Outrage As Hyperledger’s Biggest Supporters Clash Over Network Project

Earlier this month, the Hyperledger governing board approved a supply chain project marking a significant departure for its typical projects. The Sawtooth Supply Chain was set to be the project that will change the game for Hyperledger because it is the first project to be fully integrated with the application layer of Hyperledger’s software stack. It was built on Intel’s contribution to the company, the Sawtooth framework.

Heads Clash Over Sawtooth Project

Before now, Hyperledger could only work with lower layers and they deliberately avoided using the custom-designs of the blockchain application codes. This was left for vendors who got the job done in a proprietary manner. A typical example is IBM’s use of the blockchain for live food tracking.

During the voting process, nine out of the eleven steering committee members casted their votes in favor of the new project. Without doubt, the approval of the project will increase the profile of Sawtooth Supply Chain. It will formally be added to the lifecycle of Hyperledger projects receiving support like security, community outreach, marketing, etc.
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The conclusion was reached even if the other two members questioned whether the project should be within the scope of Hyperledger or not. The two committee members who objected are IBM staff, Arnaud Le Hors and Chris Ferris who was also the former chair of the TSC.
Meanwhile, a tough war has broken out in the blockchain world. One group of the blockchain community is in favor of IBM’s blockchain implementation, known as fabric while another group is in support of the Intel-backed implementation, Sawtooth. The team in support of Sawtooth is being led by Intel’s Dan Middleton.
Sawtooth isn’t just going to allow more intense engineering, it is also going to be developed at a faster pace than other Hyperledger projects as it is being sponsored by Cargill, the food giant. This will also make the project a strong rival of IBM’s Food Trust.

The current clash is more than a competition between Hyperledger supply chain platforms. It raises questions about governance as well. IBM’s argument is that the consortium’s position as a neutral player will be undermined if Hyperledger’s imprimatur is put on an app-level. However, others in the industry believe IBM is not in support of the plan because it doesn’t want strong competition.

If you look at it from another perspective, you will conclude that Hyperledger is evolving from being an IBM-dominated organization. This may just be the company’s attempt to diversify. Some members of the community in Switzerland and Basel went to the forum to show their respect and declare their support for IBM. A strong community member, Casey Kuhlman, the CEO of Monax had this to say about the conflict:
“The fact that the Sawtooth Supply Chain was brought under the Hyperledger umbrella says alot. Irrespective of public opinion, IBM did not cause any obstruction for the project. Big Blue has acted honorably as a member of the community. At the end, we are all businesses that are trying to make money. We all have self interest first before anything else. ”
Brian Behlendorf, the director of Hyperledger said that even if the evolution is occurring within the Hyperledger organization, things can be applied generally.


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