Hyperledger introduces Fabric v1.4 LTS, the first long term support release

Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies hosted by The Linux Foundation, today introduced Fabric v1.4 LTS, its first long term support release.

The Fabric developers have been working with network operators and application developers to deliver v1.4 with a focus on production operations and developer ease of use.

Key new production-focused features of Fabric fall into four key areas:

  • Serviceability and Operations: As more Hyperledger Fabric networks get deployed and enter a production state, serviceability and operational aspects are critical. Fabric v1.4 takes a giant leap forward with logging improvements, health checks, and operational metrics. Along with a focus on stability and fixes, Fabric v1.4 is the recommended release for production operations. Future fixes will be delivered on the v1.4.x stream, while new features are being developed in the v2.0 stream.
  • Improved programming model for developing applications: Writing decentralized applications has just gotten easier. Programming model improvements in the Node.js SDK and Node.js chaincode makes the development of decentralized applications more intuitive, allowing you to focus on your application logic. The existing npm packages are still available for use, while the new npm packages provide a layer of abstraction to improve developer productivity and ease of use. We have also provided a comprehensive business scenario and tutorial to get you started with the new developer experience.
  • Enhanced data privacy: Data and transaction confidentiality has been a key driver for Fabric development since v1.2. With this new release, we have added two new enhancements: 1) peers for organizations that are added to private data collections can now retrieve the private data for prior transactions to which they now are entitled, and 2) automatically enforce access control within chaincode based on the client organization collection membership without having to write specific chaincode logic.
  • Hand-on tutorials: Commercially focused training to help developers move up the Fabric learning curve quickly and efficiently to speed adoption and deployment.

Complete details of the new features can be found in Hyperledger’s What’s New documentation and release notes.

Hyperledger Fabric’s First Long Term Support Release.

Hyperledger Fabric v1.4 LTS marks the first long term support release. Hyperledger noted this as a critically important development for those beginning to deploy Hyperledger Fabric solutions into production and is a reflection of the confidence that the Fabric maintainers have in this latest release.

The policy to date has been to provide bug fix (patch) releases for its most recent major or minor release until the next major or minor release has been published. Hyperledger reports they plan to continue this policy for subsequent releases. However, for Hyperledger Fabric v1.4 LTS, the Fabric maintainers are pledging to provide bug fixes for a period of one year from the date of release (Jan 10). This will likely result in a series of patch releases (v1.4.1, v1.4.2, …), where multiple fixes are bundled into a patch release.

If running with Hyperledger Fabric v1.4 LTS, users can be assured that they will be able to safely upgrade to any of the subsequent patch releases. In the advent that there is a need for some upgrade process to remedy a defect, Hyperledge will provide that process with the patch release.

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IBM Scores Deal With US Credit Union Group to Use Hyperledger Blockchain

CU Ledger, a consortium of U.S. credit unions that’s been experimenting with a range of private blockchains, has added one more to the list: IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric solution.

The consortium will use IBM’s tech to create “an immutable audit trail that can be used to create new business models and transform existing business processes for credit unions,” Big Blue said Monday.

In particular, the new solutions will be built for such services as identity authentication, compliance with know-your-customer (KYC) regulations, lending and payments, the tech giant said. The first blockchain-based services will be available to CULedger members “later in 2019,” IBM said.

However, the consortium told CoinDesk it will keep its relationships with previously announced partners R3, Hedera and Evernym.

“The use of a specific blockchain platform will be dependent on each particular application or use case that is being developed. Our partners, such as IBM, Evernym and Sovrin, each play a role within our overall strategy and solutions,” Julie Esser, CULedger’s chief experience officer, told CoinDesk.

“We are not replacing any of the relationships that we have previously announced,” she said. “CULedger is building a network of networks that will facilitate the peer-to-peer exchange of anything digital. As we continue to develop our solutions, there will be applications better suited for different networks, and CULedger will enable those networks to interact with each other.”

For example, CULedger is building an identity solution for its members leveraging the Hyperledger Indy platform (the code for which was developed by Evernym and contributed by the Sovrin Foundation). But the new KYC-related product will use Fabric (which IBM contributed to the open-source Hyperledger project), Esser said.

Past partnerships

Last May, the consortium announced it was going to use Hedera’s Hashgraph distributed ledger technology (DLT) to build a public system for cross-border payments. In December, CULedger also announced it was joining R3’s global network of companies building on the open-source Corda platform. The group also said earlier its identity solution MyCUID was developed with Evernym, an identity-focused blockchain company.

At the moment, CULedger isn’t building on Corda, Esser explained, but “there is an opportunity in the future” for the consortium to leverage R3’s tech. Evernym remains a key partner, providing the front-end solution for MyCUID. As for Hedera, CULedger “doesn’t have a specific use case at this time” in the works for Hashgraph, including the earlier mentioned cross-border payments, Esser said, but, “it is still on our roadmap.”

According to Esser, eight credit unions participating in CULedger now are piloting different use cases using MyCUID, including one for call center user authentication. The consortium has 38 member institutions overall, according to its website.

