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Hyperledger Open Source Blockchain Project Looks To Make Enterprise Inroads With New Java Offering

In this episode of the Blockchain Journal podcast, editor-in-chief David Berlind interviews Daniela Barbosa, the executive director of the Hyperledger Foundation. They cover a wide array of Foundation-related topics, including the formation and growth of the foundation, its flagship project (Hyperledger Fabric, an open source offering that enterprises can use to launch their own public or private blockchains), some of the Foundation's other projects, and the difference between permissioned and permissionless distributed ledgers.

From a governance point of view, David and Daniela also consider the parallels between the decentralized development and maintenance of open source software and the decentralized governance of public blockchains. With an eye toward improving the adoption of distributed ledger technologies, Daniela talks about the urgency around education and training in blockchain and the building of a commercial ecosystem. The conversation covers blockchain interoperability with existing enterprise platforms and the benefits of Java integration (particularly related to the Hyperledger Foundation's recent announcement of its Web3j project).

Key Takeaways

  • The Hyperledger Foundation is the home for blockchain and blockchain-related projects at the Linux Foundation, focusing on open source and open development.
  • Hyperledger Fabric is currently the most adopted permissioned distributed ledger platform globally.
  • Enterprises are interested in blockchain technology for its potential to bring efficiencies to the market, such as 24/7 liquidity and decentralized identity.
  • Open source and open governance are crucial for decentralized technologies, allowing for transparency, security, and collaboration.
  • The Hyperledger Foundation aims to support developers, provide education and training, and foster a commercial ecosystem for enterprise blockchain adoption.

Developer Tooling


Data Governance

DLT Strategy

By David Berlind

Published:February 22, 2024

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31 min read

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Audio-Only Podcast

Full-text transcript of David Berlind's Interview with Daniela Barbosa, Executive Director of the Hyperledger Foundation

David Berlind: Today is Tuesday, February 13, 2024. I'm David Berlind, and this is the Blockchain Journal podcast. And today, my guest is Daniela Barbosa. She is the Executive Director of the Hyperledger Foundation. And it's been about a year, maybe a little bit more, since I last spoke with her in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum. So, I thought it would be fun to catch up with her, learn a little bit more about what she's been doing in that last year with the Hyperledger Foundation is up to and even just get a reminder about what it is the Hyperledger Foundation does.

So, Daniela, welcome to the Blockchain Journal podcast.

Daniela Barbosa: Hey David, thank you for having us on again. It's great to see a lot of the success in the content and really the stories that you've been building in the industry, so thank you.

Berlind: Thank you, and we hope to tell a little bit about the Hyperledger story today.

And for those of you who are watching, by the way, you're going to see a ton of QR codes. You've probably seen them in the lower thirds, like below my photo and my picture and all that below Daniela. But at the end, we will also put some QR codes up so you can not only find both of us on our various social networks, but you can also use those QR codes to find where Blockchain Journal is and where the Hyperledger Foundation is, and so on.

So, anyway, let's get started. What is the Hyperledger Foundation?

Barbosa: All right. Well, the Hyperledger Foundation, you know, since 2016, we've been the home for blockchain and blockchain-related projects at the Linux Foundation.

So, for those of you who don't know the Linux Foundation, you know, essentially over the last 25 years, Linux Foundation has been the home for the most, I would say, the most important open source projects in the world. Obviously, our own namesake, the Linux kernel, but also projects like, under cloud native computing with Kubernetes, automotive grade Linux that's driving a lot of the electronics and the operating system and cars, and even in the AI space with PyTorch as part of LF (learning framework) data and AI. So the goal at the Linux Foundation is to really bring the technologies that want to be openly developed and openly governed that are going to be critical in infrastructure.

And, you know, I would say, David, pretty much every piece of technology that you've touched today has probably some piece of Linux Foundation code — open source code — as an underlining piece of that.

Berlind: There's no question about that. I am totally aware of that, and I can't say how appreciative I am of that. And I want to kind of connect open source to how blockchain works a little bit later and just get your feedback on that, but let's keep going about the high-collaboration foundation.

