The Linux Foundation is looking to spur adoption of blockchain technologies by releasing the first long-term support (LTS) version of the Hyperledger Fabric framework along with a Hyperledger Grid reference architecture designed to make it simpler to build supply chain applications.
Christopher Ferris, an IBM CTO for open technology who contributes to the Hyperledger project, says the open source Hyperledger Fabric team is trying to strike a balance between two sometimes competing agendas. On the one hand, it’s imperative to foster innovation. On the other, enterprise IT organizations are generally not able to absorb a constant stream of updates to a core technology. The LTS version of Hyperledger Fabric provides a stable version of the blockchain framework on which to deploy enterprise applications, says Ferris.
“The LTS version should have at least a year under it before the next update,” says Ferris.
Other enhancements included in the LTS release include additional serviceability and operation tools such as logging metrics, an improved programming model based on the Node.js framework, enhanced control over who gets to see what data, and access to commercial hands-on training tools.
In the meantime, Ferris says work will continue to incorporate different types of consensus graphs within the Hyperledger Fabric as well as extending interoperability between instances of blockchain framework residing in the cloud and in on-premises environments.
Enthusiasm for blockchain technologies as a method to provide an immutable database for processing transactions between multiple parties remains high. The use case most widely being embraced typically involves digital supply chains where, for example, maintaining the chain of custody of pharmaceuticals or precious metals is critical to fulfilling terms and conditions of the transaction.
To facilitate the building of those types of applications, the Linux Foundation has also launched Hyperledger Grid, a framework that brings together an ecosystem of technologies, frameworks and libraries that are guaranteed to work together via reference architectures defined by The Linux Foundation.
It may take a while before blockchain technologies are pervasively deployed. But at this juncture, it’s now more a question of determining what use cases make the most sense. In most cases, it’s not going to be about replacing something that already exists with, for example, a blockchain database, but rather thinking through how to drive new business processes that previously simply would not have been feasible to ever consider.