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Announcing Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.2

By | Blog, Hyperledger Sawtooth

Today, we are pleased to announce that Hyperledger Sawtooth release 1.2 is available! Since the 1.1 release, Sawtooth has continued to grow in capability, diversity, and adoption, thanks to the involvement of many organizations and open source community members. The release of Sawtooth 1.2 shows that growth with the active contribution of features and improvements by an engaged community of developers.

The latest version of Sawtooth provides exciting new benefits — namely, full support for the PBFT consensus engine and for mobile application development with new SDKs for iOS and Android. 

Additionally, this release contains transaction family compatibility with Sawtooth Sabre, enhanced performance & stability, improved documentation, better support for consensus algorithms, and overall platform refinements for a better developer experience.  

PBFT 1.0 Consensus in Sawtooth

The dynamic consensus interface, introduced in Sawtooth 1.1, allows for easy integration with consensus engines that meet a variety of use cases. Sawtooth 1.1 included support for PoET, PBFT, and Raft consensus. Now, Sawtooth PBFT 1.0 is the preferred consensus for  small-to-medium networks — it’s leader-based, non-forking, and fast. PBFT also provides the safety and liveness guarantees that are necessary for operating a blockchain network with adversarial trust. This makes PBFT an excellent option for smaller consortium-style networks.

Complete procedures are provided for configuring PBFT consensus on a Sawtooth node and network. For more information, see Creating a Sawtooth Test Network in the Application Developer’s Guide or Setting Up a Sawtooth Network in the System Administrator’s Guide.

Mobile Support in Sawtooth

Release 1.2 ushers in support for mobile development in Sawtooth with the inclusion of a new Swift SDK for iOS and improved Java SDK for Android. New tutorials and SDK reference documentation for Swift and Java help developers write native mobile client applications for Sawtooth. 

Transaction Family Compatibility with Sabre

All core transaction families are now compatible with Sawtooth Sabre release 0.4.0, a WebAssembly smart contract engine for Hyperledger Sawtooth. This compatibility is a major step towards allowing the default transaction families to be managed as on-chain smart contracts. 

Improved Documentation

We are making strong efforts to support developers by continuing to improve the content and quality of Sawtooth documentation. In this release, you will find Swift and Java tutorials, procedures for configuring a consensus engine, and improved summaries of the supported consensus algorithms for PBFT, PoET, Raft, and Devmode. There are also numerous technical corrections, bug fixes, and general improvements throughout the documentation.

Refinements

This release includes a number of refinements designed to improve performance & stability, allow quicker builds, enhance support for consensus algorithms, and provide development options such as access to raw transaction headers through a new API. For details, see the Release 1.2 (Chime) release notes.

Try Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.2 Today!

Sawtooth version 1.2 is available now, so there’s no need to wait. To get your hands on it, use the links below. If you are new to Sawtooth and would like to get involved, take a look at the community links.

About the Hyperledger Sawtooth Team

Hyperledger Sawtooth 1.2 is the result of the collaboration and dedication of many people. Significant contributions were provided by Cargill, Bitwise IO, Intel, and others. Special thanks to Peter Schwarz, Darian Plumb, Anne Chenette, Shawn Amundson, Ryan Beck-Buysse, Richard Berg, Arun S M, Logan Seeley, Andrea Gunderson, Shannyn Telander, and Eloá França Verona.

Electric Vehicle Roaming Using Hyperledger Fabric and Dash Special Transactions

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

The University of Wyoming (Laramie) hosted the 2nd Wyoming Blockchain Stampede event during 20-22nd September 2019. The event comprised three tracks: hackathon, blockchain conference and the Sandcastle Startups Challenge. Together, Chainrider and the Blockchain Research Lab @ Arizona State University participated in these events and accomplished remarkable results. We have won two hackathon prizes (a 1st and 2nd place) for BRL@ASU team for designing a roaming framework on private and public blockchains inside the electric vehicles charging ecosystem. Chainrider has won the 3rd place in the Sandcastle startups challenge. 

The Energy Landscape

Blockchain technology enables peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions through the elimination of a centralized entity governing consensus.  Rather than having a centralized database, the data is distributed across multiple nodes – this both enables crash fault tolerance and makes the system tamper-proof, due to a distributed consensus algorithm.

Blockchain technology has been listed as one of the key innovations in the report, Innovation for a Renewable-Powered Future. Within the energy sector there is an opportunity to handle user accounts and payments using blockchains. Currently, utility companies follow a centralized approach to handle accounts and payments. Thus, the system’s availability and reliability are jeopardized due to a single point of failure. Blockchains, due to their inherent nature, have the potential to provide a promising solution to control and manage trading energy surplus or flexible demand on a P2P basis.

Recent solutions that have used blockchain technology have focused on achieving a shift from a highly centralised power system to smaller scale, localised systems that optimise power demand, consumption, and management. These microgrids are emerging as notions towards decentralization inside the energy ecosystem. They bring together a combination of clean technologies such as distributed generation, batteries, and renewable resources to help organisations operate autonomously  – apart from the traditional electrical grid. Power Ledger and Brooklyn Microgrid are examples of two  such solutions that focus on applying blockchain technology to a microgrid use case. 

