetics, Prometheus and nearly 10 open source tools and integrate them in BaaS in a LinuxONE environment
The Academic Influencer

The win case not only gains confidence for IBMers, but also motivates IBM faculty and students who are very passionate to work for IBM. The leaders of BIT are also interested in the IBM blockchain solution and they are considering involving IBM in some government projects, which may bring business opportunities in the future.

On Sept. 8, Che delivered a presentation in Academic and Ecosystem Track at CDUG, the China Z User Group, event in Beijing. With the academic contribution to ecosystem development and business development, we are confident that IBM Z will have a bright future.

Professor Che presented BAAS deliverables at Academic and Ecosystem Track at 2017 CDUG

Tina Tian is senior program manager, IBM Z Academic Initiative and Ecosystem Development. Chrissie Che is associate professor, Beijing Institute of Technology.