The days when hardware and software were separate entities are long gone. Along with the ongoing worldwide digitization and digitalization, the integration between the virtual and physical worlds is getting stronger – making the Internet of Things (IoT) a real thing. Going further, we can leverage blockchain features like data immutability, distributed character, and exploit the smart contracts it offers to connect it with IoT applications to build a trusted and all-inclusive solution.
Of course, step one is to build out a network to support such solutions. We’ve created a two-part tutorial to showcase how to deploy and connect all the pieces. In part I, we discuss the deployment of a private Hyperledger Besu network on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the minimum configuration of a Raspberry Pi to interact with the deployed network. In part II, we will do a more complex configuration of a Raspberry Pi, making it a physical instance of an externally owned account with an ability to send hardware signed transactions and interact with smart contracts as both signature and measurements provider.
Our goal with part I, Deployment of Private Hyperledger Besu on AWS with Hardware Layer for Externally Owned Account, is to provide an introduction to the topic as well as guidance for getting started. The tutorial details how to connect a hardware node to the network and configure it to interact with the blockchain. In this regard, it can be treated as a blockchain enabler for IoT solutions.
For a quick overview of the setup, see below. The entire methodology and codebase can be found here.
Setting up the blockchain, accounts and hardware node
First of all, a Hyperledger Besu network should be hosted. For our scenario, we show how to provision a network of four Hyperledger Besu nodes, running an IBFT2.0 consensus, and deployed on AWS. If, like us, you’re not a fan of dull and repetitive tasks, you can use terraform to set the scene instead of manually creating all four nodes.
For general-purpose account management, we use MetaMask – a browser extension that helps to create and manage Ethereum blockchain identities. In the tutorial, we present how to connect to our private, test network, and create a new account – used as an identifier and signature of Raspberry Pi.
Next, we show how to configure Raspberry Pi to:
- hold its own identity given as a private-public key pair
- become a part of our private blockchain network
- sign transactions using its own keys and send ether to other nodes
These steps show how to build a hardware-inclusive blockchain network
Getting a handle on the basic ideas and configurations that have to be done in order to have a private Hyperledger Besu blockchain with a hardware node attached is only the beginning. In Part II of our tutorial, we will go beyond merely sending some virtual (and, in fact, worthless) tokens between virtual accounts. We’ll take advantage of the functionalities offered by smart contracts and dive into a business case where the hardware node serves as a trusted source of measurements used to invalidate or finalize a contract. Stay tuned!