The Idea

At the Blockchain Research Lab at ASU, we have an in-house solution to enable a P2P Energy Marketplace using Hyperledger Fabric. It focuses on the transactive energy concept that assigns value to facilitate dynamic balancing between independent power producers. It defines actors who produce, as well as consume energy, as prosumers. Prosumers are offered a way to closely match and balance energy supply and demand. Using smart contracts on Hyperledger Fabric, we digitally facilitate, verify and enforce the negotiations taking place on a transactive grid. Benefits for such a system, for various participants, are summarized in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Energy trading blockchain ecosystem benefits

Our solution identifies four actors that participate in the blockchain ecosystem.

  • Utility Company
  • Photo-Voltaic Installation Owners
  • Storage Installation Owners
  • Utility Customers

Four channels are  used for facilitating transactions on the energy marketplace between these actors. Utility company acts as the operator since it owns the physical infrastructure.  The blockchain infrastructure is displayed in Figure 2. 

Figure 2 – Hyperledger Fabric architecture for  energy trading blockchain ecosystem

The solution implemented uses a permissioned (private) blockchain microgrid – it is a closed ecosystem with each participant well defined. One drawback of such ecosystems landscape is that the asset associated with one such ecosystem has no value as well as meaning beyond that ecosystem. To remedy this drawback, we have worked on an energy trading and roaming use case, showcasing it within the electric vehicle (EV) charging ecosystem. This challenge was sponsored by Dash and Chainrider as part of the WyoHackathon challenges. 

Figure 3 – EV charging ecosystem potential actors

Take a look at the scenario illustrated in Figure 3. A user in the system owns a PV installation as well as an EV. The user has an agreement with an energy storage owner to store surplus of generated energy. The main problem is to share the energy as a digital asset outside its ecosystem so that the user can charge the EV in other similar ecosystems (e.g., while traveling). 

Our solution has two major tracks:

  1. Within a local EV charging ecosystem, leverage Hyperledger Fabric to mediate agreements between EV owner, storage operator and EV charging stations operator, as well as generate and transfer ownership of tokenized energy assets. A local EV charging ecosystem has a platform operator (e.g., utility company). 
  2. Outside the local EV charging ecosystem, leverage Dash public blockchain to store and share proof of ownership over the tokenized energy assets (platform operators agree that information on a robust public blockchain such as Dash is a sufficient proof of ownership). In this manner we:  
    • Leverage OP_RETURN Transaction from Dash to share ‘proof of ownership’ for stored energy.
    • Allow an asset stored on a consortium ecosystem to be exchanged outside using Dash transaction features.
    • Achieve interoperability on the application level between a permissioned and public blockchain.

Figure 4 – Private-to-public blockchain interoperability for EV charging roaming

Figure 4 summarizes the interoperability between private and public blockchains to achieve the roaming use case. A demo for a prototype of this application can be seen by visiting this link. 

The Outcome

A prototype for the idea was implemented and presented by Raj Sadaye and Arsh Padda from the Blockchain Research Lab @ ASU. The BRL team won 1st place in the Dash/Chainrider Blockchain Challenge, and the 2nd place in the WyoHackathon Interoperability Challenge.

Dragan Boscovic and Sasa Pesic from the Chainrider team competed against blockchain startups from all over the USA in the Sandcastle Startups Challenge. The main driving point of the Chainrider platform is its ability to transform a team of IT professionals into blockchain experts in a matter of hours. This is achieved by providing public and Hyperledger Fabric tools to help with blockchain exploration and transacting on one hand, and deployment of blockchain infrastructure and smart contracts on the other. After multiple rounds of judging and one-on-one team battles, the Chainrider team finished 3rd in the competition. 

Cover image by markus roider from Pixabay

Spotlighting Supply Chain Use Cases

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Sawtooth

It’s #HyperledgerSupplyChain month so we wanted to spotlight some of the exciting ways Hyperledger technologies are improving traceability, adding efficiencies and building trust in supply chains around the world.

The role of open source enterprise blockchain is well laid out by Target as a mechanism for “ensuring multiparty trust across enterprises doing business together” in this article about the benefits of the technology. 

To help boost the #HyperledgerSupplyChain conversation, below are some noteworthy use cases. Chime in on social with your own examples of Hyperledger powering supply chain solutions. 

Walmart’s use of Hyperledger Fabric to track food for better safety: When an outbreak of a food-borne disease happens, it can take days, if not weeks, to find its source. Better traceability could help save lives by allowing companies to act faster and protect the livelihoods of farmers by only discarding produce from the affected farms. Using a system powered by Hyperledger Fabric, Walmart can now trace the origin of over 25 products from five different suppliers. The company plans to roll out the system to more products and categories in the near future. 

