What Is Hyperledger Burrow?

Hyperledger Burrow is a framework for executing smart contracts in permissioned blockchains. It is currently being incubated as part of Hyperledger, a community of open-source projects and tools for commercial implementations of blockchain technology. The goal of Hyperledger Burrow is to facilitate cross-industry applications for smart contracts.

Key Takeaways

  • Hyperledger Burrow is a framework that can be used to execute smart contracts in permissioned blockchains.
  • Hyperledger Burrow is built around a Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus algorithm. There are no mining or transaction fees, allowing blockchains to scale up for commercial applications.
  • Hyperledger Burrow was conceived as ErisDB by Monax in 2014. It is now part of the Hyperledger family of blockchain projects.

Understanding Hyperledger Burrow

Following the success of Bitcoin, many blockchain advocates recognized the potential of using distributed ledgers to record smart contracts, self-executing programs that can operate without human management. However, existing networks such as Bitcoin or Ethereum were too limited for business applications, due to the high cost and latency of open blockchains.

In order to facilitate more scalable blockchains, the Linux Foundation launched the Hyperledger community in 2015. Many industry leaders joined the initiative in order to develop enterprise-grade blockchain tools, including IBM, Intel, and Microsoft.

Burrow is one of the projects under the Hyperledger umbrella, along with other enterprise-oriented platforms such as Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Sawtooth, and Hyperledger Iroha. Originally called ErisDB, the project was designed by Monax, an open platform to build, ship, and run blockchain-based applications for business ecosystems. The famous processor and chipmaker Intel has also co-sponsored the project, which was accepted to the Hyperledger Incubator in April of 2017. The 2021 Q2 Hyperledger Burrow update suggests that it is doing better than ever before and that a logistics platform is being built on top of Burrow.

How Hyperledger Burrow Works

Hyperledger Burrow is a software that can be used to run nodes in a permissioned blockchain network. Because the participants in permissioned blockchains are known and trusted by the rest of the network, it is possible to achieve higher speeds and throughput than permissionless chains.

Unlike proof-of-work blockchains such as Ethereum, Hyperledger Burrow uses a Byzantine Fault-Tolerant consensus algorithm to establish transaction finality. There are no mining or transaction costs, and it can execute smart contracts at a much greater scale than open blockchains.

While it is similar to many other Hyperledger blockchain tools, the focus for Hyperledger Burrow is to provide a "clean and simple" developer experience, according to the Hyperledger Wiki. The key component of Hyperledger Burrow is a permissioned implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine, which allows it to interact with smart contracts on other Ethereum-based networks.

Plans of Hyperledger Burrow

Although it is still in the incubation stage, developers of Hyperledger Burrow believe that the project can help bridge the worlds of private and public blockchains. It is closely associated with the Cosmos Network, a network of interoperable blockchains that use a similar BFT consensus model.

Hyperledger Burrow can also interact with the Ethereum public chain, since they share the same smart contract language. Burrow's developers plan to introduce a two-way peg system with the Ethereum mainnet, allowing data and tokens to move seamlessly between chains. This would allow Hyperledger Burrow to operate as a high-speed "sidechain" to the public network. As Ethereum transitions to a proof-of-stake model, they will also integrate support for public staking.