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Developer Showcase Series: Fernando Martin Garcia Del Angel, Aabo Technologies

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

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 Fernando Martin Garcia Del Angel, a project manager at Aabo Technologies. Let’s see what he has to say!

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

When I first started looking into blockchain, the way it was built, and the mathematical concepts that surrounded it I had the notion that by extension programming an application using this technology would be a technical and mathematical nightmare. However, once I started reading the Hyperledger Fabric documentation and built my first application I noticed how straightforward the whole process was; of course, it was different from any SDK I had used and it required me to think things differently but it wasn’t as hard as I first thought it would. So, my advice for any newcomers would be to lose the fear and just dive in, you won’t believe how much you’re able to do all out of the box.

My second advice to newcomers would be to read anything and everything you can about blockchain before starting. Starting out with almost no knowledge about blockchain would make you believe you’re setting up a distributed database application with confusing properties, but if instead you’re used to the concepts of blocks, transactions, consensus, and the technical reasons why blockchain is special then you’ll be able to take advantage of everything blockchain is capable of providing.

Finally, I’d really recommend to never start this journey alone. Even though this applies for any new technology you or your company would like to endeavor, creating a blockchain application requires some experience with distributed databases, networking and cryptography, which for a single person could potentially be too much to grasp. Having a team that can analyze the implications of the technology and discover possible use cases of it can potentially help you build a solid and valuable application.  

Fernando Martin Garcia Del Angel, Project Manager at Aabo Technologies

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’ve just finished programming a profiling application and tester for blockchain networks; this application would take any network topology attributes from a Hyperledger Fabric network and then it would proceed to launch a smart contract containing methods for creating accounts and making balance transfers as a way of measuring how many transfers could be done per second on different settings and situations (such having orderers and peers not working randomly or launching DoS attacks with invalid transactions). Our results show that this technology is incredibly robust and fast even when most peers and orderers are compromised on the network.

Another application that I’m personally developing is an open source point of sales and inventory management system built on Node.js called “Luna”. This application is looking to become a standard for many small stores here in Mexico City for store owners who can’t afford expensive POS software but still need a robust solution to keep afloat on a digitalized market. It’s being developed to support blockchain networks out-of-the-box to easily connect stores that have multiple locations and would like their product, sales, customers and other information synced for the owner’s convenience when taking decisions.

I wanted to get started using blockchain mostly due to the way a transaction or change within the network stays recorded forever as well as the distributed aspect of the network. This meant that an application built with blockchain in mind would be able to scale alongside the business with minimal effort and reliably, making it for me the future of business applications

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

Mexico is known to have a problem with government transparency and the way public funds and assets are being used, something that blockchain could be able to solve. We were struck by a 7.1 earthquake that strongly affected Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos taking the life of 370 people and collapsing 228 buildings just on the capital. Mexicans who were the least affected took upon themselves to help whoever they could with whatever they had in an unprecedented act of unity that was registered by several news organizations for the world to see. However, there was an issue with supplies from several sources being stolen by people who wanted to resell them and even more problematic, the government taking these supplies to relabel them as being a donation from the state when in reality it was all being donated by citizens; this led to people writing over the products to deter people from stealing and reselling them and the government to simply relabel them.

The way I see it, this whole scenario could’ve been stopped if there was a unified system that could transparently and efficiently track where each donation went, where it was, their destination and once it was given to a victim of the earthquake. This would’ve not only facilitated tracking, but it would’ve also allowed people to trust that their donations were given to the people who needed it the most. Even now that it’s been about 2 months after the earthquake, I think blockchain solutions could be used to a great extent for emergency situations where transparency, speed and accountability are greatly needed.

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

Overall, the best developer advice for me hasn’t been directly about code development but mostly about documentation. A teacher once told us: “Write down whatever you do on a project as if it were a diary and always comment it to your peers.” This advice has helped me track issues on a project easily and get a sense of how the project has changed once these have been mitigated; this has also helped me get out of trouble whenever external factors intervene with the development of a project and a deadline isn’t met, I’ve been able to show which actions were taken at a point in time to solve them and how that turned out, making sure I’m being penalized only by those actions for which I’m directly responsible.

