If you have been keeping pace with the Blockchain sector, you are most likely to have come across the term ‘Hyperledger’. As the world is gradually focusing on decentralization, many Blockchain projects have continued to support Blockchain development. In the world of Blockchain, the two notable names are Ethereum and Bitcoin, which are the media favorites.

However, one of the Blockchain projects has not been receiving adequate attention in the media. On the other hand, this new project has also been crucial in simplifying the work of Blockchain developers. Just like other blockchains being started from scratch for different objectives, the Linux Foundation came up with the Hyperledger Project for a specific reason.

The basic objective of the Hyperledger is the democratization and standardization of Blockchain for the business landscape. Hyperledger ensures a combination of cross-industry knowledge for helping enterprises address their issues effectively. Hyperledger achieves this by enabling organizations to build custom Blockchain apps, capable of addressing certain business requirements.

Amidst the lack of clear information on what exactly Hyperledger is, it is not possible to gain a straightforward understanding of Hyperledger like you would find with cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Most important of all, people are likely to encounter various confusions in understanding the exact definition of Hyperledger.

In some cases, people can easily confuse Hyperledger with other Blockchain technologies available presently. So, before understanding what Hyperledger is, it is very important to understand what it is not. Basically, Hyperledger is not a cryptocurrency or a company or a Blockchain.

Now, the discussion can move towards achieving an in-depth understanding of Hyperledger, its necessity, its working, and the various Hyperledger projects. In addition, you would also need insights on the notable modifications in Hyperledger and its potential to serve as the foundation of non-monetary, industrial Blockchain technology.

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Defining Hyperledger: What is It?

Hyperledger is an open-source project, focused on collaboration for improving cross-industry Blockchain technologies. Initiated by the Linux Foundation, the Hyperledger project aptly utilizes the power of global collaboration among leaders in the Internet of Things, technology, finance, banking, manufacturing, and supply chains.

Hyperledger project also aims at improving collaboration between developers, enterprises, and businesses in the sector of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). The Hyperledger project presently includes a wide variety of projects and frameworks that can help businesses and developers in creating Blockchain applications and networks.

The Director of Hyperledger, Brian Behlendorf, provides the most simple and self-explaining definition of Hyperledger to offer a reliable impression of the exact nature of the technology.

According to the director, Hyperledger is an open-source community encompassing other communities for providing benefits to an ecosystem of Hyperledger-based solution providers and users focusing on Blockchain-based use cases applicable throughout different industrial sectors.

Presently, over 250 organizations support Hyperledger, and more organizations are also joining in as time passes. The list of organizations supporting Hyperledger presently includes notable tech giants such as IBM, Samsung, Daimler, SAP, Nokia, JP Morgan, Huawei, American Express, Fujitsu, and Blockchain startups such as Consensys and Blockstream.

The director of Hyperledger also states that without the need for pushing a digital currency, Hyperledger can bypass many challenges related to the maintenance of a globally consistent currency. As a result, the Hyperledger Project has grown strong over the years and has tailored the objectives of developing industrial Blockchain applications.

In addition, Hyperledger could also stay miles away from the lucrative schemes that generally evolve from the currency-based blockchains. The Hyperledger project provides many opportunities and involves more than 28,000 participants, with around 3.6 million lines of code.

Presently (as of July, 2020), Hyperledger includes 10 projects along with 6 tools and 6 frameworks.

You can classify the Hyperledger Project into two specific sections, such as modular tools and modular frameworks. Now that you know about the definition of Hyperledger, it would be reasonable to focus on its necessity in present times.

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Know the Significance of Hyperledger

One of the notable events during rigorous testing is the necessity for all peers to ensure validation of each single transaction while running consensus simultaneously. As a result, developers encounter notable setbacks pertaining to scalability according to these conditions. In addition, public blockchains are also not suitable for executing transactions that require specific levels of confidentiality and privacy.

Public blockchains require exhaustive measures for ensuring the integrity of a transaction and could risk the confidentiality of a transaction. For example, John living in the U.S.A. wants to purchase some products from Serena in the UK, and Serena agrees to sell her products to John at a discounted rate because they were old friends. However, it is noteworthy in this case that Serena wants to keep that discount secret as she also sells her products in other markets and requires the markets to purchase from her at standard rates.