CULedger was first unveiled in 2016, led by the Credit Union National Association with 55 credit unions on board at the time. The consortium managed to hire away Mastercard’s executive vice president of North America markets, John Ainsworth, who became CULedger’s president and CEO in December 2017.

At the end of January, CULedger announced that it had successfully closed a $10 million A Series funding round.

Hyperledger image from Consensus 2018 hackathon, image via CoinDesk archives.

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Blockchain for food traceability is here to stay

Blockchain may be approaching maturity in food traceability, as French multinational retailer Carrefour announced extending its use of the technology.

The retail giant issued a press release from its Boulogne-Billancourt headquarters on Friday in announcing to extend the use of blockchain for traceability of milk products. On twitter, the company followed up with a tweet on Monday stating:

“To ensure our complete product traceability, we are continuing with the roll-out of #blockchain by applying it to our Carrefour Quality Line fresh micro-filtered full-fat milk.”

The project will be implemented later this month and forms part of a broader strategy to provide for complete food traceability. The supermarket chain became the first retailer to apply the technology to food traceability in March 2018. At that time, it applied blockchain to the tracking of its Carrefour Quality Line Auvergne chicken.

The longer-term objective for the company is to expand food traceability to all products within its ‘Quality Line’ range by 2022. This will include in excess of one hundred products.

In this instance, the retailer is collaborating with Gillot Diaries. With its cooperation Carrefour are assured of the origin of milk and that no GMO based feeds are used in the production process.

That implementation was based on Hyperledger Fabric, a private permissioned blockchain framework hosted by The Linux Foundation. IBM was a significant contributor to the Hyperledger Fabric framework. Given IBM’s extensive knowledge of that specific technology that it was an IBM food tracking solution that was used in this instance.

Carrefour had joined IBM’s blockchain based food tracking network, Food Trust, in October 2018. Other major producers and retailers have joined including Nestle SA, Walmart and Unilever.

Taking off from Spain to South Korea

Carrefour operates on an international basis with a presence in over 30 countries distributed across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. When it comes to blockchain, the retail giant implemented a similar traceability project in Spain.

Its Spanish business is now following a similar strategy to that of its French parent. Carrefour S.A. (Spain) intend to roll out blockchain based traceability on all products in its ‘Calidad y Origen’ product line.

The most recent application involves tracking through the blockchain of chicken sourced from the Spanish region of Galicia. As part of the implementation, each stage in the process is marked on the Hyperledger network with a QR code which records milestones such as the date of birth of the chicken, type of nutrition, packaging date and other relevant information.

Furthermore, ample examples can be found from other companies around the world. For example, last November, a pilot project was announced in South Korea between its Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to provide blockchain traceability of beef. The scheme was limited to one particular region of the country, with the intention of rolling it out nationwide in the event that the pilot proves successful.

Approaching a “proven tech” for traceability

Whilst the technology is emerging, it seems that product and food traceability will be one of its most logical implementations. Those who are less enthusiastic about blockchain question whether the technology is really suited for use in every industry. However, whilst there are trials of the technology ongoing in terms of product traceability, the technology is now starting to be utilised on a regular day to day basis.

In food supply chains, it brings certainty for all the stakeholders in the process from the material inputs, the growing process, the various stages of the production process, distribution and storage, retail – right through to the point of purchase. With that clarity, the risk is reduced for all participants, with greater comfort for the end user also. Existing technologies have been unable to solve such issues, including fraud and counterfeiting.

The jury may be out on the validity of blockchain technology in other industries and for other use cases. However, when it comes to food and product traceability, blockchain is here to stay.

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SIX Group chooses R3’s Corda as the underlying blockchain for the digital asset trading

The well-known Swiss stock exchange operative SIX Group has chosen R3’s Corda Enterprise platform as the fundamental blockchain for the digital asset trading, payment, and protection service it is structure. As per the Richard Gendal Brown, CTO and the startup’s architect called as Corda has now turned its attention to the first public beta phase, creating a distinguished momentous that trails its startup in November 2016. Brown recently stated that the newest version of the software comprises new API documentation and a prolonged codebase.

Brown also said the Corda expansion team has been functioning with team confidentially to verify Corda, and that the plan is to issue the consequences to the public in the forthcoming months.

SIX selected Corda Enterprise after spending a decent contract of time jolting the tires of numerous distributed ledger technology (DLT) stacks, for numerous details especially as the technology was intended for an extremely controlled space, however also since of the prosperous open-source Corda bionetwork.The selection of Corda Enterprise, the paid-for version of the platform as opposed to the open source Corda, is a significant win for R3, coming on the heels of last week’s news that blockchain builder MonetaGo had switched its underlying architecture from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda.

The chief digital officer at SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) Sven Roth mentioned that the Corda distances other areas outside capital markets like indemnification and gives to things like individuality also was a factor. He further added that:

“This was very important to us because when we assessed different vendors, some of them were very focused on niche offerings and limited in their scope to very specific areas, such as post-trade for instance, and we didn’t want to be limited to just that area of expertise. We assessed a lot of vendors and technology stacks – all the ones you can imagine.”

