The number of blockchain protocols and frameworks available on the market is growing alongside new ideas for blockchain implementations in a business context. Thus, choosing the most suitable framework is a critical decision to build reliable blockchain solutions for the enterprise.
Generally, in this scenario multiple organisations exchange private data and information. This decision should be driven by the actual use cases and business requirements. Elements like privacy, cost and performance may become considerably more important than network distribution, anonymity or public visibility.
Permissionless networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum already provide a well-distributed system for applications that require public visibility around transactions. However, when the number of nodes increases, the marginal benefit of having more nodes for network robustness becomes eclipsed by the increasing cost and time of achieving consensus.
Permissioned frameworks, such as Hyperledger, allow more customisation in defining roles and privacy settings. They allow setting of levels of control over the data, but the network expansion will be slower as each node has to be enrolled into the network in a controlled way.
At AID:Tech we have identified Hyperledger Fabric as our framework of choice to build our infrastructure, for a number of reasons.
First of all, Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source framework. It is maintained by the Linux Foundation under the Hyperledger umbrella. The open-source nature of the project and its active community are a warranty for both the transparency of the code and the stability of the platform.
Then, there are three main aspects we considered: design, performance and privacy.
In terms of application design, Hyperledger provides a modular solution. This means that components can be linked and composed together to build scalable architecture and deployments.
On top of Hyperledger Fabric, we use Hyperledger Composer to design and prototype the blockchain application. This helps us to focus on the actual use cases, and build the solution starting from there. Also, the REST Server provided allows us to integrate our blockchain solution with other systems in a loosely coupled microservice architecture.
In Hyperledger Fabric, the consensus mechanism is defined by an endorser policy among the nodes. This enables virtually free and faster transactions, improving network performance and enhancing the performance of the final, delivered application. As a result, the consumption of resources such as cost and time is improved compared to permissionless solutions using proof-of-work or proof-of-stake.
Hyperledger Fabric enables multi-user enrolment through the Membership Service Provider (MSP). Using this service, AID:Tech provides organisations with the ability to issue identities to their members. It also allows individuals to have greater control over their data on the AID:Tech platform.
Furthermore, channels enable data confidentiality, effectively having different ledgers between organisations in the same blockchain network.
Long story short, using Hyperledger Fabric we can bring a modular and scalable solution where each node and actor can belong to a known organisation and have a well-defined degree of visibility on certain types of data.
This enables solutions built on top of Hyperledger technologies to be sufficiently flexible and reliable to power business applications. Also, being an open source project, Hyperledger is continuously extended and refined by both individuals and companies.
At AID:Tech we are active contributors in the project. As part of it we added to the Composer REST Server the support for returning transactions and a bugfix to ensure correct parsing of multiple parameters. Also, we helped to enhance the security of the REST Server, which has been named the biggest contribution outside the core team to date.
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