CASE STUDY: HYPERLEDGER
Blockchain technology powers distributed ledgers and smart contracts, allowing the creation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Yet the most exciting applications for blockchain go beyond cryptocurrency. They are poised to transform entire industries–ranging from security, healthcare, financial services, and supply chain–through a shared platform that decentralizes control over data without compromising the security of sensitive information to help drive greater transparency and trust.
Blockchain technology is tantalizing to any network of organizations that want to record transactions between themselves, but either cannot depend on an intermediary that all parties trust, or that want to make that intermediary more efficient and substitutable.
Delivering on the full promise of blockchain across industries and use cases is only possible with an open source, collaborative effort. No vendor working alone has been able to address enterprise scenarios with widely varied requirements for decentralization, trust, continuity, and confirmation times.
The Linux Foundation recognizes the importance of expanding blockchain and advancing it across many industries. In February 2016, Hyperledger was seeded with 30 founding members, some of whom had internal efforts that needed the kind of home that The Linux Foundation could provide. They saw a need within the enterprise market for a flat, distributed, multi-party database ledger and smart contract system separate from cryptocurrencies. Through open source collaboration, this group began building blockchain technology building blocks to enable these types of systems.
Similar to The Linux Foundation, Hyperledger takes a modular, “greenhouse” approach to hosting projects. At the top level, The Linux Foundation and Hyperledger provide the infrastructure for open development to occur. This includes technical, legal, marketing, and organizational support.
Within Hyperledger’s greenhouse are several business blockchain frameworks and tools that take different approaches to creating blockchains for business: distributed ledger frameworks, smart contract engines, client libraries, graphical interfaces, utility libraries and sample applications. The overall strategy encourages developers to reuse common building blocks. There are currently five Hyperledger framework projects and a set of five tools.
“The Linux Foundation has achieved an unbelievable feat in bringing together a community of traditionally competitive institutions. To facilitate such extensive collaboration between startups, financial and non financial corporations and technology giants is an enormous win for the whole distributed ledger industry as firms look to leverage mutually beneficial code for the common good.”
– Blythe Masters, CEO, Digital Asset
Almost two years later, Hyperledger is the fastest-growing consortium hosted by The Linux Foundation. Built under The Linux Foundation’s model of technical governance and open collaboration, individual developers, service and solution providers, government associations, corporate members and end users are contributing in the development and promotion of blockchain technologies for business. Hyperledger brings together organizations and individuals across the globe, industry and competitive lines to establish protocols and standards that improve the performance and reliability of blockchain.
Hyperledger does not see there being one global chain-of-all chains to rule them all. Rather than driving all industries to convert to one chain, the project provides tools for businesses to build their own chains. Precisely how, and the pace at which, each industry adopts blockchain will surely vary. Ultimately, there will be many public chains and millions of private chain distributed ledger systems designed for specific marketplaces. They will interoperate over standards and ideally each use a common base of technology, much like how the Linux community uses the common kernel operating system. Potentially, each will have a different consensus mechanism, preferred smart contract language, and other unique characteristics.
In this environment, Hyperledger serves as a trusted source of innovative, quality-driven open source software development, creating modular components and platforms. Hyperledger is incubating and promoting enterprise-grade, open source business blockchain technologies, on top of which anyone can set up apps to meet their business needs.
By developing common distributed ledger technology that is shared, transparent and decentralized, the possibilities are endless. Much like the Apache web server project drove people to build their own websites, rather than encouraging everyone to just use one big site. The goal for the best-run open source projects isn’t just to solve some technical problem in an open way, but to be a long-term bedrock foundation for a software ecosystem. This is what the blockchain community needs today, and that’s why Hyperledger exists.
More than 200 member companies are backing Hyperledger, spanning several industries, including technology, financial services, manufacturing, supply chain, healthcare, real estate, and retail. Membership in Hyperledger has more than doubled over the past year, with global participation balanced across North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe and the Middle East. More than one-quarter of the project’s members are based in China.