However, one of the best pieces of advice I could give to anyone developing an application is to never underestimate the value of project management and documentation, it has to be the single most important thing to do after coding. If at any point in time you need to include new people to the team or you need to refactor a method efficiently, documentation can save you a great deal of time understanding what needs to be done every time. This would seem like common sense for most companies and teams, but there’s still a great amount of people who think management and documentation are not relevant when coding and most of the time they’re proven wrong.

What technology could you not live without?

Even though this is a really old technology, I can’t live without using paper notebooks and agendas. I know nowadays our phones and tablets have way more processing power than even most laptops in the market and that modern technology allows us to customize most of the note taking process, but using traditional notebooks has allowed me to unwind when sitting for over 8 hours in front of a computer or in times of stress by jotting down my thoughts, writing my feelings or even by drawing anything and everything I’m thinking about. The sole fact that it doesn’t have a screen or needs recharging helps me bring it anywhere I want without the need to worry whether it’ll stop working or anything else.

Hyperledger Fabric v1.1 Released!

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Chris Ferris, Hyperledger TSC Chair & Hyperledger Fabric 1.1 release manager

The Hyperledger community is really starting to fire on all cylinders! Just yesterday, we added our tenth incubated project: Hyperledger Caliper – a tool for assessing performance and scale of a blockchain platform. Just over a month ago, the Hyperledger Sawtooth project published its first major release, and a few weeks ago, Hyperledger announced it added eleven new members. Finally, the levels of collaboration at the most recent Hackfest hosted by UCLA were nothing short of amazing.

Well, we have even more news: the Hyperledger Fabric maintainers are pleased to announce the availability of version 1.1.0. The new version can be upgraded in place from an existing 1.0.x installation and includes a number of new features as well as performance, scale and UX improvements. The documentation has been improved adding command references, new and improved samples and tutorials, operational tasks and a new architectural reference for some of the key components and concepts.

Some of the key new features include:

  • Node.js chaincode support- developers can now author chaincode using the most popular framework for the world’s most popular programming language
  • Channel based event service – to enable clients to subscribe to block and block transaction events on a per-channel basis.
  • Ability to package CouchDB indexes with chaincode, to improve performance
  • Ability to generate certificate revocation lists (CRLs)
  • Ability to dynamically update client identities and affiliations
  • Node.js SDK connection profiles to simplify connections to Fabric nodes
  • Mutual Transport Layer Security (TLS) between Fabric nodes, and between clients and nodes
  • Ability to encrypt ledger data for confidentiality using the chaincode encryption library
  • Attribute-based Access Control in chaincode
  • Chaincode APIs to retrieve client identity for access control decisions
  • Performance improvements for transaction throughput and response time

We’re really pleased with the progress we’ve made since we announced Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 release last summer, as are many of the platform’s adopters such as Alibaba, Belltane,  BlocLedger, IBM, Oracle, SecureKey, State Street and many others.

Belltane is building a Healthcare Provider Credentialing Application for Physicians, Insurers, Hospitals, Regulators, and Medical Schools. Initially built on Fabric 0.6, the upgrade to 1.0 required extensive rewrites and a new architectural design. So we were quite pleased with the ease of the upgrade process from 1.0 to 1.1. Essentially we simply upgraded the various components (Fabric, Go, and Node.js SDK) and rebuilt our application and redeployed. We are now excitedly modifying our application to take advantage of some of the new functionality in 1.1, in particular, the management of user attributes from the within the crypto where we had previously been required to handle that externally. Thanks to the Hyperledger Fabric contributors for providing such a smooth upgrade path and the new capabilities!” – James Worthington, CEO, Belltane

“As a community contributor to Hyperledger Fabric, we were able in hours to seamlessly migrate our software solution to the newly available Fabric v1.1 release. In addition to the many features now available with v1.1, we’re excited about the opportunity to experiment with the technology preview features planned for v1.2. With BlocLedger’s focus on leveraging blockchain to track, authenticate, and securitize e-signed documents, we’re particularly interested in assessing the positive impact PrivateDB will have on our solution.” – Eric Vaughn, Co Founder and CTO, BlocLedger.

