How to Deploy Hyperledger Fabric Node
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Blockchain technology serves as a platform where linked computers can reach an agreement over shared data. This function has earned its application in various fields, including digital identity, government, supply chain management, Internet of Things, healthcare, etc. Data-sharing networks, multipurpose marketplaces, decentralized digital communities, and micro currencies were made possible by the Blockchain. 

Hyperledger is a hub of open-source projects and tools started by the Linux Foundation in 2015 to enable cross-chain blockchain technologies. It supports blockchain applications and related components. These include smart contract engines, graphical interfaces, distributed ledger frameworks, utility libraries, client libraries, and sample applications. 

Hyperledger supports different frameworks such as Iroha, Sawtooth, Grid, Burrow, Indy, and Fabric, with Fabric being the most popular. Hyperledger has specific tools, like Cello, Ursa, Composer, and Explorer, that perform different functions.

Understanding Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Fabric is a platform for creating enterprise-grade blockchain networks using a plug-and-play architecture. The Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is used by Hyperledger Fabric to create a permissioned blockchain protocol. It is the first platform where smart contracts can be developed in general-purpose programming languages like Java, Go, and Node.js, unlike others requiring non-standard or domain-specific languages. 

Its highly modular and configurable architecture has made it a hub for versatility, innovation, and optimization. Its architecture has afforded its usefulness in various industries, including insurance, human resources, banking, finance, etc. Major cloud operators, including Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle, offer Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) running Fabric. 

Moreover, Fabric currently hosts numerous samples and proofs-of-concept of DLT across varying use cases and industries. Notable examples include a food-safety network, cloud-service blockchain platforms for banking, and a digital global shipping trade solution. 

A foreign exchange (FX) netting system runs on Fabric. It uses a channel for each one of the involved organizations for privacy. The platform helps resolve unsettled trades and keeps the ledger updated with necessary information. It sources for liquidity, reduces exposures, and minimizes credit risk. Clients can access the data on the Blockchain in real-time.

IBM also uses Hyperledger Fabric in a cross-currency payment solution with Stellar.org and KlickEx Group. It records financial payments when transactions are endorsed by the participants using the accepted conditions. It is designed for all types and values of payment and supports financial institutions in choosing the settlement network. 

Unlike most blockchains, Hyperledger Fabric is permissioned. This naturally implies that the participants are not anonymous and therefore wholly untrusted. In essence, the network can be run under a governance model built on the trust between participants as a legal agreement or framework for handling disputes. 

What makes Fabric usable for various use cases and trust models

Hyperledger Fabric supports pluggable consensus and identity-management protocols that make the platform more effectively modeled to fit various use cases and trust models. Different consensus protocols can be employed depending on the configuration of the enterprise. It can also leverage consensus protocols that do not require a native cryptocurrency to reward costly mining or power smart contract execution. The lack of a cryptocurrency reduces some significant risk/attack vectors. Similarly, the absence of cryptographic mining operations makes the platform deployable with nearly the same operational cost as any other distributed system. 

These features set Fabric as one of the efficient platforms available when transaction processing and transaction confirmation latency are considered. It enables the privacy and confidentiality of transactions and the smart contracts that implement them. 

Hyperledger Fabric is written in Go programming language and uses the gRPC framework for communication between clients, peers, and orderers. The network is run by clients, peers, orderers, and membership service providers. 

Peers execute smart contracts, validate transactions, access ledger data, and relate with applications. Peers can be endorsers, committers, anchors, or leaders. Clients are applications that use the Fabric software development kit (SDK) to communicate with the network on behalf of an entity to propose transactions. They communicate with both peers and orderers. 

The ordering service or orderers are responsible for ensuring consistency in the network and delivering endorsed transactions to the peers. They manage multiple channels and are linked with a genesis block on the system channel. This block carries a configuration transaction that defines its properties. They order transactions, package them into blocks, and distribute them accordingly. There are three ordering mechanisms on the Hyperledger Fabric, including SOLO, Kafka, and Simplified Byzantine Fault Tolerance (SBFT). 

Membership service providers (MSPs) define the modalities for verifying identities and giving them access to the network. They use Certificate Authority (CA)- a pluggable interface for validating and revoking a user’s certificate. The functionalities of Hyperledger Fabric include identity management, efficient processing, privacy and confidentiality, modular design, and smart contract functionality.

Structure

Fabric architecture consists of nodes (peers and clients), transactions, ordering mechanisms, data structures, ledger, consensus, Fabric database, and chaincode. Users can explore the architecture and features of Hyperledger Fabric using the Hyperledger Fabric Samples

Chaincodes are hosted on the network using the APIs of the hosting applications. It is a program written with the Fabric SDK and integrates with a specified interface. It runs in a secured Docker container away from the endorsing peer process. It handles the business logic that the participants have agreed to and manages the state ledger using the transactions submitted by applications. 

In developing an application on Hyperledger Fabric, you need to set up the development environment and the necessary installations to run the chaincode. It is essential to have an in-depth understanding of the SDK used and the core programming behind the application. 

