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Hyperledger

Developer Showcase Series: Luc Yriarte & Zinedine Hasni, ChainOrchestra

By | Blog, Hyperledger Composer, Hyperledger Fabric

Our Developer Showcase blog series serves to highlight the work and motivations of developers, users and researchers collaborating on Hyperledger’s incubated projects. Next up is Luc Yriarte and Zinedine Hasni  from ChainOrchestra. Let’s see what they have to say!

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

First things first. Blockchain is the buzzword of the day, before falling for the hype I would recommend taking a step back, and pondering what you are trying to achieve. Do you have a specific problem to solve that you feel that blockchain technology would help address, or do you want to provide a service based on the blockchain ?

If it’s the former, you might want to consider what blockchain has to offer regarding your specific need versus run of the mill encryption methods or just data replication. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does your use-case involve several participants who don’t necessarily trust each other ?
  2. Is it something about transactions in the generalized acceptation of the term? For instance where a participant would transfer an asset to another, or provide some document, measure, or any other data that the other should read and acknowledge?
  3. Do you need to keep a record of these transactions ? Do all participants in your use-case want to know the transaction record is sound and unadulterated ?

Answering “no” to any of these questions means you are shooting yourself in the foot and should do something more straightforward. Otherwise… go for it!

Now what if you want to provide a service based on the blockchain ? There again, all hype and buzzword effect put aside, you need to consider if Hyperledger is right for you. The major existing blockchain instances Bitcoin and Ethereum are not going to disappear anytime soon, and it is very easy to deploy a solution on these systems – at least for now.

  1. Does your service need to be backed by a cryptocurrency, or is it more of a burden than anything else?
  2. Do you need to control membership access to your service?
  3. Will you need fine granularity and control on the transaction volume, speed, or size of the network?

If your service can be pegged to some cryptocurrency and you don’t need control over membership or network specifics, the legacy systems will do, otherwise… time to consider building your solution on Hyperledger.

Luc Yriarte and Zinedine Hasni of ChainOrchestra

Give a bit of background on what you’re working on, and let us know what was it that made you want to get into blockchain?

I’m the lead engineer for ChainOrchestra, a start-up focused on blockchain network deployment and operation.

About 18 months ago, late winter of 2016, I had an encounter with some people who wanted to build a secure network for the Internet of Things, based on a blockchain. The advantages of the blockchain in this area are many, most obviously protecting sensor measures from being tampered with, but also triggering automated procedures in a secure way, and so on. First we started reviewing Ethereum, but it didn’t seem able to cope with the potential huge volume of sensor data to manage, and the needs for quick response time. And over all, the whole proof-of-work rewarded by crypto-currency scheme seemed just overkill for what we were trying to achieve.

Then, spring of 2016, we got invited as part of the local tech ecosystem to the IBM Client Center in our hometown of Montpellier, France, for a conference on Hyperledger. A few things ensued:

  1. We decided to give Hyperledger a go for our first prototypes.
  2. We figured that since we’d be deploying and managing blockchain networks for the IoT, we might as well do the same for the other use-cases.
  3. I was hired to do networking and IoT, I ended-up being the blockchain engineer for lack of other options.

Right after that, we got Zinedine Hasni, our devops and systems engineer, on board. As of summer 2016, we started working on our first Hyperledger Fabric v0.6 network and a few use-case demos.

Zinedine: “When we started working on this, we added just PDF support from an IBM workshop. At the time Hyperledger was at version 0.5, and was powering IBM’s Open Blockchain.

While I was digging into this documentation I was surprised to see a lot virtualisation programs (docker inside vagrant)

so we had to figure out what was worth focusing on.

Also a lot of stuff was new to me (blockchain included), I only used docker once before, during my studies at the 42 Paris engineering school.

So we started by analyzing all the yaml files to understand how it works, and learned golang to write our chaincode. We had to figure out why our peers were crashing and fix them (had to update rocksdb in the docker images), which was quite painful.”

…But eventually we got things to work.

The web-based demos, revolving mainly around private data management and IoT device control, were rather well received. Now we are on the final steps of releasing a pre-production Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 network that will allow us to address the different segments we are aiming for. The features added for Fabric v1.0, especially channels and certificate authorities, bring a whole lot of flexibility to the blockchain. But also these features add a new layer of complexity, justifying the role of blockchain network operator that we are taking on in the ecosystem.

As Hyperledger’s incubated projects start maturing and hit 1.0s and beyond, what are the most interesting technologies, apps, or use cases coming out as a result from your perspective?

