Hyperledger Fabric - blockchain in the IBM cloud

Blockchain is a technology with great development potential, which comes out of the "baby" phase and matures to the production phase in many areas of our lives. Thanks to IBM Cloud, you can start building solutions based on it yourself.

Blockchain is used in many sectors, in particular wherever market or value chain participants, despite a lack of confidence in each other, have common interests and at the same time they care about the transparency of transactions. Such areas are finance, commerce, logistics, the public sector, law or digital identity.

What is blockchain?

The very concept of blockchain is quite simple: it is simply a decentralized register of information, ensuring its non-repudiation, transparency and a common point of view on the history of transactions.

The first implementation of this technology was Bitcoin and then a whole range of other cryptocurrencies, which led to the rapid development of startups based on this technology, and then to the blockchain bubble burst in 2018.

However, blockchain is not only cryptocurrencies, it can be used to confirm many other "transactions", such as change of owner, change of parameters, sending and receiving of goods, or the fact of voting. We can also imagine the implementation of projects requiring not only transparency and non-repudiation, but also security and high performance. In this way, a whole host of additional challenges opens up for software developers.

The above-mentioned reasons, as one of the assumptions, were the basis for the creation of an open source foundation called Hyperledger. The founding members (including IBM) have definitely cut themselves off from the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies wanting to use the non-repudiation and transparency of blockchain technology, while guaranteeing high performance to create better transaction systems in business.

Hyperledger Fabric

One of the projects implemented under the umbrella of the Hyperledger foundation is Hyperledger Fabric. Blockchain in the Hyperledger Fabric edition stands out among the technologies associated with cryptocurrencies primarily modularity. We can decide ourselves whether our network and transactions will be public, or if the transactions will be visible only to some participants. We can determine the configuration of the blockchain network and the rights of individual organizations and users, which directly affects the performance of solutions.

For programmers, knowledge of this field and the ability to create applications using blockchain is a chance for a really well-paid job in the future and work on interesting projects. According to an analysis by LinkedIn, knowledge of blockchain technology will be the most desirable skill in job advertisements in 2020.

Among the technologies available in IBM Cloud we will also find a blockchain platform available as a service. It's available under the name IBM Blockchain Platform. For this purpose, the Hyperledger Fabric protocol is used - the choice of this implementation is not surprising, because IBM has collaborated extensively on its creation.

Unlike the "standard" blockchain proposal, Hyperledger Fabric made available in the form of the IBM Blockchain Platform service is a network with permissions - that is, its users are identified. This feature differs from traditional implementations, allowing (and even promoting) anonymity. This is important for the entire implementation, because thanks to that individual nodes do not have to refer to e.g. complex cryptographic calculations in order to secure transactions.

Hyperledger Fabric is used wherever the participants of a given market have conflicting interests and thus do not naturally trust each other. The classic solution is for each participant to have their own event log (ledger) confirming a specific state of affairs, or to use the services of a trusted third party.

In the first scenario, data transfer and reconciliation of disputes between individual "strongholds" of information quickly becomes complicated. A great example can be interbank transfers or international transport. A better solution may be having a shared register by all market participants. This register cannot be arbitrarily changed by any participant.

An important element of the blockchain network are the so-called smart contracts . Smart-contract is a programming code describing the business logic of the transaction, run each time on the blockchain network nodes of individual participants and writes the result of its operation to the incremental blockchain registry.

How to start with blockchain - Hyperledger Composer

Are you wondering how to build your first blockchain-based solution? Hyperledger Composer ( https://hyperledger.github.io/composer/latest/ ) will help us, where you can create individual network components and understand the relationships between them, perhaps it will inspire you to create a fully functional application using blockchain .

How to run the first blockchain network - Blockchain Platform

If you are interested in a true network based on Hyperledger Fabric, you can absolutely free to create a cloud of IBM Cloud service called Blockchain Platform . The advantage of this site is to hide from the user the complications of creating a blockchain network and drastically speed up the entire process. Blockchain Platform allows you to create a blockchain network using a graphical interface, giving us the opportunity to focus on creating business logic contained in smart-contracts.

Step 1 - Register to IBM Cloud

In order to use the IBM Blockchain Platform, all you have to do is register in IBM Cloud and connect a credit or payment card to your account (no fees will be charged, the goal is to obtain the status of a Pay-as-you-go account ).

Step 2 - creating the Kubernetes cluster

Then we go to the service catalog and look for the Kubernetes Cluster website and launch its free 30-day instance. The cluster should form within 15 minutes.

Step 3 - create Blockchain Platform instance

When the cluster is available, we look in the catalog of the Blockchain Platform website and launch it. It is important to check the appropriate option: "Link an IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service cluster". In this way, we will create our instance on the newly created Kubernetes cluster. Once the instance is started, we can start building our own network.

* The text was created in cooperation with IBM

Hyperledger Fabric - blockchain in the IBM cloud


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