The two biggest private blockchain consortiums announced on Monday they have exchanged memberships with Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation and Ron Resnick, Executive Director of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), stating:
“Anyone who ever put a ‘versus’ between EEA and Hyperledger got it wrong; it’s now conclusively ‘EEA AND Hyperledger.'”
They say the two organizations have similar objectives, focusing on the adoption of enterprise blockchains, but they are working on different aspects which can make this collaboration complementary.
They say EEA is focused on “specifications and standards for enterprise blockchain networks.” While Hyperledger is focused on “the development of open source software.”
EEA, therefore, can go to Hyperledger to implement standards or specifications while Hyperledger developers can go to EEA for standardization.
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance describes itself as “the industry’s first global standards organization to deliver an open, standards-based architecture and specification to accelerate the adoption of Enterprise Ethereum.”
That’s a somewhat more narrow self-description than previously, but they have launched an ethereum based private blockchain called Quorum.
How that’s going is unclear, but their github has seen some recent updates, suggesting it remains under development.
Hyperledger describes itself as “an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.”
They’re under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation, but IBM is their biggest backer and their main focus is in the development of their own private blockchain/s which has no anchor to a public blockchain.
Hyperledger Fabric is the main one and that’s open source with a modular blockchain platform that forms consensus at the transaction level, in contrast to ethereum’s generic public blockchain platform which forms consensus at the blockchain level.
What this announcement really means is not easy to discern but one way to make some sense is to see it within the context of more realistic understandings of what blockchains can and can not do.
After two-three years of pilots, testings, and so on, many have now seen what works and what doesn’t with some blockchain projects going into live production.
Private blockchains are a good introduction for companies to operate in a somewhat safe environment with training wheels. Some private blockchains, moreover, might continue to be used effectively indefinitely like intranets are still used in some corporations. That’s because for some use cases a private blockchain makes much sense.
For many in-production use cases, however, and especially where it concerns digitally native applications, a public blockchain is necessary because it guarantees the trust component provided by the “independent” public blockchain.
One way to see this announcement, therefore, is as an evolution whereby the capabilities and limits of public and private blockchains are compartmentalized.
Under that perspective it would make sense for private blockchain organizations to join forces at this stage, potentially because they are easily open to competition.
Not by public blockchains, which they don’t really compete with because it is simply impossible for them to offer what public blockchains can without themselves becoming a public blockchain.
But by the likes of Google, or Baidu, or other corporations/start-ups, which can themselves offer a private blockchain platform.