Let’s start with the 2 projects that are available and production-ready that are Hyperledger Sawtooth and Hyperledger Fabric.
Hyperledger Sawtooth is a blockchain mainly developed by Intel that intends to test the functionality of a new consensus mechanism called Proof of Elapsed Time (PoeT) and to allow an enterprise to run distributed ledgers maintained without a central authority.
The PoeT is an algorithm that attempts to distribute network mining rights through a fair random system. It aims to eliminate environmental and energy-consumption issues underlying Proof of Work consensus algorithm used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The process follows a fair lottery system instead of rewarding the most powerful node. In short, each participating node in the network is required to wait for a randomly chosen time period, and the first one to complete the designated waiting time wins the new block.
In their presentation video, Hyperledger illustrates the potential of Sawtooth with the seafood supply chain, where Sawtooth provides an immutable record of provenance and lineage of various goods like fish. Thanks to Internet of Things (physical connected devices) and sensors combined with Sawtooth, it is possible to trace any fish’s journey from ocean to the table.
Sawtooth is written in Python and targeted at providing blockchains that could eventually be applied to the Internet of Things and various financial systems.
Hyperledger Fabric is a project driven under the mentoring of IBM. Surprinsingly, Fabric is the most widely adopted blockchain by the biggest enterprises. Indeed, using the Ethereum platform for companies to build applications on top of it is a constraint because Ethereum has its own protocol, thus is less flexible. What Hyperledger Fabric provides is a base to build a specific blockchain for a specific industry and run applications that are related to specific needs.
It’s not beginner friendly at all but it deserves credit to provide design and customization to meet precise requirements. Built as a modular framework where applications can easily scale up to any level, Fabric intends to provide basic blockchain services like transparency, decentralization and security.
Beside Sawtooth and Fabric, other projects are worth to mention.
Hyperledger Burrow which is a permissionable smart contract machine developed to the specification of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Hyperledger Indy which is a distributed ledger built for decentralized identities. It provides tools, libraries and reusable components for creating and using independent digital identities. It doesn’t use Proof of Work and uses blockchain-based identity solutions.
Hyperledger Iroha which is a blockchain framework designed to be simple and easy to incorporate into infrastructure projects that require distributed ledger technology.
Let’s put Burrow and Indy in perspective with a use case presented in the Hyperledger’s white paper.
Usually, banks gather personally identifiable information (PII) on every customer and prospect to assess a risk if a loan is asked. These information are sensitive and juicy target for hackers. Moreover, loan applicants often need to share these information with several banks to increase their chance to obtain a loan but also increase the chance for these information to be abused. With Hyperledger Indy, applicants can share only the information the banks need to make a decision without placing any personal data in the equation. Thanks to a secured blockchain, applicants can disclose the assessed information confidently and banks can conform with regulation and rely on this distributed ledger that acts as a source of truth. On top of that, we can imagine the Hyperledger Burrow that would turn the loan application into a smart contract, attaching identities to the loan.
Although most Hyperledger’s projects are still in the development phase, some companies have started using Sawtooth or Fabric as enabler for empowering their product or service. Everledger for instance is a company that tracks high-value goods on their blockchain. This latter was designed through Hyperledger Fabric allowing clients, authorities, lawyers, accounts and every intermediary of the diamond’s supply chain to transparently track the recording process of diamonds. This reduces jewelry fraud (estimated at millions of dollars) by replacing the paper-based tracking method with a digitized one.
And Everledger is not the only one who saw the potential of Hyperledger’s projects. Spearheaded by Intel and IBM, their massive clients portfolio is starting to pay attention to the opportunities offered by private blockchains. Fortunately, as Sawtooth and Fabric are up and running, companies’ enquirements about business use cases can be answered.
Anyhow, Hyerperledger’s projects are on the verge to answer an enormous market where needs for collaboration have never been bigger.
With this in mind, Hyperledger announced on October 1st a partnership with its direct competitor, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). EEA is the global standards organization driving the adoption of Enterprise Ethereum, a consortium of companies from start-ups to industry-leader to answer business needs through a private version of the Ethereum platform. Both organizations are now each other’s Associate Member and co-contribute to their development.
This significant partnership proves that because distributed ledgers are being built in various industries, an open source and collaborative development strategy supporting multiple players across the globe is required in order to realize the promise of blockchain.
The willingness of cross-industry mass adoption in the coming years that would deliver billions in economic value can not be achieve by one company alone.
CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty declared that what internet was to information, blockchain is to transactions in terms of making them really cheap to record and easy to verify. A concern extremely true for worldwide companies.
In that perspective and to make the technology more mature, an important acknowledgment has been made by he Linux Foundation:
- Bitcoin and Ethereum are hardly scalable due to a consensus that is needed to be found simultaneously by peers within the network
- Bitcoin and Ethereum do not support private transactions
Based on that, Hyperledger is trying to find new ways to achieve consensus no matter the size of the network and to build private blockchains to match business needs, leaving Proof of Work alongside.