What is Hyperledger?
Hyperledger is an open source project created to support the development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers. Hyperledger consists of a collaborative effort to create the needed frameworks, standards, tools and libraries to build blockchains and related applications.
Since Hyperledger's creation by the Linux Foundation in 2016, the project has had contributions from organizations such as IBM and Intel, Samsung, Microsoft, Visa, American Express and blockchain startups such as Blockforce. In all, the collaboration includes banking, supply chain management, internet of things (IoT), manufacturing and production-based fields.
Hyperledger acts as a hub for different distributed ledger frameworks and libraries. With this, a business could use one of Hyperledger's frameworks, for example, to improve the efficiency, performance and transactions in their business processes.
Hyperledger works by providing the needed infrastructure and standards for developing blockchain systems and applications. Developers use Hyperledger Greenhouse (the frameworks and tools that make up Hyperledger) to develop business blockchain projects. Network participants are all known to each other and can participate in consensus-making processes.
Hyperledger-based technology works using these layers:
- A consensus layer, which makes an agreement on order and confirms if the transactions in a block are correct.
- A smart contract layer, which processes and authorizes transaction requests
- A communication layer, which manages peer-to-peer (P2P) message transport.
- An API, which allows other applications to communicate with the blockchain.
- Identity management services, which validates the identities of users and systems.
Notable frameworks: Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth
Two of the most notable Hyperledger frameworks include Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth.
This is one of the most popular projects in Hyperledger. It is a permissioned blockchain infrastructure used to build blockchain-based products, software and applications. Hyperledger Fabric was made in cooperation with IBM and Digital Asset. It provides a modular architecture that defines roles between nodes, execution of smart contracts and configurable consensus services. Features of Fabric include the use of smart contracts, as well as pluggable Hyperledger Fabric consensus protocols. Fabric also supports different programming languages through the installation of modules. Hyperledger Fabric is used with integration projects that need a distributed ledger.
Other Hyperledger tools and projects
Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth are not the only two projects Hyperledger has. Hyperledger offers multiple projects and tools currently active or under incubation, meaning they require certain exit criteria before being declared active and production-ready. Some of these projects include:
- Hyperledger Iroha. A blockchain framework used to integrate with existing networks. Iroha has a modular design, control-based access, access to many libraries, as well as asset and identity management. It is used in fields such as financial services, healthcare and education.
- Hyperledger Indy. A framework made for decentralized identities. It comes with components, tool sets and libraries. It also includes self-sovereignty, which securely stores all identity-based documentation.
- Hyperledger Besu. An open source Ethereum codebase that can run on private permissioned platforms or the Ethereum public network. It features the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), consensus algorithms, user-facing APIs and monitoring.
- Hyperledger Caliper. A blockchain benchmark tool. Caliper is used to evaluate the performance of blockchain implementations. However, it doesn't come with predefined standards because blockchain implementations may all require different sets of standards.
- Hyperledger Explorer. A dashboard utility tool that allows a user to monitor, search and maintain blockchain and related data. With it, an organization can check nodes, blocks, transactions and smart contracts. It also allows users to make code changes.
- Hyperledger Cello. A blockchain-as-a-service toolkit used to create, terminate and manage blockchain services.
- Hyperledger Burrow. A permissioned Ethereum smart contract blockchain node. This handles transactions and smart contract code execution on the EVM.
History and mission of Hyperledger
The Linux Foundation announced the creation of the Hyperledger Project in 2015, one year prior to its release. Brian Behlendorf was appointed the position of executive director. Behlendorf stated that the Hyperledger project would never build its own cryptocurrency.
In 2016, the project also started to accept proposals for incubation of codebases and other core element technologies. Two of the initial blockchain framework codebases accepted were Hyperledger Fabric and libconsensus. Later, Intel's distributed ledger, Sawtooth, was incubated.
In 2018, the production-ready Sawtooth 1.0 was added. In 2019, a long-term-support version of Hyperledger Fabric was announced.