As a data officer working with blockchain, researcher and mentor to young technologists, I am often asked, “Meeta, can you tell me what technical skills I’ll need to be a blockchain developer?”
Blockchain technology has rapidly evolved from latest tech fad made popular by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, to enterprise transaction engine. This technology has the potential to reimagine the world’s most fundamental business interactions and open doors to new ones. As a result, the need for skilled developers in the field has exploded, and technologists are clamoring to market themselves in the space.
Business is embracing blockchain as a way to reimagine business processes and avoid being disrupted. Be it banking, insurance, digital rights management, supply chain or the luxury goods industry, everyone in the business of asset transfer – virtually any organization, in some form or another – can stand to benefit from this technology.
To truly bring about this revolution, businesses need to implement blockchain at the very basic levels. Blockchain will reach its true potential if and only if it is built on the shoulders of imaginative, curious and non-conformist thinkers and developers. Only with the contributions of developers around the world dedicated to enterprise-grade, open technology, will innovation flourish and blockchain be widely adopted.
So what are the skills developers need to guide this sea change? To answer this question, I went looking for data and interviewed my team on what they thought were the key skills required. The one overwhelming skill that they said a developer needed was an “open mind.” While that wasn’t exactly the answer I expected, the more I thought about it, the term “open” started to make more sense.
IBM has believed from the start that enterprise blockchain networks must be secure, scalable and openly-governed. That’s why early on, IBM began working with The Linux Foundation on this shared vision for enterprise blockchain. The Linux Foundation’s popular project, Hyperledger, was born of this vision and three years later, a growing army of forward-looking companies and developers are working together on the Hyperledger Fabric enterprise blockchain framework, creating hundreds of projects, prototypes, proofs-of-concept and production systems around the world.
As an early supporter of and contributor to Hyperledger, IBM’s blockchain offerings reflect the community’s core values, and why I recommend that developers eager to skill up for enterprise blockchain should tailor their efforts in a way that reflect them, as well.
To continue contributing to Hyperledger and advance and improve the technologies that the IBM Blockchain Platform – and hundreds of enterprise blockchain networks – are built on, developers must ensure their skills are finely tuned in a number of technical areas:
- An understanding of distributed systems, messaging, cryptography, and networking – these concepts are critical to understanding how blockchains work and building applications based on it.
- Cloud — The IBM Blockchain Platform is accessible via the cloud, so developers must also be familiar with cloud computing and large-scale microservices architectures. An understanding of how git and github work makes it easier to hit the ground running.
- Familiarity with multiple programming languages — My team and I are not partial to any one programming language. We are mathematicians, astrophysicists and chip designers who chose to embrace this technology. Golang and Nodejs are our languages of choice for writing distributed applications.
- Strategic mindset – Developers should have an understanding of how the application will interact with the business use case, for which the Linux Foundation offers a set of tools.
While blockchain is still a new technology to what many of today’s developers are used to working with, the skills it requires are known to many. Mastering these – the core elements of what make up the ideal enterprise blockchain framework – can help developers break into blockchain. And the more talented developers working on the technology, the faster it will rise and the stronger its impact will be.
IBM has invested substantial resources in blockchain educational materials to get you started, three of which you can find below:
- IBM Blockchain 101: Quickstart guide for developers — This developerWorks quick-start guide is for application developers who are new to blockchain technology and want to quickly get started with building and piloting blockchain networks.
- Blockchain @ developerWorks — IBM developerWorks’ front line resource for developers interested in learning more about blockchain: tutorials, courses, blog posts, and more.
- IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan — Start building now with the IBM Blockchain Platform