Hyperledger Cactus — The open-source blockchain integration project
Blockchain Integration Framework — The Background
Blockchain, the emerging technology has existed for more than a decade now. From permissionless to permissioned, the journey of blockchain has been quite extensive. However, as the technology grew, one question troubled all — can these permissioned enterprise and permissionless blockchains survive while working in silos? If blockchains are not interoperable, the technology will not reach its full potential. Trade networks needed to communicate with each other, moreover, the banks who were financing these networks had to look into the data stored on the trade distributed ledger.
Last year, Accenture open-sourced it’s Blockchain Integration Framework (BIF) via the Hyperledger platform. BIF was not Accenture’s first attempt to resolve the blockchain interoperability issue. However, BIF was the first where Accenture achieved blockchain interoperability ‘without a middleman’.
BIF, at first, joined the Hyperledger Lab with a hope to become a Hyperledger project one day. During its days of infancy, it was enabled to support the on-chain data as well as assets exchange between Hyperledger Fabric, R3’s Corda, and Quorum.
Hyperledger Cactus — The Introduction
Blockchain Integration Framework stayed in Hyperledger Lab for six months, and then it joined the Hyperledger Greenhouse. BIF was christened as Hyperledger Cactus and it became the 16th technology code base to join the Linux Foundation’s open-source blockchain framework network.
Under the Hyperledger umbrella, Accenture and Fujuistu are working to integrate Blockchain Integration Framework with ConnectionChain technology and develop a platform that will interconnect blockchains and bring advancement to the blockchain transformation.
What is ConnectionChain?
In the year 2017, Fujitsu Labs developed ConnectionChain to enable value exchange between different blockchain ledgers. ConnectionChain was offered for free as an OSS. The aim behind developing ConnectionChain was to transfer digital assets between multiple blockchain ledgers. The value exchange is performed by using an extended version of smart contract; the code in the smart contract helps one blockchain adapt to the other and safely initiate value transfer.
Hyperledger Cactus is an open-source Apache V2-licensed SDK (Software Development Kit) which is architected and designed to be a pluggable framework.
With Hyperledger Cactus, the goal is integration, therefore Cactus must offer flexibility to support different DLTs (existent or non-existent). Each of the DLTs currently in operation including Hyperledger Besu, Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, and Quorum have certain feature/s which is partially or entirely missing in the other DLTs. With Hyperledger Cactus, it is going to be possible to interact with these unique DLTs and transfer data required without compromising the attributes of the blockchain technology.
Managing Double Spending with Hyperledger Cactus
When it comes to digital cash or tokens, double-spending comes across as a significant flaw. The availability of the digital file, which can be falsified or duplicated makes it easy for the fraudsters to double spend. Later Asset Locking Mechanism came into picture which was being used at high-level asset transfer. An asset once committed for transfer from one DLT to another are locked in the first chain. A representation is then created on the second DLT platform. However, to avoid double-spending here, it became necessary to check that there aren’t multiple representations being created of the same asset at the same time.
With Hyperledger Cactus, there would be no need to create representations of an asset on the second chain. The transfers will be done directly between multiple blockchains. This will enable safety in asset difference between different chains and elimination of transaction errors.
Does Hyperledger Cactus deal with issues like governance and trust?
Cactus aims to resolve one of the significant challenges faced by blockchain, i.e. interoperability. However, are still issues like governance and network participation looming out in the open. What needs to be mentioned here is that Cactus was not designed to resolve the issues discussed above.
The director of blockchain technology at Accenture, Michael Klein, made a statement that “Cactus still needs a human element to ensure its success. The thought behind developing Hyperledger Cactus is that multiple DLT parties can interact on a single platform. The transaction confirmation, however, will be done by an opposing network. In this case, trust is not placed with a single organization; the process still needs governance.”
Moreover, Hyperledger Cactus is just one more solution that offers DLT, a chance to resolve the interoperability issue. There are other options available in the ecosystem like Fabric Interoperability Workgroup, which is being used across Hyperledger Fabric systems.
Hyperledger Cactus Use-Cases
Shared Car Services
Fujitsu illustrates the use of Hyperledger Cactus in a car-sharing service. In this instance a new user books the car in exchange for some tokens or cryptocurrencies.
The car-sharing service updates in its database which is on the blockchain that a new user has booked the car. Now, this database needs to be linked with the blockchain handling the money transfer.
Traditionally both the blockchains would not have been able to communicate with each other due to lack of interoperability. With Hyperledger Cactus, both the blockchains will not only inter-connect but will also be able to refund money (tokens/cryptocurrency) to the user in case he underutilizes the services.