Author: Mark Bruton
For those of you that are familiar to blockchain, or the distributed ledger technology (DLT) sphere in general, it is quite likely that you’ve encountered the debate over what the best DLT solution is: permissioned or permissionless?
The purpose of this article is not to get stuck in the weeds when it comes to why one should implement one type of network over the other, but rather to highlight some of key differences that differentiate these two DLT design paradigms. Specifically, this article will discuss some of the advantages associated with the use of an up and coming blockchain based and permissionless DLT system, known as Leep, over the better known Hyperledger Fabric blockchain framework — a permissioned network design hosted by the Linux Foundation. Before going into a comparison, let’s take a couple of minutes to go over both blockchain solutions at a high level and consider some of their more noteworthy features.
LEEP is an up and coming permissionless (public) DLT start-up that aims to deliver a truly scalable and secure blockchain network, without any of the negative environmental or economic impacts associated with inefficient consensus mechanisms, such as Bitcoin’s Proof of Work mining.
The design philosophy driving the development of the LEEP places an emphasis on the importance of a well-constructed and transparent governance model, where major network decisions or the reversal of errors are decided by popular vote. The objective of this approach is to enhance trust in the network by limiting the degree to which developers can impose changes to the network that may be motivated by ill-informed or misguided intentions.
LEEP employs a novel Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) data structure that must satisfy a mathematical property known as “closure” before it can be committed to a lightweight and semi-private blockchain. The requirement of closure allows for a fully deterministic database solution, where network security and data integrity are bolstered by the immutability and tamper resistant properties of blockchain.
Instead of using blockchain as a direct source for the storage of potentially sensitive information, LEEP combines distributed cloud storage technologies and data encryption techniques with blockchain, allowing the chain to act like an access control mechanism for the secure allocation of permissions. This little bit of ingenuity effectively separates the data layer from the control layer and has the advantage of drastically off-loading the “Light Chain”, without taking away from the security benefits offered by the blockchain itself. Moreover, since data is not actually stored on-chain, data transactions can be referenced and validated without revealing the raw informational content of stored data (semi-private) and so LEEP’s solution conforms to GDPR and data privacy/protection laws.
LEEP’s proposed network implementation is unhindered by the typical scalability limitations that hold conventional blockchain DLT networks back. Within LEEP’s proposed system architecture, significant network bottlenecks are removed through use of a unique closure-based consensus mechanism, several distinct node types/roles and security protocols, which together allow for the parallelization of the transaction validation process. Much like the concept of database sharding, where load is spread across multiple shards of a single database, LEEP’s network supports parallel transaction processing and so the network transaction throughput is proportional to the size of the network itself. This means that the number of transactions that the network can process every second, or Transactions per Second (TPS), will continually increase as the network gets larger or gains greater adoption.
Unlike current efforts to implement sharding in a blockchain network, however, LEEP’s proposed architecture achieves scalability without impacting on the network’s security model. The means by which LEEP’s network design accomplishes this feat is outside the scope of this article but if this passage happens to pique your interest, you can read more about Leep’s network security in “LEEP: Scalability and Security through DAG Closure” .
Hyperledger Fabric is an open-source and permissioned blockchain-based DLT framework, which makes up a part of the larger Hyperledger umbrella project hosted by the Linux Foundation. It comprises a modular architecture where network components, such as consensus and membership services, use a plug-and-play design.
Fabric differs from more traditional permissionless blockchain systems in a number of ways. Firstly, node roles are separated and split between chaincode execution (chaincode is Fabric’s equivalent to smart contract code) and block ordering services (consensus). This approach actually bears some similarities to the separation of node roles in LEEP’s architectural design and can be viewed as a noteworthy innovation in both blockchain frameworks. The segregation of node roles removes the need for the sequential execution of certain tasks, as different subsets of peers can execute unrelated transactions in parallel, and all network nodes no longer have to process every single network transaction. This has obvious benefits in terms of total network transaction throughput and performance.
Secondly, the modular nature of Fabric’s architecture introduces a significant degree of flexibility and the ability to customize your blockchain solution. Depending on the trust assumptions/model associated with a given business use case, less stringent/higher performing consensus protocols can be implemented or swapped out with slower, more secure alternatives with relative ease.
When it comes to privacy, permissioned frameworks reign supreme. The design of Fabric’s framework enables data partitioning on the blockchain, where sensitive data can be contained within specific channels that can only be accessed by a closed group of permitted (permissioned) participants. This privacy feature is an important one for many business use-cases, where data protection laws and regulations are concerned. Certain industries are held to higher standards than others and so there are some specific business cases where permissioned or private solutions are the only feasible DLT option.