“It has been great to see the levels of community collaboration that helped to make this release a reality. IBM aggressively tested the preliminary releases of the Hyperledger Fabric 1.1 and we are eager to deliver some key new features to the many clients of the IBM Blockchain Platform. We are seeing great results and are actively preparing for the transition to 1.1.0. Our latest offering, IBM Blockchain Starter Plan, will be among the first products in the market to deliver on this new release.” – Jerry Cuomo, VP of Blockchain Technology, IBM and the company’s representative to the Hyperledger Board

“The strength of the development community was a key reason behind Oracle’s decision to join the Hyperledger Project, and  Hyperledger Fabric 1.1 is a significant improvement we are excited to see materialize. Fabric 1.1 features, such as Node.js chaincode, enhanced security and improved performance can help address some of the key user concerns and we look forward to including these in Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service.” – Deepak Goel, senior director of blockchain software development, Oracle

“Since we started working with Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, we have recognized and benefited from a private-permissioned blockchain, allowing us to comply with data protection and confidentiality regulations. We are excited to see how version 1.1 will better protect consumers’ data and provide opportunities to collaborate with other members of the industry.” – Andre Boysen, Chief Identity Officer, SecureKey Technologies Inc.

“We see the transparency, scalability and accountability of Hyperledger Fabric to be the pillars of blockchain’s financial democracy, and we are very proud to be a part of those contributing to its building blocks.” – Moiz Kohari, chief technology architect, State Street Corporation.

So, if you haven’t given Hyperledger Fabric a try, maybe now is the time! We have a nice set of Getting Started tutorials that you can have up and running in just a few short minutes. There’s even a tutorial to upgrade an existing network from a previous 1.0.x install.

We encourage developers to join our efforts on all Hyperledger projects. You can plug into the Hyperledger community at github, Rocket.Chat the wiki or our mailing list. You can also follow Hyperledger on Twitter or email us with any questions: info@hyperledger.org.

Measuring Blockchain Performance with Hyperledger Caliper

By Blog, Hyperledger Caliper

We’re excited to announce that Caliper has been accepted by the Technical Steering Committee as the latest Hyperledger project! Hyperledger Caliper is a blockchain benchmark tool, which allows users to measure the performance of a specific blockchain implementation with a set of predefined use cases.

Why Caliper?

The performance of a blockchain solution is one of the most concerned features from blockchain users. However, currently there is not a general tool that serves to provide performance evaluations for different blockchain solutions based on a set of neutral and commonly accepted rules.

Some reports exist on the performance of different blockchain implementations in various scenarios, however there is not a commonly accepted blockchain benchmarking tool. Hyperledger Caliper is a benchmark tool for blockchain frameworks and relies on a functioning blockchain implementation as the benchmarking target. However, tools that can quickly bring up a blockchain network are ideal to cooperate with Caliper.

Hyperledger Caliper will produce reports containing a number of performance indicators, such as TPS (Transactions Per Second), transaction latency, resource utilisation etc. The intent is for Caliper results to be used by other Hyperledger projects as they build out their frameworks, and as a reference in supporting the choice of a blockchain implementation suitable for a user’s specific needs.

Clearly, every blockchain framework or platform proposed nowadays has its own unique strengths. In the light of such variety, we consider the absence of a common benchmarking tool as harmful. There are three main reasons why we think it’s necessary to have a general purpose benchmark tool:

  • Lack of source code. There are some performance reports for different projects but since they do not provide the source code, it is hard to validate the evaluation and impossible to perform the same evaluation on different projects.
  • There is no common definition of performance indicators (e.g. TPS, latency, resource utilization, etc.) The Hyperledger Performance & Scalability Working Group (PWSG) is the ideal place to define these. Hyperledger Caliper will be a good starting point and place to hold the implementation.
      1. A good example of having a well-defined performance indicator is TPS (Transaction per Second), as in any blockchain solution that supports smart contracts, it is a common agreement that the complexity of a smart contract is a key factor of TPS. Benchmarks that use different trial smart contracts, no matter how simple these smart contracts could be, are inadvertently affecting  the results.
  • There is no common accepted benchmark use cases for benchmarking. Users are always curious about use cases, with proper use cases, they help the users to understand the blockchain itself as well as the performance indicators. The use cases for benchmarking are also open to discussion and welcome for contribution.

Hyperledger Caliper is not intended to make judgments and will not publish benchmark results, but provide benchmark tools for users. Users should not claim the result is tested by Caliper unless the test environment is revealed. The Hyperledger Caliper project references the definitions, metrics and terminology as defined by the Hyperledger PWSG.