Roth said the platform, which will be launching in the second half of 2019, will begin with classical bankable assets such as equities, bonds, funds and structured products “that are already living on our DLT.”

“One of those [asset classes] will be available at launch. Then we have others living at the [central securities depository] of SIX today that then will be tokenized. We said we first want to have products that are only available on our DLT because then you don’t have issues with split liquidity, with who is the CSD and so on.”

The variety of Corda Enterprise, the paid-for form of the policy as opposed to the exposed source Corda, is an important win for R3, impending on the repairs of recent news that blockchain builder MonetaGo had swapped its fundamental architecture from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda.

Cooper enclosed R3 landing SIX as a justification for innovativeness DLT in general – however, he mightn’t struggle taking an understood jab at participants: Speaking of the SIX deal, Charley Cooper, a managing director at R3 said,

“You hear rumblings in the industry – is this real? The answer is actually ‘yes’. This is real and we are about to show it even if others haven’t been able to.”

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Can blockchain stop small-biz invoice double dipping?

Small-business projects in India and Latin America will provide a test of how well an open source blockchain can reduce the fraud that can occur when businesses try to free up capital from outstanding payments.

R3 will support MonetaGo’s fraud mitigation network, including the next deployment in Latin America with six banks at launch, and an existing network in India that will port over from Hyperledger.

The New York-based MonetaGo does not directly process payments, but handles data reconciliation across multiple parties. One of its functions is to combat fraud in receivables or invoice financing. Businesses receive a portion unpaid invoices from a bank that later collects the outstanding payment.

Mexican pesos in a cash register drawer
Bloomberg News

This market is adding automation to create an easier user experience that resembles consumer billing. That can attract more businesses, but it also adds fraud risk as some small businesses may repeat the process with multiple banks in a decentralized network, or double financing.

In concept, a distributed ledger such as a blockchain would be a natural fit to solve this problem. Payments involving complex workflows between competing institutions often create limitations to the possible interactions between parties that can be smoothed over by the collaboration with Corda.

“Any shared information is almost always funneled through third-parties such as payment gateways and until now this prevented higher functionality such as the digitization of workflows,” said Jesse Chenard, CEO of MonetaGo.

The first network deployed in India has the potential to impact all of the micro, small, and medium enterprises in the country, which has approximately 70 million businesses, according to Business Today in India.

“For invoice financing alone, this is already hundreds of billions of dollars,” Chenard said.

In India, where the first MonetaGo network was deployed, there are three government licensed exchanges: RXIL, A.TReDS, and M1xhange. These exchanges provide marketplaces for businesses to obtain financing on their invoices. These platforms count some of the biggest Indian banks and a number of foreign banks as funding sources, Chenard said.

“Importantly, because it is a blockchain network, it is not controlled by any single entity or third party capable of being manipulated, controlled, or otherwise influenced,” he said.

MonetaGo deployed its first blockchain in India in 2018. Chenard said data is shared on R3 Corda in a manner which is distinct from Hyperledger Fabric in that only the parties to transactions are able to obtain it.

“In Hyperledger Fabric, we currently achieve this by using hashing functions, however this has implications for the long term scalability. By its very architecture, Corda does not face the same constraint,” he said, adding some of largest institutions in the financial services space have now chosen R3’s Corda, removing potential friction.

Hyperledger did not return a request for comment. One of the potential hurdles for blockchain is cooperation among participants. It’s that very nature of propriety that lends itself of double financing since banks are reluctant to share information.

The expanding bank participation in Corda will boost cooperation, Chenard said. Among potential partners for Corda are trade finance solutions such as Voltron and Marco Polo, as well as banks such as BNP Paribas, NatWest, HSBC, and Standard Chartered, Chenard said. ING also recently signed on for an unlimited number of Corda nodes, and Swift recently announced it is testing GPI payments through Corda.

What will help MonetaGo succeed is a secure infrastructure that makes it easy for financial institutions to send data to be analyzed and a machine learning platform that produces the best possible fraud analytics across multiple fraud vectors, said Tim Sloane, vice president of Mercator.

“From this perspective, MonetaGo should deliver to financial institutions any APIs they need over any communications channel the financial institution already has in place, which may indeed be R3 for some but certainly not all,” Sloane said.

It is still the early days of blockchain and this is a niche application, said Al Pascual, a senior vice president of research at Javelin, adding there are multitude of vendors in the ecosystem that support network intelligence on fraud threats.

“The blockchain is another way to skin the cat, but more than anything it seems to open the door to more vendors rather than necessarily offering greater value,” Pascual said.

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New Informative Advance Report on Utility Blockchain Applications Market Analysis Report …

Technology Report on Utility Blockchain Applications Market Analysis Report, Regional Share & Forecast, 2025 key Players like Energy Web Foundation, Filament, Grid Singularity, Hyperledger, IBM, LO3 Energy, MotionWerk, PONTON GmbH, Power Ledger, Siemens AG, TenneT and more.