ScanTrust’s use of Hyperledger Sawtooth to bring transparency to the supply chain: To help their client Cambio Coffee bring more transparency to their ethical trade business, ScanTrust used Hyperledger Sawtooth to build a blockchain-enabled traceability function to enhance its supply chain application. Cambio Coffee implemented ScanTrust’s unique QR codes on their packs in May 2018 to an enthusiastic response from customers. Currently, the roaster and the delivery company enter data onto the blockchain. Future plans call for the roll out the feature to the shipping company and, eventually the farmers, to cover the whole supply chain. Customers are also interested in using the platform other blockchain-supported initiatives, like “Tip your farmer.”

Circulor’s first-ever mine-to-manufacturer traceability of a conflict mineral with Hyperledger Fabric: The African country of Rwanda is the world’s biggest supplier of tantalum: a rare mineral used to make capacitors found in devices like smartphones and laptops. To prove beyond doubt that every bag of tantalum ore from Rwanda was mined, transported, and processed under OECD-approved conditions, without any child or slave labor, Circulor created a Hyperledger Fabric-based system to trace tantalum from three mines and an ore-sorting facility in Rwanda. The system is designed to slash the high cost for compliance, satisfy regulators, reassure consumers, and build revenues for Rwanda.

To see the full line up of supply chain use cases in the Hyperledger Blockchain Showcase, head here. If you have a Hyperledger-powered supply chain project you’d like to see on this list, please submit it.

We also have an active community for those interested in participating and contributing to supply chain solutions. The Hyperledger Supply Chain Special Interest Group (SIG) represents a global membership of logistics and supply chain professionals united in advancing the state of the supply chain industry through the implementation of enterprise-grade solutions based on Hyperledger technologies.

Burrow – The Boring Blockchain

By | Blog, Hyperledger Burrow

Blockchains are too exciting. Burrow wants to be boring. Then we want to be simple. Then we want to be fast. Even more boring than Git is stupid. The kind of boring that lets you sleep well at night. Burrow gives you just enough blockchain to build a strongly decentralised public permissioned network. Enough but no more.

Burrow philosophy

Burrow aims to be simple, complete, opinionated, and lightweight. We want to be ‘the Redis of blockchain.’ Our guiding principles are:

  1. Provide single pure Go binary running as a single process with (almost) everything included
  2. Support public permissioned networks as first-class citizens
  3. Prefer introspection and tight coupling of components over configurability
  4. Provide a single Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithm
  5. Provide a clean and simple developer experience that gets you closer to the metal

Boring deeper

Burrow is a fully fledged blockchain and smart contract framework. That is, you ought to be able to service the same use cases as with Hyperledger Sawtooth, Fabric, and Besu (whereas Iroha takes a slightly different approach to smart contracts).

The core of Burrow is a custom, fully compliant, Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) implementation with an authenticated state (Merkle tree) based on Tendermint consensus (A PBFT consensus variant which we embed as a library). Burrow has a coarse-grain Unix-style model of permissioning baked directly into its EVM implementation. Permissions are for things like SEND, CREATE (a contract), and BOND (become a validator).

There are many other features wrought from our use of Burrow in the wild, both to run the Agreements Network and from years of working on use cases when it was still called eris-db.

It is an explicit focus of Burrow to support running permissioned networks that are, in some sense ‘open to the public.’ There are many shades of grey in terms of network participation with Burrow’s permissions model; validators may be established on an invite-only basis, contract creation may be limited to autonomous contracts rather than human participants, or Burrow could be configured much like permissionless public Ethereum. We are particularly interested in modes of operation that bridge the gap between private chains and public permissionless ones. This bridge is why we value BFT consensus so highly, and why we include quorum-based governance primitives.

Burrow avoids relying on container orchestration and virtual machines as part of its basic setup. These technologies are powerful and can also hide a multitude of sins. Burrow provides an ergonomic developer experience on bare metal — on your laptop or server without needing docker or container orchestration in the first instance. We still have high-quality Kubernetes support for use in production, but you can also spin up a multiple node network directly on your laptop. We aim to give a streamlined developer UX and to help build developer intuition with our tools such as burrow examine, our JSON debug output or our curl-able HTTP info endpoint.

You can use our composable command line tools to spin up a simple chain:

 burrow spec -v1 | burrow configure -s- | burrow start -c-

We provide statically linked cross-compiled binaries for Linux, macOS, and Windows.

We run over a Tendermint BFT consensus that prioritises correctness and finality and provides good throughput for networks with several validators in the low 100s. We only expose additional configuration where it is necessary and try to provide higher level configuration and sane default to reduce the numbers of levers you need to pull on.

We provide a smart contract model exclusively in the Ethereum world view (state lives in buckets called ‘accounts’) and assume the structure provided by the EVM ABI.

Our entire state is modelled in Google’s Protocol Buffers, which is used in our GRPC layer down to our underlying state storage.

