Blockchain is already transforming business operating models. While counting and analyzing blockchain platforms for business use cases, a smart developer always evaluates the most efficient attributes. At BangBit, we are interested in various technology tracks like AI, VR, SmartApps and especially blockchain. This blog post will introduce you to Hyperledger Fabric, the open source engine for business blockchain and its technical advantages for developing revolutionary blockchain applications. After releasing a steady and highly enhanced v1.0 version last year, Hyperledger is now one of the most preferred blockchain platforms for developing decentralized enterprise applications.
Introducing Hyperledger Fabric
Hyperledger Fabric is a blockchain framework implementation hosted by The Linux Foundation. Aims to develop applications and blockchain solutions with a contemporary architecture, Hyperledger holds various components as consensus and membership services to be plug-and-play. By providing an enterprise-grade foundation for transactional applications, it leverages container technology to host smart contracts. Hyperledger Fabric supports distributed ledger solutions on supported networks for an extensive range of industries. Its robust architecture optimizes the security, resilience, flexibility, and scalability of blockchain applications.
Hyperledger was set-up in December 2015 as a collective force to develop cross-industry open-source blockchain technology for enterprises. Since then, it has been the fastest growing Linux Foundation project and currently holds several technologies including blockchain frameworks such as Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Sawtooth. There are various tools under Hyperledger umbrella that offer services like monitoring, development, deployment, support, and maintenance. Hyperledger Composer is one of the most popular tools. Around 159 engineers from 28 companies contributed towards Hyperledger v1.0 release. We are expecting this number to grow in the next v1.1 release.
Though it is similar to other blockchain implementations, Hyperledger Fabric has its own advantages especially when it comes to enterprise blockchain applications.
Let’s talk about Privacy. Hyperledger Fabric is an allowed peer-to-peer blockchain network. Enterprise applications require a high level of security. Bitcoin & Ethereum are public blockchains, while you need an invitation to access the Hyperledger network. This makes it more secure & reliable, while public blockchain networks are not trust-worthy. Adding more features to the privacy segment, Hyperledger Fabric supports the notion of Channels. Channels offer an extra layer of transactional confidentiality. Members in the network have limited visibility which is important in a business framework. When it comes to enterprise level, it is always preferred to allow visibility to partner peers rather than the entire network.
Next is Scalability. Scalability is one of the most vital Hyperledger Fabric features. Scalability is something which all the enterprise applications require. Unlike Bitcoin & Ethereum, Fabric doesn’t allow minors to validate transactions. Hyperledger doesn’t even have native cryptocurrency. It results in high level of scalability. Because of scalability, Ethereum couldn’t become a prime-time player yet.
Hyperledger Composer is the tool behind developing blockchain applications. It is an extensive, open source development toolset and framework. Every enterprise’s primary goal is to accelerate the development cycle of distributed applications on Hyperledger Fabric. Composer can be used to develop use cases and deploy blockchain solutions within weeks. This offers various high-level components and APIs which help easy and quick communication to the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain runtime. Hyperledger Composer allows developers to build and revamp business models and integrate existing systems and data within blockchain applications. It provides business-centric REST APIs that invokes transactions within the Fabric network.
Hyperledger can be used to quickly build business networks, including current assets and the transactions related to them. You can decide which transactions can interact with the assets. Business networks can include the participants who can interact with each other with a unique identity across various business networks. All the participants can have their access to transactions restricted based on their role. An admin can create applications to add participants to a simple user interface for viewing open listings. This network could also be integrated with other systems like inventory, logistics, payment etc.
One of the most interesting stuff about Composer is: developers can model a business network solution by implementing integrated modelling language. The integrated modelling language is highly user-friendly and easy to learn. A business can start by creating an enterprise Network Definition (BND) which has all required components like files, rules, and logic. After you are done with a business network, the BND can be saved into an archived file. This file can be deployed into the Fabric network by using simple command lines.
To summarize the above info, we can say;
- Hyperledger Fabric is a private blockchain network which offers a foundation for business transactional enterprise application development.
- Hyperledger Composer is a framework used to accelerate the development process of building applications on the top of Hyperledger Fabric.
Why is Hyperledger Fabric the next big thing in blockchain development?