This press release was orginally distributed by SBWire

Houston, TX — (SBWIRE) — 03/06/2019 — Global Utility Blockchain Applications Index Improvers Market Research Report” targets and provides comprehensive market analysis with prospects to 2025. The analysts of the study have used extensive research methodologies and acquired data from Secondary & Primary sources in order to generate reliable and useful information that renders the latest market derivations and industry trends.

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Gemalto Expands Cloud HSM On Demand Solutions

SafeNet Data Protection On Demand cloud platform now offers HSM On

Demand to secure CyberArk Privileged Access Management, Oracle

Transparent Data Encryption, and Hyperledger Blockchain Transactions

AMSTERDAM–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, today announced the

availability of three new cloud-based Hardware Security Module (HSM)

services, HSM

On Demand for CyberArk
, HSM

On Demand for Hyperledger
and HSM

On Demand for Oracle TDE
. Each service is available through the SafeNet

Data Protection on Demand
platform, a marketplace of cloud-based

HSM, encryption and key management services that easily integrates with

most widely used cloud services and IT products to protect data wherever

it is created, accessed or stored.

The rapid adoption of cloud and digital services has made it difficult

for organizations to secure data and identities that are created, stored

and managed outside the perimeter. While organizations recognize that

data encryption is the optimal solution to secure sensitive information,

they can be challenged by the cost and complexity of deploying

encryption, including Hardware Security Modules to secure their

cryptographic operations. Gemalto’s SafeNet Data Protection On Demand

solves these challenges by providing cloud-based HSM services that and

can be deployed in minutes without the need for highly skilled staff.

Gemalto, a leader in the HSM market, is proven to help customers secure

their encryption keys and data across cloud, hybrid, and on-premises

environments.

“A worsening threat landscape, combined with aggressive cloud adoption

and evolving privacy regulations, have presented complex new challenges

related to encryption, privileged access and financial transactions,”

said Todd Moore, Senior Vice President of Encryption Products at

Gemalto. “Our newest Cloud HSM On Demand services help organizations

stay in front of new threats and regulations, by easily deploying an HSM

solution for the strongest possible key management and security

practices, all while providing fast, easy set-up, with remarkable

savings over traditional approaches involving specialized hardware and

skills.”

“Many organizations would like to deploy data security more broadly, but

are often wary due to concerns about complexity, cost and staffing

requirements, particularly with respect to encryption and key

management,” said Garrett Bekker, Principal Analyst at 451 Research.

“The release of SafeNet Data Protection On Demand was a positive step

towards addressing those concerns, and extending its cloud HSM

capability to newer use cases like blockchain, database security and

privileged credentials is a logical and timely move.”

HSM On Demand for CyberArk

HSM

On Demand for CyberArk
works seamlessly with CyberArk’s Privileged

Access Security Solution, providing private key protection and strong

entropy for key generation for system keys.. By securing the master key

and ensuring that it is hosted in a secure vault, HSM On Demand for

CyberArk mitigates the risk of the master key being exposed or

compromised.

HSM On Demand for Hyperledger

HSM

On Demand for Hyperledger
provides trust for blockchain transactions

by securing the cryptographic keys that sign them. It protects digital

wallets, while ensuring keys are readily available in the cloud once

access is granted. The service provides high assurance security in data

centers and the cloud, enabling multi-tenancy of blockchain identities

per partition as proof of transaction and for auditing requirements. It

also delivers performance improvements resulting from off-loading

cryptographic operations from application servers to the HSM on Demand

service.

HSM On Demand for Oracle TDE

HSM

for Oracle TDE
(Transparent Data Encryption) solves the challenge

presented by locally stored encryption keys by protecting them with a

master key, stored in a separate service key vault. This ensures that

only authorized services are allowed to request the local key to be

decrypted. If an attacker steals the database, it is encrypted and

inaccessible, since the attacker does not have access to the keys that

are securely stored on the HSM.

Additional Resources

About Gemalto

Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO) is the global leader in digital

security
, with 2018 annual revenues of €3 billion and customers in

over 180 countries. We bring trust to an increasingly connected world.

From secure software to biometrics and encryption, our technologies and

services enable businesses and governments to authenticate identities

and protect data so they stay safe and enable services in personal

devices, connected objects, the cloud and in between.

Gemalto’s solutions are at the heart of modern life, from payment to

enterprise security and the internet of things. We authenticate people,

transactions and objects, encrypt data and create value for software –

enabling our clients to deliver secure digital services for billions of

individuals and things.

Our 15,000 employees operate out of 110 offices, 47 personalization and

data centers, and 35 research and software development centers located

in 47 countries.

For more information visit www.gemalto.com,

or follow @gemalto

on Twitter.

