What is Hyperledger?

Hyperledger blockchain technologies have arisen in the wake bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies running on blockchains. Find out all you need to know about all the different Hyperledger projects.

In the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, there are a wide variety of projects that see the light of day. The ones that people immediately think of when it comes to these fields are Bitcoin and Ethereum. Not only did they build on the digital currency foundation, but their popularity skyrocketed thanks to media coverage. They are not necessarily the only ones to achieve this, however, they are the most noteworthy.

There is one project that has yet to make many headlines but aspires to accomplish a tremendous amount of work. We’re seeing the widespread construction of many blockchains from scratch for different needs all over the world. Though, there is one project that aims to standardize and democratize blockchain within the business world. This is the ‘Hyperledger Project’, whose creation and launch were thanks to the Linux Foundation.

Rather than letting companies settle their issues by themselves, Hyperledger has a unique strategy. It will combine a cross-industry knowledge in order to permit enterprises to build customized blockchains. These blockchains will effectively answer and cater to specific needs.

Understanding Hyperledger is not as simple or straightforward as it would be to learn about Bitcoin and Ethereum. As a matter of fact, it is comparatively more difficult to properly wrap your head around the Hyperledger initiative. This article will help make this understanding easier and go more into detail about the project.

How did it all begin?

In 2015, the Linux Foundation made an announcement. This foundation is a nonprofit organization that facilitates mass innovation by way of open-source technology. They spoke of an important collaboration of industry leaders to progress blockchain technology at an enterprise level. The original goal was to develop the following:

“…an enterprise grade, open source distributed ledger framework and free developers to focus on building robust, industry-specific applications, platforms and hardware systems to support business transactions.”

It was from this goal that the Hyperledger Project was born.

A majority of the first members who would join the movement were big banks, financial services firms, and IT companies. However, that would change as time went on. Eventually, more and more corporations began joining the project. This would reach a point where the member list counted up to 270 contributing organizations from diverse sectors and horizons. Big industry-leader firms and start-ups – from healthcare to logistics and from finances to the government – were all contributing. They did so financially by supplying lines of codes and also supporting developmental progress. Probably the two biggest contributors to the project are IBM and Intel.

As of July 2018, Hyperledger was hosting 10 projects with up to 3.6 million lines of code. Moreover, there were roughly 28,000 participants; all of whom have come to 110+ meetups across the globe.

What is it?

Hyperledger is an umbrella project consisting of open-source blockchains and various tools related to it. It is important to point out that Hyperledger is not a company, nor is it a cryptocurrency. If anything, it is actually something similar to a hub. A nerve center of sorts for open industrial blockchain development.

On the main website, the description of Hyperledger is that it is…

“…an open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation, including leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and Technology.”

Hyperledger is not a system that supports Bitcoin or any other type of cryptocurrency. Be that as it may, there is a sense of excitement that the platform feels for blockchain technology. The website goes on to praise blockchain and embellish the possibilities of combining these forces:

Not since the Web itself has a technology promised broader and more fundamental revolution than blockchain technology. A blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger forged by consensus, combined with a system for “smart contracts” and other assistive technologies. Together these can be used to build a new generation of transactional applications that establishes trust, accountability, and transparency at their core while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.”

With the use of Hyperledger, the Linux Foundation hopes to one day create a unique environment. One where communities of software developers and companies can meet and collaborate to construct blockchain frameworks.

Members

Today, the list of Hyperledger members is extensive and impressive, with the number being over 100. The list covers a wide range of prominent industry leaders. These members include:

  • Giants in the mobile tech field, like Airbus and Daimler
  • IT-companies, such as IBM, SAP, Fujitsu, Nokia, Huawei, and Samsung
  • Financial institutions, such as J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Börse, American Express, BBVA, BNP Paribas, and Well Fargo
  • Blockchain start-ups, including Blockstream, Lykke, Netki, Factom, Bloq, and Consensys

A majority of the world’s largest companies in tech and finance meet at Hyperledger. Not only that, but some of the most popular blockchain start-ups meet as well.

Something like the executive government of Hyperledger is the committee of leaders. This board largely consists of over 10 executives. Most of these executives possess decades-worth of experience in open-source and tight connections to numerous industries. Here, you will find leaders from such platforms as the Apache Foundation and the W3C Consortium. Additionally, you will find engineers from IBM and many others. A good portion of Hyperledger’s members, such as Richard Brown and Tamas Blumer, was predominantly blockchain workers for some time.

Benefits that Hyperledger provides for its members include providing extensive technical knowledge and software frameworks. Moreover, it supplies them an array of contacts to many industries and developers.

Will there be a coin?

To answer this question, we need to go back a little in Hyperledger’s history. During an early period of its origins, the project had to make a critical decision. Executive director, Brian Behlendorf, was once asked about the possibility of there being a “Hyperledger Coin.” To elaborate, if there will ever be a monetary unit that would run on the Hyperledger blockchains. 

Behlendorf would answer this query by saying no, the Hyperledger Project itself will never create its own cryptocurrency.

You’ll never see a Hyperledger coin … By not pushing a currency, we avoid so many political challenges of having to maintain a globally consistent currency.”

