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Hyperledger Fabric

Decentralization in Telecom – How Hyperledger Fabric Can Optimize and Simplify The Inter-carrier Settlement Process

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Special Interest Group

Telecom network operators worldwide open their networks to each other to enable their mutual customers to communicate across network boundaries. This practice, known as “Interconnect,” is being used among national and international operators for fixed, mobile, and Internet services.  Network operators cross-charge each other for the interconnect services they offer each other’s customers. It is done through invoicing/billing and settlements. 

Network operators collect and store detailed information in a record known as Call Detail Record (CDR) about every call ever attempted, whether completed or not. A typical CDR captures data such as calling and called party phone numbers, duration of the call, the timestamp for each activity, the ID of the equipment that handled the call, the result of the call, and so on.  Interconnect partners share CDRs for the purpose of “verifying” cross charges and settling balances. This verification process is cumbersome, inefficient, lengthy, costly, and error-prone. Missing CDRs and discrepancies in CDRs are very common problems. 

Due to the large number of network operators globally and the many-to-many relationships amongst them, the complexity and amount of cross charging and settlements data is exponential and very error-prone, causing Interconnect operations to be expensive. Typically, wholesale interconnect contributes to almost 30-40% of overall traditional telecom business for a telco, but with the declining margins, it has become essential to address the blocked revenue due to disputes and to optimize the overall cost involved in resolving these discrepancies.

To illustrate how the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger blockchain projects can be leveraged to help Telecom operators solve the Inter-Carrier Settlement problem, the Hyperledger Telecom SIG formed a subgroup for the purpose of understanding the problem from a business and technical perspective, proposing a Solution Brief, and developed a Proof of Concept (PoC).  

Even though the main focus of the PoC is to provide a technical solution that simplifies and streamlines the settlement process, we believe the solution’s real value is in its potential to reduce the overall settlement process cost for all ecosystem participants.  Cost reduction would be attributed to two main factors, friction reduction and shortening the time cash is held inside the system.  

A POC has been created as a Hyperledger Lab project to identify the potential transactions to be considered in the ICS smart contract. This is an open source effort and anyone is welcome to contribute.

The proposed solution broadly addresses how a DLT-based solution can:

  1. Create a single source of truth, which allows network operators to access and verify billing and cross-charging data in real-time.
  2. Reduce overall costs by replacing tedious processes, reducing dependency on intermediaries such as clearinghouses with simple, near real-time and error-free reconciliation and settlement process.
  3. Help in fraud detection and prevention.

The  Hyperledger Telecom SIG Inter-Carrier Settlement subgroup is successful in defining a solution based on Hyperledger Fabric as well as developing a working PoC which is available for demonstration for those who are interested.  The subgroup has also written a solution brief on how Blockchain-based solution could be used to simplify and expedite the Interconnect’s cross-charging and billing data-verification process. 

On the technical side, the solution brief covers the typical deployment architecture designed using Hyperledger Fabric for a Telecom Consortium. The whole idea is to bring multi Organization and multi-channel flavor supported by orchestration services to enable consensus between the collaborating parties for reconciliation.  

The solution brief serves as good educational material for explaining the Wholesale Interconnect problem from logistical and business perspective. It also explains the technical solution at a high level. 

The Telecom Special Interest Group is committed to collaborating with Telecom Operators, Researchers and Technical Organizations to evolve the Proof of Concept to a Production grade solution. The Telecom SIG team is also working with other Hyperledger groups to integrate solutions that can add value to the Intercarrier Settlement, which will eventually benefit the Telecom Operators.  If you are interested in this, join the group’s mailing list and regular calls and take part in the work of the group.

Below is the list of companies and research institutes in alphabetical order who have contributed to the Intercarrier Settlement Solution brief.