Three faces of Burrow

Within the Hyperledger family Burrow can be seen to occupy three different niches:

1) The Hyperledger bridge to the Tendermint/Cosmos ecosystem

Burrow is tightly integrated with Tendermint via its ABCI interface for consensus. This integration means Burrow serves as an excellent way into the emerging Cosmos Network as that network and protocol emerge, Burrow will be amongst the first frameworks to join it. If you are interested in running smart contracts on Cosmos and their inter-blockchain proposals then the Burrow project has built most of what you need. We intend to continue to push the envelope on what can run on top of Tendermint/Cosmos.2. An Ethereum side-chain and compatibility project with support for advanced smart contract languages via WASM and experimental economic systems

2) An Ethereum side-chain and compatibility project with support for advanced smart contract languages via WASM and experimental economic systems

Since Burrow shares a smart contract language and ABI with Ethereum we have an impedance match with public Ethereum. We have plans to provide a two-way peg and support for staking on public Ethereum, which makes us a viable option for acting as an Ethereum side-chain. Since we are not pinned down by consensus, p2p, or low-level state compatibility with Ethereum mainnet, we have an excellent opportunity to innovate side-chain architectures and to help influence emerging standards in this direction.

3) A lightweight hackable EVM/Solidity execution library

Having entered Hyperledger as an independently developed Apache 2.0 licensed EVM implementation, we are most well-known for our EVM library. We successfully integrated into Fabric and Sawtooth, which helped us refine our internal interfaces and modularity. Our implementation is straightforward to read and understand and is not complicated by legacy support required for mainnet. In this respect we provide an excellent base for experimenting with the EVM – by extending it or making it run in other contexts (for example there has been recent discussion about running Burrow’s EVM within processor enclaves (e.g. Intel SGX) as part of the newly established Hyperledger Trusted Compute Framework.

For a more detailed look at Hyperledger Burrow features, read an extended version of this article here.

Plea for help


Join us for Hacktoberfest – see Burrow Issues here

If you are looking to get involved in Hyperledger, then you will find in Burrow a small and uncrowded community with much to do. We have interesting features for newcomers to work on, and we are in search of contributors and maintainers. Come and help us build! I or another Burrow maintainer will be happy to help you to get going with any of Burrow’s features if you swing by Burrow chat. If you are willing to spend a little time sequestering that knowledge by contributing to our documentation, I am willing to devote special attention to your learning and the needs of your use case, including by making changes to the Burrow roadmap or fixing bugs on the spot.

References

To learn more about the project and community, check out these resources:

About the Author

Silas Davis is the Burrow maintainer and CTO at Monax.io. An outdoor adventurer, dad, math fan, and local political advocate, Silas looks forward to collaborating on Hyperledger  Burrow.

Hyperledger Hyderabad Meetup Hosts DAML Experts

By | Blog

The Hyperledger Hyderabad Meetup has written a new chapter in the series of meetups we organize for our blockchain community. This time we put the focus on Digital Asset’s smart-contract language, DAML. And this was India’s first DAML meetup. 

DAML, which is open-source, is designed for multi-party business processes and makes writing complex smart contract easy. After already adding compatibility with Hyperledger Sawtooth in April, Digital Asset’s have now announced its much-awaited platform support of Hyperledger Fabric and R3 Corda. DAML also transitioned from being a proprietary language to an open-source language earlier this year.

And as expected, the session drew quite a crowd, including developers from various IT giants including TCS, Deloitte, Capgemini, Microsoft, Eleven01 and many more.

The session was conducted by two esteemed experts from DAML itself – Talia Klein and Meetanshru Wadhwa.

Talia Klein is a product manager at Digital Asset, the leading provider of distributed ledger solutions and the creators of DAML, an intuitive smart contract modeling language. She leads cross-functional teams in designing elegant solutions for global institutions in order to solve for their most significant business challenges.

Meetanshru Wadhwa is the technical sales engineer for the Asia Pacific at Digital Asset and the technical lead for client projects in the region. As a DAML subject matter expert, Meetanshru heads client education and DAML training in APAC and helps clients understand the benefits of using DAML to fundamentally change the way distributed applications are built and deployed.

One language for multiple platforms

As you all know, the enterprise blockchain space is fairly nascent and highly competitive. There are multiple platforms and protocols, each with their own version of maximalists. Hyperledger alone has six distinct frameworks, each tailored to different needs, making necessary trade-offs to solve different problems. The field is rapidly evolving, and we are all learning from the contributions of others to better the industry as a whole. One thing all these platforms have in common: Their purpose is to execute multi-party business processes. The differences arise in how a given platform deals with data representation and privacy, transaction authorization, progressing the state of an agreement, and so on.

And so each platform has its own patterns for writing distributed ledger applications, typically in a general-purpose language such as Java, JavaScript, Kotlin, Go, Python, and C++. The result of this is that developers must pick which framework they want to use and then develop their application specifically for that platform. Their application is now tightly coupled to the underlying architecture of that ledger and, if a better alternative arises for their needs, that likely results in a wholesale rewrite.

