What Is Hyperledger?
The world of cryptocurrencies has evolved dramatically in the past few years. The technology needed to support these digital currencies, as well as blockchain networks and blockchain ledgers has also changed significantly. Hyperledger, or more accurately, the Hyperledger project, is a combination of several different tools and open-source solutions to support the development and distribution of those ledgers.
What Does Hyperledger Do?
According to the Hyperledger website, “Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration including leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology.”
Is Hyperledger a company, or a cryptocurrency itself? No, it’s not. It’s closer to a consortium of interrelated tools and services designed to support non-currency blockchain projects and initiatives. You can think of it is as a hub, or an umbrella project, and it was originally created by the Linux Foundation.
Does Hyperledger Support Cryptocurrencies?
It’s important to note that while cryptocurrencies make use of blockchains, Hyperledger does not directly support those digital currencies. With blockchains, a new generation of applications will be built to help ensure transparency and accountability within the cryptocurrency sector, but this will also apply to numerous other areas, ranging from healthcare to manufacturing and everything in between.
What Is Hyperledger All About?
While the language used by the Hyperledger website to describe its purpose and function is more than a little confusing, a few things can be gleaned. First, it’s a network formed of members (both companies and individuals). In reality, Hyperledger focuses on recruiting members from the software development industry, as well as technology and finance companies. The point of Hyperledger is to build blockchain networks and coordinate the development of related tools, techniques and technologies.
A quick glance at the list of the 100-plus members now part of Hyperledger reveals some familiar names. These include:
- American Express
- Wells Fargo
- Deutche Borse
Obviously, this is just a partial list, but it exemplifies the types of industry leaders taking part. You’ll also find the heads of many other companies, most of which have extensive experience not only with blockchain development, but also with open source projects (think Apache and the W3C Consortium).
Hyperledger is led by a committee made up of 20 executives. There is also a steering committee, comprised of an additional 12 people. Most of these individuals also have significant experience with blockchain development, as well.
Really, perhaps the best way to describe the purpose of Hyperledger in layman’s terms is to relate it to the way a local chamber of commerce might host networking events. At such events, attendees would be introduced to other business leaders in the area, and get to know some of the more important developments. The same can be said for Hyperledger. Members are provided with tools and solutions, software and techniques, but also with connections to others in the industry, including developers and experts who might be able to provide knowledge, guidance or even skills.
Existing Blockchain Frameworks
There are currently five business blockchain frameworks in existence, all of which are hosted with Hyperledger. These include the following:
Burrow: This is a modular blockchain client that features a permissioned smart contract interpreter. It was developed partially to specifications of the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
Fabric: Created by IBM, this is a plug-and-play component designed to help design fast-scaling blockchain applications with permissions in a flexible manner.
Iroha: Iroha was developed by several Japanese firms in an attempt to create a blockchain framework that can be easily incorporated.
Sawtooth: Developed by Intel, Sawtooth is a suite of modular tools that rely on PoeT (Proof of Elapsed Time), which is a new consensus algorithm.
Indy: Indy is a collection of libraries, tools and multi-use components related to digital identities for use with distributed ledgers and blockchains.
Developer Tools and Solutions
In addition to the modules and platforms mentioned above, Hyperledger also offers a number of tools and solutions for developers. These include Cello, which is used for blockchain deployment, and was built by IBM, Composer, which is a package management tool for blockchains, and Explorer, which is an analytics tool developed jointly by Intel, IBM and DTCC. Indy was originally classified as a developer tool, but has since been reclassified as a platform according to the Hyperledger website.
The Future for Hyperledger
As mentioned, Hyperledger focuses primarily on non-monetary blockchain development. Several of the projects that have been detailed to the public are geared in this direction, including both Sawtooth and Fabric. Other areas of development currently include finance, healthcare and supply chain applications. However, there has been little information released concerning these projects. Ultimately, the success of Hyperledger is yet to be realized, but the future does appear bright based on successful early projects.
Building a blockchain for business with the Hyperledger Project