Even though blockchain was first invented for building public and open trustless networks, it is now evolving towards permissioned and private platforms for enterprises. The past few years introduced new blockchain technologies for implementing business-ready solutions helping companies build new models of cooperation.
One of the most popular enterprise-grade blockchain frameworks is Hyperledger Fabric. The solution is highly-modular and designed by IBM for industrial enterprise use. Why is Hyperledger Fabric such a strong player among blockchain technologies? Let’s find out.
Why Hyperledger Fabric?
What is Hyperledger Fabric?
Hyperledger Fabric is an open source blockchain framework, see the source code and the documentation, first released in 2015 and now available on all major clouds: Google Cloud, AWS, Oracle, SAP, and more. Fabric’s modular architecture and versatile design fit a broad range of industry distributed ledger use cases. Blockchain applications built on Fabric are enterprise-ready and provide high security, scalability, confidentiality, and performance.
Fabric is a part of a bigger entity — Hyperledger. It is an initiative created by IBM’s Linux Foundation with the aim of advancing business blockchain adoption through global open source collaboration. The platform encompasses multiple projects, each built for a specific business purpose, one of them being Hyperledger Fabric, and unites a growing number of developers and various organizations.
Hyperledger is an open initiative, any company that wants to actively support the growth and evolution of enterprise blockchain can join. At SoftwareMill, being rooted in the open source Scala community, we built a tool, Fablo, that helps developers easily kick-off new Hyperledger projects and experiment with network topology. There is a tremendous value in building products and services on top of the Hyperledger blockchain. Why? More about this is coming.
Enterprise-ready blockchain technology
Hyperledger Fabric is a framework for private permissioned blockchains. It's best suited for ensuring transparency for groups of organizations that do not fully trust each other.
Fabric helps organizations keep their information for authorized parties only and is designed for entities that want to have more control over data and more privacy with fine-grained permission control.
The study from 2021, conducted based on a literature review, shows that Hyperledger Fabric is the most promising and useful blockchain framework for various industries when compared to other blockchain frameworks like Corda or Multichain.
“Fabric, Ethereum, Quorum, Multichain, and Corda have respectively an average grade of 4.2, 3.3, 2.2, 2 and 2.2.”
In reality, the final selection of a framework for a specific case study is always a trade-off. To make sure a given framework fits specific business requirements, it is always good to start from a Proof of Concept (PoC). PoC is the starting point for any enterprise blockchain development and lets you verify in a cost-effective way if your idea will function as envisioned.
In fact, the growing number of Hyperledger Fabric’s use cases is a visible proof of the maturity of the tool and the strength of the community around it, making it a go-to framework when investigating blockchain adoption in enterprises.
Modular architecture and scalability
When designing blockchain applications, making sure that specific industry, technology, and organizational requirements are met is crucial. Thus, the phenomenal modularity of Hyperledger Fabric is a valuable feature from a business perspective. It enables innovation and optimization for a broad range of industry use cases.
Hyperledger Fabric allows developers to build off of what they originally created, making their systems scalable. Usually when you start with a private blockchain PoC, you want to start small, but later grow the network of more internal and external partners. Thus, the challenge of scalability is about not just transaction speed but, more importantly, the size of the ecosystem.
“The architecture of Fabric naturally supports sharding, where the shards are the channels themselves hosted on independent ordering services. This means, as you approach the limits of an ordering service's ability to adequately handle the transaction load of its current set of channels, you can spin up a new ordering service to host the new channels.”
On top of such flexibility, Hyperledger Fabric’s plug and play design gives unlimited network configuration options. You can add and remove different components as you please, taking into account different business needs or desired technologies like various databases or Certificate Authorities.
The flexibility of Fabric comes also from the fact that this framework is language-agnostic. Blockchain systems and smart contracts can be written in any programming language. This means that most enterprises already have the skill set needed to develop smart contracts with Fabric or it’s easier for them to look for professionals and outsource their blockchain development.
Privacy by design
Privacy is a reason why companies look at private blockchain in the first place. They need distributed ledger technology to keep confidential information for authorized parties only to bring trust into their business.
Hyperledger Fabric offers a rich system of permissions that allows flexible allocation of read and write access to transactions to various organizations in the blockchain network. Within the blockchain network, the permissioned parties are offered public and private keys, so they can only interact with the ledger as themselves.
In practice, if you only want certain members of your supply chain to have visibility on a transaction, you can have a private channel that gives permission to only those members for that particular transaction. When your consortium needs more private channels, but for different groups of members of the network — you can create new channels and scale the system.
Fabric also addresses a very important privacy issue that other blockchain technologies don’t take into account. Blockchain solutions are immutable — data that has been added to blockchain ledgers cannot be deleted. This presents a problem from the GDPR perspective. When developers write the solution in a good way using Fabric, it will be GDPR-compliant and will respect GDPR requirements for data storage. More about it coming soon on our blog.
High performance with strong data consistency
Performance and scalability are two key characteristics of any platform. In terms of most of the Hyperledger projects, both will directly relate to end user satisfaction and, ultimately, adoption of a project. Hyperledger Fabric has a special Performance and Scale Working Group established that serves as a cross-project forum for architects and technologists from the blockchain community to exchange ideas and explore the performance and scalability aspects of the Distributed Ledger Technologies projects.
Hyperledger Fabric performance is highly related with smart contract design and the data model beneath. The framework guarantees strong consistency of the state and, at the same time, promises to perform hundreds of transactions per second.
Hyperledger Fabric favors consistency over scalability. When there are many conflicting updates, the overall performance will decrease. The crucial thing to keep the performance high is to properly design the data model and smart contracts. We specialize in this in our blockchain projects. Here’s Kuba, our Blockchain developer, explaining the issue.
What does it mean for the business? For an enterprise application, it is far better to immediately have a consistent final state, rather than the state that after a given period of time will eventually be consistent. This is one of the dimensions where Hyperledger Fabric outruns public blockchains.
Supported by mature community
The Linux Foundation is one of the largest governing bodies of the open source initiative in the world. It means that its tools are developed and continuously supported by a large number of developers. The project is appreciated on GitHub (check out its number of stars) and has an extensive and well-written documentation.
Hyperledger also gathers non-dev members. They have the opportunity to participate in unique, wide-reaching networking and learning programs, where they can get to know the toolset, business use cases, and later contribute to the global blockchain projects that change the way many companies operate and work together.
Why should SoftwareMill help you with Hyperledger Fabric?
- Hyperledger Fabric is a difficult tool. It is complicated due to its flexibility, modularity, and ways it ties consistency with high performance. Developing enterprise-ready blockchain requires a lot of knowledge that cannot be easily acquired.
- In the beginning, you will need a Proof of Concept. Developing a blockchain PoC would require an investment of time, money and resources. Nevertheless, it will help you start small and invest far less than in a full-blown blockchain system. In reality, you’d need to get your hands-on supporting technologies and the help of experienced developers.
- Our engineers are hands-on with various DLT technologies: Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum, Bitcoin, Solidity, and smart contracts design, and have a portfolio of successfully delivered projects.
- Besides consulting and developing commercial blockchain solutions, we are involved in the blockchain community. We contribute by developing open source projects and sharing our know-how at IT events and on our blog.
- Fablo tackles the complexity of setting up and managing a Hyperledger Fabric network. It suits CI and testing purposes best. Check the source code, the introductory post, or the demo video.
Want to discuss your project? Meet with our Blockchain Team to get expert advice.