One of the primary goals of DAML is to decouple smart contracts, the business logic itself, from the ledger by defining an abstraction over implementation details such as data distribution, cryptography, notifications, and the underlying shared store. This provides a clean ledger model accessible via a well specified API. With a mapping between this abstraction layer and the specifics of a given platform, as BTP is developing for Hyperledger Sawtooth, DAML applications can be ported from platform to platform without complex rewrites.

Here are some testimonials from the attendees:

“It was great to meet Meetanshru and Talia in person, Being an early adopter to DAML it was an added advantage to get to know the future roadmap.” – Hargobind Gupta, Freelancer |Python Developer | Blockchain Developer

“Learning DAML is an advantage at this time. It improves the efficiency of code and makes the business soultin much easier. Thank you Hyperledger Hyderabad for giving a first-hand experience of DAML.” – Sai Akshay, IoT | Blockchain | IOTA | Techie

The session was very much welcomed by the developers as DAML adds a truly robust and enterprise-focused language set to many blockchain platforms including Hyperledger with multi-language support.

Kartikey is a co-organiser of the Hyperledger Hydrabad Meetup and works as  Blockchain Engineer at Idealabs Futuretech Ventures and is a technical team member of TEDxHyderabad. You can reach out to me via Twitter,  Facebook or LinkedIn.

Introducing Hyperledger Avalon

By | Blog, Hyperledger Avalon

We are very excited to announce the latest of the Hyperledger projects, Hyperledger Avalon. Some of you may know Avalon as TCF or Trusted Compute Framework, the name it held during the initial phases of its collaborative development. In fact, that collaboration is one of the stand-out aspects of Hyperledger Avalon. It is an interesting intersection of Hyperledger, EEA, and cloud service provider ecosystems and is perhaps the most broadly sponsored project to date. It brings together sponsorship from Intel, iExec Blockchain Tech, Alibaba Cloud, Baidu, BGI, Chainlink, Consensys, EEA, Espeo, IBM, Kaleido, Microsoft, Banco Santander, Wipro, Oracle, and Monax. That’s quite a list of sponsors by any standard. The natural question is what could drive so much interest?

There are a couple of key challenges with blockchain that probably don’t surprise any reader of this blog: scalability and confidentiality. One approach to both of these limitations is to perform some operations “off-chain.” In a traditional view of a blockchain, the data and validation logic for every transaction takes place on every node of the blockchain network or “on-chain.” It’s this redundancy and transparency that provides a network with its integrity but also comes at the cost of performance and confidentiality. By offloading some work, participants can trade off resiliency and integrity for performance and confidentiality. Of course, everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too, and so the use of the use of “trusted computing” is intended to maintain resiliency and integrity guarantees as much as possible while affording the additional performance and confidentiality. Trusted computing includes a variety of techniques to ensure that computation was done correctly and secretly. Hyperledger Avalon will realize these as different Worker types and include TEE (Trusted Execution Environments like Intel® SGX), MPC (multi-party compute), and ZK (zero-knowledge proofs).

Check out the project proposal for more on the technical details and, of course, the initial code base https://github.com/hyperledger/avalon.

It’s also worth understanding a little of the project’s history to see how these communities came together. Avalon began as a reference implementation of the EEA’s Off-Chain Trusted Compute Specification, which sought to standardize how to farm out and reconcile workloads. Coming out of the EEA specification discussions, iExec was excited to build a heart disease evaluation prototype. iExec also immediately dove into building the Ethereum components for Avalon’s proxy model. In parallel, Mic Bowman was exploring trusted execution uses in a Hyperledger Lab called Private Data Objects (PDO). The initial Avalon authors forked off the PDO codebase and launched it as another lab within Hyperledger. Hyperledger Labs is a place to facilitate collaboration and experimentation among the projects, in this case spawning some interesting trusted computing code from a couple disparate sources. Having tangible code enabled other contributors to see directly how they could make use of and integrate with this approach. For example, IBM prototyped this Hyperledger Fabric integration with Avalon [2 links: https://github.com/jeffgarratt/hyperledger-member-summit-2019-tcf-demo-app and https://github.com/jeffgarratt/fabric-prototype].

Now that Avalon has matriculated to a full project at Hyperledger, we are excited to continue maturing and expanding the code base. Some of the initial areas we plan to work on are solidifying the Hyperledger Fabric integration and similarly working with another new addition to Hyperledger, the Ethereum client, Hyperledger Besu. We may even be some new things to say at DevCon 5!

All The Farms: An agricultural supply chain story

By | Blog, Hyperledger Sawtooth

“Where are the local farms around me, what are they growing, and how can I buy their stuff?”

Those are pretty much the questions that my team and I were interested in answering, and we felt that, if we were wondering these things, so were others. That simple question (or string of them) is also what led us to joining the Hyperledger community and building our product in Hyperledger Sawtooth.

To answer the “farms question” we needed to 1) collect accurate information on farm and ranch locations, 2) build a database with this data, and 3) create an interface that allows people to answer these questions. With these three tasks in mind, we created All The Farms.

