VizLore: Federated IoT blockchain fabric

The overall objective of the extension project

VizLore Labs Foundation (VLF) participated in the AGILE IoT second open call extension with the project titled “Federated IoT blockchain fabric”. The main objective of this extension project was to work on integrating VizLore IoT platform with the AGILE IoT platform through joint blockchain fabric based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework. The result is the first federated IoT blockchain established between two IoT platforms covering various IoT verticals. This integration enhances the AGILE IoT platform with robust blockchain enabled security and privacy policy enforcement framework while simultaneously broadening and enhancing the potential of the VizLore federated IoT blockchain solution.

Motivation behind the extension project

What the research community and industry are agreeing on is that IoT systems currently lack blockchain building frameworks which consider specific requirements of a typical IoT system including: a large number of microtransactions, unfeasible proof of work validation, real-time  validation, avoiding large transaction fees, IoT specific smart contracts, high node churn in case of hosting ledger on end-user personal devices. To address these challenges, VizLore built the IoT blockchain framework (based on Hyperledger Fabric) which enables federation of blockchains across multiple IoT systems and platforms. In order to properly validate the federation potential, we required collaboration with an IoT platform provider who offers open software stack that is capable of hosting our software agents and focusing on the edge and fog components of IoT systems. The AGILE IoT fulfilled both requirements. IoT gateway software architecture is very similar to that of our IoT controllers and cloud platform. AGILE IoT focuses on building new IoT systems with specific configuration and deployment of IoT gateways. This proved to be an ideal blockchain federation enabler since each new gateway instance (on both AGILE and VizLore Labs end) introduces a new node into the federated blockchain architecture and enhances its distribution span and robustness. The AGILE IoT project pilots require innovative privacy management approaches which do not limit the business potential based on data sharing. The VizLore extension project also focused on producing a set of smart contract templates, specifically tailored for IoT business cases that  are automatically stored on the federated blockchain. Therefore, the integration potential was very high and this remained true during the execution of the extension project.

Experience during the implementation of the extension project

During execution of the extension project and porting of the VizLore federated blockchain enablers onto the AGILE SW stack, we have worked most of the AGILE SW components and services (GW SE stack, ramp-up configurator, Node-RED, recommender system). The documentation and examples are excellent and allowed fast validation and prototyping. Together with the AGILE team, we have identified the need for supporting 64-bit OS architectures on AGILE GWs in order to enable full integration of the Hyperledger Fabric components. Integration with the ramp-up configurator and Node-RED environment helped us to validate the role of our Hyperledger Fabric components in fast IoT system prototyping framework. We have identified and addressed all the requirements that  our solution needs to fulfill in order to be an integral part of the AGILE fast IoT prototyping framework, thus bringing the blockchain technology closer to the IoT system integrators.

Achieved results and impact

We promote our solution as blockchain as a service (BaaS). Consequently, , “collective IoT” security and privacy management as a service is offered to IoT platform operators and system integrators. The VizLore IoT blockchain fabric can be deployed on IoT platforms (as part of VizLore IoT edge devices or hosted on 3rd party edge devices and servers) regardless whether  or not their services actively use the blockchain applications. The VizLore federated Hyperledger fabric for IoT systems is actively being exploited as an integral part of the VizLore’s business strategy and IoT service offerings. Our Smart Access Control IoT service is enhanced with the Hyperledger Fabric and smart contracts so that each virtual key is a smart contract stored on the federated blockchain fabric. This significantly enhances security and robustness, while providing solid ground for establishing innovative business models for entrance vouchers and remote access control.

Our Hyperledger agents, blockchain network generator, Node-RED component, and smart contract templates are available as part of the AGILE IoT software stack.