Hyperledger Fabric has come a long way between the last stable v0.6 and v1.0, and as I just mentioned, a lot of these features are very relevant from a blockchain network operator perspective. I already mentioned the separate channels and the certificate authority servers, but the most salient feature in my opinion, the one that enables the others, is the orderer network. By having an orderer network independent from the business networks you manage, you can truly allow different use-cases to co-exist in the same blockchain. Engaging several different user communities around a single blockchain infrastructure without having to duplicate a history of irrelevant transactions on each and every server becomes possible.

Then there are the other, user-related Hyperledger projects. Hyperledger Composer will most likely become the application framework of choice as app development for Hyperledger becomes more mainstream. On the same token, we are following with the Hyperledger Cello project with a lot of interest. Cello is aimed at blockchain network management, pretty much our core business. We are currently on an early evaluation phase, but we’d love to be able to participate at some point.

Zinedine: “Right now we are taking a bottom up approach to build our network with several organisations, channels, certificates authorities in addition to committer and endorser peers without forgetting orderers, kafka, zookeepers…(and SBFT coming soon).

The main goal for us is to get to the bare bones of all those components and build incrementally from there.”

We are also digging into the other Hyperledger implemenations besides Fabric, i.e. Sawtooth, Iroha and Indy. We consider the ability to have several implementations at hand, with different consensus mechanisms, very important. That’s a bit of a longer term perspective, but the flexibility that those implementation bring will be needed to address a wide range of areas, from the IoT to traditional businesses.

What technology could you not live without?

Running water. Like most people on this earth. And also electricity… and the internet. I’m old enough to have developed software when the internet didn’t exist, and I really wouldn’t want to go back. And when you look at it this way, Hyperledger being more of a protocol than an implementation of a blockchain, is the next layer of the internet, right after IP and the World Wide Web.

Blockchain: A Shared Noun

By | Blog

Guest post: Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare

In many of the discussions that I have had regarding blockchain, business models are a frequent topic. Why use a new technology like blockchain instead of an existing, well understood, proven, cost effective technology? What makes blockchain radically different?

To answer, let’s start with a simple history of the evolution of communication, the evolution of how one person shared a concept with another person. What was visual (point at it), became verbal (speak and hear), became written (write and read), and then became an electronic transmission. Telegraph became radio became television. Each approach was essentially the same: describe something in enough detail such that the listener could create the same picture in their mind or on their device.

In these approaches, the sender strives for enough detail that the listener can create an identical view. Complete accuracy is difficult.  Differences are basically guaranteed, especially if changes occur to the picture by either party. Reconciliations attempt to repair the differences.  Doubts gather whether the sender and receiver are staying on the same page. In some cases, the cost of reconciliation is so high that it is simply ignored and differences accumulate.

Some mitigations have arisen. The simplistic sending of a flat file, as a description of the object, has moved to the use of APIs. Systems now agree to the verbs used with an object and to use the verbs to communicate actions about the object. These verbs make up an API. With such, two or more systems can communicate about an object without actually exchanging the object.  Color the car red, Credit the account $500.

Blockchain technology adds a new approach to our toolkits. Blockchain technology enables the sender and receiver to always interact with the same object, the same noun. The local copy of the object is complete and synchronized across each participant of the blockchain network. No explicit interpretation or reconciliation needed. We now have a new tool, a new ability to share the noun, a single noun. The historic approaches of trying to describe, create, and work through verbs are not limiters any more.

By sharing the noun, blockchains create opportunities for new paradigms where all participants see the same object and every change to the object. The verbs do not need to be agreed upon. This freedom to interact with the noun, a shared object, without agreement as to how, is a very different and new approach.

How do we think about existing business models in a model of sharing the noun? Submitting a medical claim becomes simply placing it on the blockchain. After that, all participants can edit, approve, pay, reject, bundle, and take any action they want on the claim. Imagine six companies, sharing a blockchain. Each has connected their systems to the blockchain to take action as changes are seen on the chain, and to submit their own changes to the chain. Everyone on the network can work simultaneously. As every participant sees every change on the claim, taking action on edits becomes easy and automatic.

This model of sharing a noun is unlike any business process today. No longer restricted by previous modes of communication, we can each see the same noun and operate on it together. We have an opportunity to move from linear, assembly-line workflows to constant and simultaneous interaction. This is an exciting opportunity and to explore it, we must begin using blockchains in our production processes. We should not seek the “killer app.” Instead, we should create a thousand new opportunities for new interactions, value creation, and niches in our ecosystems. As these opportunities succeed and some fail, we will learn. Let’s begin exploring the uncharted areas of our maps.