In addition, many other third parties are involved in taking the product from Serena to John and completing the transaction. The third parties could emphasize the verification of many aspects of the product, such as quality assurance, payment verification, logistics verification, and many others. However, third parties do not have to know about the special deal between Serena and John.

In the case of a public Blockchain network, all ledgers on the network would be updated about the deal because miners verify and add transactions in blocks to the chain. A closer reflection on the working of Hyperledger can help in understanding how it can be effective in such cases, thereby proving its significance. In a Hyperledger based network, peers associated with a deal are connected with only the ledgers getting updated about the deal.

Only the third parties involved in executing the transactions should know about the exact information needed through permissions and regulations imposed on the network. Let us take the example of John and Serena’s deal again to see how Hyperledger can support the transaction between them. In a Hyperledger network, John and Serena can execute their special transaction by searching for John through an application that queries a membership service.

After validating the membership, the two peers can be connected, followed by the generation of results, and in this transaction, both the results have to be the same for validation. In the case of the involvement of multiple parties, multiple rules can be implemented for the transaction on the Hyperledger network. The transactions generated are ordered and then sent to a consensus cloud, after which the transactions are committed to the respective ledgers.

After verification of the transaction in the consensus cloud, John can receive his products, and the transactions are committed to the ledger. With the clarity regarding the definition of Hyperledger and its significance and working, we can now proceed towards the various types of Hyperledger projects and tools that support Blockchain development for a better understanding of the Hyperledger landscape.

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An Insight into the Hyperledger Projects

Hyperledger complies with an umbrella strategy that provides support and incubation for a wide variety of business Blockchain technologies. Some of the notable technologies, in this case, include references to graphical interfaces, applications and libraries, smart contract engines, and distributed ledger frameworks. One of the notable highlights of Hyperledger is the promotion of reusing building blocks and driving innovation for distributed ledger technology components.

  • Hyperledger Fabric

The foundation of Hyperledger Fabric is a modular architecture, and it is a distributed ledger platform capable of delivering resiliency, confidentiality, flexibility, and scalability. Hyperledger Fabric is specifically ideal for offering pluggable implementation for various components. As a result, it can address many complexities that are present throughout the economic ecosystem.

Rather than a permissionless open system that can allow unknown participants access to the network, Hyperledger Fabric allows access to members through a trusted membership service provider. The ledger subsystem of Hyperledger Fabric includes two components, such as the world state and the transaction log. The world state is the component that provides a description of the state of the ledger at a particular point of time.

On the other hand, the transaction log can provide a recording of all transactions which have generated the existing value of the world state. Therefore, in the case of Hyperledger Fabric, you can perceive a ledger as the combination of the world state database and transaction log history. The smart contracts in Hyperledger Fabric written in chaincode can be invoked upon the need for interaction between the application and the ledger.

Presently, chaincodes can be written in Node and Go programming languages. Hyperledger Fabric is ideal for supporting systems that present privacy as a notable requirement and allows network starters to select a consensus algorithm. The consensus algorithm provides a representation of the best relationship between network participants.

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  • Hyperledger Burrow

Hosted by the Linux Foundation, this is one of the Hyperledger projects that have provided a modular Blockchain client for the development of a permissible smart contract machine that comes with specifications with an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

The notable capabilities of Hyperledger Burrow refer to better transaction finality and higher transaction throughput on the basis of a proof-of-stake consensus engine. The effectiveness of Hyperledger Burrow is primarily based on the effectiveness of its components. The first component in Burrow is the consensus engine that facilitates transaction orders and execution through Byzantine Fault-Tolerant Tendermint Protocol.

As a result, Burrow can achieve higher throughput for a specific set of well-recognized validators and safeguarding the Blockchain from forking. The next component in Hyperledger Burrow is a smart contract application. The smart contract application ensures validation of transactions to the application state in the priority finalized by the consensus engine. The application state includes a validator set, name registry, and all related accounts.