Hyperledger Fabric is one of the earliest Hyperledger technology, but Hyperledger itself is still in its primary stage. In fact, Fabric v1.0 was released in July 2017. But the potential that Fabric has displayed in the past couple of quarters is revolutionary. We have already explained a couple of advantages like scalability and privacy. Here are few other major advantages which will make Hyperledger Fabric the next big thing in blockchain application development.
Modern architecture is one of the fascinating aspects of Hyperledger Fabric. This enables network designers to plug in their components into the network. The modularity is powered by its strong architecture which clearly demonstrates the potential of future blockchain technology. Another highlight of the modular architecture is that you can easily plug in consensus or encryption as there are countries who have their own encryption standards. Fabric architecture allows you to integrate elements into the system (e.g. custom applications) for the users to use the blockchain platform which is built on the top of Fabric. Few enterprise networks already have identity management applications in place for their users. Hyperledger Fabric has a lot of flexibility in terms of what you want to use and what you don’t.
As we have already discussed earlier, Hyperledger Fabric’s Channels are one the most talked features. Channels allow users to perform data partitioning. This allows a user to protect selected data. There are various financial institutions who are watching this feature closely. There are certain occasions where cryptography is not enough, considering the fact that cyber-criminals can break the cryptography code and there will be a serious threat to your financial data. With Channels on Hyperledger Fabric, financial institutions who are using blockchain technology can show the data which is necessary and can hide/store the sensitive data.
Performance & Trust
Hyperledger is unmatched when it comes to performance and trust. The modular architecture allows three-phase data processing; distributed logic processing, transaction ordering, and transaction validation and commitment. Transactions will happen faster and better without any concern. This results in high level of trust as authentication is required across nodes, and network scalability and performance are optimized.
Financial firms and healthcare companies need data protection. They are among those industries who are subject to various data protection laws and require the identity of the network members who are accessing client data. Hyperledger allows entities having a proper identification. Permissioned blockchains are the ones who protect the data. Hyperledger, in short, is a framework of permissioned networks. Let’s take the example of a mortgage firm using blockchain. Mortgage can’t be shown publically. Parties in the network need to prove their identity and verify the authenticity. Similarly, in case of a private equity company, the participants in the network need to be recognized and must have the credibility to join the network as you can’t publically trade in private equity firms.
Hyperledger Fabric is highly supported by various tech leaders. The community working on this technology is highly active and skilled. With the likes of IBM, Intel, Cisco, Toyota are working on this, Hyperledger has some serious investments. This assures a degree of stability and trust. Many companies are coming forward to embrace Hyperledger Fabric as a mainstream platform to develop blockchain applications as the framework development is strongly influenced by large tech giants.
Allow Smart contracts
Hyperledger Fabric allows smart contracts just like Ethereum. Smart contracts are called “chaincode”.
Hyperledger Fabric allows creation and transaction through private channels. If you are a large financial firm and you want to share data with certain parties, you can create a private channel and start sharing data with selected peers. Even you can limit the view of the transactions. This is not possible in case of Ethereum. This is a pro for various industries as it fosters transparency.
If you are a cryptocurrency fan, this is not a pro for you. Unlike Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric doesn’t need a cryptocurrency. Though it is possible to develop a native currency with chaincode, this would require massive development resources and investment. As promised by the Executive Director of the Hyperledger project, Brian Behlendorf, we will never see a Hyperledger coin. This statement strongly conveys the vision of Hyperledger to build enterprise applications in blockchain technology. From a business perspective, it is more practical to offer a platform to build blockchain apps, rather than offering cryptocurrency.
To understand Hyperledger more, we can compare it with Ethereum. Ethereum focused on decentralized apps (DAPPs), smart contracts and public blockchain is more concentrated to B2C market. While businesses craving to build blockchain applications with security and permission support are putting their money on Hyperledger Fabric. Fabric’s architecture, flexibility, and privacy made it the obvious choice for enterprises leveraging blockchain technology. There are some concerns as well, as Hyperledger is lacking use cases, limited understanding of technology, lesser talent and skill-sets. But the inherent potential of Hyperledger, with the help of some pioneering risk-takers and industry giants, will take it to the highest level. As Fabric v1.1 could be launched anytime soon, we can expect some real innovation and more collaboration.
Are you thinking which blockchain technology will work best for your business? If you want to see the lay of the land and understand which best fits your needs, BangBit is the place you should call now. Our blockchain experts can help you embrace this technology in order to achieve service quality and operational Excellency.