Developer Showcase Series: Todd Cooper & James Sloan, NuArca

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Jumping back to our Developer Showcase blog series, which serves to highlight the work and motivations of developers, users and researchers collaborating on Hyperledger’s incubated projects. Next up is Todd Cooper and James Sloan from NuArca. Let’s see what they have to say!

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

Dive right in.  The pace of change is so fast in this space that getting caught up can be a relatively quick process.  I think the term ‘blockchain’ still covers a lot of ground so it makes sense to narrow your focus a bit.  If you are interested in cryptocurrencies then dive into Bitcoin, Ethereum and token sales in that order. Go out and set up a wallet and buy a small amount of bitcoin just for the experience.  Then look it up on a bitcoin explorer to see the history of the transactions.

To start to get familiar with the underlying code the open source community is great in terms of being open to participation and providing resources for learning.  Start by downloading Hyperledger Fabric, writing your own Smart Contract and setting up a network of Docker nodes or develop your own token on Ethereum’s test network in Solidity. If you are looking to familiarize yourself with the innovation in this space, every ICO is publishing a new whitepaper exploring new concepts in blockchain and while the quality may vary, you can get a sense of what is happening.

Finally, there are lots of networks out there on Slack, Twitter, Telegram and Meetups that are occurring all around the world. Start talking to other people to find out what they are doing.

James Sloan, EVP Product Management, NuArca

Todd Cooper, CEO and Co-founder, NuArca

Give a bit of background on what you’re working on, and let us know what was it that made you want to get into blockchain?

NuArca is working with AST (American Stock and Transfer) to deliver a blockchain and machine learning enabled proxy voting solution. AST is one of the largest proxy voting solutions in the market, and the NuArca built system will be used by thousands of corporations and funds to define, manage, and record their proxy vote issuances and annual shareholder voting. This solution will facilitate greater transparency and confidence in data handling, allowing issuers to make more informed decisions and strategy adjustments.  It will also allow AST’s proxy solicitation experts to access advanced predictive analytics to guide complex proxy solicitations.

What project in Hyperledger are you working on? Any new developments to share? Can you sum up your experience with Hyperledger?

Our primary focus at this time is on deploying the Proxy voting solution using Hyperledger Fabric. We will be live by end of September with more than 2 million unique voters representing over 1 trillion shares. This first project stage is focused on parallel record keeping with existing proxy systems. When all goes well, the Fabric based system NuArca built will become the system of record for proxy voting. By Q2 2019, ~40% of all fund proxy voting will be using this system.

To date, Hyperledger has been great, but does require full time tracking of changes in both technology incorporation as well as deployment. It is new enough that this is completely understandable, but anyone getting involved should know that they are working in a fast moving and dynamic system in which time must be invested to understand and leverage.

What do you think is most important for Hyperledger to focus on in the next year?

Scalability and effectively getting the news out on the good enterprise class solutions that are starting to come out using Hyperledger. Much of the tech industry press and financial services press are focused on coins and tokens. Meanwhile, Hyperledger solutions are proving themselves scalable and practical. The Hyperledger community can do a better job of helping to make that knowledge resonate in the market.

From a specific technology gap standpoint, we are particularly looking to have support of Hyperledger on Red Hat rather than Debian as that is the OS of choice for much of the financial services industry. We anticipate needing ongoing improvements to performance and scalability as we grow the solution.  

As Hyperledger’s incubated projects start maturing and hit 1.0s and beyond, what are the most interesting technologies, apps, or use cases coming out as a result from your perspective?

In general, it is the practical use of the technology available today that is most interesting. Hyperledger is not a pie in the sky visage that may come into its own 5 – 10 years down the road. It is here today and can better solve specific types of problems better than yesterday’s technology base.

What’s the one issue or problem you hope blockchain can solve?

Confidence and accuracy in electoral voting.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in 5 years?

Providing a backbone for strong, private blockchains to various industries that are being used to solve various business challenges. An accepted standard similar to Linux.

What is the best piece of developer advice you’ve ever received?

At some point in every project, it is time to shoot the developer and ship the software. Knowing where that point of time is requires decades of experience, and makes all the difference in the world.

What technology could you not live without?

Cloud service models. The convenience and cross platform synchronization is making a truly mobile life possible. One reason blockchain is needed is to ensure the ongoing security, privacy, and resiliency of these models that are increasingly pulling us towards full reliance on external and potentially vulnerable information management models.