This decision was critical because it would go on to shape the strategic goals of Hyperledger. Specifically, the aspiration to construct industrial applications of blockchain technology and sharply detaching it from get-rich schemes. These are schemes that will typically derive from blockchains drawing from currency.

Projects & Tools

The fundamental ‘umbrella strategy’ of Hyperledger nurtures and promotes a variety of projects. These include diverse business blockchain technologies, frameworks, libraries, interfaces, and applications. All with framework projects, Hyperledger also has several tool projects with one particular goal in mind. They collectively aim to make access to and the development of blockchains easier and much more effective.

Hyperledger Fabric

1 – Hyperledger Fabric

An enterprise-grade permissioned distributed ledger framework whose leader is IBM. The objective of Hyperledger Fabric is to help develop solutions and applications. Its modular and adaptable design appeases a wide range of industry use cases. It provides a unique approach to the consensus that effectively enables performance at scale, all while retaining privacy.

The modular architecture has a delineation of roles that exist between the nodes in the infrastructure. Moreover, the execution of Smart Contracts (going by the name “chaincode” in Fabric) and both configurable consensus and membership services. A Fabric Network encompasses ‘peer nodes’, which can carry out a variety of tasks. These include chaincode execution, ledger data access, transaction endorsement, and providing an interface with applications. ‘Orderer nodes’ guarantee the consistency of the blockchain. What’s more, they are responsible for the delivery of the endorsed transactions to the peers of the network.

Hyperledger Sawtooth

2 – Hyperledger Sawtooth

A project whose original contribution was by Intel. Sawtooth is a blockchain suite whose design was specifically for versatility and scalability. Distributed Ledger Technology has vast potential in multiple fields with use cases from such systems as IoT and Financials.

This architecture is able to recognize the array of requirements all across that spectrum. Sawtooth is supportive of deployments that are both permissioned and permissionless. It includes an innovative consensus algorithm that goes by the name of ‘Proof of Elapsed Time’ (PoET). PoET targets considerably largely distributed validator populations with nominal consumption of resources. Transaction business logic undergoes a separation from the consensus layer into Transaction Families. These allow for semantics that are either restricted or unfettered.

Hyperledger Iroha

3 – Hyperledger Iroha

This is a project that is being utilized extensively in Cambodia. It is useful in creating a new payment system alongside the National Bank of Cambodia. Not only that, but it’s also useful in several other projects in fields such as healthcare, finance, and identity management.

Iroha is a 6 project whose goal is to provide a development environment. In this environment, C++ and mobile application developers would be able to make contributions to Hyperledger. The project aims to integrate Fabric, Sawtooth, and several other potential projects. It aspires to be a framework with a pre-existing set of commands, permissions, and queries. Most of which can be applied with an array of client libraries to build applications for desktop and mobile platforms.

The inspiration for Iroha came from the Japanese Kaizen principle of eliminating excess (muri). Iroha has imperative functionality for such factors as assets, information, and identity management. At the same time, it is an efficient and trustworthy Byzantine fault-tolerant tool for all enterprise needs.

Hyperledger Besu

4 – Hyperledger Besu

This project is an enterprise-grade Ethereum codebase. Hyperledger Besu is an open-source Ethereum client whose development was overseen by the Apache 2.0 license. Moreover, it was written in Java.

It is capable of running on either the Ethereum public network or on private permissioned networks. In addition, it can run on test networks, like Rinkeby, Ropsten, and Görli. This project includes a number of consensus algorithms, such as Proof-of-Work (PoW), Proof-of-Authority (PoA), and IBFT. It also possesses comprehensive permissioning schemes whose designs are specifically for uses in a consortium environment.

Hyperledger Besu puts the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) specification into effect in its system. The initial establishment of the EEA specification was for the creation of common interfaces amongst open and closed source projects within Ethereum. This effectively ensures that users do not have vendor lock-in. Furthermore, it is to construct standard interfaces for teams building applications. In addition, Besu also implements enterprise features that are in alignment with the EEA client specification.

Hyperledger Explorer

5 – Hyperledger Explorer

This project is a blockchain module and is one of the Hyperledger projects that the Linux Foundation hosts. Hyperledger Explorer’s system design is capable of helping to create a Web application that is user-friendly. It is able to view, enforce, deploy, or interrogate blocks, transactions, and associated data. Moreover, it also covers network information (name, status, list of nodes), chain codes, and transaction families. It does the same things with any other relevant information that the ledger has in storage.

Hyperledger Explorer’s intent is to create a user-friendly web application for Hyperledger to view and query an array of components. It aims to make the interrogation and viewing of things like blocks and transactions a lot less painful.

Hyperledger Indy

6 – Hyperledger Indy

This project is an extensive collection of tools, libraries, and additional components for digital identities. To elaborate, these are identities that are rooted primarily in blockchains. Hyperledger Indy supplies the tools reusable factors for providing these identities whose roots can also stem from other distributed ledgers. By doing this, it allows them to exchange information across administrative domains, applications, and any other silo.

