Just weeks after announcing plans to shut down its Azure Blockchain as a Service offering, Microsoft is back with another take on the Blockchain-powered idea with its Azure Confidential Ledger service. Microsoft officials unveiled the public preview of Azure Confidential Ledger on the first day of its Build 2021 virtual developer conference on May 25.
Azure Confidential Ledger, like Azure Blockchain Service, is based on the idea that blockchain is a distributed ledger. Microsoft’s Azure Confidential Ledger (ACL) adds an extra layer of security and scalability on top of blockchain. ACL uses the Azure Confidential Computing Platform, which means that an ACL instance runs on an enclave backed by fully certified, dedicated hardware.
ACL is based on the Confidential Consortium Framework (CCF), which Microsoft officials publicly unveiled in 2017. At the time, officials said that the Coco (short for “confidential consortium”) Framework was meant to work with any ledger protocol and Work on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compliant Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) or safe area of a processor. The Framework was designed for use on-premises and/or in the clouds of various vendors, the officials said.
Microsoft officials said ACL works well when users need audit trails and traces of highly sensitive administrative operations. They suggested that healthcare, finance and retail, information technology, supply chain monitoring, and any business where contracts and deeds need to be exchanged securely would be good candidates for ACLs.
I asked Microsoft if ACL should be considered a replacement for Azure Blockchain as a Service and got no straight answer. Instead, a spokesperson said: “We are asking (Azure Blockchain Service) customers to transition to the ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain solution. As industry dynamics have changed, we made the decision to shift our focus from a more focused offering. the product to a partner-oriented solution. .”
Update (May 25). And here’s the straight answer on ACL’s positioning, courtesy of a spokesperson: “
Azure Confidential Ledger is not a replacement for Azure Blockchain Service, but is another distributed ledger that can be used by customers who want the maximum level of privacy afforded them. With Azure Confidential Ledger, customers can leverage Azure Confidential Computing to harness the power of secure enclaves when configuring the distributed blockchain network. By comparison, the ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Service is based on ConsenSys Quorum, an open source technology that is fully supported. with Azure Blockchain. Service and will provide a seamless migration experience for users.”