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Meet The Women Of The Blockchain: Sally Khudairi of OptDyn and VP at The Apache Software Foundation

“My career trajectory was unusual. My education is in art and architecture: I had taken leave of absence midway through pursuing my Master…


“My career trajectory was unusual. My education is in art and architecture: I had taken leave of absence midway through pursuing my Master in Architecture degree, and came across the Internet during a consulting project. I delved in, got caught in the Web, and never looked back. Be curious. Be a sponge. Never stop learning. Fear nothing. Perception may not be reality. Doubt is fine, but don’t let it immobilize you. Take risks, but be informed. Take aim. Know what you want: focus on a goal but don’t be consumed with the path to get there. Open your mind to new opportunities. I had no idea that I’d be working in the Web, as it hadn’t been invented yet…”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Sally Khudairi of OptDyn, former Head of Communications for the World Wide Web Consortium, current Vice President at The Apache Software Foundation, Director of Marketing and Media at OptDyn, and promoter of tomorrow’s technology today.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’ve been active in the Web since 1993, and helped launched some of the industry’s most prominent standards and organizations. I’m widely recognized as the former deputy to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Head of Communications for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C; this group acts as the “United Nations of the Web” by producing industry standards that ensure interoperability). In 1999, I helped launch The Apache Software Foundation (ASF; the world’s largest Open Source foundation). I was elected its first female and non-technical member. I have served as an officer of the ASF for the past eight years as Vice President of Marketing and Publicity; I was named Vice President of Sponsor Relations in 2018. I lead communications consultancy HALO Worldwide, focusing on the intersection of technology with the arts and luxury markets. I joined OptDyn in early 2016 to head up marketing and media on the corporate side as well as for its product, Subutai, and upcoming launch of its KHAN token.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

As a long-time champion of collaborative innovation, I am thrilled by the opportunity to roll up sleeves and participate in a variety of projects.

Last year I worked with architect and industrial designer Giovanni Pagnotta on the development and launch of the P22, the world’s first production 3D-printed ergonomically designed titanium pen. We are now exploring new opportunities with smart fabrics and wearable technology.

My work at the ASF is always evolving as new projects are graduating from the Apache Incubator, with dozens of innovations under development in Big Data, edge computing, and machine learning, among other categories. Our 20th Anniversary is taking place early 2019, so we’re planning ways to celebrate our projects and their communities, as well as the collective success of Open Source development “The Apache Way”.

A tremendously exciting part of my work is at OptDyn, where our primary product, Subutai, brings Peer-to-Peer Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and cryptocurrency mining to everyone.

Unlike many projects launching in the blockchain/crypto space, Subutai is mature and in active use today. Our PeerOS software decentralizes the Cloud, allowing private and commercial users to easily create virtual P2P private clouds across idle computer resources. Connects end users with IoT and devices more effectively on the continuum to improve performance

The Subutai Bazaar is a reputation-based global marketplace for selling or renting compute resources and applications. Subutai dynamically tracks the availability, quality of service, and pricing of peer resources so that you can easily participate in a crypto-sharing economy. The system’s analytics, machine learning, and intelligent broker optimize searches and automatically hedges provider benefits to serve as the “Airbnb of Cloud and IoT computing resources”.

Our open hardware Subutai Blockchain Router is an engineering marvel. As an eco-friendly, “green” broadband cloud router and IoT gateway, the Blockchain Router is flexible and extensible, so you can add devices and functionality as you wish. The Industrial Edition of the Blockchain Router is used for mission-critical Industrial IoT applications, such as energy control and management for Itaipu Binacional, the world’s largest producer of renewable energy. The Residential Edition of the Subutai Blockchain Router serves as a plug-and-play cryptocurrency wallet and mining device, which, at a draw of just 18 watts, is 1,083% more efficient than traditional crypto mining methods.

We are security obsessed: Subutai helps users keep their private data protected from legislation such as the CLOUD Act, which requires companies to surrender data stored on servers outside the United States. The Subutai Blockchain Router has built-in intelligence that automatically monitors any unusual usage and reconfigures itself to protect users from intruders or hackers.

The FBI recently issued a directive for everyone to disconnect and reboot their routers in response to a cyber attack by foreign entities. Subutai would protect users from that sort of intrusion risk.

We are also finalizing the details for the development and launch of our KHAN token, which is an Ethereum Blockchain-based reserve currency token. KHAN is one-part of Subutai’s dual token structure; the other part is GoodWill, the Subutai sidechain smart token used for transactions in the Bazaar. The KHAN is the staking token of the Subutai platform, designed to safeguard providers and consumers under the motto “All those who enter are protected by the KHAN. All who stay do so out of GoodWill…”

To round it all off, we’re making it easier to use the Cloud by using Subutai blueprints. From blueprints for office communication and productivity such as Mattermost, or publishing blogs on WordPress, to gaming on Minecraft, we make it easier for you to get up and running quickly by reducing development time and simplifying the application deployment process. A popular Subutai blueprint is Blockchain-in-a-Box, a turnkey “Blockchain as a Service” (BaaS) instant environment for writing decentralized blockchain-based applications and Solidity Smart Contracts on the Ethereum Network.