Contacts

Gemalto media contacts:

Tauri Cox

North America

+1

512 257 3916

tauri.cox@gemalto.com

Sophie Dombres

Europe Middle East & Africa

+33 4 42 36 57

38

sophie.dombres@gemalto.com

Jaslin Huang

Asia Pacific

+65 6317 3005

jaslin.huang@gemalto.com

Alexis Camarillo

Latin America

+52 5521223627

alexis.camarillo@gemalto.com

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Blockchain: Governance not technology now the greatest challenge, IBM says

The technology to build scalable, enterprise-ready blockchain solutions is ready for prime time, but governance remains a challenge for many organisations, according to the head of IBM’s local blockchain practice.

Rupert Colchester, IBM’s head of blockchain and consulting practice leader for Australia and New Zealand, said much of his work is focused on how companies or networks of companies or consortiums can establish the “governance model that’s required to share data in a new way”.

“Sometimes that sharing of the data is underpinned by a shared business process of sorts,” Colchester said. “Sometimes it is simply sharing data on which everybody carries out their own business process. But agreeing those data models, the ownership of data, the governance models — from the legal perspective, commercial perspective, and technology perspective — that does require time.”

“The reality is you can get from no lines of code to a live pilot, let’s say, in 10 weeks or so now,” he said. “It really can be very quick. The journey to production and hardening things up for an actual regulated enterprise of course takes a little longer, but they are increasingly things we have experience in doing and can do it at speed now for people.”

Although it still requires talented software engineers, blockchain technology “by and large can deliver what people want it to deliver at the moment”.

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Entrex and IBM Partner on “Opportunity Zone” Trading Platform to Bring Capital to Developing …

Entrex Capital Market has announced that it has created, “a nationwide capital market system that helps investors and advisors find, research, track, manage and trade securities of private companies and funds within opportunity zones.”

The release from Entrex states that their new program could help drive billions into low income communities struggling to access growth capital:

“Here’s the backstory: In 2017, the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) introduced a community development program called Opportunity Zones. Designated by the government across 50 states, opportunity zones are low-income, economically distressed communities. The aim of the federal program is to spur development in these struggling areas by offering tax breaks to investors who reinvest their capital gains in private companies and funds in the designated zones.”

The company’s LinkedIN page says Entrex previously managed, “a ‘Capital Market System for Entrepreneurial Companies’…” that used a proprietary software system called, “TIGRcub Securities via the eChain- the trading ledger for TIGRcub Securities.”

Entrex’s new system uses securities ledger tech from IBM (Blockchain, Domino, Notes, XPages) and Hyperledger Fabric.

IBM/Entrex claim their platform:

  • “Reduces (token) launch time by two-thirds, from months to days”
  • “Delivers a complete audit trail of all transactions”

Entrex says it seeks to go where Wall Street has not:

“Wall Street struggles to efficiently invest in small local businesses with annual revenues of less than USD 200 million. Meanwhile the majority of opportunity zone investing is in funds or businesses of just this size.”

Entrex Founder and CEO Stephen H. Watkins says there is a definite demand for Entrex services:

“Even though small and midsize businesses are among the nation’s largest employers and generate steady profits year after year, it’s often difficult for them to secure the investments they need to take their growth to the next level. This is a significant portion of the market that wasn’t being served by Wall Street broker-dealers and financial advisors, and we wanted to address it.”

The Entrex/IBM/Hyperledger system will, “simplify how investors and brokers offered capital to local entrepreneurial companies.”

He states:

“We wanted to empower businesses to trade securities in a way similar to the public markets…Our goal was to offer an end-to-end solution, from the originating brokers at the start of the process to the placement deal brokers, investors and secondary traders further downstream. But because we operate in a highly regulated industry, it was also crucial that our new platform could deliver a complete audit trail of all transactions for regulatory and compliance purposes.”

“So we set out to find a solution with the security and scalability we needed to meet our goals.”

The Entrex Capital Market Program for Opportunity Zones appears to only be available to accredited investors at this time.

For more information, please consult the full release here.

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Exploring HyperLedger: Experience in Being a Framework Early Adopter

Key Takeaways

  • Some time ago the OpenGift team explored deploying a HyperLedger-based blockchain within a production environment. This article presents a story of our attempts to integrate it, the problems we encountered, and the tricks that helped us solve them.
  • We believe that HyperLedger Fabric is potentially a better option for blockchain-based business applications than a private Ethereum network.
  • With HyperLedger you can build a system where clients do not need to trust other clients, and partners do not need to trust other partners (but clients do need to trust partners).
  • The network is easy to expand and can exist without a parent organization.
  • HyperLedger is not free of technical drawbacks, and so be prepared to write a lot of supporting scripts for maintaining HyperLedger in production.

Some time ago our team explored deploying a HyperLedger-based blockchain within a production environment. This article presents a story of our attempts to integrate it, the problems we encountered, and tricks that helped us solve them. Several important updates have been introduced into the HyperLedger framework, and so some of the challenges were overcome, while others still wait for a solution.

In the first part of the article we explain why we decided to use a blockchain to solve a business problem and why we chose the HyperLedger framework over Ethereum. The second part of the article is dedicated to HyperLedger-based blockchain architecture and technical aspects of the framework implementation.