There exists no native blockchain token within the Fabric framework, since incentive systems are not used to secure the network. This is an important distinction that can be made between many permissioned blockchain solutions and their permissionless counterparts, as it effectively limits their application to private corporate use and more centralized, trust-based scenarios.
Which one is better?
Why should a business chose to use LEEP over Hyperledger Fabric, when considering a DLT network solution?
The obvious answer — in any and all business cases where a permissionless, tokenized blockchain based model makes sense.
What might those business use cases be?
Well, any application that involves the exchange of goods and services over a public blockchain infrastructure. In such applications, a native token is used as the necessary medium of exchange for the transfer of value over the network. The use cases we’re interested in here are those that are best suited to an open and public business model, where there are no restrictions in place that prevent individuals or organizations from participating in the network. However, one must be able to rest assured that the network provides a fully trustless environment within which business can be conducted securely.
On the other hand, business use cases that prioritize privacy and lend themselves better to a closed and permissioned model can likely benefit from the Hyperledger Fabric solution. There are many situations in business where trust, or a relatively large degree of trust, exists between corporations, which allows for the formation of partnerships and joint business ventures. In such relationships the use of a blockchain token may be superfluous, especially when blockchain is strictly being used as a tool to disintermediate and improve process efficiencies within an organization or across a consortium. Therefore, it does not make sense to compare permissioned blockchain networks with those of the permissionless variety. Each serve their own purposes and it is important to understand these distinctions.
For example, LEEP is being developed to support an open data economy, where network users can leverage numerous specialized gateway services. These services include — but are not limited to — facilitating the secure exchange/storage of information, connecting/analyzing relationships between previously incompatible datasets, performing complex operations on large/diverse datasets (i.e. Big Data analytics) and seamlessly converting between/repackaging from various proprietary data protocols and standards. Large scale enterprises and SMEs alike, can all derive significant benefits from participating in such a data economy and utilizing Leep’s vast network resources to extract the maximum value of their data. Furthermore, and unlike the majority of other permissionless and public DLT networks, organizations can benefit directly from investing in the Leep network infrastructure. Businesses can leverage their own equipment to drive optimizations, prioritize internal company transactions and even rent out excess processing power to the network. By offering a means with which companies can manage/control the cost-benefit equation associated with their investments, Leep provides a very attractive value proposition for enterprise adoption.
Now, it should be clear that a permissioned and tokenless solution would not make a whole lot of sense in the data economy described above. Restricting access to a permissioned list of participants would limit market reach/adoption and severely hinder the potential network effects. Moreover, the lack of a native blockchain token would prevent service providers/network users from conveniently participating in monetized value exchanges and so there would be no incentives to contribute towards the data economy.
Another reason why enterprises will likely seek to adopt a permissionless and public blockchain solution comes down to the promise of transformational business models that are expected to emerge from a fully decentralized trust paradigm. There is no longer any need for consumers to place their faith in massive corporations or governments and so SMEs in particular are presented with potentially game changing opportunities — especially in the B2C eCommerce sphere.
Over the past number of years, the world has been continually bombarded by cases of rampant organizational corruption , significant data breaches , abuses of corporate power  etc. — the list goes on and on! All of these scandals have undoubtedly had an impact on the level of trust people are willing to place in large organizations and governments of late. Since malpractice appears to be so widespread, however, consumers have little in the way of choice when it comes to availing of competitively priced goods/services and so known cases of corruption are oftentimes put aside. In saying this, times are slowly beginning to change and, as DLT technology develops to a point where enough companies adopt a more transparent approach to doing business, consumers will likely opt to engage with more trustworthy corporations. In fact, a recent study has shown that ~94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency, with ~73% saying they would purchase products and services from transparent companies at a premium cost .
With LEEP’s democratic governance model — trust is asserted, rather than assumed and this offers companies a powerful platform over which to operate. Enterprises will not want to miss out on the large loyal customer bases that will develop as permissionless blockchain and DLT in general start to garner a more mainstream appeal.
LEEP collects, delivers and processes trustless data to facilitate a deep data economy with smart contracts and connected big data. Its unique and elegant network design sets the standard for efficient and purposeful
LEEP is a scalable, secure, ACID-compliant Smart Contract platform for Sustainable Business. Our truly unique approach and implementations of various technologies have led us to the creation of a network infrastructure that actually works for business, while blockchain technologies thus far have had limitations and impediments.
LEEP has focused on the pitfalls that stand in the way of mass adoption of this technology, and we provide a platform that is flexible for integration and 100% Solidity compatible, with upgradable smart contracts and fortified security. We encourage, aid, and support the development of feasible software solutions that address issues that intend to improve the global ecology and the human experience.
LEEP: The Necessary Blockchain Infrastructure for Business and Sustainability