Hyperledger, a collaborative platform created to advance blockchain technology, was founded by The Linux Foundation at the end of 2015. But what makes it so popular among corporations? Why are twenty-four of the $1bn+ companies working with blockchain, according to Forbes, specifically working with Hyperledger – when only two are using Ripple, which is surely better-known within the crypto community?
Hyperledger has no native coin fueling activity and is neither a blockchain nor a company. One might think of Hyperledger as a platform on which its participants can build, well, other platforms. As its website describes it:
“Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation, including leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing, and Technology.”
In fact, its appeal for corporations lies in what it isn’t as much as what it is. It isn’t a blockchain supporting a cryptocurrency. It isn’t a permissionless blockchain anyone can view transactions on with an explorer. And while its community loudly espouses the virtues of blockchain technology, it isn’t prescriptive about what you can and can’t do with it.
It doesn’t get clogged up by people trading CryptoKitties. It doesn’t rely on a cryptocurrency which itself has to rely on the whims of crypto exchanges. And it encourages the deployment of permissioned blockchains – private networks where only those authorized to participate may do so.
To date, it counts among its growing user base an impressive lineup of industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies spanning the tech, logistics, finance, telco, and blockchain startup sectors. Companies that are deploying Hyperledger include household names: Airbus, IBM, Fujitsu, SAP, Wells Fargo, American Express, JPMorgan, and Samsung.
Hyperledger is a catch-all phrase for its many variants. From Hyperledger Sawtooth, Iroha, Burrow, Composer, Explorer (hosted by Linux), Indy, to Cello, the project gives corporations the flexibility they need to digitize their information across distributed ledgers, create smart contracts, and produce blockchain-as-a-service products.
The best-known variant is Hyperledger Fabric, ostensibly an IBM-run implementation of DLT that allows companies to develop blockchain applications with flexible permission levels. IBM’s Fabric is very much a rigorous, industry-grade blockchain platform aimed at its corporate clients. (Note that an early contributor to Hyperledger recently groused to Crypto Briefing that this implementation was now so ubiquitous that many people have begun to refer to ‘IBM’s Hyperledger’… much to his annoyance.)
One of the Hyperledger Foundation’s goals, as outlined in its charter, was to:
“create an enterprise grade, open source distributed ledger framework and code base, upon which users can build and run robust, industry-specific applications, platforms and hardware systems to support business transactions.”
The language of that aim clearly distinguishes Hyperledger as targeting enterprise users. The not-quite-a-blockchain, certainly not a cryptocurrency Hyperledger project has proven one of the blockchain industry’s most successful.
Despite what some see as the antithetical nature of permissioned blockchains, with strong support from both within and outside the industry, it appears Hyperledger is here to stay. That is a lot more than we can say for a good number of projects that have been firmly laid to rest.
There isn’t a crypto or DLT project about which it might be said a belief in distributed ledger technology was absent, excluding the pure scams. But Hyperledger’s commitment to blockchain as a way of transforming the way business is conducted has been undertaken with little hype.
Hyperledger is to Ethereum what Blockfi is to Salt. The serious version that needed no fanfare – and no token – to succeed in providing a valuable service.
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