Technical details of Caliper

The key component in Hyperledger Caliper is the adaptation layer, which is introduced to integrate multiple blockchain solutions into the Caliper framework. An adaptor is implemented for each blockchain system under test (SUT), the adaptor is responsible for translation of Caliper NBIs into corresponding blockchain protocol. Caliper NBI is a set of common blockchain interfaces, which contains operations to interact with backend blockchain system, for example, to install smart contract, invoke contract, query state from the ledger, etc. The NBIs can be used for upstream applications to write tests for multiple blockchain systems. For more information, please see the documentation of Hyperledger Caliper.

For now, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Sawtooth and Hyperledger Iroha are in scope and we sincerely welcome contributions for integrations to other blockchain solutions.

Who will work on Caliper?

Collaboration with PSWG in the Hyperledger community is extremely important to the success of Hyperledger Caliper and we propose to have regular discussions about Caliper during PSWG meetings. Caliper is not going to limit the benchmark environment, but will leave it to user’s choice depending on their own use cases. Developers from Huawei, Hyperchain, Oracle, Bitwise, Soramitsu, IBM and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics are all contributing to the project. More are always welcome.

Getting started with Caliper

The hope is that Hyperledger Caliper provides the community with a functioning benchmark tool capable of running against many  Hyperledger frameworks. With the help of the community, we will be putting continuous effort into the definition of performance indicators and benchmark use cases. The success of the project will depend on many users within the community using it as the benchmark tool.

You can get started contributing to Hyperledger Caliper on github (coming soon): https://github.com/hyperledger/caliper You can also join the Hyperledger Caliper community on the #caliper channel in Rocket.Chat and on the hyperledger-caliper mailing list.

As always, we encourage developers to join our efforts on other projects, via github, Rocket.Chat, the wiki or the mailing lists. You can also follow Hyperledger on Twitter or email us with any questions: info@hyperledger.org.

 

Developer Showcase Series: Santiago Casaliglla, DNAsmartbits

By Blog, 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 Santiago Casaliglla, CEO of DNAsmartbits. Let’s see what he has to say!

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

They have to get information about how the technology works, from different sources and providers, to get a clear understanding of the benefits and implications of managing a distributed ledger. This is key in order to check if the approach of a blockchain application gives advantage to their projects compared to other possible solutions. I suggest this because of my first experience with the technology, which happened during my research at a German University. Our task was to develop a blockchain system for a distributed control. The traditional architecture of distributed control is based on a central controller to whom other slave controllers report and receive orders because the participants (controllers) agree that having a common regulator benefits all members. Then, the distributed control has sense between factories, in a permissioned closed group. The main target of the research was to replace this central controller with a distributed application. While developing the solution we found some issues due to a misunderstanding from the different parties involved on how a distributed ledger works. This was manifested in goals outside of the scope of what a blockchain can do. Mainly they kept the idea of a traditional central governor with high capacity of computational power to perform complex mathematical algorithms. At the end, and after some corrections and redefinitions the solution was feasible if the power of computation required was low. In this context, I started looking at Hyperledger since it clearly offers a customizable solution that can be applied to several industries.

Santiago Casaliglla, CEO of DNAsmartbits

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 am the CEO and founder of the Ecuadorian IoT Company, DNAsmartbits. Our first product is a platform for mobile commerce that works with a prepaid balance to make purchases inside the system. This approach was meant to give access to the benefits of the platform without providing sensitive financial information like credit card numbers or bank accounts. Not even a bank account is needed. Six months ago I was researching how blockchain technologies can provide transparency to their participants while making efficient transactions and being scalable. I finally decided to power our product with a blockchain backend and a crypto token. I found an ideal structure within the Hyperledger Fabric project because of its permissioned blockchain architecture. At this point, I have to say that all fintech blockchain applications must become permissioned in order to avoid potential misuses while keeping the benefits and advantages the technology has.

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

I consider two things: 1. To divulge and promote educational tools to learn how Hyperledger works with a focus on the advantages it brings compared to the current solutions present in the market. 2. To promote the research of how Hyperledger can be implemented to improve existing systems. These two thins are keys to promoting a massive adoption of the technology. The more people adopt the system the better it becomes if it is open source, as Hyperledger is. Regarding the educational tools, they have to be specific for different levels of knowledge or backgrounds or interests. Regarding research, Hyperledger staff should try to get in contact with Universities and other educational centres to launch programs that may lead to interesting results and even more improvement of the platform.

