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Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) have represented a profound change for financial institutions. Hyperledger has made a major contribution to development thanks to its open-source governance structure aimed at helping technology companies create applications based on blockchain technology.
Today we will show you in depth what Hyperledger is, how its structure works and we will make a quick overview of its most outstanding projects.
What is Hyperledger and how does it work?
How it is defined on its official website: “Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technologies across industries. It is a global collaboration, organized by The Linux Foundation, that includes leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chain, manufacturing and technology.”
The Hyperledger project was created in December 2015 by the San Francisco, California-based Linux Foundation to help advance blockchain for enterprises by forming a consortium of companies. In its early days it started with 30 members.
Hyperledger currently includes more than 200 leading companies such as Bosch, IBM, Samsung, Microsoft, Hitachi, American Express, JP Morgan and Visa, as well as a host of blockchain-based startups such as Blockforce and ConsenSys.
Hyperledger’s philosophy is based on the creation of multiple private blockchains with separate markets, customized for each business, given their uniqueness. That is, the goal is not to force (as Ethereum does, for example) developers to create applications around generalized protocols.
The Hyperledger project began with testing interactions between applications and secure blockchain networks.
During several tests, the developers involved in the project realized that in blockchain networks, where it is necessary to validate transactions and execute consensus at the same time, there is a big scalability problem. There are transactions that need confidentiality and privacy that cannot be executed on public blockchain.
For example, let’s imagine that a customer A in Spain wants to buy online a bottle of good wine from a merchant B in France and that merchant B wants to give him a special discount for being a trusted customer.
To buy such a product requires many third parties to complete the transaction, who probably have to verify various aspects of the product such as: quality verification, logistical verification, payment verification and others. But these third parties do not need to know about the confidential deal between customer A and merchant B as seller B almost certainly sells to more customers and markets at standard rates.
Then, thanks to Hyperledger, in a public blockchain network, every ledger on the network will be updated on the deal as miners will have to validate to add transactions to the blockchain.
Therefore, using the components available in Hyperledger, a company can apply various modular blockchain solutions and services to improve the efficiency of its business processes.
Given the growing popularity of blockchain technology, many companies wanted to start working with this technology and many of them, defined as ‘forward-looking’ companies, understood that by pooling their resources, they would have been able to achieve a higher degree of innovation.
Thus the main goal of Hyperledger has been to gather the resources of all participating companies to make blockchain technology more widely accepted and become industrial grade technology.
This is the general objective. But, behind the creation of Hyperledger there are other reasons that we list below:
- Create distributed, open source, enterprise-level accounting frameworks and codebases to support business transactions
- Provide a neutral, open, community-driven infrastructure backed by technical and commercial governance.
- Build technical communities to develop shared accounting and blockchain POCs, use cases, field paths and implementations.
- Educate the public about the market opportunity for blockchain technology.
- Promote your community of communities by adopting a toolset approach with many platforms and frameworks.
On its website Hyperledger explains that:
“Hyperledger does not back Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. But the platform is enchanted by blockchain technology. Since the Web itself “has not promised a broader and more fundamental technology than blockchain technology.” Blockchain has the potential to “build a new generation of transactional applications that establish trust, accountability and transparency at their core, while streamlining business processes and legal constraints.”
Hyperledger promotes a wide range of blockchain technologies. It currently has six very novel and popular projects:
Image source: Hyperledger.org
It is an Ethereum client designed to be enterprise friendly for permissioned public and private network use cases. Hyperledger Besu includes several consensus algorithms including PoW and PoA (IBFT, IBFT 2.0, Etherhash and Clique).
It is a unique full binary blockchain distribution focused on simplicity, speed and developer ergonomics. It runs smart contract code on Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and WASM and uses BFT consensus via the Tendermint algorithm.
This project is led by IBM. It is a plug and play implementation of blockchain technology designed for the development of applications or solutions with a modular architecture, based on blockchain for enterprise use.
It offers a unique consensus approach that enables large-scale performance while preserving privacy.
Hyperledger Indy provides reusable tools, libraries and components to provide digital identities rooted in blockchain or other distributed ledgers to be interoperable across administrative domains, applications and any other silos. Indy is interoperable with other blockchains or can be used independently to drive identity decentralization.
Launched in May 2019, and hosted by the Linux Foundation, it is a blockchain platform designed to be easily integrated into various commercial uses that require distributed accounting technology. For example, the platform can be used to help businesses and governments with identity management.
Developed by the Linux Foundation in collaboration with IBM, Intel and SAP, Sawtooth aims to keep distributed ledgers and make smart contracts much more secure and suitable for businesses. It is a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) implementation.
Hyperledger Sawtooth offers a modular and flexible architecture that separates the core system from the application domain and supports a variety of consensus algorithms, including Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) and Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET).
These 6 projects under the Hyperledger umbrella follow the design methodology that supports a modular and extensible approach, interoperability and security features.
It is very important to remember that these projects are independent of a particular token or cryptocurrency.
Hyperledger currently has more than 100 members that include a wide list of well-known industry leaders. Among them we find IT companies such as IBM, Fujitsu, SAP, Huawei, Nokia, Intel and Samsung, mobility technology giants such as Airbus and Daimler, financial institutions such as American Express, J.P. Morgan, BBVA, BNP Paribas, as well as Blockchain startups such as Blockstream, Netki, Lykke and Consensys.
While most other blockchain projects focus on cryptocurrencies and tokens this has made Hyperledger the backbone of industrial and high scale applications of blockchain technology.