The accounts on Hyperledger Burrow can correlate with public-private key pair alongside including smart contract code. Transactions interacting with the smart contract code can run the code of an account on a virtual machine with required permissions. The Application Blockchain Interface (ABI) is also a crucial component in Hyperledger Burrow as it enables interaction between the consensus engine and smart contract application.

The ABI also enables the formulation of transactions in binary format for ease of processing by the Blockchain nodes. The tools for Hyperledger Burrow can ensure the functionality for deployment, compilation, and linking smart contracts crafted in Solidity.

In addition, the tools on Hyperledger Burrow can help execute transactions for calling smart contracts on the chain. The final component of Hyperledger Burrow is the API Gateway through JSON-RPC and REST endpoints for communication with application state and Blockchain network through querying the latest state of the application or broadcasting transactions.

  • Hyperledger Indy

The primary objective of building the Hyperledger Indy project was to provide a decentralized identity. Indy serves as a distributed ledger providing libraries and reusable components as well as tools for the creation of digital identities on Blockchain. Hyperledger Indy provides an ecosystem to ensure a robust, private, and secure identity.

In addition, Indy also focuses on allowing users comprehensive control over their data and ensuring safeguards for their identifiable information from hacking and privacy breaches. Without storage of private data of users on the Hyperledger Indy ledger, it involves the use of Blockchain to allow privileges to third parties for validating that trusted organizations have issued the private credentials. Hyperledger Indy employs the Redundant Byzantine Fault Tolerance for ordering and validation.

  • Hyperledger Iroha

Hyperledger Iroha is an ideal Hyperledger project for building secure, robust, and trusted Blockchain applications through the Byzantine Fault-Tolerant (BFT) Consensus algorithm. The platform can support the management of identity, digital assets, and serialized data. Therefore, Hyperledger Iroha is ideally applicable for applications such as logistics, national IDs, interbank settlement, and central bank digital currencies.

Hyperledger Iroha does not support any native cryptocurrency and could interact with the system only through permissions. Furthermore, Iroha also involves allowing permissions for queries, thereby providing support for data access control. In addition, Hyperledger Iroha also contains prebuilt commands that enable users to carry out tasks such as the creation and transfer of digital assets.

The BFT Algorithm serves as the consensus algorithm in Hyperledger Iroha, thereby providing higher performance alongside enabling transactions with limited latency. Iroha can restrict the attack vector and improve the overall security of the system, which improves its popularity. Peers in Hyperledger Iroha serve as validation nodes capable of distributing partially-signed transactions on the gossip protocol, in accordance with multi-signature transactions.

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  • Hyperledger Sawtooth

Hyperledger Sawtooth is one of the popular Hyperledger projects that serve as an enterprise Blockchain platform for building distributed ledger applications and networks. The Hyperledger Sawtooth project has a design that maintains the distribution of ledgers alongside ensuring the safety of smart contracts. Hyperledger Sawtooth provides support for Blockchain development through isolation of the core system from the app domain.

Developers also have the option of specifying business rules in the language of their preference. Most importantly, the modularity of Sawtooth enables enterprises to select permissions, consensus algorithms, and transaction rules according to business requirements. Applications developed using Hyperledger Sawtooth include the definition of custom transaction processors in accordance with particular requirements.

The SDKs for transaction processors with Sawtooth are available in different languages capable of simplifying the creation of new contract languages like Java, Python, Go, JavaScript, Rust, and C++. Users can access an advanced parallel scheduler that allows the division of transactions into parallel flows, thereby enabling the execution of transactions in parallel. So, users can prevent double-spending with different modifications to the same state.

The results of Parallel Transaction Execution provide better performance than serial execution. Hyperledger Sawtooth also supports Ethereum Contract Compatibility with the Sawtooth-Ethereum integration project, Seth. The Seth transaction family enables the deployment of smart contracts capable of running on Ethereum Virtual Machine to the Hyperledger Sawtooth platform.

Sawtooth utilizes different consensus algorithms on a specific Blockchain selected initially during network setup, which can be subject to changes on a running Blockchain containing a transaction. Hyperledger Sawtooth presently supports consensus implementations such as Dev Mode, Proof of Elapsed Time, and PoET Simulator. In addition, the implementation of a transaction language and data model happens through a transaction family. The transaction family includes IntegerKey, Settings, and Identity.

