A level of maturity not usually found among proponents of competing emerging technology platforms appears to be taking hold in the blockchain community. Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) and The Linux Foundation have agreed to become associate members in each other’s respective organizations promoting rival blockchain platforms.
The Linux Foundation has been focusing its efforts on a blockchain platform dubbed Hyperledger that was originally started in late 2015, while the Ethereum blockchain platform traces its lineage back to 2014. Both projects are based on open source. The main difference between the two is that Ethereum is optimized around a specific type of cryptocurrency that the EEA is promoting as a generic platform for constructing smart contracts. The Hyperledger project is focused on a narrow set of use cases employing a permissions-based approach to setting up a blockchain platform within the context of, for example, a digital supply chain.
Brian Behlendorf, executive director for the Hyperledger Project, says this latest development should confirm the fact that much like any technology platform, there will be use cases for different variants. The decision to go with one variant or another will come down to the size of the blockchain network and the performance required.
Behlendorf says the agreement this week is a formal ratification of a collaboration process that has already been well underway. Hyperledger in 2017 launched the Hyperledger Burrow project, an Apache-licensed implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) bytecode interpreter. Earlier this year, a Hyperledger Sawtooth project added support for the EVM as a transaction processor. Support for EVM is now built into the Hyperledger Fabric as well, and the two project teams are working on Trusted Execution Environments, and a prototype implementation of those proposed standards known as Private Data Objects.
This level of collaboration is indicative of how rapidly blockchain technologies are maturing, adds Behlendorf. There are already dozens of blockchain platforms running in production with many more set to go online in the months ahead.
“Enterprise can not afford to sit it out and wait for a winner,” says Behlendorf. “2018 is the year that blockchain went from pilot to production.”
As is often the case, it may still take a while for organizations to get on the right blockchain network. But as digital supply chains continue to evolve, it’s clear that blockchain platforms that enable organizations to employ an immutable database to process transactions will be foundational to digital supply chains everywhere.