Hyperledger has sparked interest among world-famous industry leaders eager to advance blockchain technology and assist those who wish to leverage it for the first time. With the ability to apply the ideas behind blockchain to a greater variety of use cases, Hyperledger is bound to make its presence felt everywhere.
If you think that being humble is characteristic of humans only, you couldn’t be more wrong. Bitcoin and Ethereum, for example, have long been highlighted by the media whereas Hyperledger is a kind of shy newcomer in the Blockchain Band. Even though the Hyperledger project was only launched a short time ago, it’s already being viewed as a great tool which can undertake the most complicated and exacting tasks and successfully complete them.
Created specifically for enterprise-grade blockchain deployments, Hyperledger is widely celebrated by the world’s leaders in finance, banking, the Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing, and technology.
Well, it’s pretty clear that Hyperledger is here to steal the show. But how exactly does it manage to do it? Read on to find out more about the history of Hyperledger’s foundation, architecture, frameworks, and many other related aspects.
What is Hyperledger?
Hyperledger is an open source environment that contributes to smooth cooperation between enterprises and developers engaged in the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) domain. Thanks to that, organizations are able to create custom blockchain applications that correspond to their specific business requirements. Hyperledger is a kind of a melting pot where world-renowned enterprises can work out blockchain-based solutions to knotty issues.
Aimed at streamlining blockchain app development, Hyperledger provides developers with a suite of necessary tools, guidelines, frameworks, standards, and projects that enable them to create advanced and comprehensive solutions.
As a rule, Hyperledger projects comprise a number of enterprise-ready blockchain platforms. Network participants are familiar with one another, and each of them can take part in decision-making processes. With the help of available constituents under the Hyperledger umbrella strategy, any business has an opportunity to utilize several modular blockchain solutions and services. These components can substantially enhance business process efficiency and ensure smooth transactions.
So far everything seems pretty clear, right? The only thing that may have bewildered you is the so-called ‘Hyperledger umbrella’ strategy. It implies reusing standard building blocks that ensure rapid innovation of DLT components. These components are graphical interfaces, libraries, frameworks, and smart contract engines. In general, the umbrella strategy proves to be really convenient and can ease many time-consuming and laborious tasks.
Hyperledger: history and foundation
Everything has a history, right? And Hyperledger is no exception.
It was launched
on a cold winter day in 2015 by the Linux Foundation in California. It’s said to have been created by 30 corporate founders who were responsible for bringing about its organizational and technical governance framework structure. Since then, the speed with which the project has been gaining in popularity is just amazing: in January 2018 Hyperledger became the fastest growing project that the Linux Project has ever created.
At the very beginning, the platform counted 10 firms in its team. Today that has grown to 250 famous participants. The list includes such prominent industry leaders as Airbus and Daimler (commercial aircraft and vehicle manufacturers), IBM and SAP (software companies), Huawei and Samsung (mobile tech giants), American Express and J.P. Morgan (financial institutions), and Lykke and Consensys (blockchain startups).
As the Hyperledger creators state, it was set up to encourage cross-industry cooperation. This involves establishing highly efficient and reliable blockchain and distributed ledger-based technology frameworks that can be utilized by a number of industries. In addition, it primarily focuses on delivering projects for enterprises that need flexibility, scalability, and security.
Why is Hyperledger important?
Given that Hyperledger is all about guaranteed security, efficiency, and an innovative approach, it’s worth learning more about the range of opportunities it offers.
How did it manage to attract so many outstanding industry-leading organizations? First of all, Hyperledger offers its participants access to numerous resources, a vast network of member contacts, and reliable technical knowledge.
In addition, Hyperledger takes great care over data protection regulations. What this means is that Hyperledger only shows information and data to the user who has access to it. This significant aspect coupled with increased accountability builds up trust between companies and brings more organizations into its circle. Hyperledger has other significant benefits to offer. The project encourages its users to apply any business logic to their smart contracts that they consider relevant and suitable.
When discussing Hyperledger, it’s also essential to mention the notion of Hyperledger Fabric. This gives beginners a kickstart with blockchain technology and empowers them to learn the ropes quickly. Hyperledger Fabric allows users to install their own working language in smart contracts. This removes the necessity to learn customized architectures and languages and contributes to a faster workflow.
When it comes to defining Hyperledger’s architecture, the first thing that must be noted is that any Hyperledger project is based on a modular extensible approach.
Additionally, Hyperledger uses the following business components:
- Consensus layer is responsible for drawing an agreement and verifying the accuracy of transactions that make up a block;
- Smart contract layer makes sure that all transaction requests are processed and it authorizes only those that are valid;
- Communication layer facilitates communication between users and ensures peer-to-peer message exchange;
- Identity management service is regarded as an extremely significant function that maintains and validates users’ identities and develops trust on the blockchain;
- API (Application Programming Interface) empowers external apps and clients to interact with the blockchain.