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

I am hoping we’ll see blockchain technology bring transparency to property ownership, government and individual identification in the next five years. Landing and property ownership registration presents issues in developing countries where the records of ownership are not keep in a proper manner and where the info generated in each transaction is not crossed or shared to other governmental institutions. This leads to difficulties and eventually ends in fraud when someone tries to buy land or property. Taxation and public services are also affected since it becomes difficult to identify the owner. To digitalize all the property titles and store them in a blockchain will give transparency, trust and an immutable history of the ownership of the land while controlling that only the current registered/recognized owner can promote and execute selling transactions over that land. The new owner before participating in the buying process should have been accepted to the network, which in turns brings more security and transparency to the transactions. As for government, the transactions executed for each governmental institution should be digitally signed and sealed by the representatives of the participant parties and permanently stored in a public immutable database in order to bring transparency to the administration, especially when it comes to managing public funds, and to provide a secure way to audit them in real time and by citizens or other institutions. Thus, blockchain has the power to eradicate corruption. As for individual identification, the previous solutions work with a basis of individual identification. In an era where business and transactions are going global, knowing for sure with whom you are dealing with is important to establish a trustful connection.

 

The Return of the Hyperledger Summer Internship Program

By Blog, Hyperledger Composer, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Iroha

Calling all student developers: Summer 2018 is your time to get real-world experience in blockchain technologies through Hyperledger’s internship program. We’ve put together an extensive line-up of internship projects proposed and led by active blockchain developers looking to expand Hyperledger projects and the technical community by teaming with the next generation of engineers.

This is your chance for one-on-one mentorship from some of the leading technologists in the Hyperledger community, as well as to build your development portfolio of projects that will feed into the larger Hyperledger ecosystem. Did we mention that these internships include a stipend and the potential to participate in Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland, December 12-15th? And you can work from anywhere!

The application is now open and the deadline to apply is March 23. Read on for descriptions of just some of the projects planned for this summer.

“The Hyperledger Intern Program is a great opportunity for everyone: interns, mentors and the broader Hyperledger community. I had the privilege of seeing last summer’s interns do their readouts, and engage the Hyperledger community members in Lisbon, and was impressed with their work. The feedback was universally positive from all involved.” – Chris Ferris, Hyperledger TSC Chair

Algorithmic Dispute Resolution in Construction

Construction is the second largest global industrial sector. Litigation accounts for approximately 10% of the expenditure. The industry suffers from a dysfunctional relationship between the architects, project managers, consultants, developers, and clients. This is a phased project that will model the workflows of a major construction project, in partnership with a leading UK contractor/project management company. The aim is to identify all relevant material prior to the contract being signed, automating the discovery phase of litigation, machining the large data set down to a ‘hearing bundle’ and then assessing ‘needs and interests’ prior to an automated resolution process. This is the first phase of the project and will focus on identifying the workflows and relevant documents, files and other digital material and on assembling them in the blockchain where authentication can take place and a ‘hearing bundle’ prepared.

Extended Functionality/Support for EVM Smart Contracts and Tooling in Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Burrow has created an EVM implementation that is being integrated into Fabric. In its initial phase, Hyperledger Fabric will support EVM bytecode smart contracts in a limited manner. Some of the features that need to be added include support for EVM smart contract events and extending support for the Ethereum API. This project will involve working with and understanding different blockchain platforms and being able to map their differing concepts.

Python Library for Hyperledger Iroha

Hyperledger Iroha is designed for simple creation and management of assets. This is a distributed ledger of transactions. Interns are expected to make a full fledged Python library for Iroha. Later, in the next stage, we want the intern to maintain the docs of Iroha. There are many missing docs on getting started and about the internal works of Iroha. We expect the student to complete the doc part along with dev work.

Hyperledger Identity WG On-boarding and Auth

The Hyperledger Identity WG intern will be mentored by members of the Identity WG / Hyperledger Indy Maintainers and accomplish two main tasks: learn and develop an iPython notebooks for onboarding new community members and a browser-based authentication app using decentralized identifiers in Hyperledger Indy. This bachelors-level internship has two core goals: experience and contribution.

