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Quorum blockchain competitor joins Hyperledger ecosystem


ConsenSys startup PegaSys has been working on an Enterprise Ethereum offering, Pantheon, for some time with its first iteration released last year. Yesterday, Hyperledger announced that Pantheon is now a new Hyperledger incubator project, Hyperledger Besu.

The news is of note for several reasons. Besu is a potentially serious competitor to Quorum. Besu is designed for both private and public blockchains and is part of the ConsenSys path to nurture enterprises towards public blockchains, and Ethereum in particular. For developers, Besu is written in Java, the mainstream business language.

To date, the big three enterprise blockchain platforms have been Hyperledger Fabric, R3’s Corda, and Quorum, which is JP Morgan’s enterprise version of Ethereum. The backing of ConsenSys makes Besu a Quorum challenger.

ConsenSys was founded by Joe Lubin, the Ethereum founder who financially backed the blockchain platform in the early stages. The firm was one of the main drivers behind the formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. And its development agency arm has been involved in numerous high profile enterprise Ethereum projects, many of which have used JP Morgan’s Quorum. But as the PegaSys solution matures, potentially future projects are more likely to adopt Besu.

As examples, ConsenSys projects that have adopted Quorum include komgo, the trade finance platform backed by major banks and oil giants. Another is the LVMH blockchain luxury counterfeit solution.

But a more recent ConsenSys project, Liquidshare, adopted the PegaSys offering. Liquidshare is for post-trade settlement of SME shares and is backed by Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Euronext, Euroclear and others.

The PegaSys team cited three reasons for open-sourcing the code via Hyperledger. Firstly is a commitment to open source. Hyperledger adopts a different open source license Apache 2, compared to the main public Ethereum clients which use GPL3. Apache 2 is perceived as more business-friendly.

Part of the PegaSys team’s motivation was collaboration across the blockchain space. Hyperledger offers some common tools, and it means components from other projects can be re-used. The final reason was that Hyperledger Besu is compatible with public Ethereum. PegaSys states its goal is to “be a gateway for enterprises to public chains while meeting their requirements around privacy and permissioning”.

Hyperledger and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance have built quite a few bridges in the last year. They became members of each other’s organizations. Last year Hyperledger Fabric added support for Ethereum’s Solidity smart contract language. And Hyperledger Burrow, an enterprise Ethereum client developed by Monax, has been a Hyperledger project for some time.

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