Organization NameURL
CONNECT Centrewww.connectcentre.ie
Delhi Universitywww.du.ac.in
IBMwww.ibm.com
Ledger Academywww.ledgeracademy.com
National Informatics Centerhttps://www.nic.in/
Pacioli Consultingwww.pacioli.us
Subex Ltd.www.subex.com

Hyperledger for Healthcare: How Fabric drives the next-generation pharma supply chain

By Blog, Healthcare, Hyperledger Fabric

Before new medicines can reach the patients that need them, the pharmaceutical and biotech companies that develop them must seek FDA approval. As part of this process, pharmaceutical companies sponsor highly controlled clinical studies in medical centers, called “sites.” The number of active studies has doubled over the last 10 years, and study sites are bursting at the seams. With the rise of personalized medicine and increasingly specialized shipping and storage requirements, this trend can only accelerate.

At LedgerDomain we’ve partnered to tackle this challenge with a broad spectrum of industry leaders, including pharmas, contract manufacturers, research organizations, academic sites, and couriers. At the heart of this effort is the world’s first iOS blockchain app for pharmaceutical supply chain, which we presented last month to the Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC SIG).

Today we’d like to dig beneath the surface of our efforts in this space. We’ll cover some lessons we’ve learned along the way, and how blockchain can speed innovative medicines to the patients who need them. We’ll also give you a sneak peek at a live pilot happening right now, where a blockchain-based solution is being used to deliver lifesaving medicines to real patients.

Why Hyperledger for healthcare?

We chose to join the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger in 2016 after a simple realization – most of our clients and prospects were apprehensive about coin-based models. Hyperledger Fabric represented a different approach to blockchain that aligned with their values at a deeper level. It’s no wonder that the community has come a long way since, emerging as the blockchain platform of choice for global enterprises. 

Coin-based models can serve as a fantastic incentive for participation, but not everyone in every jurisdiction is ready for cryptocurrency. A second factor that sets Hyperledger Fabric apart is its focus on privacy. While everyone is looking for the magic bullet that will enhance track-and-trace capabilities across the drug supply chain, nobody wants to risk leaking patient health records from a public blockchain across the dark web.

The DocuSeal framework

Highly regulated enterprise communities have unique requirements. Much of our work on Hyperledger Fabric has centered on specialized multi-threaded experiences designed for compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, Cal Privacy, and data privacy laws just over the horizon, performing at scale.

With that in mind, we built DocuSeal, a framework designed for blockchain-powered document authentication through an iOS application. With DocuSeal, uploaded documents are sealed in private storage, tied to a unique hash that’s immutably stored on a private blockchain. Documents can be shared with other users or deleted.

DocuSeal makes it possible to verify the authenticity of any document each time it’s accessed. At the same time, the “right to be forgotten” is preserved, as the private storage can be wiped if necessary while the hashes on the blockchain are preserved. To assure real-time performance metrics, we use Selvedge, our enterprise-grade blockchain app server developed in Golang on Hyperledger Fabric. 

We designed the DocuSeal framework so users could be up and running in minutes with simple document storage and sharing – similar to Dropbox – plus serious security and timestamping. But underneath this simple interface, our stakeholders can leverage the power of smart contracts to drive inter-enterprise workflows.

How blockchain can speed innovative medicines to the patients who need them

Testing new medications is an extraordinarily complex process. Right now, over 800 biotechs and pharmas are working with their vendors to supply medicines for over 10,000 clinical studies to tens of thousands of clinical sites. And the number of studies is constantly growing.

While some clinical sites are just a doctor and an assistant, large academic centers aren’t like your neighborhood Walgreens or Boots. They’re massive warehouses with pallets loaded with experimental medications. One of our partners, UCLA, has 700 clinical studies sponsored by 100 different companies. This is a massive undertaking where no single pharma’s proprietary system can predominate, so everyone has fallen back on paper.

With that in mind, in 2017, we joined forces with other industry leaders as part of the Clinical Supply Blockchain Working Group (CSBWG), which includes Pfizer, IQVIA, UPS, Merck, UCLA Health, GSK, Thermo Fisher, and Biogen. Over the course of two years, we built out a pilot on Hyperledger Fabric to address this challenge directly. We named it KitChain

(Want a deeper dive on technical specifications? Check out our white paper!)

