How HyperLedger Sawtooth Is Democratising Enterprise Access To Blockchain

Blockchain among enterprises is one of the hottest rising trends in the business sector currently. Hailed for its ability to make paperwork obsolete while still maintaining accountability and transparency, blockchains are quickly becoming the choice for conglomerates and consortiums alike.

One of the most popular flavours of blockchain chosen by many enterprises is Hyperledger. An open-source effort by the Linux Foundation, Hyperledger aims to bring together the business sector to create open-source blockchain technologies.

One of the frameworks that falls under Hyperledger is Sawtooth, an accessible blockchain structure for use by enterprises. The framework holds the potential to change how blockchain is approached by big businesses.

What Is Sawtooth?

At its base, Sawtooth is a blockchain framework. It takes the form of a modular platform for deploying, building and running blockchains. One of the main focus points of developing and creating Sawtooth is keeping ledgers distributed and keeping smart contracts safe, especially for enterprise use.

For any common enterprise implementation, there are usually two layers. The primary is the blockchain framework itself, which holds the consensus layer, node details and basic infrastructure of the chain. The second layer is where the blockchain is adapted for the enterprises’ use case.

This is where smart contracts are developed. Smart contracts are distinct applications on the blockchain, and are often referred to as ‘blockcode’.

Simply put, they are written contracts that function atop the consensus layer to remove the need for a third-party to approve the contract’s execution. However, there is a pitfall with this method.

When developing blockcode for a specific blockchain, it is imperative to know the ins-and-outs of the platform upon which they are developing. An understanding of the consensus mechanism is also required owing to the code directly interfaces with the layer.

This is where Sawtooth comes in.

Why Sawtooth Is Used

Sawtooth enables simplified development on the blockchain through its architecture. It functions on similar principles to the “Modern OS” design philosophy by separating the core system and the application domain. This not only greatly increases security, but optimizes development practices.

The structure of Sawtooth allows developers to specify smart contract rules that apply for their application and code without knowing the underlying design of the core system. This is done by a concept known as a “transaction family”.

The transaction family is a specification for the data model and transaction language of Sawtooth. They function as a middleware solution for creating a set of rules to modify the blockchain state or consensus.

This enables the creation of smart contracts without the need for the architecture of the system to be exposed. The framework also allows developers to write the blockcode in any language they choose.

One of the most novel features of Sawtooth is that it abstracts the core consensus concepts. It does so by separating the consensus layer and transaction layer, thus creating a modular consensus mechanism that allows for the plug-in of different consensus implementations.

This abstraction also allows multiple different application types and consensus types to exist on the same blockchain, creating a ‘superchain’ of sorts with hot-swappable consensus mechanisms.

Moreover, the framework is also highly modular, providing a customizable basement of sorts for companies to build up on.

Sawtooth allows for the written applications to choose their own transaction rules, permissioning and consensus algorithms through the transaction family framework.

Use-Cases For Sawtooth

This highly adaptable nature of Sawtooth makes it suitable for a wide variety of tasks. The implementation is ideal for a permissioned enterprise chain, either consisting of a consortium or branches of a conglomerate. The system can be easily adapted to a range of circumstances.

Primary among them is the Sawtooth Supply Chain. A must for enterprise blockchain implementations nowadays, the chain can easily be adapted to a supply chain format. This application allows for a transaction processor, a customer REST API and a web app.

The purpose of the supply chain is to trace provenance and other related information of an asset. It can also integrate easily with existing systems by synchronizing the chain state with a database.

Sawtooth can also be used as a decentralized exchange platform or a marketplace of sorts. This application allows for the easy exchange of custom-created or tokenized assets seamlessly on-chain. This application comes with a RESTful API for easy access.

The platform can also be used for the creation of assets in Bitcoin-style, using the same principles as the first cryptocurrency. In an application called “Sawtooth Private UTXO”, the chain gains the ability to generated Unspent Transaction Outputs (UTXO), or digital assets.

Speccing the platform for this implementation allows for the off-ledger transfer of created assets, for private transactions. This is an especially useful feature for enterprises looking to implement blockchain applications for in-house digital assets.

All in all, the adaptable and modular nature of Sawtooth makes it a good fit for any enterprise.

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