    • Experience: The Identity WG Intern will create interoperable, open-source code that will educate new and existing Hyperledger community members. Creating an iPython notebook and code sample will be based on their own onboarding into Hyperledger and Indy, using what they have learned in the process and helping the community by identifying what would be more effective in a better onboarding experience. For browser-based authentication with DIDs, Interns will learn critical professional development skills, from working in GIT to understanding the structure of well-formed code, to developing their own tests and proper documentation best practices.
    • Contribution:Through developing both projects (iPython notebooks / code samples and browser-based authentication with DIDs), the Intern will be making an important contributions to future Hyperledger community members onboarding efforts, the Hyperledger Indy codebase and the entire decentralized identity ecosystem.

Hyperledger Composer Modeling Tools

The Hyperledger Composer modelling language is used by both Hyperledger Composer and the Accord Project, Cicero as an object-oriented data description (schema) language, based on a textual domain-specific language. The intern will be tasked with improving the tooling for the the Hyperledger Composer modelling language, including the ability to generate UML style diagrams and web-forms.

Read more details on the above projects and many more here. Then check out the requirements and application steps. Remember, applications are due by March 23, 2018.  

If you have any questions, please contact internship@hyperledger.org. Remember, you can always plug into the Hyperledger community at github, Rocket.Chat the wiki or our mailing lists.

Developer Showcase Series: Abhinav Garg, Sofocle Technologies

By Blog

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 Abhinav Garg, a blockchain developer at Sofocle Technologies.

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

Stay Focused. You first need to set your business goals and try to determine if they can be achieved by implementing blockchain. I believe blockchain is a vast developing technology that can make business relations more trustworthy, you just need to have a concrete idea for implementation to take advantage of blockchain’s innovative features.

Abhinav Garg, blockchain developer, Sofocle Technologies

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?

We at Sofocle, are a blockchain technology based company, focused on building innovative products using blockchain and smart contracts. We design and develop blockchain powered enterprise solutions in banking, finance, and other industries. We have our own products based on blockchain. My first blockchain experience was with Hyperledger when it was in its initial development stage. The thought of permissioned blockchain in respect to transaction trust was a bit of fun. It’s easy to think of benefits related to the financial services industry and how permissioned ledgers in particular could be utilized.

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

We worked on several projects under Hyperledger. We intended to build solutions for supply chain, healthcare, insurance and several other fields. There are some key points that sum up Hyperledger’s beauty: loyalty, improved customer service, innovation and transparency.

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

We think that interoperability and privacy are two elements that have yet to be solved in an adequate way for blockchain software. I’d like to see more collaboration between the projects with a goal of achieving some level of interoperability.

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

It’s a very general purpose technology. It can be used in all sorts of different verticals and industry areas. Just like you could use a database in any industry, you could use blockchain. It provides a logically centralised view of data even though data is physically and administratively distributed. One of the interesting areas blockchain is being used for is identity. One “hot area” is in supply chain, where multiple parties need access to common data while needing to protect their commercial interests.
In a supply chain you have lots of different parties collaborating, it’s very dynamic and participation in transactions can change dynamically. That sort of ad hoc structure can be a nice match of blockchain because anyone can potentially participate. Blockchain does have limitations. One of the limitations is that, out of the box, it’s not good for private or confidential data. It’s also not good for low latency or high throughput data – there are some scalability and performance limitations.

[VIDEO] Hyperledger Interviews Aaron Symanski, Change Healthcare

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Blockchain technologies hold the promise to unite the disparate processes in healthcare and ultimately improve patient experiences and outcomes. Key healthcare challenges around longitudinal records, identity management and access across multiple solutions all have the ability to be developed on top of blockchain technologies. By developing a shared platform that decentralizes health data without compromising the security of sensitive information, blockchain technologies could lift the costly burden of maintaining patient’s medical histories away from the hospitals, ultimately delivering cost savings back to the patient receiving care.

We spoke with Aaron Symanski, CTO of Change Healthcare about why they decided to join Hyperledger as a Premier member. According to Aaron, it was important for Change Healthcare to get involved with Hyperledger, as they are a leader in blockchain innovation in the healthcare space. Aaron believes blockchain can create a new paradigm for healthcare in data sharing and Change Healthcare is excited to be a part of it.

