Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Publishes Latest Client Specs in Blockchain Standards Push

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), the standards body seeking a common approach for businesses using ethereum’s code, has released a third version of its client specification, as well as updates on privacy and performance.

Announced Monday at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2019 conference, EEA released its Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification V3, which simplifies permissioning systems, inherent to enterprise blockchains and a range of other recommendations.

Also released was the latest details on how to connect with and integrate a particular subset of privacy and scaling methods covered by the “Off-Chain Trusted Compute Specification V1.”

Because of the way blockchains like ethereum tend to broadcast (and replicate) a lot of information, trusted off-chain execution improves overall throughput of the main chain and also protects data confidentiality.

This covers hardware-based trusted execution environments, trusted multi-party-compute systems (which combine hardware and software), zero knowledge proofs and also soc-called “attested oracles”, external data sources which update smart contracts on the blockchain.

Conor Svensson, EEA Technical Specification Working Group chair and the founder and CEO of Web3 Labs described the work in terms of a “common vocabulary”, telling CoinDesk:

“The specifications provide a common technical baseline for the underlying blockchain technology platform. They also provide a common vocabulary to describe core properties of blockchain systems.”

Svensson said properties such as finality and Byzantine fault tolerance are considerations for any consortia network supporting multiple use cases, as well as approaches to permissioning.

“This common vocabulary is important to give precise meaning to how blockchain systems can actually facilitate different use cases,” he said.

The three ‘Ps’

Since coming out with its first client specification back in May of 2018, the EEA’s work has tracked certain technical processes also being worked up in public ethereum.  

John Whelan, EEA chairman and head of digital investment banking at Banco Santander, summed up the group’s focus in terms of the “three Ps of enterprise ethereum”; these are its performance, permissioning, and privacy demands.

Whelan told CoinDesk:

“We have gone through three iterations of the spec now and the idea is to really get us to a point where ethereum software designed for use in the enterprise that meets that spec can legitimately claim to be enterprise ready, whether that’s a bank, a telco, an energy company, a logistics company – you name it.”

The EEA’s work is not about delivering a “one size fits all” added Whelan, but rather suggesting an approach when building something that will likely have some degree of interoperability with other similar software. For instance, there are different ways to achieve privacy, noted Whelan, adding:

“You can keep data off-chain or you can encrypt data on-chain, and this particular EEA specification caters to both forms of privacy, off-chain and on-chain privacy as being suitable. It’s not a question of one or the other; you can choose to implement both if you are an enterprise ethereum vendor.”

It seems clear now that the enterprise blockchain world will consist of a number of ledgers. As well as ethereum variants, there are going to be R3 Corda implementations, Hyperledger Fabric etc, noted Whelan.

The first step for EEA is connecting and creating interoperability between the different enterprise ethereum variants such as those deployed by firms like Clearmatics, Consensys, BlockApps and JP Morgan’s Quorum, said Whelan.

Ethereum image via CoinDesk archives

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