Why use blockchain?

We initially believed that blockchain was unnecessary for our business. After all, most businesses resolve their trust issues by referring to centralized facilities or arbitrage centers. As a result, it took us a long time to decide whether in our case a blockchain solution was needed or not.

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Our platform is a kind of web resource where companies can reduce their development time and maintenance costs by working directly with open source teams. We identified that for some customers it might be difficult to establish working relationships with open source maintainers and key collaborators. The standard practice of resorting to services of in-house developers or freelancers for fine-tuning open source code seemed sub-optimal, because of increased project time and price.

With our platform we aimed to resolve this inefficiency by providing an ‘entry point’ and simple interface for customers to request and co-finance developing new features in OSS. For this system to be sustainable we needed to introduce a tool that would incentivise developers to fulfill customers’ requests. After some deliberation, we come up with an idea of ‘digital ownership’.

The idea was quite simple: a person who registers a project on our platform receives digital ‘shares’, which they may transfer to his fellow contributors at their own discretion. As the name suggests, our shares enable holders to receive a share of a project income proportional to the share of ownership. On the top of that constraint, we added a rule that any ‘outsider’ developer could create a requested piece of functionality, and if this solution is accepted by clients, receive a portion of the project’s shares.

We wanted developers to treat our project shares as a valuable long-term asset, which inherently implies that developers believe it won’t disappear. We basically had two options: we could either postpone introduction of this functionality until we gain the community’s trust, or we could build a trustless system. The latter path would require building a platform in such a way that would leave the assets untouched even if the parent organization exited the business.

We also planned to integrate the platform with numerous partner organizations, which would outsource development tasks to our platform and automatically receive a fee when they are completed. In an ideal scenario, we would just provide an access point for organizations into our network through some simple registration process, such as API integration. Our goal was to make the process as easy as possible to avoid all the legal complications and paperwork. After some doubts, we decided that blockchain would help us to realize this vision.

Ethereum vs HyperLedger

Ethereum was our first choice, even though we didn’t have significant experience with the platform. We hadn’t studied the documentation in detail; we just got right to spiking the integration. At first glance, it seemed like an easy choice. Several factors led us to give it a try:

  • It’s rather mature;
  • It’s stable;
  • it’s easy to integrate;
  • it’s easy to develop;
  • It has a large community;
  • It’s been rapidly developing;
  • It’s been used in numerous projects;
  • It gives an opportunity of private deploying in our private network.

One the other hand, there were a few factors that eventually convinced us that Ethereum was not the right choice for us:

  • Non-determinacy of the consensus algorithm.
  • Proof-of-work (POW) is unpredictable.
  • Non-existence of roles.
  • Uncontrollable access to the network.
  • Transaction fee and high CPU workload even in a sleep mode (minor).

Some of these issues have potential mitigations in development in the Ethereum world. For example, the GHOST protocol modification may well help, but even in this case if owners of the major pools suddenly decide that their branch is longer than yours, while your tanker with tuna is in on its way to the destination point… well, the cancellation of the payment transaction may surprise you, if the transaction is being conducted over a public (or shared-use) Ethereum network.

In an extreme case, we may even have a partner whose node capacity allows them to outhash the whole network, so there would be no point in using blockchain.

It was also very important to us to understand whether a network member is a client or a partner. We have to know this for sure. The Ethereum network does not support this feature, so we would need to build this on top. We certainly could integrate our VPN into the blockchain. But if we provide access to partners, there, naturally, should be a way to open up such access. At the same time, we would like to exercise control over who has access to our network and what they can get from it.

A key takeaway is that it’s important to remember that within a business-use case corporate node capacities may significantly preponderate over private ones. This is why we opted for a private blockchain, using Hyperledger framework.

HyperLedger also allowed us to avoid the minor inconveniences that we observed regarding the costs of transactions and CPU usage that we observed with Ethereum.

At this time the HyperLedger Fabric was one of the most advanced and mature frameworks in the family. It also has a few features that make it to stand out. The permissioned architecture ensures that if someone accessed your blockchain, you know whether they have a certificate issued by a Certificate Authority (CA). We also liked its deterministic PBFT algorithm, with which you can be 100% sure that a transaction is completed once your received such notification. Test launching on docker-containers is also very simple.

We tried to figure out whether we need Byzantine Fault-Tolerance. Do we really trust our partners, and do they really trust us? Can we afford to expose ourselves to Byzantine Generals’ Problem, knowing that at any moment any node could start sending incorrect data to the network? We eventually decided that we should have such protection, and it was fairly easy with HyperLedger.

Still in doubt, we conducted some tests to compare HyperLedger Fabric and Ethereum in a private network. We coded a trivial contract that generates a long array and then sorts it. You can see the results on the graph below. We have added two lines for 1 million and 10 million elements to the image just to show that Hyperledger is here too. In fact, the difference is such big that lines are actually invisible.