How Hyperledger works
You’ve probably been thinking that Hyperledger is something really complicated (at least it sounds that way), but in reality, its main goal is to simplify a number of processes and ensure smooth performance of tasks – so, its working principles are quite easy to grasp.
The project is perfectly capable of accomplishing a number of important but laborious tasks. Being modular in its design, Hyperledger welcomes various approaches from different teams. The technology rigorously strives to be flexible and adaptable as well as satisfy the needs of each and every enterprise.
Let’s have a look together at how Hyperledger works:
- Nodes are submitted to the network and are granted the required permissions;
- A transaction is launched and delivered to the peers;
- Depending on the requirements, the message format and pattern can be different;
- The peer gives an endorsement signature and simulates a transaction;
- Another client submits the same signature and collects the endorsement that is then broadcast through the services concerned;
- The ordering service delivers the signature to the peer;
- Then the policy of endorsement is followed;
- Ledgers are validated (after all the checkpoints);
- Data can be accessed.
And that’s pretty much all. As you can see, there aren’t many steps needed to complete the Hyperledger process.
As stated above, the platform has been created with a particular idea in mind – to establish an open source distributed ledger enterprise framework and codebase. More than that, it also encourages and maintains an open infrastructure.
Hyperledger’s umbrella strategy envisages promoting and utilizing a number of business blockchain technologies. They include smart contract engines, distributed ledger frameworks, graphical interfaces, applications, and libraries.
The Hyperledger platform is strong on the idea of reusing building blocks and innovating new distributed ledger technology components.
So far, Hyperledger hosts the following projects:
Released in 2014 by the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger Burrow is viewed as a complete permissionable smart contract machine. It is responsible for simplifying and speeding up development processes. It supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) as well as WASM-based smart contracts. Burrow aims to give a blockchain client a permissioned smart contract interpreter. Besides, it offers a cutting-edge event system and built-in governance and permissioning.
Hyperledger Burrow possesses many capabilities like high transaction throughput and transaction finality. It consists of such components as consensus engine, smart contract application, application blockchain interface (ABCI), application binary interface (ABI), and API Gateway.
With its smart contracts backbone, Burrow can apply its functionality to such spheres as finance, healthcare, government, logistics, and supply chain management.
Hyperledger Indy has aligned itself with the Internet of Things (IoT). It has been built specifically for identity management and data storage purposes. This distributed ledger supplies you with different libraries, reusable components, and other handy tools that help you build and utilize independent digital identities based on blockchains or other distributed ledgers.
In addition, Hyperledger Indy has an ecosystem that enables its users to be in control of their personal data. Thanks to its interoperability with other blockchains, it resorts to them to gain access to third parties, which verify that reliable organizations have provided private credentials. Indy also uses Redundant Byzantine Fault Tolerance (RBFT) in its work, which carries out procedures such as ordering and validating.
Being one of the most prominent and exciting distributed ledger platforms, Hyperledger Fabric is all about flexibility, scalability, and security. It was introduced by Digital Asset and IBM during the first hackathon. The project is regarded as a foundation for designing apps with a modular architecture and provides pluggable implementation for a number of components.
For hosting smart contracts that are also known as ‘chaincodes’, Hyperledger Fabric utilizes container technology. It also requires permission created via a trustworthy membership service provider for entry into the network.
Fabric is regarded as an extremely useful tool that is able to address difficulties existing in the economic system. Furthermore, it can cater to the needs of almost all industries.
Hyperledger Iroha is hosted by the Linux Foundation. It’s a modular distributed blockchain platform that is used for creating secure and powerful blockchain applications. It runs on the Byzantine Fault Tolerance Consensus algorithm and has its own permission model and multi-signature support.
The platform is well regarded for its ability to manage identity along with digital assets. It’s suitable for delivering apps in domains such as logistics and banking. Iroha guarantees top security, as interacting with it is only possible for those who have access to the system.
It’s worth stressing that Hyperledger Iroha is quite easy to incorporate into the IoT and infrastructural projects that need DLT.
Hyperledger Grid sets out to speed up distributed ledger development for the supply chain. Why is this important? Because the supply chain is thought to be one of the most feasible and lucrative use cases for the distributed ledger. This is the reason why the Hyperledger community has decided to concentrate on delivering solutions for this industry with the help of reusable and shared tools.
Grid represents an ecosystem of libraries, frameworks, and other tools that make it possible to select the most suitable and appropriate components for creating a market model.
Hyperledger Grid also provides examples of previous implementations where data models and smart contracts are based on the best industry practices already in existence.
