Hyperledger is a Linux Foundation open-source project that offers a diverse toolset and suite of frameworks and projects for developers and businesses to build and experiment with blockchain networks.
The objective of the Hyperledger Project is to facilitate the collaboration between businesses, developers, and other enterprises in the field of distributed ledger technology. There are currently more than 250 organizations supporting Hyperledger, and that number is snowballing.
Hyperledger has become one of the go-to tools and environments for interested parties to learn more about blockchain technology and participate in a dynamic community.
The Hyperledger Project was announced in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation as an open-source environment for analyzing, building, experimenting, and collaborating on the development of distributed ledger systems. The Linux Foundation has achieved some significant accomplishments since its inception in 2000, and the founding of the Hyperledger Project helped to attract some major participants including Blockstream, IBM, Oracle, Cisco, RedHat, Accenture, and more. You can find a complete list of the member organizations and other project participants here.
Notably, Hyperledger focuses primarily on building distributed ledger solutions for permissioned blockchains and consortium networks; however, its gaining popularity and profile among large tech and financial players has undoubtedly given blockchain technology substantial exposure that it might not otherwise have.
Frameworks and Tools
At its core, the Hyperledger Project is an umbrella project for modular open-source frameworks and tools for building and experimenting with blockchains. The overall trend for enterprises is towards open-source projects, according to a survey by BlackDuck and North Bridge in 2016. With blockchain technology emerging as one of the cutting-edge innovations in today’s technology sector, it seemed only natural that an open-source ecosystem for enterprises was conceived.
Hyperledger refers to its design as “The Greenhouse For Enterprise Blockchains” as it aims to be an incubator for developing practical applications and business solutions with blockchain tech.
Hyperledger aims to provide specific benefits for enterprises using their platform including:
- Network for collaboration and real-time updates on significant developments
- Better productivity through specialization
- Collaborative environment
- Better quality control of code
- Easier handling of intellectual property
The Hyperledger Project is enormous and consists of more than 28,000 participants and 3.6 million lines of code. You can find the Hyperledger Github here. Hyperledger consists of 10 projects, including 5 frameworks and 5 tools. Each project is unique and contains a specific function and advantage for its use, with Hyperledger Fabric (framework) being the most popular.
When analyzing Hyperledger, there is a lot to look at and consider. Their website provides a wealth of resources on everything from open governance to event news. However, we can divide the overall project into primarily 2 sections:
- Modular Frameworks
- Modular Tools
The modular frameworks consist of the major building blocks and platforms for building a variety of distributed ledgers and their components.
Burrow is a modular blockchain client with a permissioned smart contract engine. It is developed partly for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and was originally developed and proposed by Monax.
Burrow is written in Go and heavily focuses on being a deterministic smart contract engine. It uses the Tendermint Proof-of-Stake BFT consensus engine and is capable of using its Application BlockChain Interface (ABCI).
Fabric — also written in Go — is the most popular framework that is a modular platform for building distributed ledger solutions featuring pluggable components and a customizable architecture.
Fabric is known for its extensibility and allows enterprises to build distributed ledger networks on top of an established and successful architecture.
Indy is a distributed ledger built explicitly for decentralized identity management. The server portion Indy-node is built in Python, while the Indy-SDK is written in Rust.
Indy provides tools and reusable components for managing digital identity with blockchains and includes features such as self-sovereignty, privacy, and verifiable claims. The implications of Indy moving forward are huge as decentralized identity, and some high-profile projects, including Civic, are pursuing verifiable identity attestations.
Iroha is the blockchain framework designed for incorporating infrastructure projects and places a heavy emphasis on facilitating the creation of applications tailored for end users.
Iroha is written in C++ and includes features such as an emphasis on mobile application development and a new chain-based BFT consensus algorithm called Sumeragi.
Sawtooth is a modular platform for running distributed ledgers that enables several technical innovations for enterprises and consortiums to make independent decisions about their platforms.
The Hyperledger Tools are a diverse set of tools that can manage metrics and work in conjunction with the larger frameworks.
Caliper is a unique general tool in its format, and it has become a useful reference for enterprises to measure the performance of their distributed ledgers.
Cello is primarily written in Go and brings the on-demand deployment model to blockchains. It is an automated application for deploying and managing blockchains in the form of plug-and-play for enterprises looking to integrate distributed ledger technologies.
Cello also provides a real-time dashboard for blockchain statuses, system utilization, chain code performance, and configuration of blockchains. It currently supports the Hyperledger Fabric implementation.
Composer also supports Hyperledger Fabric and users can utilize it to define how transactions interact with specific assets including property, services, and other non-fungible assets.
Explorer is the tool that provides a dashboard for peering into details about blocks. Primarily written in JavaScipt, Explorer is a generic, web-based block explorer for the Hyperledger Fabric framework.
Explorer can also be integrated with authentication platforms and supports the Hyperledger Sawtooth framework with its TypeScript-based, Angular built iteration.
Quilt is the interoperability tool between ledger systems and is written in Java by implementing the Interledger Protocol (ILP) for atomic swaps.
Quilt is an enterprise-grade implementation of the ILP and provides libraries and reference implementations of the core Interledger components used for payment networks. Eventually, it is supposed to become the interoperability solution for all of the Hyperledger Projects to transfer value with each other and perform distributed atomic swaps.
The potential applications of integrating with Hyperledger Projects and integrating their solutions are diverse and have significant ramifications for enterprises looking to leverage the power of blockchain tech.
Deloitte and PwC both recently released their 2018 Global Blockchain Reports detailing the current business sentiment surrounding the integration of the technology with executives in enterprises ranging from industries like financial services to healthcare. Both studies conclude with a positive note on the trend towards the adoption of the technology and executives across the world are aware of and looking into incorporating distributed ledger solutions.
The opportunities that Hyperledger afford these enterprises to experiment with and build business application solutions will assuredly not be overlooked as the platform continues to gain steam. Hyperledger outlines some excellent use cases explicitly for their projects including:
- A Seafood Supply Chain Prototype Using Hyperledger Sawtooth
- Managing Decentralized and Portable Identities With Hyperledger Indy
- Healthcare Physician Credentialing With Hyperledger Indy
- Post-Trade Financial Processing Using Hyperledger Fabric & Sawtooth
The future interoperability of blockchains along with the plug-and-play/experimental nature of Hyperledger will enable it to develop into a leading platform for collaboration in development and business applications of blockchain tech.
Hyperledger explicitly envisions some long-term trends and goals with their open-source platform in their white paper. Specifically, they see the trend towards increased data sharing as requiring the more prevalent use of distributed ledgers and their accompanying components to create a modular, secure, and interoperable framework for such developments.
Further, Hyperledger looks to expand on its array of interchangeable modules that can eventually communicate with each other and be deployed quickly. The platform will also transition from a single software stack to a collection of tools that supports a vast community of developers.
Hyperledger is a powerful and handy tool for enterprises to learn about and integrate distributed ledger technologies into their business models. Founded on the open-source principles of the Linux Foundation, it is poised to become one of the most dynamic communities and collaborative environments for developers in the blockchain sphere.
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