Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source, permissioned distributed ledger developed by the Linux Foundation-hosted Hyperledger consortium. It is intended to provide businesses with a customizable technological framework for a variety of use cases.
The Hyperledger consortium was launched in 2016 with 30 members including IBM, Accenture, BNY Mellon, Intel and Digital Asset Holdings among others. Hyperledger Fabric was one of the consortium’s first projects, and incorporated aspects of code already developed by Digital Asset, IBM and Blockstream.
Hyperledger Fabric does not have a native asset, a feature which its creators claim lowers operational costs and the risk of attacks on the network. Likewise, unlike public blockchains like bitcoin and ethereum, only ‘known’ parties can run nodes, participate in governance and carry out actions on the ledger.
Fabric’s creators characterize its design as “modular,” meaning that it can be flexibly arranged to meet the varied needs of businesses. Its central components include an “ordering service,” which validates transactions; a “membership services provider,” which assigns “cryptographic identities” to network participants; and a “peer-to-peer gossip service,” which informs network participants of the “blocks’ output.”
Additionally, Fabric incorporates “chaincode,” a type of smart contract that handles transactions differently than those utilized on other blockchain networks, such as ethereum. More specifically, chaincode changes the process through which transactions are validated.
With traditional smart contracts, transactions must be validated, ordered and broadcasted to nodes prior to being executed. With chaincode, transactions are executed and checked for “correctness” by a small number of network participants in accordance with an “endorsement policy” designated for the particular transaction type.
They are subsequently ordered, and finally validated in accordance with the “endorsement policy” and recorded on the ledger. Chaincode is operated in isolation from the rest of the ledger as a “trusted distributed application.”