Barbosa: Yeah. So in 2016, you know, a bunch of large enterprises – banks, technology players – came together and said, "Hey, you know, this is interesting, this blockchain technology, decentralized technologies or distributed ledger technology is interesting. And we want to collaborate on building these things, these technologies collaboratively." Right? And what you get when you do open source and open development, you get accelerated, you know, product time lines essentially, right? You're collaborating on the things that need to be built together. So, in 2016, the project – it was called the Hyperledger Project at the time – was formed.

In 2016, one of our first projects was Hyperledger Fabric, followed by Hyperledger Sawtooth, Iroha, and Explorer just in that first year alone. And what we learned as a community was that the enterprises were very interested in the technology of blockchain, not the speculation of Bitcoin, and even... At the time, you know, the Ethereum mainnet had just launched, you know, the year before... But the technology... Seeing that the technologies itself – and you'll hear me keep going back to this – could bring efficiencies to market, right? Could bring, you know, 24/7 liquidity to market. Could bring decentralized. Could bring decentralized identity and privacy to the market.

So in 2015 (2016), the Hyperledger Project – at the time – was formed, and throughout the last... We're just celebrating our eighth year anniversary this year. We've really nurtured and recruited and accepted what I think are some of the most important – will be the most important – open source projects that enterprises, that governments, and essentially that new financial infrastructure, for example, is being built on. So we're very proud of what we built over the last eight years, and the market has changed. And, I'm sure David, you, and I have talked about this before, and we'll talk about it today. The market has changed at what blockchain or distributed ledger technologies or decentralized technologies are needed in the enterprise today, even very differently than what everyone thought was going to happen in 2015 and 2016.

So, if you look at the Hyperledger Foundation, our timeline of projects, and the community members that have come to join us, it really matches where the enterprise is going with these technologies. And for that, you know, in 2021, we rebranded to the Hyperledger Foundation because we are a true umbrella of multiple projects, multiple communities, that ultimately are working with the key thing, which is open source, open development, and open governance in the Hyperledger Foundation umbrella. So, I'm excited to give you some of those updates today.

Berlind: Great overview. Would you say Fabric is the flagship of the whole portfolio, or is it more kind of even balanced across all the different projects?

Barbosa: Yeah, I mean, I think... You know, if you and I were speaking in 2017, 2018, I would say definitely Fabric was the key. And it happens to be... Hyperledger Fabric is still the most adopted permissioned distributed ledger platform in the marketplace, and we have data that proves that, and you see the use cases as well. But today...

Berlind: Let's... Let's just stop there because I think there are people in the enterprise who are still getting familiar with blockchain terminology, and you said, "permissioned distributed ledger."

Barbosa: Yeah.

Berlind: What does that mean, and what is the difference between that and some other distributed ledgers that are out there?

Barbosa: Right. So, a couple of things. And even today, it's not just private and public. It's not just permissionless and permissioned. There's actually a continuum of different use cases that perhaps use a public blockchain to anchor, for example, transactions on a Layer 1, right? And it could be, you know, a Layer 1 that you might know – like the Ethereum ecosystem, the Ethereum mainnet. But it can also be on a Layer 2, right? Like the Polygons of this world, but it can also be on a Layer 1 that is purposely built for enterprise use cases, like Casper, for example, or Hedera, and more and more.

You know, in 2016, you probably talked to a lot of us, and we would say, "You know, there's not going to be hundreds of blockchains. There's going to be..." you know, "There won't be one to rule them all, but there'll be a few." You'll see there's actually a lot of diversity.

So when you think about a permissioned distributed ledger, it is a network – it's a blockchain network – that anyone that's participating in that network is a known entity, right? That's someone that comes in; you have to meet certain criteria from a governance perspective to participate, to run a node, to write into the network. So it's a permissioned. Everybody that you know you have status.

A permissionless blockchain basically means that anyone can read and write, and you don't need to identify what that individual or that organization is reading and writing into the public blockchain.

What you see is a lot of work that's happening in the Layer 2s, and some people even start calling it Layer 3s, where the security and the access of the public permissionless blockchain is being leveraged as well for enterprise use cases with governance, for example, being still permissioned. And I have examples, and I can certainly take you through it.

