Meet the TSC: Arnaud Le Hors, IBM

As promised, we’re kicking off a new blog series that focuses on the motivations and backgrounds of the individuals that make up Hyperledger’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC).

The TSC is a group of community-elected developers drawn from a pool of active participants and is a core element of Hyperledger’s Open Governance model. The model has worked for The Linux Foundation for 15+ years and therefore has been purposefully passed down to each open source project to offer an even playing field for all those involved – coming as close as possible to pure technical meritocracy as one can get. The TSC is responsible for all technical decisions – from which features to add, how to add them and when, among others.

With that background, let’s introduce Hyperledger TSC member, Arnaud Le Hors from IBM. Let’s see what he had to say about Hyperledger, his role in the TSC and the community!

Describe your current role, background and why you wanted to be a part of the Hyperledger TSC?

I’m Senior Technical Staff Member of Web & Blockchain Open Technologies at IBM. I’ve been working on open technologies for over 25 years, focusing on standards and open source development, both as a staff member of the X Consortium and W3C, and as a representative for IBM. I was editor of several key web specifications including HTML and DOM and was a pioneer of open source with the release of libXpm in 1990. I participated in several prominent open source projects including the X Window System and Xerces, the Apache XML parser. I currently am the main representative for IBM at W3C, an elected member of the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee, and a contributor to Hyperledger Fabric.

My main goal is for Hyperledger to not merely be successful technically but be successful as a true Open Source project with an active, vibrant, and diverse community. There are too many projects out there that claim to be open source but fail to have an open governance. In my role on the TSC I will continue to strive to make this community truly open.

Arnaud Le Hors, Senior Technical Staff Member of Web & Blockchain Open Technologies at IBM

How are you or your company currently using Hyperledger technologies or how do you plan to?

IBM Blockchain offering is based on Hyperledger Fabric. After a period of development of proof of concepts we’ve now entered a phase in which we see more and more projects going into production. Some of these like Everledger and Maersk have been highly publicized already with the tracking of diamonds and shipping containers respectively. What I find interesting is that these projects show how broadly applicable blockchain technology really is. This goes way beyond cryptocurrencies.

What are the benefits of Hyperledger’s open governance model?

The power of Open Source is to make it possible for people with different backgrounds and skills to come together and work collaboratively to everybody’s benefit. Everyone gets more out of the project than they individually contribute. This model however only reaches its full potential with an open governance where all contributors are treated equally and have a say in the direction of the project. Without open governance, developers are merely treated as cheap resources willing to give their time and IP without any say as to where the project goes. Sadly, many projects typically led by big corporations do function like that. As I said earlier, it is my goal for Hyperledger to be truly open and part of my role at IBM has been to help our development team to switch from a closed development environment to open source. This doesn’t just happen. One needs to understand what it takes and apply themselves to it.

What’s the most important technical milestone for Hyperledger to reach by the end of 2017?

We’ve already seen the release of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 earlier this year, Hyperledger Sawtooth and Hyperledger Iroha are working towards their own 1.0 release. I think it would be a great achievement to see those three projects, which were the first to start within Hyperledger, reach that major milestone by the end of the year.

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

Blockchain is a new technology. In many respects everybody’s still learning so it is a great time to get started. As more and more companies launch projects leveraging blockchain they will be seeking developers with the needed skills. Those who already worked on developing these skills will become valuable resources. Because all of the Hyperledger technologies are open source there is no cost to getting started. It is merely a matter of being willing to invest your time. Practically speaking, I would advise people to start by familiarizing themselves with the different projects to get some general understanding of the characteristics of the different frameworks. They all include documentation and tutorials that are can be used to get started.

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish by being a part of Hyperledger’s TSC?

As mentioned before, if there is one thing I hope to accomplish it is to continue driving the project towards being truly open, with not only code in open source but also with an open governance. For example, last year, I took a leading role in the development of the Incubation exit criteria. These are criteria the TSC uses to gauge whether a project is ready to move out of Incubation into Active status. The fact that the criteria we defined are focusing on the maturity of the project – how the project is run, how diverse the community is, etc – rather than the maturity of the software that is developed is a reflection of that goal.

What’s a missing feature or spec that you hope Hyperledger can add in the soon future?

As we see more and more projects reach their 1.0 release, I hope we get more cross pollination happening between projects. For instance, an effort was recently put into integrating Borrow – a permissioned Ethereum virtual machine – with Sawtooth. I hope we get to see more of that kind of efforts happening moving forward.

What’s the biggest struggle or challenge you see Hyperledger having to overcome?

As understanding of the different major components of a blockchain framework improves, with help from the Architecture Working Group, it would be great to be able to identify pieces that can be externalized and shared by the different frameworks rather than have every project host its own. This is however not an easy task and with each project focusing on advancing its own framework it is difficult to get resources allocated to this kind of cross project effort. Once all the projects become more mature it should be easier to find resources for this but it will be harder to make significant changes to frameworks that have already been deployed in production.

What use cases are you most excited about with Hyperledger and/or blockchain?

Voting. Blockchain provides a distributed, secure, and audit-able record that fits perfectly the need of voting processes. What is more important than protecting our democracies?