After being considered as one of the most promising code bases in the Hyperledger blockchain consortium, Sawtooth software from Intel is now ready for use by enterprises.

In news released this week, version 1.0 of Sawtooth offers features that are inspired by both public blockchain and by Bitcoin, but that have been reimagined and repackaged for enterprise use.

The brainchild of over 50 contributors from leading start-ups such as Bitwise and R3, and more corporate entities such as Red Hat and Capital one, it is hoped that it will stand apart from the rest due to its modular functionality which is designed to give enterprises in a range of industries a running start when it comes to meeting consumer and regulatory demands.

Some of the companies that were amongst the first to adopt Sawtooth include Huawei, T-Mobile, and Amazon, all of which are using the Hyperledger version of the product in their operations.

The technical lead at Intel and maintainer of Hyperledger Sawtooth, Dan Middleton has positioned the software as a means for enterprises whose operational demands far exceed the capabilities of existing available public blockchains.

He added: “We feel that if companies really want to adopt blockchain, or a distributed ledger then we shouldn’t forgo the basic blockchain properties in taking something from a public chain to enterprise usage.”

A step-up from Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Sawtooth is the second open-source blockchain platform that offers an enterprise-ready 1.0 version, coming after IBMs offering of Hyperledger Fabric which was launched in 2017. In terms of development, the launch of 1.0 software solutions is a hugely important addition to any code base as it means that the maintainers are not just committed to its core features, but that they gain a sense of confidence that the build is compatible with future upgrades.

But in addition to the importance of projects such as these to developers, there is another differentiator which was pointed out by the Sawtooth team during the launch. This is the innovative way in which computing networks run the software and the way that they will be able to gain consensus on mission-critical events.

Proof of Elapsed Time

In particular, Sawtooth marks the enterprise debut of a mechanism called PoET (Proof of Elapsed Time) which is an update on an older system called Byzantine Fault Tolerance which allows users to reach a consensus in a situation where counterparties may or may not know each other.

When we look at other permissioned blockchains, we see that it requires that the users know and trust each other. This new type of blockchain platform can resist DoS attacks which are common on public blockchains, or on one where unknown parties may be interacting

The issue of compatibility with other similar blockchains is still being pursued, support for the solidarity smart contract language, which was first pioneered by the Ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts can also be created in Go, JavaScript, and Python, amongst others.

Hardware Integration

Hyperledger Sawtooth has also become well known for the way in which it can be integrated with its hardware security solutions. Central to the Sawtooth PoET consensus mechanism, is an ability to integrate with certain hardware security solutions which are known as “trusted execution environments” such as Intel’s scalable Xeon processor.

The concept of possible hardware integration was originally seen as a little controversial as it places security considerations of a decentralised ledger behind the protection of a hardware that could be fallible. Sawtooth maintainers have since emphasised that this is part of a delicate balancing act that must be struck between leveraging the strengths of public blockchains, with the volume of transactions, and the security demands of enterprise companies.

Whilst a particular company may provide these hardware solutions and trusted execution environments, Sawtooth has not restricted that option to just Intel.


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