Like the rest of its counterparts, the Hyperledger Sawtooth enterprise blockchain platform is meant for creating distributed ledger networks and apps. It’s responsible for providing secure smart contracts.
Hyperledger Sawtooth includes a lot of consensus algorithms, such as Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) and Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET).
The platform contributes to blockchain development by separating the core system from the app domain. Developers have an opportunity to select business rules in any language.
Another aspect to consider is that Hyperledger Sawtooth supports Ethereum Contract Compatibility with Seth that is the Sawtooth-Ethereum integration project.
Sawtooth technology can be used from capital markets to international trades. It plays a key role in the supply chain industry.
We’re done with the frameworks – let’s move on to the tools!
The tools that we’ll discuss below come in really handy and will save you a lot of time and effort when delivering projects.
Caliper is a Blockchain tool that was introduced by the Linux Foundation. It gives its users an opportunity to compute the functioning of particular Blockchain implementation. It manages to do so by using a set of previously defined use cases. The component that makes it stand out is its adaption layer that enables Caliper to be easily integrated with other blockchain solutions.
Hyperledger Caliper also creates special reports on such key performance factors as resource utilization, transactions per second (TPS), and transaction latency.
Hyperledger Cello was first provided by IBM and sponsored by Intel, Huawei, and Soramitsu.
It’s a blockchain module kit extensively used for the blockchain ecosystem. Cello considerably reduces the effort needed to develop, manage, and terminate blockchains. Not only that, this tool is also able to work on top of a number of infrastructures (virtual machine, bare metal, container platforms) as it offers a multi-tenant chain service.
Initially provided by Intel, IBM, and DTCC, Hyperledger Explorer has been designed to aid developers in creating user-friendly web applications. The tool is used for performing procedures such as viewing, deploying, invoking, and querying blocks, transaction data, chaincodes, and other information stored on a Blockchain ledger.
Thanks to this tool, blockchain applications can be developed and deployed much faster, and the solutions that it brings can positively transform numerous business operations.
Hyperledger Quilt is a business blockchain tool that was initially provided by Ripple and NTT Data. Quilt brings about interoperability between ledger systems. It manages to do this thanks to the Interledger Protocol (ILP) – a payment protocol for moving value across both distributed and non-distributed ledgers.
Hyperledger Ursa is a shared cryptographic library. With it, users can be 100% sure that they won’t replicate some existing cryptographic work, which contributes to greater overall security.
Ursa consists of two sub-projects. They’re Base-Crypto Library and Z-Mix.
Base-Crypto Library is a modular signature library that can introduce multiple signature schemes with the help of a common API.
Z-Mix offers secure implementation for creating zero-knowledge proofs about commitments, verifiable encryption, and signatures.
Examples of applications built on Hyperledger projects
So far, a number of world-renowned enterprises have given Hyperledger a try and are satisfied with the result. This gives us grounds for believing that very soon Hyperledger will become as famous as its other blockchain counterparts.
We suggest looking into the companies below, which have launched Hyperledger projects and firmly established their partnership with this technology.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) assists companies that are keen on trying distributed ledger technology but are not ready to develop it themselves. AWS provides them with special blockchain tools (platforms like Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum), thus making it possible for them to optimize their business processes and increase efficiency. Amazon’s clients include Change Healthcare, Guardian Life Insurance, Workday (an HR software provider), and DTCC.
Cargill is an agricultural giant that has decided to test Intel’s Hyperledger Sawtooth. It is utilizing this project to track the path of turkeys – from farm to supermarket. To build a Hyperledger Grid that will track food back to its source, Cargill has formed a team of engineers to cooperate with Intel and enterprise blockchain startup Bitwise. According to Cargill, this expertise will allow them to share their knowledge with other suppliers.
CVS Health is a new member of IBM’s Health Utility Network – a group that is responsible for creating a distributed ledger of data available to patients, providers, and insurers. The network is planning to publish unforgeable medical credentials, thus enabling patients to check out their doctors. Other projects are aimed at combining data from various insurers, which could make it easier to share information between doctors and insurers. On top of that, utilizing IBM Blockchain, Hyperledger Indy and Hyperledger Sawtooth could contribute to improving care as well as cutting costs.
IBM has its own enterprise version of Hyperledger Fabric called IBM Blockchain, which has been created with the aim of promoting blockchain technology.
IBM’s novelties also include a foreign exchange platform World Wire and TradeLens – a shipping supply chain service that was developed together with Maersk, a shipping company.
As of today, IBM is regarded as an enterprise winner: its proprietary blockchain connects companies in at least 85 networks.
ING is a Dutch banking giant. Since 2016 its dedicated blockchain team has managed to launch eight pilot projects. To deliver these projects, the team used blockchain platforms Corda, Quorum, Hyperledger Fabric, and Hyperledger Indy.
