On DIF Hubs and Sovrin Agents


Note: I get asked frequently about the difference between DIF Hubs and Sovrin Agents. I wrote the following with both communities as an audience.

The Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) has been working on a concept called Hubs, and The Sovrin Foundation has been working on a concept called Agents. There is great potential for overlap and commonly shared functions I’ll attempt to summarize that here.

Existing overlap between hubs and agents:

  • Referenced in a DID Document Service Pointer
  • Receive messages on behalf of a DID
  • Validate messages using keys in DID Documents
  • Exchange verifiable credentials

Differing Focus

A large part of the perceived differences between Hubs and Agents has been the different areas of development focus in recent months. DIF Hubs work has centered around data replication between multiple hubs of the same owner. Sovrin work has been focused on credentials exchange between multiple individuals and organizations. While both of these areas are of interest to the other party, the difference in current work gives the impression of competing (instead of cooperating) projects.

Ongoing compatibility work

There are a few key areas where hubs and agents must be compatible in order to realize our goal of compatible systems. These are under progress in various stages.

  • DID Document Service Pointer Details
  • Message format and crypto (current heaviest focus)
  • Message type specifications
  • Defining common families of message types

The goal of this compatibility effort is to allow support for both DIF Hubs and Sovrin Agents on the same platform.

What will likely remain different

Even with compatibility in important areas, It is likely that the primary focus of each group will remain different. DIF Hubs will likely continue to focus on data storage and replication, while Sovrin agents will likely remain focused on interactions between multiple parties. As new areas of commonality emerge, we expect to continue the work of standardization.