Standards and Open Source
Hyperledger and the EEA already shared similar missions, this announcement represents
the convergence of two related but separate initiatives within the enterprise
mission is centered around open standards. The group’s goal, according to its
website, is “to deliver an open, standards-based architecture and
specification” to speed adoption of Ethereum. It describes itself as the first
standards organization in the Ethereum ecosystem.
know much about the history of open standards, you’ll understand why they are a
big deal for the Ethereum community — and, for that matter, for the blockchain
industry as a whole. In most technological ecosystems, it’s hard to get all
stakeholders to agree on a common set of software standards and architecture
specifications, which are necessary for ensuring that software or hardware
built by one organization is compatible with the products of another.
blockchain industry, however, universal standards are even harder to achieve,
since most blockchain communities by their nature are highly decentralized. The
purpose of a standards organization like the EEA is to solve this challenge by
creating a universal set of agreed-upon practices that everyone will follow
when designing blockchains and blockchain applications. Open standards help to
ensure that, say, a DApp created by one project is compatible with the
blockchain built by another.
meanwhile, oversees several open source projects that help developers create
blockchains or blockchain applications. Its mission is to promote open source
code within the blockchain space. It’s a safe bet that Hyperledger, which is
itself overseen by the Linux Foundation, believes in the importance of open
standards, too. But open standards are not a core part of its mission.
joining forces, then, the EEA and Hyperledger are helping to ensure that open
standards and open source code can develop side by side in the blockchain
industry. That’s significant, because it’s possible to have open standards
without open source software, or vice versa.
TCP/IP, which is central to the internet as we know it, is an
open, universally accepted networking standard. But there are plenty of
networking applications that follow the protocol without themselves being open
source. Likewise, you could build an application whose source code is available
to anyone who wants to see it or modify it, yet have that application rely on
proprietary protocols (although, in practice, this scenario is rare).
means is that if the folks working on open standards for blockchain technology
were to remain isolated from those focused on promoting open source blockchain
software, we could end up with a blockchain ecosystem that is open in some ways
but closed and proprietary in others. The partnership between the EEA and
Hyperledger will help promote openness at all levels — within the protocols as
well as software code.
not to say, of course, that the partnership means everyone will adhere
to the standards and source code promoted by these organizations. There’s no
law that says you have to abide by the EEA, Hyperledger or anyone else when you
build a blockchain protocol or app. Still, the partnership will help to
encourage more openness at all levels.
Learning to Love Ethereum
worth noting is what the partnership says about Hyperledger’s stance toward
of its history, Hyperledger’s main focus has been on building software that
helps enterprises create their own blockchains. That’s pretty different from
encouraging enterprises to adopt the public Ethereum blockchain.
however, it seems clear that Hyperledger is warming up to Ethereum, and sees
value for enterprises in the Ethereum blockchain as well as in other
blockchains that they might create using software from one of the Hyperledger
record, that trend has been clear for some time. One of Hyperledger’s projects,
Burrow, adheres to the Ethereum
Virtual Machine specification. Hyperledger is also building software to help
make Ethereum smart contracts compatible with other blockchains created using
Hyperledger tools. So Hyperledger has been working to close the technical gaps
between its own projects and Ethereum for some time.
new partnership, however, Hyperledger’s enthusiasm for Ethereum seems clear. So
does its commitment to integrating more standards from the Ethereum community
into Hyperledger projects.