Change Healthcare will be at HIMSS this year along with Hyperledger. Drop by the Hyperledger booth at 9900-C in the Innovation Zone to learn about blockchain for healthcare and collect your Hyperledger swag! Representatives from Change Healthcare will be in the Hyperledger booth discussing insurance/clinical claims management as a blockchain for healthcare use case.

Emily Vaughn, Product Development Director at Change Healthcare, will speak on behalf of Hyperledger at HIMSS in the Innovation Live Theater on Thursday, March 8 at 3:00. Emily will present Change Healthcare’s Intelligent Healthcare Network, which deploys enterprise-scale, production-ready blockchain powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0. In this session, attendees will learn how business blockchain technologies can be used to process clinical, administrative and financial transactions covering $2 trillion in claims each year and ultimately improve the patient experience across the entire healthcare experience.

Emily will also participate in a panel with other Hyperledger members from Intel and Hashed Health on Tuesday, March 6, 9:30-10:30 a.m. “Blockchain Reset – Seeing Through the Hype and Starting Down the Path” will help attendees understand practical strategies for identifying blockchain use cases for your organization.

Learn more about Hyperledger’s onsite activities at HIMSS.

Hyperledger is committed to helping the healthcare industry realize the full potential of blockchain technologies. To this end, Hyperledger formed the Healthcare Working Group. Change Healthcare and other healthcare organizations have come together through this open forum with a mission to further education about appropriate applications for blockchain technologies in the healthcare industry. Through positive collaboration, the group fosters technical and business-level conversations about fundamental distributed ledger applications and how platforms associated with any healthcare solution utilizing a blockchain back-end could be impacted. For more resources, to track and participate in defining healthcare use cases or to join the working group mailing list, visit https://www.hyperledger.org/industries/healthcare.

Please enjoy and share Aaron’s full interview below!

Developer Showcase Series: Edmund To, Industrie&Co

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 Edmund To from Industrie&Co. Let’s see what he has to say!

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?

At Industrie&Co, we work with both enterprises and startups to help solve business problems using a variety of technologies, including blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. We are currently engaging with industry leaders and domain experts to help build a number of blockchain-based ventures related to insurance, digital identity, peer-to-peer energy trading and carbon credit.

I first got into blockchain because of my curiosity around cryptocurrencies, but the more I learned about it, the more I believed in the underlying technology (i.e. blockchain), which is much more promising than it simply being a ledger for financial transactions. I soon came to realise it could potentially solve many problems in other domains.

Edmund To, software engineer, Industrie&Co

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

I have always preferred a hands-on approach. The documentation of Hyperledger is excellent. I would recommend starting with the tutorials and getting some sample implementations running. That way, you will have a clearer picture of the architecture of a permissioned blockchain. Once you are comfortable with that, I would suggest you to build a blockchain-based application even as a side project. Hyperledger Composer is an excellent tool for you to build data model and business logic for your blockchain application.

After that, I would encourage you to explore and learn about other blockchain protocols such as: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Corda, Ripple, and to compare them in terms of the architecture and the problem each intends to solve. It is important to understand how consensus algorithms are being implemented, in particular, how permissioned blockchains, like Hyperledger Fabric, which uses Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance Algorithm by default, differs from public blockchain implementations such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which use Proof of Work.

I also found learning the programming language ‘Go’ to be helpful. Not only because this is a well designed language, but because the most popular implementation of Hyperledger and Ethereum are written in Go. Reading the white paper of each blockchain protocol will help you in understanding the vision behind them. If you are interested in the academic aspect of blockchain, I would highly recommend the course titled ‘Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies’ by the Princeton University, which is free and available online.

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

Since Hyperledger Fabric has matured into 1.0 in June 2017, with over one hundred proof of concept applications being built, now is certainly the time to have some of these moving towards production. Also sharing the use cases with the community too would be great as there is a community of people out there who’d love to hear about what has been built with Hyperledger.

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

I hope to see blockchain and Hyperledger being adopted outside of the finance industry. Today, we are very excited to see Hyperledger projects announced in different industries including: supply chain, healthcare, manufacturing, land registry and government. In five years time, it would be nice to see many of these projects be deployed and used by people on a daily basis.

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

Transparency.

I hope to see blockchain technology helping to increase transparency in organizations, in particular,  the non-profit space. By leveraging features such as smart contract and immutability of data, I believe this technology could transform the industry to be more transparent and efficient, and better in allocating resources to those who are in need.

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.