Hyperledger Fabric is a decentralized programming framework that is based on the blockchain technology. It’s one of the Linux Foundation’s project that initially was launched by Digital Asset and IBM in 2016. Then the platform was updated in 2020.
Hyperledger Fabric operates on a “plug and play” principle that significantly simplifies and speeds up the process of creating different products and solutions for a company. One of the distinctive characteristics of this blockchain platform is its focus on corporate use. It was designed specifically for private companies and met their requirements (e.g., a high speed of transactions and their comparatively low cost). In comparison to traditional blockchain platforms, Hyperledger Fabric is suitable for business needs, because it devotes special attention to the company’s information security, while the first ones can’t promise this level of data protection that is critically important for business use. The information security might be even strictly regulated by law (e.g., in medicine field).
Characteristics of Hyperledger Fabric
Let’s define some of the most distinctive Hyperledger Fabric’s characteristics, including some aforementioned ones.
Verified membership. We’ve already stated that the information security is crucial for business. In order to protect a company’s database, corporate blockchain framework gives access only to a group of verified members. Hyperledger Fabric provides this verification through a system of permissions.
Modular architecture. A specific architecture of the Hyperledger Fabric’s process of transactions includes three stages:
- Smart-contracts, or chaincode formation, which makes the platform decentralized.
- Transaction ordering.
- Transaction validation.
This separation of the process into stages has a few significant advantages. First and foremost, it helps to avoid overloading the network. Also, it increases its scalability and adjustability. Additionally, the use of plug and play allows adapting different modules for certain business needs instead of programming them from the very beginning.
Participants’ roles. Not each participant of the process has the same access to the company’s data on the corporate blockchain platform. There are three roles of participants, similar to the amount of stages. These roles are:
- Endorser, or in other words, an initiator of a transaction.
- Committer that controls and validates the transaction.
- Consenter that finalizes the transaction.
The transactions are made according to a predetermined endorsement policy, which stated the amount of endorsers needed, and sequentially include all the aforementioned participants into the process. The data access is given to endorsers and committers only.
Example of Hyperledger Fabric
Suppose that a company A, which produces coffee, decides to make a deal with a company B, which is a well-known retailer. The company A intends to send its products to the company B, but wishes to keep the product’s price private from a company C, which is another coffee manufacturer. Transportation of the product gets a lot of intermediaries involved, which put the information security at risk, especially when a traditional blockchain platform is used. In this case, all the parties involved into the product’s transportation will be aware of its price. Meanwhile, Hyperledger Fabric as a blockchain platform for corporate use limits the access to the price data to a certain amount of verified members, thereby protecting the company’s private information.
Competing blockchain platforms
Hyperledger Fabric isn’t the only one permission-based platform. It has a lot of competitors within other Hyperledger projects (e.g., Indy, Besu, Cello), as well as projects beyond them. One of the Hyperledger Fabric competitors is Corda which was launched by R3. According to the Chainstack’s research, Corda wins over Hyperledger Fabric in its development rate and developers’ productivity per person. Therefore, all of these platforms have a room to grow further.
Criticism of Hyperledger Fabric
Hyperledger Fabric’s technology experienced a wave of criticism in 2018, because of the huge fall in bitcoin’s price. This fall put a shadow on all the associated platforms, including Hyperledger Fabric.
Besides that, some experts consider that Hyperledger Fabric doesn’t represent a blockchain technology. And in comparison with other non-blockchain technologies designed for corporate use, it’s hugely overpriced for no reason. Another team of researchers disclosed one more flaw of Hyperledger Fabric – it’s a lack of consistent work in critical conditions, which makes the platform less reliable and secure.
In 2020 an updated platform named Hyperledger Fabric 2.0. was launched with the aim to fix criticized flaws. This update has demonstrated that enterprise blockchain platforms have a great potential for future developments.