Big picture: supply chains and blockchain

KitChain was a major milestone for the supply chain for clinical studies, but meanwhile the stakeholders on the commercial pharmaceutical supply chain were struggling to meet their own challenges. Everyone is looking ahead to 2023, when the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) will come into full effect with sweeping requirements for traceability across the entire pharmaceutical supply chain.

With that in mind, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) came out earlier this year in search of enterprising stakeholders to help them tackle the problem of counterfeit and suspect medicines. 

In response to the FDA’s call for pilots to address this challenge, we partnered with UCLA Health to launch the only pilot of its kind. We’re building and testing a last-mile blockchain-driven solution designed to help deliver lifesaving medications to real patients. This solution features an intuitive iOS client running on our Selvedge app server and smart contracts, all powered by Hyperledger Fabric.

This is a “rubber hits the road” moment for supply blockchain: out of the workshop and into the real world. Our living supply chain solution captures all the transactions – from the loading dock to the patient. It will capture the data needed to develop trends and analytics, and be able to surface risk management issues. But most of all, it’s designed to handle the human element – because in the real world, sometimes things happen you don’t expect. A blockchain system that doesn’t allow for human factors will no longer reflect the ground truth. These are all things we’re working on right now, and we look forward to sharing our findings and connecting with you in Phoenix at Hyperledger Global Forum 2020.

The Hyperledger community has grown and matured over the last three years, and we’re honored to be a part of building the future of blockchain. Delivering our full-stack enterprise-grade solution by ourselves would have been impossible, but by joining Hyperledger and the Linux Foundation, we’ve been able to contribute while standing on the shoulders of giants.

About the Author

Ben Taylor is the CEO of LedgerDomain, founded in 2016 to bring Hyperledger blockchain solutions to enterprise ecosystems, unlocking a world of communal computing and real-time performance. After doing undergraduate and graduate work at MIT, Ben spent a quarter of a century incubating and investing in early-stage technology companies.

Coverage image credit

Honeywell Aerospace creates multi-million dollar online parts marketplace with Hyperledger Fabric

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Turning retired planes onto business opportunity, Honeywell Aerospace is on track to modernize the $4 billion used aircraft parts market. A key part of the formula for success has been deploying Hyperledger Fabric to bring a layer of trust to the online sales process. 

When a plane retires, operators can harvest valuable parts, especially engines and landing gear. And those parts can be sold, recertified as airworthy, and reused in other planes. There is a big demand for the parts but, since aviation is a heavily regulated industry, sales require certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies. Each part must be documented with a complete history of its ownership, use, and repairs. Needless to say, tracking all the information required on all those parts is a challenging, error-prone process. And any uncertified or counterfeit part that snuck into the supply chain could have dire consequences.

Vendors attempting online sales were putting up sites that looked a lot like Craigslist, only with no prices or images. Only the most basic information, such as a part’s condition, was posted online with the seller’s phone number. Any transaction required extensive back and forth between buyer and seller to fill in each part’s history and details. It was a long way from the ecommerce experience we’ve all come to expect and online sales made up less than 2.5% of all transactions. The Honeywell Aerospace team knew they had to do better and that the key was building in a layer of trust.

Ushing in a new era in used airplane parts sales, Honeywell created a blockchain-based marketplace, GoDirect Trade, that is a modern shopping site that gives buyers easy access to the information and parts they needed and, importantly, removed uncertainty from the transactions.

Thanks to the blockchain records, buyers can now view vital data on many parts, such as:

  • The entire lifecycle of a part
  • The number of hours it was in service
  • Any and all repairs made and by who, when and where
  • All previous owners of the part

In selecting the blockchain framework to power GoDirect Trade, Honeywell had a number of criteria, including low latency, high throughput, and fast send rates. Hyperledger Fabric provided all that, along with privacy controls such as channels that give a granular ability to manage data. 