Y axis: Milliseconds.

Y axis: Megabytes

Now let’s consider the time required for reaching a consensus. We took a simple empty transaction and put it in a cluster of 8 machines. The machines had to reach an agreement and return confirmation: we waited for six confirmations in the Ethereum private network and a confirmation from each node in the HyperLedger network. The speed was still better in the HyperLedger cluster.

Y axis: seconds

We should note that we conducted the tests on version 0.6 of the HyperLedger Fabric framework; as of today the latest version is 1.2.0, which has a separate node responsible for maintaining transaction order. Back then, the network became frozen if you increased the number of nodes to 16 and the speed to 500 transactions per second. At such pace the network was not able to reach a consensus before receiving a new transaction request.

HyperLedger architecture

Before we move forward, let’s consider the basic architecture of the Hyperledger blockchain.

Peer – the main node, which stores information about all transactions (in version 1.0 it is divided into Endorser, a peer that confirms transactions, and Committer, a peer that records transactions to the register.)

App – the client initiating a transaction can be replaced with its own application on Hyperledger SDK

CA – provides users with certificates that allow them to make transactions and read data from the registry

Orderer – arranges transactions in block and transfer blocks to nodes for recording in the ledger

HyperLedger can separate nodes by roles. In particular, there is a peer that stores the register. In the 1.2 version there are several subtypes of peers, but generally peers are responsible for storing registers and validating incoming transactions. They store all smart-contracts and chain-codes, and approve incoming transactions and save them to the register.

The application we built is on the frontend. It can send information about transactions to the blockchain, and it can login to blockchain with a member certificate. It is also responsible for consensus.

The CA issues certificates. By default, HyperLedger can distinguish nodes by organizational attribute; each organization has its own root certificate. With a membership certificate you can assign rights on completing smart-contracts, rights on changing network configuration, and rights on adding new peers – basically whatever you may want. In the newest versions of the framework, you can also add any attributes you like to certificates, so you can be even more flexible in providing different sets of rights to system participants.

An ordering service, or the “orderer”, is a set of nodes responsible for a transaction order in a block. The orderer collects transactions into a block and sends this block to peers, so they can commit it to a register. It does not store smart contracts, though stores ledger data in a binary file, which is used to bootstrap new peer. Losing this file means losing all blockchain data. The orderer also performs some validation: it checks hashes and signatures.

For example, our system consists of the following elements:

  • A web application,
  • A peer,
  • An OpenGift organization,
  • A root CA of the organization
  • An intermediate CA, which was designed with an idea of scaling up the system;
  • A cluster of orderers on Apache Kafka to which all partner peers refer

At the present moment, our blockchain is deployed on four real peers, and we have four orderers in Kafka. We ultimately need five, as it is recommended to use an odd number of nodes for the ordering service in this mode. We have approximately 100 client applications, 1 Root CA and 1 Intermediate CA. In the first several months of our work we have conducted over 1000 transactions, but our system allows us to process the same quantity in 1 second.

Partners have their own peers so that they can store a register and validate transactions, and customers can refer to any peer they like to interact with the blockchain.

Client applications log in to the blockchain by providing a certificate, which can be issued by a Certification Authority intermediate server trusted by blockchain, for example, “organization one”. CA Intermediate servers are authorized by a CA Root server, which is kept aside of blockchain network. Then the client application can interact with peers within the framework of available policies, in compliance with restrictions and permissions. Once any peer confirms a transaction submitted by the application, and if it uses any consensus algorithm, it sends the transaction to the orderer. The orderer commits these transactions to peers. After that, the application can wait for any number of confirmations from the peers to make sure that the transaction was recorded in the ledger.

What is it like to implement HyperLedger Fabric in production?

Perhaps the first thing you notice is an absence of any simple admin panel. It’s very difficult to maintain it all in production mode without Kubernetes or Swarm, so we had to write a lot of supporting scripts. Hopefully, with the Cello project this will change for the better.

We faced several technical challenges while trying to implement this architecture. First, the orderer service can operate in two modes: solo mode and Apache Kafka mode. If you use solo mode, you can’t switch to the scalable mode without re-creating the entire network.

Second, If you use the orderer services on Kafka, you cannot scale it to other organizations. If other organizations already have their own orderer services, you will need to reach an agreement on who will be in charge of arranging transactions in blocks. This means that only one organization can be responsible for the order of transactions in a block, which leads to some vulnerability. However, in general, if transactions are valid, their order in a block is not of a particular importance. If someone changes the order of transactions and they become invalid, they will simply be marked as invalid in the block, and your request will return “fail”.

CAs (certification authorities) are easily scalable. Each organization has a root CA, and it can issue any number of certificates to intermediate CAs. This is great because the CAs are responsible for adding users to the network. However, the certificate revocation mode is not well configured. First, in order to request several parties to sign a revocation certificate, you need to write an additional chain code. Second, even when you add information about a revoked certificate in a blockchain, the certificate ex-holder can still connect to peers. You have to generate the certificates manually and add them to folders of peers and orders. Controlling that type of process may be challenging in a decentralized structure.

