Open Blockchain

UPDATE: Open Blockchain has graduated to become part of Hyperledger’s first incubation project, “Fabric!” Get full details in the announcement by Chris Ferris, Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee Chair. You can contribute by visiting the Fabric GitHub page and by joining the Hyperledger Project community.

Webcast replays

  • Hyperledger Update Tech Talk: Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee member and IBMer Arnaud Le Hors looks at Hyperledger accomplishments, milestones, and challenges for 2016. Recorded December 14, 2016.

  • Open Blockchain Tech Talk: IBM Open Technology CTO Chris Ferris and IBM Blockchain Solution Architect Anthony O’Dowd present an overview of IBM’s open source blockchain technology. Recorded April 27, 2016.

Open Blockchain is a ledger of digital events, called transactions, shared among different participants, each having a stake in the system. The ledger can only be updated by consensus of the participants, and, once recorded, information can never be altered. Each recorded event is cryptographically verifiable with proof of agreement from the participants.

From a technical standpoint, Open Blockchain is a fabric architecture that allows businesses to harness the power of cryptographically secure, immutable (append-only), distributed and peer-to-peer databases. These are commonly known as “blockchains,” pioneered by the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities.

Blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed ledger technology for a new generation of transactional applications. It establishes trust, accountability, and transparency, while streamlining business processes. Think of it as an operating system for interactions. It has the potential to vastly reduce the cost and complexity of getting things done.

Open Blockchain is a modular-based protocol for recording and accessing transactions on a private ledger. Transactions, in this context, can have a wide definition, ranging from data to assets, instructions, and identities. A system that combines both the transactional processing protocol and the information store is a big advantage for multiple domains. For example, the protocol is modular so network administrators can define their own constraints and then set the protocol accordingly.

This open source fabric allows infinite sets of unique actors to create their own networks. Communities create a permissioned network, where validating and non-validating nodes are operated by known whitelisted entities. These identities are granted access by an issuing authority on the network. This model is substantially different from current blockchains.

Why should I contribute?

The Open Blockchain project is IBM’s contribution to the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project. We have made it available as open source to enable others to explore our architecture and design. IBM is engaging rigorously in the Hyperledger Project as the community establishes itself and decides on a code base. Our development focus is on the Hyperledger effort; this code will be maintained as needed for IBM’s use.

Join the Hyperledger Project community to play an active role in moving this emerging technology forward.

What technology problem will I help solve?

Open Blockchain extends traditional blockchain technologies by incorporating:

  • Logic (chain code): Chain code extends traditional smart-contracts, broadly defined as self-executing agreements written in code that may be interacted with and may trigger other smart-contracts, but with further capabilities. Chain-code is executed in sandboxed Docker containers, and may interact with other hlp-fabric-golang networks or the outside world. More importantly, chain-code is immutable, may retain state, and inherits confidentiality/privacy.

  • Variable Confidentiality: Networks can limit who can view or interact at different levels of the environment. Individual transactions can even impose their own confidentiality rules.

  • Verifiable Identification: While the network can set identity obfuscation, it is possible to have 100% anonymous peers whose identity is also provable and unique with secure cryptographic techniques. If the users of a network grant permission, an auditor will be able to de-anonymize users and their transactions. This is useful for regulatory inspections and analysis.

  • Private Transactions: The details of a transaction, including but not limited to chain-code, peers, assets, and volumes are encrypted. This eliminates any pattern recognition or leaked private information to non-authorized actors on the network. Only specified actors can decrypt, view and interact/execute (with chain-code).

  • Customizable Consensus Protocols: The fabric will easily operate with almost any consensus mechanism (for example, proof-of-work, proof-of-stake, etc.). This customizable architectural design makes Open Blockchain applicable to more applications.

How will Open Blockchain help my business?

The distributed ledger is a permanent, secure tool that makes it easier to create cost-efficient business networks without requiring a centralized point of control. With distributed ledgers, virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded. The application of this emerging technology is showing great promise in the enterprise. For example, it allows securities to be settled in minutes instead of days. It can be used to help companies manage the flow of goods and related payments or enable manufacturers to share production logs with OEMs and regulators to reduce product recalls.