The Linux Foundation Builds the Global Foundation for Open Source Enterprise Blockchain Technologies
Blockchain technology powers distributed ledgers and smart contracts and gained initial prominence as the public networks behind cryptocurrencies. However, business applications of blockchains differ from what you’ll find in Bitcoin or Ethereum. Most enterprise blockchain applications are built on permissioned networks that link a group of stakeholders to streamline critical, often proprietary business processes and transactions.
All businesses participating in a commercial ecosystem need a ledger to record transactions. Any business network that records transactions—and does not want to depend on a central proxy that everyone must trust—can be remade through blockchain technology.
Blockchains and their underlying distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) can be used to record promises, trades, transactions, or any items we never want to disappear. Mirrored exactly across all nodes in a given network, the distributed ledger gives everyone in an ecosystem an identical copy of the common system of record.
When used as an enterprise software solution, blockchain enables trust where it did not exist and removes layers of inefficiency. And when built as open source software, blockchain serves as a common and open platform that enterprises can build collectively and use confidently as shared infrastructure for multiparty systems.
Delivering on the full promise of blockchain across industries and use cases requires openness, trust and common building blocks, all hallmarks of an open source, community development model. The economies of scale, transparency and shared infrastructure of a multi-vendor, multi-stakeholder approach has proven to be an optimal way to address enterprise scenarios with widely varied requirements for decentralization, trust, continuity, and confirmation times.
In 2015, the Linux Foundation recognized the importance of blockchain and set out to advance its development and deployment across many industries. It launched Hyperledger as a project seeded by 21 founding members.
Six years later, Hyperledger has become Hyperledger Foundation and is home to 18 projects, including six graduated ones, and more than 75 technologies under development in the Hyperledger Labs. There is a growing, global community with hundreds of members, thousands of lines of code contributions, and hundreds of thousands of library downloads. Today, more than 350 companies have participated in contributing code to Hyperledger’s projects.
Following the model of the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger Foundation provides a neutral, open community supported by technical and business governance. Hyperledger Foundation hosts a number of open source software projects that serve as the building blocks for enterprise blockchain deployments. These projects are conceived and built by the Hyperledger developer community as freely available, enterprise-grade software that vendors, end user organizations, service providers, start-ups, academics, and others can use to build and deploy blockchain networks and even commercial solutions.
The role of Hyperledger Foundation is to ensure the health and transparency of the community and all its projects, including managing the development cycle, software licensing, security audits, and provenance tracking for every line of code. In short, Hyperledger Foundation provides the backbone of services that open source projects require to ensure community growth. This increases the willingness of enterprise software companies, start-ups, and independent developers to commit resources to open source projects.
In just a few years, the first wave of enterprises adopting Hyperledger technologies moved from early-stage testing to proofs of concept to production systems. These deployments confirmed that strategically developed and implemented blockchain delivers unprecedented gains in speed, security, and transparency. Now, Hyperledger technologies are being used in everything from powering global trade networks and supply chains to fighting counterfeit drugs, banking “unbanked” populations, and ensuring sustainable manufacturing. Already, more than half of the companies on the Forbes Blockchain 50, a list of companies that lead in employing distributed ledger technology, use Hyperledger-powered networks.
“Hyperledger’s prolific code projects include solutions that support the most secure, private, multi-party ledger networks as well as solutions that work with the largest public networks, and most of the space in between. Even in this new and emerging ecosystem, multiple recent surveys and reports have shown that Hyperledger has leading market share among major enterprises that are implementing DLT solutions.”
Like the internet, this space will take years to fully mature. But the race is on to put this technology to work. Concerns about public health, climate change, social justice, misinformation, privacy, and other issues are fueling the urgency for multiparty systems that increase trust, boost efficiency, and ensure authenticity. All of this is accelerating adoption of enterprise blockchain technologies.
To drive widespread adoption of enterprise blockchain, Hyperledger Foundation must continue to fuel the development of both the technology and ecosystem of developers, service providers, and users. It is well positioned, as part of the larger Linux Foundation, to foster a growing, global community that is engaged and committed to advancing the development and deployment of its technologies.