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Hyperledger

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.

Developer Showcase Series: Todd Cooper & James Sloan, NuArca

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Jumping 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 Todd Cooper and James Sloan from NuArca. Let’s see what they have to say!

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

Dive right in.  The pace of change is so fast in this space that getting caught up can be a relatively quick process.  I think the term ‘blockchain’ still covers a lot of ground so it makes sense to narrow your focus a bit.  If you are interested in cryptocurrencies then dive into Bitcoin, Ethereum and token sales in that order. Go out and set up a wallet and buy a small amount of bitcoin just for the experience.  Then look it up on a bitcoin explorer to see the history of the transactions.

To start to get familiar with the underlying code the open source community is great in terms of being open to participation and providing resources for learning.  Start by downloading Hyperledger Fabric, writing your own Smart Contract and setting up a network of Docker nodes or develop your own token on Ethereum’s test network in Solidity. If you are looking to familiarize yourself with the innovation in this space, every ICO is publishing a new whitepaper exploring new concepts in blockchain and while the quality may vary, you can get a sense of what is happening.

Finally, there are lots of networks out there on Slack, Twitter, Telegram and Meetups that are occurring all around the world. Start talking to other people to find out what they are doing.

James Sloan, EVP Product Management, NuArca

Todd Cooper, CEO and Co-founder, NuArca

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?

NuArca is working with AST (American Stock and Transfer) to deliver a blockchain and machine learning enabled proxy voting solution. AST is one of the largest proxy voting solutions in the market, and the NuArca built system will be used by thousands of corporations and funds to define, manage, and record their proxy vote issuances and annual shareholder voting. This solution will facilitate greater transparency and confidence in data handling, allowing issuers to make more informed decisions and strategy adjustments.  It will also allow AST’s proxy solicitation experts to access advanced predictive analytics to guide complex proxy solicitations.

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

Our primary focus at this time is on deploying the Proxy voting solution using Hyperledger Fabric. We will be live by end of September with more than 2 million unique voters representing over 1 trillion shares. This first project stage is focused on parallel record keeping with existing proxy systems. When all goes well, the Fabric based system NuArca built will become the system of record for proxy voting. By Q2 2019, ~40% of all fund proxy voting will be using this system.

To date, Hyperledger has been great, but does require full time tracking of changes in both technology incorporation as well as deployment. It is new enough that this is completely understandable, but anyone getting involved should know that they are working in a fast moving and dynamic system in which time must be invested to understand and leverage.

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

Scalability and effectively getting the news out on the good enterprise class solutions that are starting to come out using Hyperledger. Much of the tech industry press and financial services press are focused on coins and tokens. Meanwhile, Hyperledger solutions are proving themselves scalable and practical. The Hyperledger community can do a better job of helping to make that knowledge resonate in the market.

From a specific technology gap standpoint, we are particularly looking to have support of Hyperledger on Red Hat rather than Debian as that is the OS of choice for much of the financial services industry. We anticipate needing ongoing improvements to performance and scalability as we grow the solution.  

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?

In general, it is the practical use of the technology available today that is most interesting. Hyperledger is not a pie in the sky visage that may come into its own 5 – 10 years down the road. It is here today and can better solve specific types of problems better than yesterday’s technology base.

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

Confidence and accuracy in electoral voting.

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

Providing a backbone for strong, private blockchains to various industries that are being used to solve various business challenges. An accepted standard similar to Linux.

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

At some point in every project, it is time to shoot the developer and ship the software. Knowing where that point of time is requires decades of experience, and makes all the difference in the world.

What technology could you not live without?

Cloud service models. The convenience and cross platform synchronization is making a truly mobile life possible. One reason blockchain is needed is to ensure the ongoing security, privacy, and resiliency of these models that are increasingly pulling us towards full reliance on external and potentially vulnerable information management models.

(2.15.18) Tech Bullion: 10 Places to study Blockchain Technology Courses Online

By | News

Blockchain technology has since then become the foremost software or platform upon which other digital assets are built. With the explosion of other cryptocurrency and uses of blockchain technology, many are looking to build their knowledge in this area to enable them make the best of this opportunity. Blockchain technology is being used by revolutionary minds not just in the financial sector or investment industry but also in areas such as fashion, healthcare, gaming, and more. It is possible to apply this technology to literally every area of life with the assurance of security and integrity. If you are looking for online courses on blockchain, you should check out some of these.