But when I talk about the portfolio under the Hyperledger Foundation umbrella, is, we now have 13 different projects that address different requirements of what enterprises [have] done. Hyperledger Fabric, you know, continues, as I mentioned, to be distributed permissioned ledger. Then we have projects, for example, like Hyperledger Basu, which came into the foundation in 2019. And, Hyperledger Basu actually has two communities. They work very closely together. One is the Hyperledger Basu as an execution client on mainnet, so public blockchain. Hyperledger Basu runs as an execution client on the Ethereum public blockchain, and about 14% to 15% of mainnet today is actually running Hyperledger Besu as a public execution client. And that's very important, just for diversity's sake on the public Ethereum network. And client diversity is really important because if you have everybody running the same client and something goes wrong, there's a huge bug in that client, what do you do? The network has to fork or you have to figure out like, "Do we push this back?" So, client diversity is really important.

So Hyperledger Besu has a very, very active and growing mainnet as an execution client. And then it also has Hyperledger Besu as an EVM which stands for the Ethereum Virtual Machine so you can run a permissioned network using the Besu EVM and it has all the characteristics that happen on mainnet. So, if you have a token standard, an ERC as it's called in the Ethereum ecosystem, you have an ERC token standard. You can natively run that on a Hyperledger Besu permissioned network.

The optionality and whether it's Fabric or Besu or even Iroha and other projects that we have.The optionality is really important for the enterprises as many of them are trying to figure out where and how they build and how they build to scale, not just to scale in transaction numbers, right? Because it's really important. But to scale in the longevity of what they're building. Imagine you're a big bank, and you're building a digital assets platform, a DAP, and you don't want to have to rebuild that thing in, you know, three years' time or five years' time or ten years' time. So, projects like Hyperledger Besu, which are aligned with mainnet – Ethereum mainnet – will always, for example, always have the best of both worlds as well. So there's a lot of support.

Berlind: Even in enterprise, you're not faced with the constant reinvention or creating your own code base. It's the same story that you get from a lot of of different open source projects, not just in the blockchain industry, but you know, you do have a very vibrant community of developers and the underlying code base to – whether it's clients or EVMs, whatever it may be – is always evolving in a way that the enterprise can sort of depend on it to be there, not just now, but in two, three years or five or ten years, right?

Barbosa: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and I always, you know... When I talk about the Hyperledger Foundation, it's really three pillars, right? One is: we are a developer community, right? We are all about our developers, our maintainers, our contributors, the people that build the code, the people that, you know, support the code. And, you know, so... You know, making sure that the developer community has the tooling that they need, that they have the governance that they need, right? The tools to make them successful. And very importantly, that it is under an open governance model, right? Which means that anyone can participate. It's not just one company that basically says, "We're going to just build this and we're going to do it based on what we need for our own customer base." So our developer community is really important. And so, one pillar and the most important is shepherding that open source community in the world.

The second pillar is education and training, right? So the Hyperledger Foundation, we do a lot of education. You probably took the first course – you know, the learning... the "Intro to Blockchain" that came out in 2017. I think we've educated close to 300,000 people.

I was just at CES the other day, and some guy came up to me, and he's like, "Hey, you know, all I do now is Bitcoin, but I want to let you know if it wasn't for the Hyperledger 'Intro to Blockchain' course that I took, you know, five years ago I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing." So we've actually educated... You know, and that's just one example. And we have certification courses – engineers can be certified on Hyperledger Fabric or other projects as well. We're just working on Besu. So, education. And part of that is making markets, right? And is... how do you bring this technology to the forefront of companies that maybe are not at the technology level? [I'm] talking about the things and the benefits that blockchain can bring to an industry, talking about the efficiencies that we can bring to market. So we have the developer ecosystem and our role in shepherding and making sure the developers have the tools that they need to be successful and the support, the education, and the training.

And the third pillar is the commercial ecosystem. Because, you might have some really great, you know, engineers who are really smart and doing a lot of stuff, and you might have trainings for people to figure out how to use it. But, if you don't have a strong commercial ecosystem, someone that, a big brand, for example, can pick up the phone and say, you know, "Hey, I want to build this out, but I don't have 100 engineers on site to support this. How do I go about doing that?"

