Not all blockchain projects are created equal. While we’ve seen a whole host of cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based projects, Hyperledger is a bit different. It’s not a cryptocurrency, or a company, or a type of blockchain.
Rather, it’s a collaborative melting pot for some of the world’s biggest companies looking to explore blockchain-based solutions to big problems.
What is Hyperledger?
Hyperledger is a project hosted by the Linux Foundation to help developers and companies work together to build collaborative blockchain projects. It’s a collective of open-source blockchains and tools that anyone can use to create their own distributed ledgers.
The idea is to create cross-industry collaboration, allowing blockchain-based projects to interact. By comparison, the ledgers at the heart of most cryptocurrencies cannot interact with each other.
Like Linux’s operating system, Hyperledger is open-source, allowing others to freely build on top of it. This has lead to a flurry of different projects from some of the world’s biggest companies.
- Hyperledger Sawtooth – A modular blockchain suite developed by Intel.
- Hyperledger Iroha – A consortium of Japanese companies focusing on implementing hyperledger for mobile.
- Hyperledger Fabric – An IBM lead project that supports widely used coding languages like Java.
- Hyperledger Indy – A project designed specifically for projects based around individual identity.
- Hyperledger Besu – An open-source Ethereum client that can be used to develop dapps and smart contracts.
Early on in the project’s development, people wondered if Hyperledger should have its own coin. However, the executive director of the project said, “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.”
Who invented Hyperledger?
The Linux foundation first announced the platform in December 2015.
A brief history
- December 2016 – Launches with 30 founding corporate members.
- April 2017 – Apache Software Foundation co-founder Brian Behlendor is appointed executive director of the project.
- September 2017 – Hyperledger describes itself as a “business blockchain umbrella”.
- December 2017 – Nearly 200 corporate and associate members are registered with the project.
- January 2018 – Hyperledger becomes the fastest-growing project the Linux Project has ever launched.
- October 2018 – Hyperledger becomes an Associate Member of the the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (and vice versa).
- November 2019 – Hyperledger announces its Certified Service Provider (HCSP) program, supporting organizations that help with enterprise adoption. Members include companies such as Accenture, Hitachi, IBM, Tencent and Ant Financial.
- January 2020 – Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 launches.
What is so special about Hyperledger?
There are more than 240 organizations actively supporting Hyperledger’s development. It’s a very different approach from how most blockchain products have been built up until now.
On top of that, the Linux Foundation has created a whole suite of free tools alongside Hyperledger to help others.
- Hyperledger Caliper – lets users measure the performance of a blockchain
- Hyperledger Cello – a blockchain as a service tool
- Hyperledger Composer – a tool for building blockchain business networks
Hyperledger has its own charter laying out the direction of the project. “Create an enterprise-grade, open-source distributed ledger framework and code base.”
How does Hyperledger work?
Hyperledger’s aim is to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of different businesses—so it’s modular in its design. That allows different teams to take different approaches.
At present, there is a range of different consensus protocols being used on Hyperledger projects. Teams can bolt together and build their own custom blockchains using the tools provided.
This is a very different approach to the consensus approach of networks likeand which have to get the whole community to agree on changes.
Some 159 engineers from 27 organizations contributed to the design and development of Hyperledger Fabric v1.0.
What can you do with Hyperledger?
Thanks to its modular design, there’s an array of projects and businesses using Hyperledger for different purposes.
- Walmart – The food giant has teamed up with IBM to trace food through its supply chain using Hyperledger, including leafy greens, pork and mangoes.
- Honeywell – The aerospace company has created GoDirectTrade, an online used parts marketplace using Hyperledger Fabric to record transactions.
- The National Bank of Cambodia – Cambodia’s central bank has launched Project Bakong, an e-payment system using Hyperledger Iroha, in partnership with Japanese blockhain firm Soramitsu.
- MiPasa – The open-data blockchain hub has launched a platform for attested coronavirus data built on Hyperledger Fabric, in conjunction with IBM Blockchain Platform.
- eThaler – Built on Hyperledger Besu, eThaler is an open-source central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot with contributions from consulting firms Accenture and InfoSys and the Itau Bank in Brazil.
- Chain Integration Project – Using Hyperledger and RFID tags, this project aims to address counterfeiting in the retail industry, with partners including Nike, Macy’s and Kohl’s.
.@Walmart partnered with @IBM to run two PoC’s using #HyperledgerFabric to trace mangos sold in its US stores and and pork sold in its stores in China. See the results and how this has transformed the food supply chain industry in our latest case study: https://t.co/dooK9f9mdq pic.twitter.com/abrlcvLOGm
— Hyperledger (@Hyperledger) March 7, 2019
The Hyperledger project has attracted dozens of developers and community members to its open-source approach to blockchain; at 2020’s Global Forum alone it announced 14 new members and service providers, including retail giant Walmart.
— Hyperledger (@Hyperledger) March 3, 2020
It demonstrates how many companies see a blockchain-based future and are working together to make it a reality.
But it does have its challenges. There is competition for enterprise-level blockchain solutions, from the likes of R3, EOS and Ethereum; though Hyperledger appears to be holding its own; in January 2020, Hyperledger Fabric overtook R3 Corda in developer activity.
Time will tell if Hyperledger’s open-sourced approach will bring blockchain to the world.