Fortunately, my cofounder, Chris Styles, and I had experience with collecting and standardizing data, as well as building APIs and tools to share this information. (Previously, I had cofounded the political database Run For Office, and Chris had led projects like Vuhaus). We still needed help to share the engineering load and provide UX/UI (thanks Szabi and Whitney), but we were able to fill those gaps with people who were equally as passionate about helping people connect with their local food economy. It’s been very personally gratifying to work on this site/database, and we will continue to work on improving it – because it’s a passion of ours.

So, why blockchain for this project? Well, our interest was kicked into gear last September by the IBM/Walmart announcement of their adoption of the Global Food Trust blockchain platform. As we thought about our role in this ecosystem – as a provider of data for local food options – we saw a changing landscape in logistics and traceability. We also recognised the importance of finding the right format for sharing the data we were collecting.

Adding the task of applying our data in a blockchain was daunting, but we were able to recruit an experienced blockchain developer to head up that effort. This is an area where being a smaller company has its advantages – no one expects you to have money, so you can hire with equity. Over the summer, we were fortunate to bring along someone who wanted this project, and our entire team has been able to learn about Hyperledger along with him. (Hi, Dan.)

Participating in something that creates greater transparency in the food system is what drives our team. We see the food consumer as being at a classic disadvantage due to the informational asymmetry in the food chain. Essentially, the consumer has less knowledge than just about everyone else in their transaction.

We were heartened to see Intel and Oregon State University collaborating on a traceability project for Oregon blueberries using  Hyperledger Sawtooth. The fact of the matter is that Intel has a big presence in Oregon and at OSU, so it was easy for us to connect directly with people on this project. They gave us valuable feedback on our plans to put the data we were collecting into blockchain. 

The logistical applications for blockchain are well known and important, but we also saw lateral applications of the technology that could help farms outside of traceability. One use case we are working on is using the value in blockchain for farm/ranch compliance record keeping.This application helps all the farms, not just the ones with the budgets for the full scale traceability use case. We also feel that producers can benefit from blockchain applications for Water Rights and have found a solid use case for tracking industrial hemp seed. Both of those projects we have underway with Oregon State University.

Most of our team has a personal and professional background with farms. Many come from farming families. Others have worked with state agencies in agriculture and ranching. Some have both of those experiences. I think that this type of understanding has allowed a flexibility in our thinking about blockchain and has led us to consider other projects that we feel can be widely beneficial for our farming communities.

What we want the Hyperledger community to know is that our data in Hyperledger Sawtooth is the starting point for other projects. It is meant to be used by logistics companies and institutional buyers that are looking to source locally. It is meant to have applications that help farmers and ranchers consolidate their records for compliance purposes. It is meant to connect our Hyperledger community directly with the real food producers and to figure out ways that we can best work together.

Lastly, climate change: it is real and the way we currently eat emits too many greenhouse gases and degrades our soil as well. A key piece of our work in data collection is identifying farms that use regenerative farming practices. We hope you use the regenerative agriculture filter for your personal shopping, and we also hope you’ll consider putting your technology skills towards a solution with regenerative agriculture. We invite you to collaborate with us and other like-minded allies in our Hyperledger community.

Jim Cupples is a cofounder at Terrapin Data, Inc. which has launched All The Farms. The All The Farms blockchain, built on Hyperledger Sawtooth, is a permissioned blockchain. Please contact jim@allthefarms.com if you are interested in access or have comments or questions.

Hyperledger Welcomes Capital Markets Special Interest Group

By | Blog, Special Interest Group

Hyperledger has launched the Hyperledger Capital Markets Special Interest Group (SIG) to facilitate focused technical and business-level conversations related to appropriate use cases for blockchain technology across capital markets.

SIGs gather community members from an industry segment to work on domain-specific problems and create an environment for open discussion, document co-creation and solution proposals. Hyperledger now has eight SIGs, including ones focused on healthcare, telecom, trade finance, supply chain and social impact.

Capital markets are a way to connect investors and borrowers and include the bond market (the largest market) and the stock market. It can also include derivatives. Borrowers get access to capital and investors get returns from their investment. These returns can be in the form of dividends, coupon payments or appreciation of the instruments. The downside risk is default by the borrowers as well as the reduction in the price of instruments. Borrowers are enterprises or governments and investors are individuals or public and private institutions. Capital markets are an important component of the economy.  

Blockchain, at its inception, was aimed at global uncensored retail payments through the medium of a digital currency. The original solution has since evolved into a store of value and its exchange among participants in a safe, secure and transparent manner. Many blockchain solutions have been created to cover the issuance and transfer of digital assets, futures and other derivatives. This and other solutions encompass capital markets infrastructure and processes. 

The Cambrian explosion of blockchain solutions range from public permissionless-type platforms to private permissioned. Many of these solutions are in the capital markets sector. Hyperledger houses a diverse set of primary blockchain frameworks, utilities and libraries. The new SIG helps unify thinking and solutions targeted to capital markets in Hyperledger and is a forum where capital markets business experts and blockchain technical folks come together in an open community.