Today, shopping on the platform feels like using a typical consumer e-commerce site with photos, detailed product information, and a simple checkout. The average checkout screen only takes two clicks. All these were groundbreaking innovations for aviation parts.   

A month after GoDirect Trade went live with little fanfare, the marketplace had registered more than 300 buyers and processed nearly a quarter million dollars in online transactions. Within 10 weeks, sales soared past $1 million.

Hyperledger has captured the details behind the conception and development of the Hyperledger Fabric-powered GoDirect Trade, its success to date and future plans for the platform. Read the full case study here.

Hyperledger Certifications Give Experts A Professional Edge

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Certifications give experts a professional edge by providing globally recognized evidence of skills mastery, demonstrating ability within a specific topic. 

Hyperledger announced the Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator (CHFA) designation earlier this year. This certification is earned by professionals who can effectively build a secure Hyperledger Fabric network for commercial deployment, including the ability to install, configure, operate, manage and troubleshoot the nodes of thatnetwork1.

Hyperledger expanded the available certifications with the recently announced Hyperledger Certified Service Provider (HCSP) designation for companies that meet the following criteria: 

  1. Be a member of Hyperledger, 
  2. Have a business model to support enterprise end users, including putting engineers at customer sites, and
  3. Have three or more engineers who have passed the Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator (CHFA) exam.

As an active member of Hyperledger, contributing to the quarterly releases and participating in conferences around the world, Chainyard has the first requirement covered. Additionally, Chainyard’s business model, covering the second requirement, is to service enterprises, startups and associations with their blockchain needs, whether they be advisory, engineering, operational or governance in nature. 

Regarding the third, I am proud to say our first three engineers who obtained the CHFA designation are Ratnakar Asara, Surya Lanka and Ramesh Thoomu. All three were motivated to get the designation to validate their expertise and contribute to the company’s goal of obtaining the HCSP designation. 

Obtaining this designation is important to individuals both to affirm what they know and for their personal development and growth. Here is what our first three engineers to obtain the HCFA designation had to say. 

Achieving Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator (CHFA) is a big milestone in my career and demonstrates my skills, knowledge and competencies to build a secure Hyperledger Fabric network for commercial deployment including the ability to install, configure, operate, manage, and troubleshoot the nodes on that network. 

Working in multiple blockchain projects through Chainyard gave me opportunity in exploring Hyperledger Fabric in depth and boosted my confidence in taking this exam. 

– Ratnakar Asara 

CHFA is highly recommended because it helps one to understand the core Hyperledger Fabric network fundamentals with emphasis on building Hyperledger Fabric network, operations and maintenance. It also helps organizations to build Hyperledger Fabric blockchain skill sets for its employees. 

Phenomenal efforts have been put forward by the Hyperledger team in designing the content of CHFA. Thanks to the Linux Foundation. 

– Ramesh Thoomu 

“I have been working with Hyperledger Fabric for over two years. When I heard about the opportunity to become Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator, I made up mind to do it. I am grateful to Chainyard for their trust and encouragement to become Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator.” 

– Surya Lanka 

For our company, the designation separates us from the competition and provides an objective affirmation by a respected organization, the Linux Foundation, of our capabilities with Hyperledger Fabric. 

Our team has worked on many Hyperledger Fabric projects running in multiple data centers and public clouds on projects across many domains. The experience the team has obtained over the past four years is tremendous and enabled Ratnakar, Ramesh and Surya to pass the exam. Their dedication to their craft, careers and our clients, helping them to solve many problems, allowed them to pass this exam and validate their expertise with Hyperledger Fabric. 

We are happy to say we have additional engineers in the pipeline who have committed to work towards this designation. We work closely on our client projects, leveraging each other’s strengths, to deliver the best work. This collaboration will continue into the classroom as our expert level engineers have promised to hold extra whiteboard coaching sessions to help others in the company pass the HCFA exam. We look forward to having more engineers achieve this milestone. 