More here.

 

 

(2.14.18) RCR Wireless: Five noteworthy open source projects

By | News

The open-source movement has gained momentum over the last few years. So much so that The Linux Foundation recently formed the LF Networking Fund (LFN) in an effort to place multiple open source networking projects under a single umbrella. These types of projects allow virtually anyone to make modifications, and potentially improve, software code through a process called upstreaming. Given the numerous open source projects available, however, choosing one to contribute to can feel overwhelming. To simplify matters, the following — though far from an exhaustive list — highlights some noteworthy open source projects.

More here.

(2.12.18) CNET: Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most

By | News

These days, we’re having a harder and harder time trusting each other.

Trust is an essential part of ordinary living, whether it’s picking mechanics based on Yelp reviews, sliding credit cards into gas station fuel pumps or heeding our doctor’s advice. But our trust has been eroding for years. In the US, only 33 percent of us felt we could trust our government in 2017 — a decline of 14 percentage points from 2016, according to Edelman’s annual trust barometer study. Trust in businesses dropped from 58 percent to 48 percent, too, while media (fake news!) and social networks also took a hit.

More here.

(2.7.18) Global Trade Review: Hyperledger boss Behlendorf expects China to lead on blockchain

By | News

Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of blockchain consortium Hyperledger, says China will be a leading force in developing blockchain for trade finance.

Speaking to GTR in Hong Kong at the end of a whirlwind tour of Asia, Behlendorf points to the fact that there are more Hyperledger developers in Beijing than any other city. Already, Chinese banks and companies are moving projects into the production phase.

More here.

Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 Release Process

By | Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

By David Huseby, Hyperledger Security Maven

As an open source project  that is part of the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger takes on a great deal of responsibility to deliver software using a process that is transparent, proactive, and uses the best security practices. This blog post is about the release process for Hyperledger projects reaching the version 1.0 milestone. It is the first in a series focused on the Hyperledger security regime. The next post in this series will focus on everything we do to make good on the promise of open source software being more secure.

When Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 was released on July 11th, 2017 several administrative initiatives were under way. The first of these was an audit of the source code to determine the open source licenses the software was under. Hyperledger uses the Apache 2.0 License for all of its original software and strives to only depend on other code licensed under the same or equally compatible licenses.

The second initiative was a cryptography export audit conducted by the Software Freedom Law Center. Despite a victory in the “crypto wars,” since blockchains require heavily on the latest cryptography, we still have a reporting requirement for all cryptography that we include in our software.

The third initiative was an outside security audit. The Hyperledger team contracted an outside firm named Nettitude to do an independent audit of the Fabric source code. The purpose was to get confirmation of the soundness of the software and to establish a baseline for its security.  The team at Nettitude did a great job going through the source code and attempting penetration tests and running fuzzing processes against Fabric.

Nettitude is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with The Linux Foundation to assess the security of their Hyperledger Fabric blockchain software. This was an exciting and timely piece of work, in a field which Nettitude had already identified as one of our security research priorities.

The end results of the audit showed only a couple medium grade security issues that have since been mitigated. One issue was a general lack of comments in the code that documented the expected behavior of the code. This is an important detail because programmers can look at the code and figure out what it does, but bugs lurk in the difference between what the original programmer intended and what the code actually does. Having thorough comments in the code helps reduce the risk of a security regression occurring during future software maintenance work.  

The other issue was focused on the general security of the Docker container used to execute chain code. The principle of least authority dictates that the Docker container should be restricted and isolated as much as possible. Today, we are finally publishing the Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 security audit report. We have published the technical report and the management report documents.

This process will be applied to all of the other Hyperledger projects as they reach the 1.0 milestone.. The next project to go through it is Hyperledger Sawtooth. The license, crypto, and security audits for Sawtooth have already been completed and readers should expect its 1.0 release in the very near future. Stay tuned for the follow up with the Sawtooth security audit report.If you would like to help us make great software, the Hyperledger community has organized meetups and hackfests all over the world. If you find a security issue please report it to security@hyperledger.org. You can find an upcoming event near you by visiting our events page here: https://hyperledger.org/events. We’ll also be talking at RSA this year in April in San Francisco. Director of Ecosystem, Marta Pierkarska and I will present “Blockchain-the new black. What about enterprise security?” We hope to see you there!

