The technology concept of blockchain gained notoriety due to the rise of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but blockchain has much wider implications and uses, according to Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project.
In December 2015, the Linux Foundation announced the launch of the Hyperledger Project in an effort to build an open-source blockchain platform. Blockchain is an approach that enables a ledger of transactions that can be verified through a distributed model. Among the backers of the Hyperledger project are Accenture, ANZ Bank, Cisco, CLS, Credits, Deutsche Börse, Digital Asset Holdings, DTCC, Eris Industries, Fujitsu, IC3, IBM, Intel, J.P. Morgan, London Stock Exchange Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MFUG), R3, State Street, SWIFT, VMware and Wells Fargo.
Behlendorf joined the project in May 2016 as executive director helping to lead the effort forward. Behlendorf is well-known in the open-source community as one of the founders of the Apache Software Foundation.
In a video interview with eWEEK, Behlendorf discusses why blockchain matters as well as how the effort is very different from Bitcoin, which was created by a mysterious developer known as Satoshi Nakamoto. However, the origination of the blockchain idea doesn't matter to Behlendorf or to Hyperledger.
"Blockchain is very transactional, and the ordering of events is very consistent," Behlendorf said.
Behlendorf noted that with Bitcoin's model of blockchain it can take up to 10 minutes until a transaction is considered complete and the blockchain is updated. Hyperledger has a blockchain project called Fabric that is significantly faster.
"With Bitcoin, there is a premise of eventual consistency that allows for massive scale," Behlendorf said. "Fabric is at the other end of the spectrum and is intended to be transactionally coherent."
Behlendorf explained that Hyperledger makes use of the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) approach to establishing consensus in the blockchain for transactions. As such, once something is recorded, it's guaranteed, an approach that is much more appealing to financial institutions than the Bitcoin model.
Another key difference between Bitcoin and Hyperledger is that Behlendorf has no interest in ever using Hyperledger to build a currency.
"You'll never see a Hyperledger coin," Behlendorf said. "By not pushing a currency, we avoid so many political challenges of having to maintain a globally consistent currency."
Watch the full video interview with Brian Behlendorf below:
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWeek and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.