So, building that commercial ecosystem. And over the years, you've seen the commercial ecosystem, you know, mature from, hey, everything is bespoke. Right?

Berlind: Right.

Barbosa: If you want something in blockchain, you've got to build it out from scratch, to, "Hey, you know what? There's blockchain as a service, right? There's a lot of blockchain as a service providers that offer multi-chain options. There's what I call middleware service providers. So the market, as they mature, we want to make sure that there is a healthy and growing commercial ecosystem on top of these open source projects as well. Yeah, and I can talk about... Yeah...

Berlind: I just want to go back to the discussion about Besu. You mentioned that it's very much tied to the permissioned networks. But it's my understanding that the EVM, the Besu EVM, is also being used on several public networks. Isn't that true?

Barbosa: Yeah. So, so... yeah.

Berlind: Yeah.

Barbosa: So, Besu has essentially... Think of it: Besu has two sides...

Berlind: Client and EVM.

Barbosa: ... And I'll tell you why it's really important to enterprises that Besu is actually in the Hyperledger Foundation because of the open governance and the way that we operate at the Linux Foundation, all our open source code bases. So, if you look at Hyperledger Besu, there is one part of Besu which I call... Which is the mainnet execution client.

Berlind: Right.

Barbosa: So around 14 to 15 percent today – as I checked earlier today – about 14 to 15 percent of the Ethereum mainnet, right? So, the Ethereum blockchain is already running Hyperledger Besu as an execution client. So, since the merge... So, since the Ethereum merge when it went to proof of stake, the Ethereum blockchain has execution clients and consensus clients, right? So Besu is one. And right now, I think it's number three of the execution clients running mainnet. We have maintainers who are very focused on that all the releases that come up, all the bugs that need to get fixed, and that needs to be [in] real-time. Like, you cannot wait, you know, and go through many decisions around, "Do we make this change?" Right? It needs to support that. Besu has the...

Berlind: EVM.

Barbosa: EVM permissioned maintainer community, right? That is working in parallel to what's happening with mainnet. So, they're taking all the great stuff that are happening in mainnet. We'll always have parity. So, for example, as I mentioned, the ERC tokens, right? If you have a new token that launches on the Ethereum mainnet, you want to implement that token in your permissioned network, Besu will support that as well.

But, Besu is on the permission side, right? We have a set of maintainers that are really working on critical things that are important to the enterprise. David, you know this. Banks, you know, when they're implementing software into their system, right, it's not like, "Hey, I'm putting a Besu node here or a Fabric node here." Right?  It integrates with a lot of different systems. There's a lot of regulatory requirements, you know, that you have to go through, like a 17 SOC (System and Organization Controls) paper, before even a bug fix gets pushed through.

So, accommodating that and making sure that the parity with mainnet continues, yet the innovation gets pushed into the enterprise EVM for Besu, is a very important reason why Besu is so attractive to enterprises today because, once again, that longevity of the project with what's happening in mainnet as well. And that community continues to grow. And I'll give you examples of private permissionless networks as well, if you are interested in that.

Berlind: You know... So all the talk around open source and the governance model, I just kind of want to kind of... I mentioned earlier that I want to come back to that, because when I'm telling people about blockchain, particularly public blockchain, the most common question you get is, "Why do I need blockchain for this? Do I just have a database or something like that?" And, I just want to kind of try this argument out with you to see what you think.

When you think about open source, you particularly think about the history of open source. Remember when it first came out, there was a lot of pushback, especially from enterprises. Enterprises were like, "Are you crazy? We're going to adopt some kind of software where everybody can see the source code?" And of course, the proponents of open source would say, "That's the benefit, everybody can see it." Let's look at some of the commercial operating systems, the proprietary ones that are on the market right now, and why do you think they have so many security problems? Because there's not enough eyeballs on the source code. And therefore, the source code is insecure; you have all kinds of problems. And people paid a very dear price for some of those problems that were in the source code of some of the proprietary operating systems, you know, compared to – let's say Linux. So, you know, I think about that. And I think about how that open source nature of Linux and other projects just made them more secure, right? And it's basically because you're outsourcing, you're crowdsourcing the development of the code and the securing of the code.