In 2018 ING and Credit Suisse successfully executed the first legally enforceable euro securities swap with the help of R3’s blockchain. The bank, however, is eager to move beyond: it’s already invested in a number of other blockchain ventures.
Another great corporate force that is pushing blockchain into the enterprise market, Intel has created its open source Hyperledger Sawtooth platform. The platform enables its users to build their own blockchains. As of today, its client list can boast having such famous companies as Cargill, T-Mobile, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Microsoft also keeps up with the latest trends. Its cloud unit Azure launched its own Hyperledger Fabric called Azure Blockchain Workbench that is meant for creating blockchain applications. A lot of the templates are free. However, if a company runs an app on Azure, Microsoft charges fees for the cloud services. So far, its customers include Insurwave, Xbox, Bühler, Interswitch, 3M, and Nasdaq.
The German giant Siemens has an income of $28 billion annually from products like energy turbines and apps that can manage smart grids. Thanks to Hyperledger Fabric and other blockchain technologies, the grid technology run by Siemens has decentralized and democratized power generation. The Brooklyn Microgrid project that is run on a private blockchain has enabled those who have excess power to sell it to their neighbors.
Being fond of Hyperledger Fabric, Visa has filed for 50 blockchain patents – from a real-time payments settlement system to crypto trading. Recently, the credit card network has decided to launch another promising project – B2B Connect. This project uses blockchain and helps banks globally process cross-border business-to-business payments.
One of the world’s largest retailers has also pioneered the use of at least 50 blockchain projects that range from tracking shipments to operating drones. In almost all of its projects, Walmart tries to make the most of Hyperledger Fabric.
These days the company wishes to utilize blockchain to address food safety issues. In 2016, together with Big Blue, it established the IBM Food Trust that is currently being tested by approximately 120 companies. So far it has tracked multiple SKUs like fresh leafy greens, strawberries, yogurt, and poultry, and millions of records have been uploaded to the blockchain.
Why is Hyperledger the easiest option to build enterprise blockchain?
Blockchain can fundamentally transform the industry and there are numerous examples that demonstrate its power.
It goes without saying that building enterprise blockchain is not the easiest task. That’s why Hyperledger has been introduced. You probably know yourself that it’s always more efficient and wise to make use of reliable existing resources than spend enormous amounts of time and money creating blockchain from the ground up. Besides, you never know how it might look and function in the long run…
Furthermore, widely recognized companies like IBM, Amazon, Intel, and many others have joined hands to create special platforms, tools, guidelines, and solutions that can considerably ease the development process. And not just companies – a lot of outstanding universities like Yale, Cambridge, and UCLA have also made a considerable contribution and become members of this consortium.
As of today, the consortium has succeeded in launching such prominent projects as Hyperledger Fabric, Indy, Sawtooth, and more. All of them are considered to be extremely helpful and useful.
The cost of installing blockchain with the help of a Hyperledger project will include the infrastructure as well as development costs. Normally, this kind of approach is considered to be easier as the leading cloud computing providers offer Hyperledger infrastructure.
A lot of factors prove that Hyperledger is a better option. For example, being a readymade blockchain platform, Hyperledger takes care of many significant aspects including file sharing, encryption, consensus algorithm, and P2P network.
There are some other points that prove that utilizing Hyperledger during the development process is always easier. For example, you can be sure that your blockchain will definitely be secure – Hyperledger provides a high level of trust.
Community support is also guaranteed. Whenever you have any issues to address, the community of developers will do its best to resolve them. These communities are vibrant today and they keep on growing as the demand for Hyperledger projects grows (Captain Obvious).
The cherry on top is that thanks to a robust modular architecture, Hyperledger allows you to incorporate any features you want. In other words, Hyperledger projects are tremendously flexible and customizable.
The prospects for Hyperledger
So, here we are!
As you have seen, Hyperledger’s potential is just admirable, and the possibilities that it brings are enormous.
This sophisticated technology supplies you with the best and most relevant tools, guidelines, frameworks, and standards that help create the best applications possible.
Notwithstanding the fact that it was launched very recently, it’s stirred up the interest of the most famous industry giants, like IBM, Amazon, Visa, Walmart, and so on. And guess what? This list of users is bound to expand, and we will witness many more state-of-the-art projects.
Hyperledger’s architecture may seem not all that complex at first sight. However, when trying to understand how it functions, there can be a lot of pitfalls. ‘The further you get, the harder the going’ – as the proverb says. What’s more, each framework comes with its own peculiarities and requires technical expertise to be implemented and launched.
Whenever you make up your mind to give Hyperledger a shot yourself – rest assured that there’s a reliable, competent and experienced partner by your side. PixelPlex is always here to provide you with a free consultation and tell you everything about Hyperledger specifics.