None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My career in the Web was already underway in the early ’90s, but it was Tim Berners-Lee who changed my future. He championed my joining the World Wide Web Consortium in 1995, stressing that “the last thing we need is more of what we already have” — as a non-technologist, I was clearly an outsider, but he took a chance in bringing me on board to help drive the organization’s next stages.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

We’re at the early stages of blockchain and cryptocurrency, where the decisions and policies pertaining to the development of an industry behind the surge in innovations are emerging.

There’s plenty of opportunity to get involved, too. I’m excited by the chance to rewrite the rules, create or rebuild systems, or develop new solutions altogether.

It’s important to remember that the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin is 10 years old. Much has happened between now and then; as blockchain and cryptographically-secured currencies become ubiquitous, additional innovation will be needed to support the infrastructure behind these technologies and processes.

Decentralization. The cornerstone behind how cryptocurrencies and blockchains work means that transactions are no longer controlled by single individuals, governments, financial institutions, but rather are processed and recorded securely and transparently by peer-to-peer networks.

Transparency. The greater blockchain and crypto ecosystem breaks established norms by providing identity, authentication, and transaction management through a visible ledger. Having it all out in the open establishes trust and fosters collaboration.

Efficiency. Smart contracts were first developed nearly 15 years ago, with the aim to enable uses to exchange funds, property, or any item of value in an open and transparent way without the use of an intermediary. By cutting out the middlemen, users save time, money, and your sanity from dealing with endless administrative headaches.

Speed. In almost every instance demonstrated thus far, blockchains increase transactional processing and efficiency. An example is in real estate, where documents such as titles, deeds, liens, etc., can be recorded, transferred, and tracked more efficiently by ensuring the requisite documentation is authenticated through visible ledgers.

Accessibility. Blockchains are being used to distribute social welfare and promote financial inclusion in developing countries. Projects such as Apache Fineract helps provide financial services for the world’s more than 2 billion unbanked and underbanked individuals. Cryptographically-secured currencies are poised to play an increasingly essential role in accelerating its adoption.

What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

Whilst I’m not a worrier, I’m hoping to see less:

Security threats. Hacks. Theft. The level of fraud out there is shocking.

People wanting to cut corners. Whether evading the law or launching ICOs with just vaporware, this is making it more difficult for everyone. Too many investors out there are holding useless crypto assets as a result.

Crytpo craze hype cycle. Shortly after I left W3C, I was regularly receiving phone calls from companies saying “I don’t know what it is, but I know I need XML.” On one hand, funny. On the other, not everything needs blockchain. Same thing with crypto. This “gold rush” to crypto has led to countless coins behind questionable business models having absolutely no value.

Underrepresented communities. The democratization behind blockchain and virtual currencies are intended to give people a platform to innovate. There’s enough room for everyone, let’s give others a chance to participate, not just those who are most aggressive or represent a particular demographic.

Intensive energy consumption from crypto mining. Bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity than 80% of the world’s countries at this stage. There’s got to be a more responsible, ethical, environmentally-friendly approach. We’re doing our part with the Subutai Blockchain Router. Let’s work together to change this.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I have spent the past 25 years helping promote hundreds of Open Source projects and their communities.

The Apache community is tremendous. The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is an all-volunteer organization comprising 730 individual members, 7,000 code committers, and thousands of contributors. The ASF develops, incubates, and shepherds more than 300 projects that are provided to the public-at-large at 100% free of charge.

Their commitment is awe-inspiring; their kind generosity boundless.

Billions of end-users benefit from Apache projects, across countless applications …70% of the world’s Websites use the Apache HTTP Server; millions of people use Apache OpenOffice every day for their office productivity needs; every mobile device uses Apache software; the US Federal Aviation Administration monitors all takeoffs and landings thanks to Apache. Every Internet-connected country on the planet uses Apache products.

Their collective efforts will continue to benefit humanity for generations. What an honor to be a part of this community!

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

My career trajectory was unusual. My education is in art and architecture: I had taken leave of absence midway through pursuing my Master in Architecture degree, and came across the Internet during a consulting project. I delved in, got caught in the Web, and never looked back.

Be curious. Be a sponge. Never stop learning.

Fear nothing. Perception may not be reality. Doubt is fine, but don’t let it immobilize you. Take risks, but be informed.

Take aim. Know what you want: focus on a goal but don’t be consumed with the path to get there. Open your mind to new opportunities. I had no idea that I’d be working in the Web, as it hadn’t been invented yet…

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I think it would be fun to break bread with pioneering architect/engineer Santiago Calatrava; one of my all-time favorite fashion designers, Issey Miyake; culinary wizard Grant Achatz; Wally Yachts owner Luca Bassani; the shapeshifting, category-defying actress Tilda Swinton; and musician/composer Brian Transeau, known professionally as BT. Throw in drag vanguard/actor/cultural icon RuPaul Charles for good measure. Innovators. Rule breakers. Iconoclasts. Sadly, many on my list from past decades — the Warhols, Landaus, Shandlings, Bourdains — are no longer with us. The opportunity may be missed, but I am hopeful about those trailblazers in our future. There’s always room at the table.

Originally published at medium.com

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