As a company, we see the Hyperledger Certified Service Provider designation as a way to help better promote our company services and grow our business. Having the designation validates what we say to our clients, giving them greater confidence in our team, whether it be during pre-sales, while developing a solution or when resolving an operational issue. 

Chainyard has been active with Hyperledger for four years and proud to have the HCSP designation to reinforce our commitment to the ecosystem.

1. Certified Hyperledger Fabric Administrator (CHFA) requirements

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.

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.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: Scaling Real World Hyperledger Fabric Deployments

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

I got selected to the 2019 Hyperledger mentorship program for the project “Scaling Real World Hyperledger Fabric Deployments.” My mentors were Sasha and Nicola from Aid:Tech. Through this internship, I contributed several new features to “Nephos,” which is an open-source tool under Hyperledger Labs. Nephos helps to deploy and manage Hyperledger Fabric networks easily.

During my internship, I worked closely with the engineering team of Aid:Tech. My mentors, and I had several meetings to plan our tasks and to finalize the architectures. I made the following contributions to Nephos during my internship:

1. Stabilizing Nephos

During the first few weeks, I spent time on familiarizing myself with the relevant technologies and Nephos itself. During this time I fixed some known bugs in Nephos. Also during this phase, I improved the logging capability of Nephos through the native Python logger.

2. Support for multiple organizations

Nephos 0.3.X supported only one orderer organization and one peer organization. We wanted to allow the users to define as many organizations as they wanted. As some major changes had to be done that needed to be compatible with the future plans we have for Nephos, we discussed the architectures and changes in GitHub. Then we finalized the architecture and started working on it after an online meeting. Now, Nephos 0.4.X let multiple organizations to be defined.

3. Support for multiple channels

I also created a PR to let the user define multiple channels and precisely define which organizations belong to which channels so that, during the deployment, Nephos creates those channels and make the peers join the relevant channels. In order to achieve this, I also had to make changes to the “hlf-peer” helm charts in helm stable repository.

4. Support for Hyperledger Fabric 1.4

As Hyperledger Fabric 1.4 is the LTS version of Fabric, we made Nephos and the relevant helm charts support Fabric 1.4.

5. Support for TLS communication within nodes.

After supporting Fabric 1.4, we wanted to make sure that Nephos will work with RAFT ordering service, which is one the main feature we got by updating to Fabric 1.4. But, in order to support RAFT, we needed to support TLS communication between peers and orderers. I implemented this support, and now users can either use the TLS certificates generated by the cryptogen or they can ask Nephos to deploy a separate certificate authority to provide TLS certificates. In the latter case, Nephos will deploy a separate CA, generate all the relevant certificates, place the certificates in relevant pods and will use them for all the communication.

I hope to present my work at Hyperledger Global Forum 2020 in  Phoenix, Arizona. 

Experience gained

During my internship, I got a detailed understanding of how a Hyperledger Fabric network works, how to set it up, how to take advantage of its pluggable consensus model and how to make it secure. I also gained a lot of experience with Kubernetes and helm charts.

I have contributed to other open-source projects in the past, and Nepos is one of the most organized repositories I’ve seen. Working closely with my mentors, who built this open-source project from the ground up, gave me a lot of insights into how to effectively build and maintain an open-source project.

More details are available in my final project report.

2019 Summer Mentee Project Update: X.509 Certificate Transparency using Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Summer Mentorship Program

Goal

The 2019 Hyperledger Summer Mentorship program for full-time interns has came to an end. During this program my project was x509 certificate transparency using Hyperledger Fabric. This project aimed at

  • developing the Hyperledger Fabric infrastructure for ensuring SSL certificate transparency using blockchain (a.k.a. CTB)
  • setting up CTB over cloud.
  • making a Firefox extension for browser client application. 
  • benchmarking CTB-assisted SSL/TLS handshake duration.

