By Anna Irrera
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Hyperledger project, a cross-industry open source blockchain group led by the Linux Foundation, plans to release its first production-ready distributed ledger code base by the end of the month, as projects involving the nascent technology begin to mature.
The group, whose more than 120 members include IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Cisco Systems Inc and the Bank of England, said in a blog post published on Friday that its technical committee had promoted its first blockchain project, Hyperledger Fabric, to an active phase.
Hyperledger Fabric is a type of blockchain designed be used as a foundation to build distributed applications. The team of software developers involved in the project is finalizing the first version of Fabric that could be used by large businesses to build applications and plans to release by the end of March, according to the blog post.
"Our hope is that it is code that people can put into serious production," Brian Behlendorf, Hyperledger’s executive director, told Reuters.
Developers from more than 20 companies had joined Fabric's development efforts, but the project has yet to enter a performance-testing phase, Behlendorf said.
Blockchain, which first emerged as the system underpinning cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a digital distributed record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, without the need of a centralized authority.
Big businesses, including many of the world's largest banks, have been increasing their investment in the technology in hopes that it can help them reduce the complexity and costs of some of their most burdensome processes, such as the settlement of securities or international payments.
To accelerate development of the technology, companies have been joining forces in a growing number of consortia and groups. Earlier this week JP Morgan, Microsoft Corp, Intel Corp and others formed a new blockchain group called the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
The Hyperledger project, one of the biggest and most diverse of such groups, announced its first members in February 2016. It describes itself as an "umbrella" for communities of software developers to work together to build open source blockchain and related technologies.
While blockchain projects have been maturing, the technology is still in its early days, with very few large-scale implementations having been made public.
This has prompted skeptics to question whether the technology has been overhyped. They note that it might take years before large enterprises can actually reap its benefits.
(Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Dan Grebler)