Hyperledger Indy possesses a distributed ledger that was built for the purpose of decentralized identity. By design, it is correlation-resistant. A key characteristic of this project is it has DIDs (Decentralized Identifiers) that are globally distinct and resolvable via a ledger. This is also possible without the requirement of any centralized resolution authority. In addition, it has Zero-Knowledge Proofs, which effectively confirm that some or all of the data in a set of claims is true. It can do so without ever having to reveal any additional information, which includes the prover’s true identity.

Hyperledger Cello

7 – Hyperledger Cello

This project is a blockchain-as-a-service deployment model. Cello aids in mitigating the costs for operation and management pertaining to blockchain users/app developers. It is capable of deploying, managing, and operating blockchains efficiently and automatically. It’s supportive of blockchain platforms like Fabric, as well as various infrastructures. These include baremetal, vm platform, and container cloud (e.g., Swarm, Kubernetes).

Hyperledger Avalon

8 – Hyperledger Avalon

This project facilitates privacy in blockchain transactions. Additionally, Hyperledger Avalon enables moving intensive processing from the main blockchain to improve the overall scalability and latency. Furthermore, to support affirmed Oracles.

Hyperledger Avalon leverages the existence of a distributed ledger in order to sustain a registry of trusted workers. This includes all of their authentication information. It provides a mechanism for work order submissions from a client (or from several clients) to a worker. Moreover, it maintains a complete log consisting of work order receipts and acknowledgments.

Hyperledger Composer

9 – Hyperledger Composer

This project is a tool for the construction of blockchain business networks. Hyperledger Composer is an assortment of collaboration tools for building blockchain business networks. They will aid in making it fast and easy for business owners and developers to create smart contracts and blockchain applications. With them, they will be fully capable of solving an array of business problems.

Composer was built with JavaScript and it leverages modern tools, like node.js, npm, CLI and popular editors. The project offers business-centric abstractions along with sample apps with easy to test DevOps processes. This will allow them to create prosperous blockchain solutions that spur alignment across business necessities with technical development.

Hyperledger Caliper

10 – Hyperledger Caliper

This project is a blockchain benchmark framework that allows users to measure a blockchain implementation’s performance with a set of predefined use cases. Hyperledger Caliper distributes reports that contain a number of performance indicators. These include TPS (Transactions Per Second), transaction latency, and resource utilization, among several others.

The primary intent for Caliper results is to use them as references in supporting the choice of blockchain implementation. Specifically, for those that are suitable for the user-specific use-cases. With the variety of blockchain configurations, network setup, and specific use-cases, it’s not suitable for a definitive performance assessment. Moreover, it is not for simple comparative purposes. An example of this would be if blockchain A conducts 10 TPS and blockchain B conducts 15 TPS, so B is better.

Hyperledger Ursa

11 – Hyperledger Ursa

This project is a modular, flexible shared cryptography library. Hyperledger Ursa would enable both people and projects to avoid duplicating other cryptographic work. By doing this, they hope to successfully increase security in the process. The library itself would be an opt-in archive for projects – and potentially others – to store and utilize crypto.

As Hyperledger continues to mature, so too have the individual projects within Hyperledger. They are gradually beginning to discover a need for intricate and mature cryptographic implementations. Instead of having each project implement its own cryptographic protocols, Ursa thinks it is more appealing to collaborate on a joint library.

Hyperledger Quilt

12 – Hyperledger Quilt

This project is a Java implementation of Interledger. This is a collection consisting of open protocols and standards that permit payment interoperability across any currency. Whether they be fiat or crypto, the system will allow it. Hyperledger Quilt is, on the whole, a business blockchain tool. Furthermore, it’s one of the Hyperledger projects that the Linux Foundation hosts, along with Explorer.

Hyperledger Quilt presents interoperability between ledger systems by way of implementing the Interledger protocol (ILP). This protocol is mainly a payment protocol whose design allows it to transfer value across distributed ledgers and non-distributed ledgers. The Interledger protocol provides atomic swaps between ledgers, even ledgers that are non-blockchain or distributed. In addition, it provides a single account namespace for accounts within each of the ledgers.

With Quilt’s inclusion to Hyperledger, the Linux Foundation is now the host of two Interledger implementations. Those two being the Java (Quilt) and JavaScript (Interledger.js) implementations. The initial contribution of Hyperledger Quilt was by NTT Data and Ripple.

Conclusion

Each of these projects aim to achieve media release, tests, and most importantly, real-world application. However, before they can reach that point, they have to grow and mature. Sawtooth and Fabric, two of the better-known projects, are especially noteworthy and they have backing from various IT companies. Come what may, it will be interesting to see if Hyperledger projects continue on the route to success that they hope to reach. Perhaps one day they will successfully connect these blockchains by, potentially, developing tools that all Hyperledger blockchain frameworks can use.

A majority of blockchain projects tend to concentrate on cryptocurrencies and tokens. Projects that pertain to Hyperledger, however, display a strong potential to create something greater. They are capable of building the foundation of non-monetary, high scaling industrial applications of blockchain technology. With intriguing concepts and technology leaders providing support, it’s not outlandish to believe that Hyperledger will achieve that overarching goal.

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