The Hyperledger community is comprised of developers and technical leaders from around the globe who are working together to change the world with blockchain technologies. This new blog series highlights the work and motivations of developers, users and researchers collaborating on Hyperledger’s incubated projects to build blockchain frameworks and platforms in an open and collaborative manner. Below is our first interview with Judy Priest who is an engineer at Cisco working on blockchain.

Let’s get to it…

Give a bit of background on what you’re working on and what made you want to get into blockchain?

Judy Priest, Engineer, Cisco

When I first started getting into blockchain, 99% of the published content was around Bitcoin, and 95% of the use cases involved some type of cryptocurrency. As a technologist, I had an appreciation for blockchain as a technology, but I didn’t have much interest in the typical financial transaction use cases.  However, I was fascinated by several of the other novel use cases that blockchain could enable.

Cisco is a long time member of The Linux Foundation and highly vested in the open source community. I attended the very first Hyperledger Project meeting, and we talked about the importance of creating an enterprise class solution based on blockchain that could span across multiple industries. We talked about the different use cases across supply chain, Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare, identity, and tracking and trading of digital and physical assets. These are all areas where Cisco is driving our digitization strategy, and markets that are important to our customers, partners, and suppliers. The dots were starting to connect on the revolutionary and truly disruptive potential of blockchain to transform businesses.

Can you sum up your experience with Hyperledger, thus far?

With any nascent technology, the global experts are rarely all inside one single company or university. Being a member of Hyperledger has given me access to an amazing intellectual collective, brought together in a genuinely collaborative community and cooperative development environment. If you look at blockchain long enough, you’ll soon realize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all those different markets and applications. We came in with different ideas and eventually got to the point of defining frameworks for modular, configurable, and composable architectures, based on specific use cases that defined those particular requirements.

What do you think is most important for Hyperledger to focus on in the next year?

In the next year, I’d like to see this become more plug and play. Hyperledger can do the heavy lifting (e.g., code quality, documentation) so new developers can take the various components and spend less time debugging the codebase, and spend more time customizing a unique blockchain for their needs.

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

My advice for anyone interested in getting started working on blockchain – start with your business use case. If you don’t start there, you should expect a lot of mental spirals. As many experienced technologists will tell you, you need to fall in love with the problem you are solving, not the technology or the particular “hammer” you have available. If there is no pain point and a simpler solution already exists or is sufficient, then you should question whether a blockchain adds value. For many problems blockchain is not the right answer, but for some problems it is a transformative solution.

Gain your domain expertise early, dive into the codebase and start looking at what transaction layer requirements you have for your application. What security features, policy management, and infrastructure is required to support it?

When a technology has such wide cross-industry impact, it’s not a question of `if’ but a matter of “when” and “where”. As the poet Ovid said, “If you are not ready today, you will be even less so tomorrow.”

Are you building something cool on top of Hyperledger? Tell us about it – we’d love to feature your work. You can email, if so. You can also plug into the Hyperledger Community at github, Rocket.Chat, the wiki or our mailing list.