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What Makes the Hyperledger Project Different to Other Blockchains?

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hyperledger feature

The Hyperledger Project is a collection of open source blockchains and development tools that the Linux Foundation runs. Supported by major tech companies like IBM and Intel, Hyperledger often appears in the same blockchain conversations as Ethereum.

But what is the Hyperledger Project?

What is the Hyperledger Project?

The Linux Foundation first announced the Hyperledger Project back in December 2015. Hyperledger is a collaborative development project spanning several different individual tools, blockchains, and platforms. There is no single “Hyperledger.” Rather, several Hyperledger projects are working under the same name, under the direction of The Linux Foundation.

“Hyperledger is an open source development project to benefit an ecosystem of Hyperledger based solution providers and users. It is focused on blockchain related use cases that will work under a variety of industrial sectors.”

Wait, what is a blockchain, anyway?

The Hyperledger Greenhouse

The Linux Foundation refers to the collection as The Hyperledger Greenhouse:

hyperledger fabric greenhouse

Hyperledger comprises six frameworks and seven tools.

Frameworks

  • Burrow: Hyperledger Burrow is a modular blockchain client that uses a built-to-spec version of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
  • Fabric: Hyperledger Fabric is probably the most well known Hyperledger blockchain framework. Fabric allows for the development and use of plug and play blockchain components. There’s more on Hyperledger Fabric in the following section.
  • Grid: Hyperledger Grid is a blockchain framework targeting supply-chain data, data models, and smart contract integrations.
  • Indy: Hyperledger Indy is a ledger framework focusing on providing blockchain-based identification services.
  • Iroha: Hyperledger Iroha is a smart contract engine and utility library with a focus on mobile applications. It uses a Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus algorithm to scale efficiently.
  • Sawtooth: Hyperledger Sawtooth is a modular platform for building distributed ledgers. There’s more on Hyperledger Sawtooth in the following section.

Tools

  • Aries: Hyperledger Aries is a shared interoperable blockchain toolkit with a focus on delivering and developing digital credentials.
  • Caliper: Hyperledger Caliper is a blockchain performance measurement tool, producing reports containing metrics like Transactions Per Second, transaction and blockchain latency, and resource utilization. The Linux Foundation intend Caliper to be the go-to blockchain measurement tool for other Hyperledger projects.
  • Cello: Hyperledger Cello is a blockchain module toolkit that allows blockchain owners to manage their deployments easier.
  • Composer: Hyperledger Composer is a set of tools for building a blockchain business network, enabling business owners to collaborate, build, and rapidly deploy smart contracts and blockchain applications to solve problems.
  • Explorer: Hyperledger Explorer is a blockchain module that allows blockchain developers to create user-friendly web applications which, in turn, allow the blockchain users to view and query blocks and transactions.
  • Quilt: Hyperledger Quilt uses the Interledger protocol to provide support for payments across ledgers, even providing support for atomic swaps between ledgers.
  • Ursa. Hyperledger Ursa is a cryptographic library that enables blockchain developers and projects to avoid reusing cryptographic work, increasing security in the process. Ursa will comprise two libraries: a “base crypto” library containing the main shared cryptographic signatures, and “Z-mix,” which will offer a generic method to create zero-knowledge proofs and prove statements about the cryptographic status of a blockchain.

Of the frameworks and tools, Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth are the most well known at the current time.

Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Fabric is a permissioned blockchain infrastructure originally contributed by IBM, now lead by The Linux Foundation. Fabric has a modular architecture. That means a Fabric blockchain deployment can use plug and play modules to build a blockchain to specification.

The guiding idea behind a plug and play modular blockchain is scalability, allowing businesses and enterprise users an easier method of rapidly increasing blockchain capacity to thousands of transactions per second.

There are a couple of things that make Fabric an exciting project.

First, Hyperledger Fabric networks use two types of nodes: Peer Nodes, and Ordered Nodes. Peer Nodes execute Fabric smart contracts (called “Chaincode,” more on this in a moment), access ledger data, and act as the dApp interface. Ordered nodes check the consistency of the blockchain, ensuring transactions deliver to the network peers, as well as managing the implementation and authentication of cryptographic certificates.

Second, a Fabric deployment uses Chaincode to execute smart contracts. Chaincode is a piece of code written in either Go or Node.js, and there is a Fabric Chaincode module that provides support for Java. All in all, it makes Fabric an extremely flexible blockchain platform, open to developers, and potentially more useful than other closed Smart Contract languages.

Hyperledger Sawtooth

Hyperledger Sawtooth is a modular distributed ledger technology (DLT) originally contributed by Intel, now lead by The Linux Foundation.

Sawtooth aims to keep ledgers truly distributed by segregating the “core” ledger from application-specific environments. In other words, Sawtooth will stop the overlap between a blockchain and a dApp, potentially simplifying the development process and maintenance thereafter.

Practically, Sawtooth allows dApp development in a wide range of programming languages. Developers can use C++, Go, Java, JavaScript, Python, or Rust to develop their dApp without ever having to interfere with the blockchain.

Hyperledger Sawtooth also uses the Proof of Elapsed Time consensus algorithm to provide a low energy blockchain option.

One of the biggest differences between Fabric and Sawtooth is their blockchain permissions. Sawtooth blockchains can operate as either a limited public or permissioned blockchain, whereas Fabric is a permissioned blockchain.

Does the Hyperledger Project Have a Cryptocurrency Token?

The Hyperledger Project doesn’t issue any form of cryptocurrency token. Hyperledger Executive Director, Brian Behlendorf, confirmed as much in a video released back in 2016.

“You’ll never see a Hyperledger coin. By not pushing a currency, we avoid so many political challenges of having to maintain a globally consistent currency.”

Without a cryptocurrency to manage, The Linux Foundation is free to run the Hyperledger Project as a pure blockchain project. The lack of a token clearly defines it from other projects, in that the development of the tools doesn’t require bending to the whims of a single token or blockchain project.

The Hyperledger Project Charter further confirms Behlendorf’s stance.

The Hyperledger Project Will Continue to Grow

The two Hyperledger frameworks, Fabric and Sawtooth, are currently pushing the Hyperledger Project forwards. But the sheer range of tools and frameworks in development under the Hyperledger Greenhouse illustrate how important The Linux Foundation’s project is to blockchain, crypto, and dApp developers.

The contributions from major tech companies should not be understated, either. Intel, IBM, Huawei, Ripple, and Oracle are just some of the names that have worked with or are currently contributing to Hyperledger projects. And don’t forget that Amazon’s blockchain services will use Hyperledger Fabric, too.

Gavin Phillips
Gavin saw the potential in Bitcoin back in 2010, but was a dirt poor student living on eggs and without a penny to invest. Since then, he’s been tracking the development of cryptocurrency and blockchain, and he’s written about blockchain for several publications and ICO whitepapers, including Envilope.

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