Hyperledger is an umbrella project of open source Blockchain and related tools started in December 2015 by Linux Foundation. Hyperledger does not refer to any specific technology or tool rather it refers to a project where multiple teams are collaborating to develop open source and distributed ledger technology (DLT).
All of the Hyperledger initiatives fall under one of the following two categories:
- DLT Frameworks
DLT Framework Initiatives
There are four active DLT Framework initiatives that are led by different organizations:
- Hyperledger Sawtooth is led by Intel
- Hyperledger Iroha is led by Soramitsu
- Hyperledger Fabric: IBM open sourced its code for Open Blockchain and that got combined with the code from IBM partner Digital Asset. The end product is Hyperledger Fabric.
- Hyperledger Burrow is from Monax. Monax is known for creating a permissioned blockchain network on top of Ethereum blockchain.
There are four major tools projects. They are:
- Hyperledger Cello: This aims for simplifying the creation and management of blockchain networks. Deploying Cello provides a Blockchain-as-a-Service(BaaS) environment.
- Hyperledger Composer: It is used for creating and deploying business network applications (ie. smart contracts) over Hyperledger network using high-level composer language.
- Hyperledger Explorer: Provides visibility over a running Hyperledger blockchain network. This is a web-based application where one can view all the transactions and so on.
- Hyperledger Quilt: It is used for interoperability among multiple blockchain networks.
Hyperledger Fabric: A DLT for the Business
Hyperledger announces production ready Hyperledger Fabric on July 11, 2017. Hyperledger Fabric is a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for the Business.
The business application will require the DLT to have certain technology which may be different from the characteristics required from the public domain DLTs.
There are four characteristics that make Hyperledger Fabric suitable to build DLT based applications for businesses. They are:
- Permissioned network
- Confidential transaction
- No cryptocurrency required
1. Permissioned Network
Hyperledger Fabric allows businesses to create a permissioned network. This means the owner of the network controls who can access and do what on the business network.
Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain networks where anyone can create a wallet and start a transaction, in Hyperledger Fabric network, the admin of the business network needs to create participants with proper authentication details and roles before they start interacting.
In a business network, the participants are known and they need to have proper authentication and role assigned.
2. Confidential Transaction
Business conduct transactions among multiple other businesses. A business may require not to make all the transactions visible to everyone.
Consider a scenario where A, B, and C are participants in a DLT based business network application. So any transaction between anyone will be visible to A, B, and C.
Now if A and C want to conduct a confidential transaction between them, they may create a private channel between them and execute the transaction. Any transaction from A and C over this private channel will be visible only to A and C.
In Hyperledger Fabric business can create multiple private channels and through the DLT application participants can commit confidential transactions over these channels.
3. No cryptocurrency
In Hyperledger Fabric there is no concept of cryptocurrency for interacting with the network.
Whereas in public blockchain network like Ethereum, to conduct a transaction the participant needs to pay gas (ie. certain amount of Ethereum). Blockchain network is a peer to peer network. So in public blockchain network like Ethereum, it is necessary to incentivize the peers to keep the network running.
But in Hyperledger Fabric network a business is investing to set up its own network and it does not need to pay incentive to keep the network running.
And this is a big relief for business as it does not need to think about the distribution of the cryptocurrencies to its business parties to connect to its network.
Hyperledger Fabric is programmable. Developers can develop chain code which is similar to the concept of Smart Contract of Ethereum and other blockchain networks.
Chaincode automates the business processes. Participants of a business network can execute chaincode on the context of a transaction which then gets recorded in the ledger for that specific channel.
Hope this introductory article on Hyperledger Fabric clarified why this distributed ledger technology became popular for the setting up blockchain network for the businesses. In the upcoming articles, I will discuss how Hyperledger Fabric works.