You also need to keep in mind that until the orderer has created a new block, all queries to the register will return the previous state of the network, i.e. the register has transactional (versioned) semantics. This means that if you have a business process that consists of multiple read queries and a write query right after them that takes into account the result of the read queries, you had better make them asynchronous. Because in this case, your expectation of reading the registry will not be consistent with its real state. In general, you need to wait for the orderer to form a block and send it to the ledger; only after that can you send read queries, assuming that the state has already been changed.

Since the blocks are not created according to POW protocol, you can set any block creating frequency for the ordering service. In solo mode, you will not be able to create more than one block per second, and in Apache Kafka mode, you can configure this parameter quite flexibly. Keep in mind though, if you decrease waiting time for creating new block, your network will increase in size quite quickly. Disk space will also be consumed very quickly, and so you always need to find a balance between a speed of transactions confirmation and your capacity.

The consensus mechanism is realized at the transaction level, so you can specify requirements that transactions will need to comply with to be valid in smart contract. For instance, when you introduce a new smart contract in the chain code, you set a procedure of its confirmation, how many participants have to sign the transaction for it to remain valid.

Smart contracts can be written in several languages, Golang and Java being the main ones. A typical smart contract has the simplest structure. Only two simple methods are required to be used in smart contract: one of the methods is called when a new chain code is set up or upgraded (init) , and the other one when it is called(invoke). Different policies are configured to initialize a new smart contract and to call it. One group of users can be responsible for updating of a smart contract; another group can be responsible for its implementation. Here we consider the simplest function call, which takes a function and parameters of this function as an input argument and depending on the name of the function calls the needed method.

func (t *SimpleChaincode) add(stub shim.ChaincodeStubInterface, args []string) pb.Response { var cs clientState; clienState.Name = args[0] clientState.Balance = 0 strState, er := json.Marshal(clientState) err = stub.PutState(pName, []byte(strState)) if err ~= nil { return shim.Error("Failed to add Client state") } return shim.Success([]byte(“OK”)) } 

Data storage in HyperLedger may be considered as a key-value map, referred to as KV-storage. Working with KV-storage is quite low-level. With PutState() method you can write in KV-storage, and with GetState() you read from it. But the most interesting thing is that you can work in a smart contract with the attributes of certificates. In this example you can see how the hash of the public key of an authorized user is used as an identifier for his wallet. In the 395th line we get a hash and use it as a key for KV-storage.

func (t *SimpleChaincode) add(stub shim.ChaincodeStubInterface, args []string) pb.Response { pk, err := cid.GetX509CertificatePublicKey(stub) var cs clientState; clienState.Name = args[0] clientState.Balance = 0 strState, er := json.Marshal(clientState) err = stub.PutState(pName, []byte(strState)) if err ~= nil { return shim.Error("Failed to add Client state") } return shim.Success([]byte(pk)) } func (t *SimpleChaincode) query(stub shim.ChaincodeStubInterface, args []string) pb.Response { pk, err := cid.GetX509CertificatePublicKey(stub) strState, err :- stub.GetState(pk) if strState == nil { return shim.Error("Client not found") } var cs clientState err = json.Unmarshal(Avalbytes, &cs) return shim.Success([]byte(cs.Balance)) } 

Although, we are still using the 0.6 version of the framework, the newer versions contain some major improvements, which we have to mention:

  • In the older versions, you needed to recreate all blockchain to include a new organization in a genesis block. Now it’s quite simple and you also can change policies of working with blockchain for each organization.
  • Starting with 1.2. version the system can have its peers compute the requested information dynamically and present it to the SDK in a consumable manner.
  • External applications can receive and process information about events from a chain. This feature may be helpful in a number of cases, for example – for notifying a controlling organization about suspicious activity.

HyperLedger experience in a nutshell

From the technical perspective, the system is still developing (steadily but firmly.) There are some technical issues, but hopefully that the community will find solutions for them. Still and all, we believe HyperLedger is one of the best options for companies looking to implement blockchain in real-world business.

On the business side, thanks to the framework we successfully realized the intended digital ownership functionality, which helps us to incentivize development teams to work on open source projects. The network is easy to expand and can exist without a parent organization. If we disappear, the community agrees upon setting a new ordering service, updates the channel and continue working.

Based on a feedback we’ve received, this capability facilitates adoption of the platform, since our users don’t need to trust us and rely on our ability to do business. We are actively looking for partners to hand over the nodes and plan to undertake first technical integrations for our blockchain in early 2019.

About the Authors

Yegor Maslov is the CEO of OpenGift Inc., platform for open source software monetization, Head of The Hive project, system empowering code reusability in organizations. Yegor has over 15 years of software development experience in web and mobile fields combined with an extensive background in technical entrepreneurship.

Konstantin Erokhin is a DevOps engineer with over 10 years of professional experience. He worked in such companies as Kaspersky, Sberbank Technologies, Moscow Stock Exchange.

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