In many ways, when you think about what public blockchain is, you're outsourcing consensus. You are doing the exact same thing. You're taking the consensus algorithm out of the hands of the one or two people – like you have happening with the development of proprietary operating systems at some software company – you're taking that out of the hands of just a handful of people who can't possibly cover the entire landscape or code base and keep it secure. And you're putting it out there so that everybody participates in the process in a way that makes it more secure. And a couple of times I've explained that to people, and they're like... And then they come up, "Oh yeah, but proprietary software isn't that much less secure than open source."

So, we get back into that debate. But I'm still, I still think there's a parallel there. I don't know what you think about that.

Barbosa: Yeah, I think in decentralized technologies, open source is one.

Berlind: Yep, yep, yep.

Barbosa: There's no doubt. You cannot have a decentralized system without having access to the code, right? And being able to look at it, being able to, you know, make suggestions to it. So I think... And you know, it's two arguments. You know, you asked the, you know, "Is blockchain an open source needed?" There's many use cases. Look, David, there are so many use cases that people went down the route of saying, "I'm going to build something with blockchain when they should have just built it with...

Berlind: Oracle Database.

Barbosa: Yeah. Oracle Database, or database for sure. Have no doubt about it, right? And you know, very often when I joined the... when I joined Hyperledger in 2017, we actually used to get those calls. I would get on the call, and you know, people would be like, "Hey, you know, I just came out of a C-level meeting and, you know, they said, 'Build something in blockchain.'" And I'd be like, "No, no, no, no, no... That's not the way to do it." So, you know, that's one point.

On the open source thing – and I truly just believe, like, if decentralized, anything that is going to be decentralized has to be open sourced, there's a big difference between open source of you can look at the code, right?

Berlind: Yeah.

Barbosa: And you can see it, versus you can actually become a contributing member to the governance of the code as well. And I've seen in even in the public blockchain space on all the Layer 1s and some of the Layer 2s as well, you see the work that they're doing towards being more open about the code development and governance of it. Because ultimately, it's going to be very important from a security perspective, from an audit perspective, from a regulatory perspective, right? If, you know, regulators are going to look at this and say, "Who essentially has control of the code? Is it two guys in a basement in Singapore? And how is that okay?" It's a joke because I believe there's no basements in Singapore, they're all garages. But, you know what I mean. So it needs to be not just open source, it needs to be openly governed.

Berlind: But can't the same be said for consensus? Like, can't you say, "Hey, look, this is a better system because it's equally decentralized, and therefore, you don't have one or two people who are in control of the data." Right? That's the... That's why Bitcoin happened, right?

Barbosa: Sure.

Berlind: Because somebody was incentivized to disintermediate the banks, because whatever the bank said, went. [The] bank said X, it was X, the bank said Y... It didn't matter. Whereas a distributed ledger kind of disintermediated that whole idea.

Barbosa: Right.

Berlind: So it seems to me like, in both cases, you're kind of saying, "Hey, let's turn over the sanity of this whole system to a greater number of people in the way that no single party controls."

Barbosa: Right. And, I mean, and this is why consortium-based blockchain networks are important. And, you know, in that consortium - maybe in the traditional sense of what you think about a consortium, but where the governance and the consensus still has the, you know, the ability of who is governing, right? And who's part of that consensus, you know, it's not just everybody that shows up.

So, I'll give you examples of things that we are seeing in the ecosystem that I think are very promising because it's actually governments and government entities that are thinking about leveraging the core blockchain principles of decentralization, right? And permissionless access, but creating basically utilities that are bringing what to the market? They're bringing efficiencies; they're bringing liquidity into the market. So I'll give you examples of that.

So, down in Latin America, for example, the Inter-American Development Bank have worked with the community in Latin America and the Caribbeans to build out a platform called LACChain. LACChain, think of LACChain – or LACNet – as a Layer 1, a public utility blockchain network, right? So, everyone can see, everyone can participate. Anyone can, you know, right? It's an open blockchain, just like Ethereum, just like Bitcoin, but they have embedded governance because there is a requirement, right? Because they're running government use cases around digital identity, and they have embedded governance into that network. They're using Hyperledger Basu to create that environment. So it's a public utility Layer 1 blockchain, and the governance of that Layer 1 blockchain, which is called LACNet, is permissioned and the governments and the participating, you know, members of that of LACChain are... You know, so you know who is participating in that as well, right? And that's important for that. That's happening in Europe with EBSI, the European Blockchain Services Institute. They're doing a lot... [a] European-based funded project, a Layer 1 blockchain, utility blockchain that is permissionless, that has permissioned governance alongside of it. And they use Hyperledger Basu as well. And we have many of those use cases. So it's that optionality that I think is useful, you know, continues to be really important. Yeah.