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  • Hyperledger Grid

The final addition among Hyperledger Projects is Hyperledger Grid, which is ideal for supply chains. It is clearly evident that supply chain management serves as one of the most favorable use cases of the distributed ledger. Therefore, the Hyperledger community has embarked on the mission to emphasize the development of supply chain solutions through shared and reusable tools. Hyperledger Grid also possesses shared capabilities for improving the speed of development of distributed ledgers, suitable for cross-industry supply chain solutions.

Hyperledger Grid can provide reference implementations of smart contract-based business logic, data models based on existing industry best practices and open standards, and supply chain-centric data types. It is important to note that Grid is not a Blockchain or an application. On the contrary, it serves as a landscape of frameworks, technologies, and libraries working in unison to enable developers to select ideal components for their market model.

List of Top Hyperledger Tools

The Hyperledger Project ecosystem also encompasses various tools that have unique functionalities. The Hyperledger tools not only strengthen the understanding of the Hyperledger landscape but also provide the basis for understanding the applications of Hyperledger in different industries. Here are some of the notable Hyperledger tools you can find presently.

  • Hyperledger Caliper is a Blockchain benchmark tool hosted by the Linux Foundation to enable users to compute the performance of a particular Blockchain implementation on the basis of certain predefined use cases.
  • Hyperledger Cello is the Blockchain module toolkit that fosters the on-demand ‘as-a-service’ deployment model for the Blockchain ecosystem.
  • Hyperledger Composer serves as an open development framework and toolset for easier development of Blockchain applications and smart contracts.
  • Hyperledger Ursa is the shared cryptographic library that enables users to prevent replication of other cryptographic work.
  • Hyperledger Explorer serves as the Blockchain module tailored specifically for the creation of user-driven web applications.
  • Hyperledger Quilt is the business Blockchain tool that facilitates interoperability among ledger systems through the implementation of Inter Ledger Protocol.

Real-Life Implementation of Hyperledger Projects

The final aspect to thoroughly understand the Hyperledger ecosystem is a reflection on real-life examples of the applications developed through Hyperledger Projects.

One of the foremost examples is evident in the case of IBM. IBM is presently developing an application for Postal Savings Bank of China by leveraging Hyperledger Fabric and Node.js for SDK and application layer building. In addition, IBM is leveraging the Golang programming language for the development of chaincodes, and the project is currently in the production stage, as of date, year.

Another prominent example of applications in production, built on HyperledgerFabric, is HealthVerity, a cloud-based SaaS application providing the opportunity to organizations to manage and govern consent rights throughout internal systems and external suppliers.

Companies are leveraging the HealthVerity application requirements for the maintenance of individual consent rights that ensure compliance with privacy laws such as HIPAA, CCPA, GDPR, and TCPA.

The use of Hyperledger Projects is also evident in the example of TE-Food, a food traceability ecosystem on Blockchain. TE-Food aims at achieving comprehensive control over monitoring food quality and logistic activities in the supply chain. Presently under production, the TE-Food application aims to achieve traceability of food from farm to table. As a result, it can bring promising outcomes such as improved customer trust, reduction of food trust, and better assurance regarding the safety of food. 

Some of the other applications based on Hyperledger projects that are presently in the pilot stage are TechAID and DigiPharm. TechAID aims to provide transparency and better traceability throughout charity and remittances, while DigiPharm pursues the introduction of value-based payments in healthcare with Blockchain and smart contracts.

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What’s Next?

Hyperledger Protocols aim at creating a foundation for non-monetary industrial applications based on Blockchain technology. So, the potential impact of Hyperledger on the adoption of Blockchain technology, in the long run, presents notable promises for the Hyperledger ecosystem.

A thorough understanding of the projects, tools, and frameworks in the Hyperledger ecosystem enables a new perspective of separating Blockchain from the conventional relationship with cryptocurrency. It’s high time to consider the applications of Blockchain technology beyond monetary purposes and extract the maximum potential from it. With many brand names supporting Hyperledger projects and some examples of applications based on Hyperledger, the road ahead promises not to be too uncertain. 

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*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!