Project Progress

While working on this project, I focused on feature-driven development and completed one task at a time. Timeline:

  • The project started with the paper provided by my mentors on design and logic behind CTB. Based on the architecture described in the paper, I created the initial version of CTB. 
  • Then I added blockchain explorer to CTB for monitoring transactions and blocks.
  • Next came creating a CA interface and rest API for interacting with CTB.
  • At this point, we were ready to deploy CTB. We started with one server on DigitalOcean.
  • Initially, we had bash scripts for testing query and invocation of the chaincode. Later, we moved to automated testing using Hyperledger Caliper.
  • To match real-world scenarios where CAs would be progressively joining CTB, I worked on addition of new organisation across multiple Docker environments.
  • Next, I created another droplet on DigitalOcean and bootstrapped the process of new CA org (on this server) joining CTB.
  • Then it was on to creating a Firefox extension.
  • Finally, it was time to  issue a self-signed certificate for ctb-testing.ml and another for hfctb.ml signed by letsencrypt on CTB. These are for demonstration purposes.

By the end of this project, different pieces of CTB started coming together. The final architecture of CTB is explained through the below diagram:

Learning

This internship has been an informative and skill-driven learning experience for me. I learned a lot from the Hyperledger community and gained critical experience and expertise in a number of areas, including: 

  • Working with openssl tool and certificates and understanding how PKI works.
  • Hands-on learning of Docker and cloud orchestration while deploying CTB.
  • Understanding the way identities are maintained within Hyperledger Fabric, role of peers and orderers, structure of crypto-config.
  • Writing chaincode and developing application for interaction with Fabric.
  • Using Hyperledger Fabric, blockchain-explorer and Hyperledger Caliper. While I was focused on Fabric, I also looked into Composer.

Future Plans

This project is still in development stage. With more functionalities and scaling, it can be used in production. Some of the tasks that we have in this project’s timeline are:

  • Revocation of certificate improvements: Currently when a certificate is revoked, the browser uses an extension to get status of certificate. A better solution is to directly integrate OCSP or OCSP stapling with CTB.
  • Chrome extension: Currently, Google Chrome does not provide an API to retrieve the SSL information including the domain certificates that the extension needs. Once it is available, we plan to build a Chrome extension too.
  • Scaling: Test different configuration of CTB on bigger network of servers.

For the full details, see my complete project report here.

I will continue to work on CTB in the future (post internship) and be a part of this great community!

Credits

First of all, none of this would not have been possible without my mentors (Mahavir Jhawar and Deva Madala) and other members of the Hyperledger community. Min Yu provided quick response to my queries and regular updates on the internship program. Hyperledger chat and Jira proved to be useful. So, a huge shout-out to them for helping and guiding me when I was clueless on how to proceed. While I was busy coding, my mentor oversaw the direction in which this project was going and pointed changes/additions to me. This kept me busy throughout the summer and helped me complete my project. 

Last, but not the least, I would like to thank my fellow applicants who also worked on developing Hyperledger Fabric, blockchain explorer and Hyperledger Caliper, which can be used in the next iteration of CTB.

Simplifying Number Portability with Blockchain

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are now showcasing confidence in areas where they can collaborate with their competitors to achieve better operational efficiency, make savings in cost and improve customer experience. There are numerous use cases where CSPs can collaborate to overcome the challenges that they currently face. Blockchain technology can serve as a platform where multiple stakeholders can collaborate in a consortium formed to achieve a common objective.

CSPs are exploring real-time use cases that can be implemented over blockchain and have the potential to transform the world by enabling transparency in existing processes. Number portability (NP) is one of the key use cases where operators across the world provide services and allow their subscribers to port out to another network. This requires their platform(s) to facilitate smooth transition of subscribers without losing unused prepaid balance and data sharing over a secure channel. In number portability operations, information exchange is possible between CSPs directly or via an intermediary but financial transactions or value exchanges are not possible or easy. With the evolution of blockchain technology, information and value can be exchanged securely and transparently while the porting process itself can be simplified without an intermediary. Sharing of telecom infrastructure among CSPs is becoming a need and a business process in the telecom industry where competitors are becoming partners to lower their increasing investments. This concept of tower or mast sharing is being encouraged across the globe and CSPs are looking for a trustworthy platform to manage the B2B contracts for tower sharing. 