The scope of the Hyperledger Capital Markets SIG (CM-SIG) includes:

  • Drawing out a front-to-back taxonomy for a generic capital market infrastructure with variations on specific product lines
  • Identifying the impact of Distributed Ledger Technologies (“DLTs”) and their place in the architecture (business, integration, infrastructure, regulation, market events, interaction between product lines) 
  • Analyzing risk calculations and scenarios including the impact of DLTs in pre-market, trading, hedging, day-to-day risk management, trading limits and FRTB
  • Tracking specific use cases, current pilots and proofs of concept, and production case studies with opportunities and risk; as well as solutions for the identified problems
  • Collecting documentation on cross-cutting architectural principles, performance and scalability, security, identity management, off-chain data, deployment and operation in regulated enterprises
  • Advancing standards in capital markets for data in flight and at rest, events and responses, privacy in light of DLTs
  • Planning and participating in conferences or meetups to connect face to face, submit papers, talks, presentations
  • Interfacing with companion SIGs like Trade Finance or Supply Chain to draw out common areas of concern and interactivity of solutions
  • Documenting functional knowledge drawn from SIGs like Telecom, best practices from  Social Impact as well as the knowledge drawn from Architecture, Identity and Performance and Scale Working Groups

The new Hyperledger Capital Markets SIG is led by the chair Vipin Bharathan, Founder dlt.nyc, a blockchain consulting firm, and vice chair Natalia Garcia, Assistant Director in Debt Capital Markets, and is composed of more than 21 founding individuals from different locations and a diverse line-up of financial institutions. SIG membership and participation has grown quickly and is open to all. We have already had several calls and are involved in some projects that the community has found interesting.

Currently we are engaged in developing and identifying :

  • Taxonomies classifying the dimensions of capital markets, 
  • Standards covering the different types of products
  • Prominent use cases
  • Challenges or obstacles that are common to DLTs and their application to capital markets use cases
  • Regulations that apply to the various aspects of this highly regulated industry
  • ROI of any particular solution, especially on intangible aspects like trust, transparency and decentralization in capital markets

Greater details on any one of these projects can be found through our projects page. CM-SIG is aimed at working together to discover correlations between these projects to deploy actual solutions from the Hyperledger greenhouse inside capital markets.

You are welcome to volunteer for any of the existing projects. We also welcome new projects, especially if they are presented before the community and have a group of committed volunteers backing them. When needed, a task force can also be created within the SIG and have working sessions to discuss specific work items.

We welcome your participation. If you would like to join the Capital Markets SIG, please subscribe to the mailing list and join the chat channel where online meeting details will be announced. The CM-SIG wiki page contains links to resources, activities, meeting minutes, project details and the active member directory. Find a list of all Hyperledger community meetings, including the Capital Markets SIG, on the Hyperledger Community calendar. We look forward to your active involvement and valuable contributions.

Mentorship in Action: Hyperledger 2019 Summer Program Recap

By | Blog, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

Summer is nearing its close and it’s time to give an update on the Hyperledger Mentorship Program. This year 17 projects proposed and approved by the community connected 25 mentors and 17 mentees from around the globe to contribute their enthusiasm, time, and experience toward building a sustainable Hyperledger community. The Hyperledger Mentorship Program is also a part of the broader effort at the Linux Foundation to increase community health and diversity through CommunityBridge.

The Hyperledger program has grown significantly in size and impact since its launch two  years ago:

  • The program has increased from six projects and mentees in 2017 to 17 in 2019.
  • The number of mentors has also grown from six in 2017 to 25 in 2019.
  • The pool of applicants has increased from approximately 60 in 2017 to 300+ in 2019.
  • This year’s 25 mentors come from organizations big and small, from startups and well established companies to nonprofits including academic institutions, volunteering their time to teach and mentor while sharing their passion for the technology.
  • The mentee cohort is also diverse as it includes students at every higher-education level from the community college to the post-graduate research program seeking hands-on learning opportunities to advance their academic and professional pursuits in the blockchain space. 
  • Projects this year range from adding a component to a current Hyperledger project to creating a brand new Hyperledger Labs project to improving the interoperability and scalability of existing Hyperledger projects.
  • Former mentees from 2017 and 2018 have landed jobs at RedHat and Facebook, become active contributors to Hyperledger Projects and maintainers of Hyperledger Labs, mentored this year’s mentees, and reflected thoughtfully about their experience and journey of becoming a Hyperledger contributor.   

The program is intentionally designed to help university student mentees, many of whom are first-time open source contributors, navigate what can initially seem like an overwhelmingly vast open source community so they can experiment, learn, and contribute effectively. These structural elements include: 

  • Mentor and mentee onboarding that emphasizes the learning outcome of immersing in open source tooling, infrastructure, culture, and norm to be an effective contributor
  • Crowdsourcing, documenting, and referencing explementary attributes of successful mentorship and effective menteeship 
  • Project planning that includes project goals, objectives, deliverables, milestones , and tasks to be worked out collaboratively between mentors and mentees during the first two weeks of the program and posted on the wiki. A well-defined project plan holds everyone accountable for what’s agreed upon and provides a clear framework toward progress in a transparent way. 
  • Requiring project presentations to an audience of other mentees, mentors, and Hyperledger staff to sharpen both presentation skills and to cultivate the ability to provide constructive feedback and critique that’s the norm in the open source community for developing technologies collaboratively and openly.
  • Evaluating work on a quarterly cadence tied to milestone deliverable schedules that help mentors and Hyperledger staff formalize and respond to progress.

