The web3 landscape continues to evolve, especially in terms of the options presented to enterprises for blockchain initiatives. Historically, when it came to choosing a blockchain network, businesses had to decide between public or private networks. Now they also have the option of layer 2 networks and application chaining which further complicates the decision making process.
However, even against this complex landscape, every time I am asked which platform will provide the most future-proof technology to rely on, the answer is simple — Ethereum, using the Hyperledger Besu client.
Here’s my reasoning.
The Ethereum virtual machine
Ethereum and its runtime, the The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is the TCP/IP of web3. It is a common standard for running programs on decentralized blockchain networks running on the internet.
All major blockchain networks have made an effort to be EVM compatible because the lion’s share of developer activity on blockchain networks is through the Solidity programming language created 9 years ago. Smart contracts written in Solidity fueled the initial coin offering (ICO) craze of 2018, the DeFi summer of 2020, the NFT craze of 2021, and continue to underpin the vast majority of blockchain applications.
Using an EVM-compliant platform enables you to tap into the ecosystem with the largest volume of tools, which reduces time-to-market for product launches.
However, choosing to work with EVM is only part of the story. Once you’ve decided to explore this path, you still need to understand how to best work with Ethereum. This will include running Ethereum node or client software.
The node will be used to either launch a private Ethereum network or act as a node in the public Ethereum network.
Public or private or other?
Initially, most businesses were only interested in private blockchain networks that they could control either themselves or through consortia. Today the story is different. Public blockchain networks have a proven technological track record, and with their global reach, organizations are beginning to use them to reach a larger number of customers than they historically could with their products and services.
You also have a landscape of layer-two blockchains and application-specific blockchains (appchains) that have been launched, which also apply to enterprises. Appchains allow companies to launch a public or private blockchain protected by the public Ethereum network.
This assurance through the public Ethereum network is achieved by pooling batches of transactions or proofs of transactions together and storing them in Ethereum. Once stored in Ethereum, they cannot subsequently be modified due to the network’s immutability guarantees.
This allows app chains to avoid the typical challenges associated with securing public blockchain networks, which typically require a cryptocurrency to incentivize participants to act honestly.
The upshot of this is that when organizations decide to work with blockchain technology, they must choose a technology stack that not only meets the needs of the business, but also provides the deployment flexibility to work across multiple network configurations — public and private, and potentially with application chains.
This is where Hyperledger Besu comes in.
Hyperledger Besu is the only Ethereum client designed for business from the ground up. Before the appearance of Hyperledger Besu, when companies wanted to work with Ethereum technology, they provided one of the public Ethereum clients, such as the Ethereum Foundation’s Geth.
This was not optimal for companies in several sectors:
- It is licensed using it GPLv3 license which is a less permissive license.
- The only way to influence the development of the project is to create issues and submit pull requests directly to the project developers.
- No vendor support services are available for the software.
- Modifying it to support private blockchain deployments requires codebase hacks that have no chance of being integrated into the main codebase. This makes it very expensive to maintain.
This combination of challenges meant that it was not trivial for organizations to work with Ethereum technology until the creation of Hyperledger Besu.
Hyperledger Besu is the only Ethereum client designed to support both permissioned and public blockchain networks.
This means you can run Hyperledger Besu as an execution client on the public Ethereum network. You can use this node to transact with the network, deploy and interact with smart contracts.
You can also create your own public or private permissioned blockchain network using Hyperledger Besu. This means you can create your own independent blockchain network if that is more appropriate for your use case.
It is important to emphasize that Hyperledger Besu supports both deployment options equally — it is not intended primarily for public or authorized network deployment.
Connecting to Hyperledger is also important to Besu. The Hyperledger Foundation is a global open source ecosystem for enterprise-grade blockchain technologies. It provides a neutral, open community supported by technical and business governance.
This practically means that anyone can contribute to Hyperledger Besu — you don’t have to be a member of the institution. However, the project is managed by the Hyperledger Foundation, which ensures that the needs of its members (businesses large and small) are met through its governance process.
This governance is crucial, as enterprise software has different requirements for open source projects. Much web3 has so far been built through open source projects that were not designed with business needs in mind.
This is not an issue per se, these open source projects secure hundreds of billions of dollars of digital assets and underpin public blockchain networks.
However, when things go wrong, a business does not want to have to deal with a community, it needs other businesses that it can network with and whose primary goal is to provide services to them.
They need support service level agreement, ability to contribute to road maps, normal traffic rate and permitted permits. Most important of all, works need to have a life that will outlive their creators.
Having a neutral entity in the mix, like Hyperledger, ensures that projects meet these guarantees.
This is why for businesses, using the Ethereum Virtual Machine with Hyperledger Besu is the most business-friendly way forward.
What about layer 2 networks and application chains?
Going forward, the landscape of layer 2 technologies and application chains will mature and become clear winners in this space. However, there are currently a large number of competing layer 2 providers and applications competing with each other for market share. Their focus market is public blockchain networks with open source technologies.
They are not established business offers. However, most of them have adapted the Ethereum client technology for their networks. This practically means that it is possible for Hyperledger Besu to be adapted to support certain flavors of layer 2 networks or application chains.
Since its modular architecture supports public and private networks, these types of extensions can be added without too much cost. This will ensure that Hyperledger Besu continues to thrive by supporting businesses that build on Ethereum technology.
The evolving nature of blockchain technology can create challenges for businesses when it comes to choosing a platform to focus on. Hyperledger Besu is the only Ethereum-compatible client designed to serve the needs of both enterprise and public blockchain networks.
Businesses are well served by this because:
- It is the only Ethereum client developed for enterprises.
- It is run by the Hyperledger Foundation which provides bothtechnical and business governance.
- It does not rely on a single company or individual for its long-term survival.
- Permissive licensing through Apache License 2.0.
- Of modular architecture it allows you to use it for both public and permissioned blockchain networks.
- It is the ability to are evolving to support layer 2 networks.
The future is uncertain, but Hyperledger Besu helps reduce many of the challenges organizations face when working with technology, which is an achievement that should not be underestimated.