(2.15.18) Tech Bullion: 10 Places to study Blockchain Technology Courses Online

By | News

Blockchain technology has since then become the foremost software or platform upon which other digital assets are built. With the explosion of other cryptocurrency and uses of blockchain technology, many are looking to build their knowledge in this area to enable them make the best of this opportunity. Blockchain technology is being used by revolutionary minds not just in the financial sector or investment industry but also in areas such as fashion, healthcare, gaming, and more. It is possible to apply this technology to literally every area of life with the assurance of security and integrity. If you are looking for online courses on blockchain, you should check out some of these.

More here.

 

 

(2.14.18) RCR Wireless: Five noteworthy open source projects

By | News

The open-source movement has gained momentum over the last few years. So much so that The Linux Foundation recently formed the LF Networking Fund (LFN) in an effort to place multiple open source networking projects under a single umbrella. These types of projects allow virtually anyone to make modifications, and potentially improve, software code through a process called upstreaming. Given the numerous open source projects available, however, choosing one to contribute to can feel overwhelming. To simplify matters, the following — though far from an exhaustive list — highlights some noteworthy open source projects.

More here.

(2.12.18) CNET: Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most

By | News

These days, we’re having a harder and harder time trusting each other.

Trust is an essential part of ordinary living, whether it’s picking mechanics based on Yelp reviews, sliding credit cards into gas station fuel pumps or heeding our doctor’s advice. But our trust has been eroding for years. In the US, only 33 percent of us felt we could trust our government in 2017 — a decline of 14 percentage points from 2016, according to Edelman’s annual trust barometer study. Trust in businesses dropped from 58 percent to 48 percent, too, while media (fake news!) and social networks also took a hit.

More here.

(2.7.18) Global Trade Review: Hyperledger boss Behlendorf expects China to lead on blockchain

By | News

Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of blockchain consortium Hyperledger, says China will be a leading force in developing blockchain for trade finance.

Speaking to GTR in Hong Kong at the end of a whirlwind tour of Asia, Behlendorf points to the fact that there are more Hyperledger developers in Beijing than any other city. Already, Chinese banks and companies are moving projects into the production phase.

More here.

Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 Release Process

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

By David Huseby, Hyperledger Security Maven

As an open source project  that is part of the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger takes on a great deal of responsibility to deliver software using a process that is transparent, proactive, and uses the best security practices. This blog post is about the release process for Hyperledger projects reaching the version 1.0 milestone. It is the first in a series focused on the Hyperledger security regime. The next post in this series will focus on everything we do to make good on the promise of open source software being more secure.

When Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 was released on July 11th, 2017 several administrative initiatives were under way. The first of these was an audit of the source code to determine the open source licenses the software was under. Hyperledger uses the Apache 2.0 License for all of its original software and strives to only depend on other code licensed under the same or equally compatible licenses.

The second initiative was a cryptography export audit conducted by the Software Freedom Law Center. Despite a victory in the “crypto wars,” since blockchains require heavily on the latest cryptography, we still have a reporting requirement for all cryptography that we include in our software.

The third initiative was an outside security audit. The Hyperledger team contracted an outside firm named Nettitude to do an independent audit of the Fabric source code. The purpose was to get confirmation of the soundness of the software and to establish a baseline for its security.  The team at Nettitude did a great job going through the source code and attempting penetration tests and running fuzzing processes against Fabric.

Nettitude is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with The Linux Foundation to assess the security of their Hyperledger Fabric blockchain software. This was an exciting and timely piece of work, in a field which Nettitude had already identified as one of our security research priorities.

The end results of the audit showed only a couple medium grade security issues that have since been mitigated. One issue was a general lack of comments in the code that documented the expected behavior of the code. This is an important detail because programmers can look at the code and figure out what it does, but bugs lurk in the difference between what the original programmer intended and what the code actually does. Having thorough comments in the code helps reduce the risk of a security regression occurring during future software maintenance work.  

The other issue was focused on the general security of the Docker container used to execute chain code. The principle of least authority dictates that the Docker container should be restricted and isolated as much as possible. Today, we are finally publishing the Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 security audit report. We have published the technical report and the management report documents.

This process will be applied to all of the other Hyperledger projects as they reach the 1.0 milestone.. The next project to go through it is Hyperledger Sawtooth. The license, crypto, and security audits for Sawtooth have already been completed and readers should expect its 1.0 release in the very near future. Stay tuned for the follow up with the Sawtooth security audit report.If you would like to help us make great software, the Hyperledger community has organized meetups and hackfests all over the world. If you find a security issue please report it to [email protected]. You can find an upcoming event near you by visiting our events page here: https://hyperledger.org/events. We’ll also be talking at RSA this year in April in San Francisco. Director of Ecosystem, Marta Pierkarska and I will present “Blockchain-the new black. What about enterprise security?” We hope to see you there!