Which Blockchain to Choose in a Consortium?

Background

The Frankfurt School Blockchain Center and the Datarella GmbH are part of the “KOSMoS” consortium, a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together with partners from the industry, academia and software development, we create a blockchain-based solution allowing manufacturing companies to establish a DLT framework for machines in production processes. The aim is to execute dynamic leasing contracts, to provide transparent maintenance documentation, and to ensure high quality of the products. At the beginning of the project, we analyzed in detail, which blockchain framework to choose. In the following, we will provide insights into the process of selecting the most suitable blockchain technology for the research project.

Blockchain comparison

First, we studied existing blockchain systems which are used frequently. We abstracted from novel, not mature, protocols, and focused on Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, R3 Corda and Quasar/Stellar.

  • Installation / user-friendliness: How easy is the installation process? How well is it documented?
  • Efficiency / performance: What are maximum block sizes? Can several transactions be conducted simultaneously?
  • Cost efficiency: How large are costs for transactions and maintenance?
  • Release capability / up-to-dateness: How mature is the technology? How large is the developer community?
  • Security / safety: How secure is the blockchain system?
  • Administration: How modular is the respective framework? Is interoperability guaranteed?
Figure 1: Blockchain evaluation

The winner was….

And we decided to use Hyperledger Fabric. We selected the Hyperledger Fabric protocol for the KOSMoS project for the following main reason: Hyperledger Fabric is very suitable for consortial blockchains as it is most appropriate for multi-client capability. It describes that multiple participants can operate on the blockchain system while transactions are only visible to relevant stakeholders. Therefore, Hyperledger Fabric incorporates channel functionalities. As we intend to use only one single blockchain for different use cases and, therefore, with different and independent parties, we needed to make sure that privacy concerns of the industrial partners are being taken care of. In Hyperledger Fabric, it is possible to channel connections between organizations in such a way that the transactions are hidden from other participants on the blockchain. This possibility protects data from unintended sharing with others.

What’s next?

As next steps, stakeholders’ interests, rights and responsibilities will be defined within the system. Based on this information, the Hyperledger Fabric network will be designed to create a trustful and decentralized ecosystem. A governance model will be set up, which every participant has to confirm prior to its implementation. These steps define the fundamentals of the system. Afterwards, the system has to be built step by step. Questions have to be addressed, e.g.: How do we ensure that the data will be transmitted securely? How will users receive and manage their certificates? Additionally, smart contracts will be defined that manage the incoming data and manage how they are being processed.

About KOSMoS

KOSMoS is a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the funding code 02P17D020. More information about the project can be found on the website.

Remarks

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Jonas Gross

Jonas Gross

Jonas Gross is Chairman of the Digital Euro Association (DEA) and Head of Digital Assets and Currencies at etonec. Further, Jonas holds a PhD in Economics.