Berlind: It seems to me like when you speak... You're talking about some of the nation-states here, you know, very large governments. The one pattern I've observed over the years... Over the last year where, there have been some proof of concept projects around the idea of digital asset-oriented national bank networks and things like that, right? Like, almost exclusively, like, if you think about national banks today, they currently run private permissioned networks. They're not blockchains; they're the existing financial rails that everybody's familiar with.

Barbosa: Yep.

Berlind: But where those experiments are being conducted, it seems to me like most of those experiments are looking to somewhat replicate the permissioned nature of the existing networks because that's what makes them feel most comfortable...

Barbosa: Well, and the...

Berlind: Or, there's a blend of some sort like, it's very, as you were pointing out, you know, you've got this permissioned governance piece, and maybe there's some permissionless component to it.

Barbosa: I mean, a lot of the reasons is there is no regulatory clarity of what they can and cannot do.

Berlind: At least not in the US there isn't.

Barbosa: It's coming out but you know it's a long term...

Berlind: Yeah.

Barbosa: They do need to, you know, you can't run a business without, you know, observing regulatory requirements...

Berlind: Sure.

Barbosa: For sure. But what... But there are platforms, right, that are using blockchain, right? Take a look at, you know, JP Coin [JPM Coin], for example, right? Take a look at, you know, some of the platforms that Goldman Sachs has out there with their dApps (decentralized applications) and others, and I can go on and on, where, you know, they are using blockchain, but for what? They're not creating coins and speculative tokens to investment. They are, once again, trying to bring efficiencies to the market, right? And efficiencies for these banks and ultimately for the benefit of the consumers – whether it's individuals or the companies, right, they're moving money around – is efficiencies is creating 24/7 markets, right?

If you've ever had to send money, cross-border from the US to India or the US to Brazil or whatever, you know the pain of doing that. Imagine that at the business level. So creating efficiencies in the market, creating 24/7 access. Liquidity. Having actual liquidity be able to [be] moved around. So if you go and you buy something from a supplier in, you know, in Southeast Asia, and how long does it take for that supplier, once again, to get access to the money? Right? The money's been agreed to, the materials are on the move, and what do they want? They want the money so they can go and reinvest and go buy more stuff...

Berlind: Sure.

Barbosa: To make more stuff and make more money, right? So that liquidity is just locked up, right? So, once again, it's about efficiencies to the market. They're not looking to tokenize things because they're going to make... they're going to sell NFTs on it, right? They're looking for efficiencies on the tokenization of the markets. And that's where I think you're seeing a lot of, I think, the important work that's happening, because [the] financial infrastructure is getting very old, right? And I'm not just talking about, you know, something breaks down and, you know, nobody knows how to code in COBOL. I'm talking about the actual rails are not keeping pace to what the digital economy needs. And so, you see some of the largest banks looking at blockchain, right? And whether they call it distributed ledger or blockchain or whatever they want to call it...

Berlind: Yeah, yeah.

Barbosa: To just make their business, make more money, and be more efficient at it. And hopefully the consumers win out on that.

Berlind: I think you missed one of the... a third benefit, and you probably know about it. It just didn't cross your mind while you were spinning it all out, is the cost. You know, so, yes, the liquidity is... So the point about [the] digital economy is very important. The reason that that guy, the merchant's product, was on the move before they had access to the funds that compensate him for that sale or whatever is because of the digital economy. Like, the deal was closed on the e-commerce form on some website, and it was a done deal. There was no opportunity to have sort of a balanced delay on both sides of product delivery and the money. So you got to get the money. The flow of the money has to catch up to the delivery of the product. I think that's what you're pointing out. But, you also have the cost of the cross-border remittance that's happening, right? And so the best example of that is know of a proof of concept is between Shinhan Bank in South Korea and Standard Bank in South Africa where they did a proof of concept and what it showed was, like, not only was it the 24/7 hour nature, it just happened, like, in seconds or, you know, minimally a minute or something like that. So you had instant access but it was also the cost of conducting that transaction wasn't $35 or whatever it is if you go out onto some... one of the existing rails.