In setting up a development environment, the latest version of Git, cURL, wget, Docker and Docker Compose, Go programming language, Node.js runtime, and NPM are required. Several organizations contribute infrastructure to build a Fabric network to enable its creation. This infrastructure implements the Blockchain and is governed by policies accepted by the organizations that form the network. 

The first step in creating a network or channel is to agree on its configuration and define it. Upon agreeing to the arrangement, a configuration block is formed. A Certificate Authority (CA) associated with each organization must be created to describe the organizations and the identities of their admins. CAs play a pivotal role in the network as they dispense X.509 certificates that are useful in identifying components of an organization. These certificates are used in client application transaction proposals and smart contract transaction responses to sign transactions digitally. 

After defining the configuration, the next step is to join nodes to the channel. The nodes include peers, a fundamental part of the network because they host ledgers and chaincode, and the ordering service that gathers endorsed transactions from applications and orders them into transaction blocks. After the ordering service has been joined to the channel, it becomes possible to propose and commit updates to the channel configuration. However, you must install, approve, and execute a chaincode on a channel. Chaincodes are installed on peers and then defined and committed on a channel. After a chaincode has been committed, you can create client applications to invoke transactions on a chaincode via the Fabric Gateway service.

Deploying a Hyperledger Fabric Node

Hyperledger Fabric has a flexible and extensible architecture that sets it apart from other blockchain solutions. Building on top of a fully vetted, open-source architecture, such as Hyperledger Fabric, is essential for the future of enterprise blockchain.

To get a better understanding of how blockchains work and the specific features and components of Hyperledger Fabric, we recommend that first-time users read the rest of the introduction below. 

Go to Getting Started and explore the demos, technical specifications, APIs, and more once you’re comfortable – or if you’re already familiar with blockchain and Hyperledger Fabric.

Hyperledger Fabric has one of the most comprehensive sets of configuration parameters. Before deploying a node, you must configure organizations, CA, ordering service, peer, and channel details. It is optional to configure the certificate signing request (CSR). As the processes for deploying a Fabric network are complex, it is vital to understand Public Key Infrastructure and manage distributed systems. 

Node deployment begins by determining the network configuration and mapping the nodes. This step includes considering the use case before configuring the CA and deciding the database type. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps involved in a Hyperledger Fabric node and a production network:

  • Choose your network configuration. 

The use case that a blockchain network serves will determine its structure. There are far too many possibilities to provide definitive advice on every point, but let’s look at a few examples. 

When operating in production, security, resource management, and high availability take precedence over development environments or proofs of concept. How many nodes do you need for high availability, and which data centers do you want to deploy them in to meet disaster recovery and data residency requirements? How are you going to keep your private keys and trust roots safe?

  • Create a resource cluster for your resources. 

Fabric is generally agnostic about the methods used to deploy and manage it. On a laptop, for example, a peer can be deployed and managed. This is probably not a good idea for a variety of reasons, but Fabric doesn’t say anything about it. 

It should be possible to set up components and connect them to each other as long as you have the ability to deploy containers, whether locally (or behind a firewall) or in the cloud. Kubernetes, on the other hand, includes a number of useful tools that have helped it become a popular container management platform for deploying and managing Fabric networks.

  • Create your CAs. 

A CA is the first component that must be installed in a Fabric network. This is because the certificates associated with a node must be created before the node can be deployed (not just for the node itself, but also for the certificates identifying who can administer the node). While the Fabric CA is not required to create these certificates, it does create MSP structures that are required for the proper definition of components and organizations. If a user chooses to use a CA other than the Fabric CA, the MSP folders must be created manually.

  • Create identities and MSPs using the CA. 

After you’ve created your CAs, you can use them to create certificates for your organization’s identities and components (which is represented by an MSP).

  • Peers and ordering nodes should be deployed.

You’re almost ready to create a node once you’ve gathered all of the certificates and MSPs you’ll need. As previously stated, there are a variety of valid methods for deploying nodes. Any node’s configuration file must be customized before it can be deployed. 

There are three main ways to fine-tune your configuration. 

  1. Make changes to the YAML file included with the binaries. 
  2. When deploying, use environment variable overrides.
  3. CLI commands can have flags specified.

About Zeeve 

Zeeve is a BaaS platform that allows customers to leverage cloud-based solutions to build, host, and use their blockchain apps, smart contracts, and functions on the Blockchain. It oversees the management of all the necessary tasks and activities to keep the infrastructure agile and operational. It is similar to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model and has aided in adopting blockchain technology across businesses. 

Zeeve provides blockchain startups, enterprises, IOT experts, and Web 3.0 developers with a management platform of their own. It offers multi-cloud network deployments, heterogeneous cloud networks, the ability to create consortiums easily, make their deployments production-grade, monitor, scale, or optimize their deployments, and reach their customers quickly through the marketplace. Its target is to provide ease to developers and enterprises by aiming at 100% automation for their blockchain solutions while solving the challenges in the adoption of Blockchain indirectly. 

Hyperledger Fabric has positioned itself with its differentiating features as a highly scalable system for permissioned blockchains. It supports flexible trust assumptions that enable the use of the platform serially.

Contact us today to manage and deploy hyperledger fabric networks and nodes.

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