Thanks to great guidance from the mentors and exceptional levels of motivation, independence, and resourcefulness on the part of the mentees, the eight  full-time mentees have recently completed their projects with flying colors, and the part-time mentees are on track to complete their projects mid-November. The eight  full-time mentees’ recently wrote about the projects and reflected on their experiences. You can read their individual closing blogs here.

I am also pleased to share that the mentees who successfully complete their projects this year will be invited to attend the 2020 Hyperledger Global Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. This is another element we intentionally put in place to help mentees professionalize, network, and forge the relationships needed for long term contributions in the community.

To close this blog, here are a few words from a 2019 mentor and mentee:

“In open source, I have found mentorship is very important, and I have had some great guidance from people inside IBM and outside. These people helped me find my voice and showed me how to navigate open source development to be a productive member of  the community.” – Swetha Repakula, mentor for Running Web Assembly Smart Contracts in Fabric

“Before this internship I mainly worked on theoretical blockchain and cryptography research at Purdue University, and this internship gave me a perfect balance between development and research.” – Jason You, mentee for Hyperledger Caliper visualization

If you’re from a Hyperledger member company, check out these mentees’ LinkedIn profiles and their outstanding work on the wiki. If you’re an aspiring university student or community member, check out this year’s projects and read about the mentees individual blogs as you imagine the possibility of joining us on this journey next year.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Analyzing Hyperledger Fabric Ledger and Transactions using Elasticsearch and Kibana

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

Introduction

This summer, I had the chance to work as a full-time intern at Hyperledger. I am writing this post to share my experiences about working with Hyperledger and to report on the project itself and the impact it can have on the Hyperledger community as well as on my personal development.

My mentor was Salman Baset, an active member of the Hyperledger community. I must emphasize what a great mentor he was, always available, communicative and helpful. He gave me a lot of hints and helped me out when I got stuck, but, still, I had the freedom to make technical and strategic decisions. I have learned a lot from him, and he (and this project) provided a huge boost for my personal improvement.

The goal of the project

The main goal of the project was to create a mechanism to analyze and display ledger data from both operational and data-oriented aspects (e.g., allow selection of a particular key and visualization of updates to it).

What I accomplished

The main components of the project:

  • An Elastic Beats agent (fabricbeat) written in Go that connects to peer(s), queries it, and ships its data to Elasticsearch and Kibana (core contribution of this project).
  • Three  different Fabric networks with chaincodes written in Go and Node.js (for testing).
  • Applications for user enrollment and transaction submission using the node SDK (for generating test data).
  • Elasticsearch cluster and Kibana server. (Docker Compose file is borrowed from an open source project.)
  • Generic Kibana dashboards similar to Hyperledger Explorer, plus data-centric dashboards (contribution of this project).

1. Architecture and basic data flow (the highlighted parts are the main contributions of this project)

The most exciting part of the project was learning a number of new technologies. I used Golang, Node.js, Elastic Beats, Elasticsearch, Kibana and, of course, Hyperledger Fabric. Designing the Beats agent and implementing the generic Kibana dashboards were  great professional challenges, too, and it was an extraordinary experience to see them working.

I also created demo setups that can be installed and run with only one make command. They demonstrate the main features of the project.

2. Operational dashboard (multiple fabricbeat agents can be run at the same time, we can select peer and channel from which we want to see the data)

3. Searching for all the transports that departed from “Factory0”

Suggestions

Hyperledger Fabric uses an approach that wraps the data into multiple layers of meta data, and stores this whole package on the ledger. This makes analysis quite painful, since we have to do a lot of processing and unwrapping to obtain the most valuable parts of this data. Having the data indexed in a NoSQL database would make analysis much easier.

Plans for the future

This project has a lot of potential. A few ideas on how it could be improved and used in the future:

  • The project provides a more customizable way for blockchain analysis than Hyperledger Explorer, with extended functionalities and data-centric analysis possibilities.
  • Hyperledger Fabric writes ledger data to a file by default. By replacing the ledger file with
  • Elasticsearch, MongoDB, CouchDB, or other appropriate database, the need for a separate Beats agent can potentially be eliminated. Further, having ledger data directly stored in a database (instead of a file) can potentially simplify Hyperledger Fabric deployment architecture in Production (e.g., by removing a separate instance of CouchDB per peer).
  • This project could be generalized to work with every kind of blockchain implementation, not only Hyperledger Fabric.

We submitted the project to  Hyperledger Lab, so further development is open for contribution. I am really excited to be a member of and work with the open source community!

For more details, please see my complete project report here.