August 29, 2019

Why We Contributed Our Ethereum Client to The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Community

by, Gina Rubino

The PegaSys protocol engineering team has been heads down over the last two years delivering features at a rapid pace to make the Ethereum blockchain production-ready for enterprises. We designed a new consensus algorithm that guarantees fast finality, implemented a market-leading dapp to manage permissioning, and improved privacy at the protocol level of Ethereum. We will continue to be vigilant on being customer-driven, offering top-tier support for Pantheon, and building innovative features for our upcoming releases. While these will remain top priorities, we are excited to share news regarding the evolution of our Ethereum client, Pantheon.

Today, PegaSys is pleased to announce that our open source Ethereum client has been officially accepted by the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee. The Ethereum client, Pantheon, will be renamed to Hyperledger Besu in the coming weeks. We submitted the project with the name Hyperledger Besu because “besu” (pronounced bay-soo) means base or foundation in Japanese. Blockchains are, after all, a base of data on which applications are built, and blockchains should serve modern IT architectures as a foundation of trust. We see this submission as a significant milestone for both open source collaboration in the enterprise blockchain space and for the adoption of the Ethereum mainnet for business use cases.

Hyperledger Besu

Note: For the purposes of this post, I will refer to the Ethereum client as Pantheon. The name change to Hyperledger Besu will become official over the coming weeks.



The Bridge Between Hyperledger and Ethereum

Hyperledger is a global and open source collaborative effort that was created by The Linux Foundation in 2015 to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. The effort includes leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, and manufacturing, and has some of the foremost technology companies including IBM, Intel, and Oracle, leading projects and executing the governance process. Hyperledger has forged a brand as the default “safe” deployment platform for enterprise teams and is seen as a great home for active collaboration around new technologies. Currently there are fourteen projects under Hyperledger, and our submission makes Pantheon number fifteen. 

Over the last few years, PegaSys and ConsenSys have emerged as leaders in the Ethereum ecosystem. As members of the Hyperledger community, we intend to keep advancing the standard for protocol-level development on Ethereum. Prior to this submission, the Hyperledger and Ethereum communities might have been seen as parallel, even competing, communities, but in reality, this has not been the case. Other Ethereum-based projects, such as Hyperledger Burrow, have collaborated within Hyperledger for several years. And last fall, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and Hyperledger joined one another’s organizations and have since collaborated on initiatives such as the token taxonomy. PegaSys is pleased to have completed the years long quest to bridge Ethereum and Hyperledger with Hyperledger Besu.

Contributing to Hyperledger gives PegaSys the unique opportunity to build an even stronger bridge between the Ethereum and Hyperledger communities at the codebase and developer levels. Many of the goals of the Ethereum and Hyperledger communities intertwine, including building enterprise-grade open source frameworks, fostering technical communities to engage in building blockchain technology, and exploring standardization opportunities across technologies. All of these goals also align with PegaSys and ConsenSys’ goals. Our hope is to encourage deeper collaboration across both communities and we believe submitting an Ethereum client to Hyperledger was the natural next step in this process.  And while all of this serves as a map of exciting forward looking activity for the team inside of Hyperledger, being a world class Ethereum mainnet client remains our most fundamental priority and implementing and adhering to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance specification will continue to guide our development.

The Decision: 3 Factors

PegaSys has weighed this decision heavily and we strongly believe that top-tier open source bodies such as the Linux Foundation and Hyperledger will expose our team to seasoned enterprise developers, along with best practices for running open source community governance. Here are the three main reasons why we thought it was in PegaSys’ and the Ethereum ecosystem’s best interest to submit the Pantheon codebase to Hyperledger:

We are committed to open source software

The Linux Foundation is one of the most respected open source foundations. Their organization has excelled at guiding open source projects with their strong governance practices. These practices will help grow Pantheon’s community, create room for new vendors to join the project, and drive standards for enterprise-readiness. Also, Hyperledger has become the most prominent business blockchain open source hub. As a project, Pantheon fits into Hyperledger’s sweet spot of open source, blockchain, and business. Pantheon already has an active community with over 28 external contributors outside of the PegaSys team with 111 total contributions and over 100 issues raised. By submitting to Hyperledger and the Linux Foundation, one of the most well-known open source foundations, we envision continued growth and engagement of our community.

At PegaSys, we’re convinced that open source software is critical to enterprise adoption of Ethereum and blockchain technology. We believe enterprise adoption provides a diverse userbase, feedback loops, and testing in POCs or pilots. Blockchain is still in its early stages and needs enterprise adoption to ignite and sustain the larger ecosystem. Because of this goal, over the past year we have focused on growing adoption and fostering the community around Pantheon. It is also why we originally chose to open source Pantheon with an Apache 2.0 license and write the client in Java. We value and are excited by contributors working on the codebase, particularly cross-pollinating ideas from Hyperledger and vice versa. 

We are committed to collaborating across the blockchain space

PegaSys currently has a team dedicated to building standards for Ethereum clients with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance specification. We have and will continue to define and implement best practices for Ethereum clients. We plan to be just as involved and collaborative as maintainers of a project in Hyperledger. 

One of the main reasons we submitted Pantheon to Hyperledger was to find synergies and opportunities to collaborate with other innovative projects. In the short term, we believe using common Hyperledger tools will make it easier for users to adopt different protocols. In the medium and long-term, these relationships will hopefully lead to greater efficiency (reusing libraries and components), added functionality we otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve, and they’ll enable customers to use different Hyperledger frameworks together. By joining the Hyperledger community, we will be able to collaborate with different blockchain technologies outside of Ethereum and share best practices across platforms. And we’ll have the opportunity to gain market insight into the broader blockchain industry.

We will be the first mainnet compatible framework in Hyperledger

Pantheon is the first public chain compatible client within Hyperledger. We think public chain compatibility aligns with the enterprise market’s growing interest in using mainnet for a broader and more diverse set of use cases. PegaSys has always believed in a long-term vision of scaling and maintaining mainnet, and Pantheon represents the most enterprise-ready infrastructure to access the increased interest in mainnet, security token offerings (STOs), digital assets, and blockchain-enabled commerce and finance. Joining Hyperledger will give a clear signal to the market that this is our goal: to be a gateway for enterprises to public chains while meeting their requirements around privacy and permissioning. We hope that with the collaboration opportunities and community Hyperledger offers, we will be able to provide real mainnet solutions and applications for enterprise use cases. 

What’s Next

We have a busy few weeks and months coming up. You can expect the following activities to take place:

  • Name Change: We will officially change the Pantheon name to Hyperledger Besu. Our website and tools will begin reflecting those changes shortly.
  • Tool Switch: We will switch to the Hyperledger tools. Our current GitHub repo and Gitter channel will be moved to their appropriate tools to provide consistency with the other Hyperledger projects. We will link our current tools to the new tools as soon as they are available. We want this migration to be as seamless as possible for our already active community.

Look out for other big announcements in October 2019 about our continued work in Enterprise Ethereum! We believe we’re still early in the adoption lifecycle of blockchain technology and that we are only beginning to tap into the opportunities that Ethereum can provide for global business networks.

This blog post was written by PegaSys Strategy and Operations Associate, Grace Hartley. Special thanks to Faisal Khan, Vijay Michalik, Avery Erwin, Gina Rubino, and Emily Fisher for providing editorial contributions on this piece.

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