The Hyperledger Foundation is expanding in several ways to meet the continued demand for open source blockchain technologies.
The Hyperledger Foundation started in 2015 as open-source project run by the Linux Foundation, to be a home for blockchain and related technologies that can be used to enable secure data access and sharing.
On February 16, the Hyperledger Foundation added nine new supplier members to its organization, including Absa, Datachain, Global Shipping Business Network, Indicio, IoBuilders, Marketnode, MDxBlocks, Palm NFT Studio and Zeeve. The new members join existing Hyperledger members, which include JPMorgan Chase, IBM, American Express, FedEx, Oracle, SAP, and Siemens, among others.
The growing membership follows another key milestone on February 9, when the Hyperledger Foundation named its first CTO, Hart Montgomery. Prior to joining the Hyperledger Foundation, Montgomery was a senior research scientist at Fujitsu and an active participant in several Hyperledger open source projects.
The Hyperledger Foundation now hosts a growing number of open source projects, including Hyperledger Fabric, which enables a distributed ledger for transactions, and Cacti Hyperledgera technology that allows the integration of several blockchains.
In this Q&A, Montgomery talks about what open source blockchain is and the challenges facing the technology.
In your opinion, what is the role of the CTO at the Hyperledger Foundation?
Hart Montgomery: I see the job as an opportunity to really have the ability to address certain things within Hyperledger that I think could really move the project forward. These are issues in the realm of things that a CTO can address, like having a project-wide security policy.
One of the reasons I think blockchain hasn’t been embraced by many legacy vendors is because people who use many legacy systems are very conservative in nature, due to the enormous risk. I think security is a big reason holding back adoption. So one of the things I’m going to be addressing as CTO is pushing our security policy forward so users and developers can have confidence in our security.
I would also like to encourage and improve engagement with the academic community so that we can maintain cutting-edge research and contributions to Hyperledger. I also want to serve as something of a technical liaison between all the different projects so that we can focus on collaboration within Hyperledger whenever possible.
How do you define enterprise blockchain and how does it differ from a distributed immutable ledger?
Montgomery: My view is that the blockchain is a database with decentralized trust. A distributed database may or may not have decentralized trust, and this generally implies that a distributed ledger will have decentralized trust.
In fact, people usually use distributed ledger and block chain indiscriminately in much academic literature. The real answer is that no one can really agree on this definition.
What do you see as the main challenges of adopting enterprise blockchain?
Montgomery: From a technical perspective, scalability is often a big challenge. Especially for things like payments or finance, where you potentially have to process hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, which can be very challenging for the blockchain.
Another big technical challenge is privacy and confidentiality. Many industries where people want to apply blockchain have very strict privacy and privacy requirements, either in the form of formal rules and laws or implicit requirements. Most blockchain systems are not currently at the point where they can effectively address these privacy and confidentiality issues.
In many cases, if you want to convince someone to use blockchain, you have to convince a skeptical traditional person that this new technology can help them.
What new or emerging project within the Hyperledger Foundation interests you the most?
Montgomery: I have kind of a favorite child in the new projects category. It’s sort of my child because I was one of the co-founders of it, and it would be Hyperledger Cactus.
Cactus focuses on interoperability and integration between blockchains.
In today’s world we have many different databases for many different things, and each may have different properties. As organizations move databases to blockchains, where decentralization makes sense, we will still need them talking to each other, and they will need to have different properties.
My view is that blockchain integration and blockchain interoperability is a great solution to many of the issues that we are currently facing when it comes to blockchain adoption. These challenges include things like scalability and potentially even things like security. So I’m really excited about the direction and the opportunities for Cactus.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.