So you don't have the delay, you don't have the cost... The cost was like under a penny, right? And so I think about the volume – you talk about efficiency – I think of the volume of those types of transactions are taking place across all financial institutions today. And let's roll the national banks into all of that. And the opportunity to just strip an incredible amount of cost out of the entire, you know, ecosystem when we want to call it that is just, it's mind-boggling. And so you can understand why J.P. Morgan’s's doing JPM Coin because, like, look what they are experiencing the benefits of the reduced cost and the 24/7 access to liquidity and the speed of the whole system.

Barbosa: Right, and that's the, you know, that trust, you know, and when people say, "Well, couldn't you do that with the blockchain?" You could, but you need to have those third-party intermediaries and who trusts which database...

Berlind: Yeah.

Barbosa: And how do you reconcile the database, right? And it all goes back to what the technology does, not how the technology is being constantly talked about in the media, that it's cryptocurrencies and it's just speculative funding.

So, I think if you go back to the question of why use a database versus a blockchain, David, you just answered it. Right?

Berlind: Oh, sure.

Barbosa: Why are these big banks and government agencies, for example, and things trying to just build new infrastructure that can actually scale and continue to scale to what the market needs? And whoever does that right, and the partners and the collaboration that do it right, they're going to just move faster in the market. And ultimately, I think that's what all enterprises want.

Berlind: Well, if you get a few banks saving $25 at scale across millions and millions of transactions, those banks are just going to have a competitive advantage over the banks that aren't doing it...

Barbosa: Absolutely, yeah.

Berlind: Strictly on the basis of cost. There's two ways you can make a profit, right? Reduce your costs or increase your revenue. They're both equally valuable, and this one is a major league cost reducer.

I want to switch gears because we talked a lot about the pros and cons of what Hyperledger is, the open source nature, different projects that you have going, [the] benefits of permission versus permissionless networks, and all that.

You've got some announcements. You've had a couple things happen. You've got a new announcement just this week, something called Web3j. So, let's talk about some of those.

Barbosa: Yeah. So, you know, I'll take a step back, right? Because if you think about... You know, and I mentioned Fabric, I mentioned Besu, Iroha is another project that's been graduated as a distributed ledger. And when you start thinking about actually implementing blockchain networks, you know, let's go back to the big banks, right? There are other things that are required.

In order for these systems to talk to one another... So, for example, interoperability becomes a very important aspect of these networks, right? It is not one network to rule them all. It's networks of networks. So, how do you move these assets securely right from one network to another that might have different DLT frameworks? They're using different technologies. So, if you look at the timeline of the Hyperledger Foundation from 2016 to today, to 2023, you see projects coming in that address the production needs of these networks and implementations.

So, we have a project, for example, called Hyperledger Cacti. And Cacti was started in 2020 – called Cactus at the time – and it really came from, you know, these big companies – Accenture, Fujitsu, IBM – that were building these networks, right? Building these networks for their customer bases and interoperability between networks became important, right? You're running an R3 Corda network and I'm running a Hyperledger Besu network. How do our networks interact with one another? So, interoperability becomes really key. So Hyperledger Cacti is one of those projects, and we just graduated. We have a project lifecycle, where these enterprise code bases go through a project lifecycle – and it's really important for enterprise code, right, that it goes through that process. So Hyperledger Cacti just graduated into our project umbrella as a graduated project.

And that's great to see. And why did they do it? Because they have adoption. There's users using it. There is a need, and new people are contributing and developing. Another project that's just graduated in October, as well as Hyperledger Firefly. So,  Hyperledger Firefly, is essentially, you know, a supernode, but it's a middleware if you think about having to build out these blockchain systems; you have to build out the digital assets, you have to do the connections into your legacy systems, right? You have to do a lot of things [such as] identity; you have to do everything, and so, Hyperledger Firefly is that building block. And you can say, once again, I am using Fabric, or I'm using Besu, or I'm using, you know, Polygon, or Avalanche, right? It doesn't matter which distributed ledger platform you're using. A tool like Hyperledger Firefly really gets people to go in to play.