Developer Showcase Series: Rohit Aneja, Bristlecone Labs

By | Blog, Hyperledger Composer, Hyperledger Fabric

We’re 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 Rohit Aneja from Bristlecone Labs. Let’s see what he has to say!

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

One needs to be open minded – It is very new technology and many are interested in it due to its popularity. Many don’t know what it does. Also, there are many platforms claiming to be blockchain frameworks, but real frameworks that offer end to end blockchain needs ranging from membership service to smart contracts are rare, so developer needs to be well versed with knowledge and open minded for selecting a technology and implementing it.

Platform – Permissionless or permissioned – It is very important to identify which type of network is suitable for your needs. Like enterprise level networks where each member has some role and is known can leverage a permissioned network, also known as a private network.

Identify use case and problem solution – Identifying use case and finding a value prop for each participant on network is significant before making a solution. It may work for one party, but since the network needs participation from all members who are required on network, it is important to have use case which serve purpose to everyone.

Give back – contribute to open source – This is very important for every developer, consuming open source platforms or making solutions around it. Open source platforms rely on contributions and an active community. Answering questions, being active on forums is a must if you really want to explore, learn and master a framework.

Rohit Aneja, blockchain engineer, Bristlecone Labs

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 my organisation, Bristlecone Labs, I work as a blockchain engineer and prosper innovative solutions to serve supply chain specific use-cases. We have developed IOE + Blockchain solution based on Hyperledger Fabric 0.6 while 1.0 was still in its alpha phase. The solution is aimed at logging real time sensors data in its immutable ledgers and executing smart contracts on sensor data.

One of the use cases being smart contracts which execute on every sensor reading and checks if sensor crossed specific threshold, which may mean perishables are exposed to unsuitable conditions and have spoiled due to this. The system can help not only record such breach of contracts in immutable ledgers but can also identify responsible shipper and take corrective actions in real time. There is avoidance of any conflict with system in place and real time sensory data, optimisation and efficiency can be achieved by identifying rough routes and avoiding them, by having shock detecting sensors on shipping trucks transporting delicate or fragile shipments.

As blockchain is key to achieving the above scenarios where distributed participants can agree upon consensus, and benefit on big picture out of this system.

As there is a high interest from various big players as well as small players, plus the nature of blockchain platforms (being distributed, open source) also makes it available to everyone, by everyone, there is no “single owner” of these platforms and this technology but all of us working on blockchain are. This is one important fact which motivated me to jump into blockchain engineering and learn, contribute and innovate passionately for the better of the world.

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

Currently, I am developing a business network on Hyperledger Composer, although it’s in early stage of its development, it will be mostly a network of networks that will have suppliers identify an optimised supply path as well as have competitive advantage for being on a network than suppliers playing alone.

Hyperledger has been constantly evolving and has a very active community. Availability of production ready system that has high security and scalability in such early stages of blockchain technology is a bliss for developers. Availability of high quality documents and tutorials makes it easy for developers to jump into complex world of blockchain. As I started my Blockchain journey with Hyperlegder, after making some solutions, I have never felt short changed of features and possibilities that the framework offers. Having an active community with regular meetups and weekly updates keeps us flowing with recent changes and recommended coding guidelines.

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

I think, tools that make achieving end to end solutions faster and easier will definitely attract lots of audience and developers around the globe. Blockchain can be a complex topic for people from different backgrounds and giving tools for rapid development like Hyperledger Composer is a great value prop for people to adopt a simple and fast solution.

Keeping focus in improving such tools will really drive a large base towards Hyperledger framework. It is incredible what Hyperledger is doing and especially keeping it open source and public driven complements technology like blockchain, which at a core is – “there is no central authority.” Offering a framework which is contributed by the developer community around the globe, there is no way it can go wrong with great mediators and helpful, passionate organisers.

Blockchain is really going to have a big impact on how things function as of now (hence disruptive), and when business realizes true potentials of it, that’s when early adopters are going to really benefit.