At Wipro, we are working with a number of CSPs to tackle the challenge of number portability using a Hyperledger Fabric-based blockchain solution.

Challenges of Number Portability

For end users

  • False rejection of port-out requests by CSP
  • Re-submission of KYC documents for every number porting request
  • Long waiting period to port-out successfully
  • High porting fees charged by service providers
  • Losing prepaid balance while porting

For CSPs

  • High OPEX for NP management for service providers
  • Additional costs for lookup services, routing services and interconnection
    for ported numbers
  • Longer time duration and complex process for porting validation

For regulatory authorities

  • Numerous complaints from users regarding port-out rejections and delays
  • Long duration for porting process and users are levied porting charges
  • Non-compliance of porting regulation by service providers
  • Lack of transparency in porting process

Hyperledger Fabric is a permissioned blockchain platform with an efficient consensus mechanism and permissioned membership services that can be leveraged to onboard participants in the blockchain network. The identity of the nodes and users, who are the members of this network, can be validated against the organizations’ identity management system. Therefore, there are no anonymous users in such a network. Managed Service Provider (MSP) is also called the Certificate Authority (CA) in Fabric parlance. The platform provides tools for MSP certificate generation. Hyperledger Fabric leverages container technology to host smart contracts called “chain code” that comprise the application logic of the system. There is no proof-of-work (POW) algorithm and crypto mining in Fabric, and it delivers high scalability and fast transactions. Rich queries over the immutable distributed ledger are supported. Hyperledger Fabric offers a modular architecture where developers can create plug-in components.

CSPs will have numerous benefits by adopting Hyperledger Fabric for real time use cases like Number Portability:

  1. Simplified porting process – The current porting process is slow because of delays in unique porting code (UPC) generation, eligibility checks for porting and various other reasons associated with the mediating party. Hyperledger Fabric, with its distributed database capabilities, removes the mediating party and simplifies the process and allows exchange of information among parties. 
  2. Secure exchange of user data – Hyperledger Fabric is an enterprise permissioned platform that provides an immutable and secure exchange of information between the parties of the blockchain network.
  3. Cost sharing or financial transactions over blockchain network – Prepaid users lose their unused balance during porting. Blockchain can facilitate the transfer of financial value between the CSPs over a secure and permissioned network.
  4. Reduced operational costs and routing costs – Hyperledger Fabric, being a distributed ledger technology, allows for removal of an intermediary party. It has a direct impact on cost. With a distributed set up, each CSP has a routing number in their own distributed database thus saving the routing related costs.
  5. Real-time and full transparency for CSPs, regulators and users – All the processes between various parties in a blockchain network can be monitored in real-time. All records, statuses and logs are registered in an immutable ledger and become fully auditable. Regulators will not only have full visibility but will also have the power to strictly enforce regulatory rules.

In number portability, information exchange is possible between CSPs directly or via an intermediary, but financial transactions or value exchange is not easy. As new emerging technologies disrupt the Telecom industry, these problems can become a thing of the past. Solutions built on enterprise blockchain have the potential to transform the world by enabling transparent environments that do not rely on trust. Our Hyperledger Fabric-powered solution, allows non-trusting parties to transact, trade and exchange information and value without intermediaries in between. With the evolution of Hyperledger Fabric technology, information and value can be exchanged securely and transparently while the porting process itself can be simplified, all without an intermediary.

About the author

Subrat Saurabh, Principal Consultant, Blockchain & Telco Domain Expert, Communication BU at Wipro Ltd, has more than 12 years’ experience in IT Solutions delivery, domain, technology, and the telco industry. He has deployed wholesale billing and number portability solutions for global clients and is a certified Scrum Master. Subrat holds a Bachelor’s degree in Telecom Engineering. He is a published author of two books (fiction) and received the award for being amongst the top hundred inspiring authors from India in 2018.