Rockside! How we designed our Blockchain Orchestrator from scratch.

Dec 18, 2018 · 4 min read

100 days after the launch of the product vision, a useful look back for preparing the co-construction phase with our clients.

Photo: Denys Nevozhai - Unsplash

A newborn

Let’s rewind 2 months back in October, the team is super excited. The alpha version of Rockside, our Blockchain Orchestrator is alive.

At that moment, we took a deep breath and we realized what we had achieved during the past few months:

  • We went through several months of R&D to dig into the Blockchain foundation, working on POC and testing the major protocols. This huge amount of hard work helped us to finally reveal the problems we wanted to tackle.
  • We pivoted away from our initial idea, “build a framework for the non-expert to empower them to develop a decentralized application”.
  • We created a new product for the business instead, Rockside, a Blockchain orchestrator to help them deploy easily a node (or group of nodes), run their services and monitor the transactions. A product based on the strong gut feeling those were the real issues we wanted to address;
  • And we hired new team members to join us in our vision.

How should we start?

Well firstly, let’s sell it before we make it”… Before we know it, we’re crafting the product vision, then the marketing and communication materials to promote it, and then developing partnerships and our client database… AND in the meantime, we are building the actual product. You could say, that’s casual start-up life… and you would be completely right!

Designing and crafting software from scratch is a stimulating task. We made many assumptions to guide us toward our vision, however, we constantly had a question at the back of our minds: “Are we really going to solve the problem of our future clients?”

Getting honest feedback

In September, after the first client meetings, Vincent, our CTO, asked us for feedback to see if our product vision was aligned with the clients’ needs.

“What are the blockchain protocols they use? Do they have any issue stabilizing a node? Do they ask for a specific cloud or do they want to combine different cloud solutions? How do they currently control the keys? …”

After the discussions with Corentin, our CEO, and Aurelien, our Head of Sales, we came away realizing 2 things.

Firstly, that we were on the right track based on clients’ feedback, in particular as regards the problems they were facing. And secondly, the clients wanted more features.

“More major protocols: Ethereum, Corda, Quorum, Bitcoin and also Hyperledger… The capacity to simply create, in a few clicks, their own private or permissioned based network, the review of their smart contract, the capacity to monitor a transaction, a secure way to manage their keys, …”

Entering the month of October, our list of potential features started to become quite heavy. We also realized that our prioritisation process, mainly based on assumptions, could potentially cost us a lot of time and lead us astray, working on the wrong requirements.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Designing for users with a real stake

After reaching the hundredth potential feature, Corentin pushed the idea to address the question in a different way by co-creating our roadmap with our first clients through a win-win “Launch Customer Program”.

We would design our product with the support of our first clients’ feedback. Our early adopters have ultimately a real stake in our Blockchain orchestrator. Who else could help us better than them? For me as a product manager, this proposition makes a lot of sense.

I often see companies asking questions to random people on Twitter or LinkedIn to get their reaction (or validation) on an idea. Sometimes the crowd is powerful for getting feedback but usually, it does more harm than good.

So, how does the Launch Customer Program work?

We wanted to have a very bespoke approach with our clients. So, we agreed that the manageable number of companies should be around 10 and that we should have a mixed profile of clients:

  • MNCs with projects using different types of protocols and/or with a need to create a consortium;
  • Startups which are developing a Blockchain solution and want to move faster;
  • Consulting Firms that need to manage several teams and do not have any standardisation tool.

In short, any company requiring an orchestrator solution to scale up and willing to manage their costs.

Our clients are entitled to a 3 months-free trial period with unlimited licenses (users, nodes, groups) of the Rockside current version. At the end of the period, if they decide to continue and to purchase the license, they benefit from all future updates including those in beta version.

This program includes 3 to 6 meetings (depending on the size of the company) of one hour each, where we discuss the usage of the orchestrator and we present our research and experiences on Blockchain, particularly about node deployment. At the end of each meeting, we show them our backlog. They can then give us their own expectations based on their needs. Thus, they are able to witness the evolution of the product at every step of the way, and even influence it!

What’s next?

We are very excited for the Launch Customer Program to begin and to see how Rockside will evolve and be reshaped in the upcoming months.

If you want to know what the outcomes and the takeaways of the program are, please, stay tuned!

Thanks to Kurth Alexandre, Vincent Le Gallic, Corentin DENOEUD, Yao Tan and Jamie Low.

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Blockchain Studio

We are a creative software studio which strives to increase the knowledge on blockchain, to facilitate the usage of this technology and to accelerate the implementation of DApps for businesses.


Written by

Blockchain Studio

We are a creative software studio which strives to increase the knowledge on blockchain, to facilitate the usage of this technology and to accelerate the implementation of DApps for businesses.