And so, over the years, we've adopted and brought in projects that really address the needs of the community. Last year, we had a project come in called Hyperledger Solang, which is essentially a Solidity compiler for Substrate. And this year... So just this week, we announced Web3j, and it's a Java and Android library for working with smart contracts. This Web3j has been in the ecosystem for a long time. I believe it started in 2016, probably around the same time as the Hyperledger Foundation. A huge adoption. And the maintainers, a company called Web3 Labs, understand that for Web3j to get further ingrained into the enterprise space – to bring more contributors into that – that bringing it to a foundation like the Hyperledger Foundation is a good home for it. So we're very excited.

Berlind: The j stands for Java, right?

Barbosa: Yep. Yeah. It's a Java-based Android library. And you know the enterprise. They love Java.

Berlind: Well, I mean, that's the key is, like, if you want enterprises to adopt some technology, you're going to have to find a way for them to have kind of an easy on-ramp to that technology. And so for those enterprises, and there are a great many of them who are heavily invested in Java. If you think back to the days of all the, you know, J2EE servers and all that, you know, bridging Java to the blockchain world just seems like a very natural thing that enterprises will appreciate having something like, you know, an open-source project dedicated to.

Barbosa: Yeah, so Web3j, you know, it's a library, it's a tool, right? Tooling. How do you get people to onboard, right? You know, the concept is you don't have to start from scratch anymore, right?

Berlind: Right.

Barbosa: You don't have to download a DLT and start from scratch. There is tooling that is built now on top of it. At the Hyperledger Foundation, what our goal is, is to find basically the best technologies that we believe in the long run win in the enterprise space, right? That we can bring the enterprise developers to, that they can contribute, they can participate. And that's kind of the bet that we made in 2019 when we brought Hyperledger Besu over.

I think, David, I've told you the story before. Like, I didn't physically get black eyes by myself, and at the time, our executive director, Brian Behlendorf, got black eyes about bringing an Ethereum distributed ledger project into the community. But the need was for the enterprise, right? They were saying [that], "We need this, and we need something that we can collaborate on, that can be governed under Hyperledger, that gives us space for growth and enterprise exception."

And then that third pillar, right? Which is the commercial ecosystem. That we have commercial ecosystem support of these technologies. So even like Web3j, what we're hoping is that you could be an end user and you can use a tool like this, but if you want to call up a vendor and say, "Hey, I need help with this..."

Berlind: Right.

Barbosa: That, you know, there's going to be in our vendor directory member companies that support Web3j, that support Fabric, that support Besu. And, you know, it makes those code projects really usable in the enterprise space for sure.

Berlind: Right. Typical open source commercialization model.

Well, Daniela, I just want to thank you so much for your time.

Barbosa: No problem.

Berlind: I know you're very busy. You've got... Wearing multiple hats, I heard. You know, you've got your job as the executive director there at the Hyperledger Foundation, but you also are heavily involved in the Linux Foundation, which is kind of the bigger umbrella of all of this. So, thank you very much for your time.

Barbosa: Not a problem. There's great work happening at the Linux Foundation, certainly at the Hyperledger Foundation. And it's because of our community and our enterprise members and the communities contribute that we're able to do what we do. So thank you for giving us the time.

Berlind: Always a pleasure to have you, and I look forward to the next time we get together.

We've been speaking with Daniela Barbosa. She is the executive director of the Hyperledger Foundation, and you will be able to look at the QR codes right after we're done talking here to see where it is you can find her and find the Hyperledger Foundation. You'll also see some QR codes for where you can find Blockchain Journal and all of our other great video content. We're available not only on the blockchainjournal.com website but also on YouTube, and all of our Podcast content is available in an audio-only format through the various podcasting services: Apple podcast, YouTube music, etc. So you can find us just about anywhere. We like to meet our audience where our audience is. We don't make you come to us.

Thank you very much for joining us. Stay tuned for more videos.

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