In a rapidly globalizing digital world, business processes span multiple organizations and vast sums are spent managing workflows that cross boundaries of trust. As digital transformation expands beyond the walls of a company and into shared processes with suppliers, partners, and customers, the importance of trust grows with it. Microsoft’s goal is to help businesses thrive in this new era of secure multi-party computing by delivering open and scalable platforms and services that any business, from game publishers and grain processors to payment ISVs and global carriers, can use. they can use to digitally transform the processes they share with others.
Azure Blockchain Service: The Foundation for Blockchain Applications in the Cloud
Azure Blockchain Service is a fully managed blockchain service that simplifies the formation, administration, and governance of consortium blockchain networks so that companies can concentrate on workflow logic and application development. Today, we are pleased to announce that the public preview is now available.
With just a few clicks, users can create and deploy a permissioned blockchain network and manage consortium policies through an intuitive interface in the Azure portal. Built-in governance allows developers to add new members, set permissions, monitor network health and activity, and run private, governed interactions through integrations with Azure Active Directory.
This week, we also announced an exciting partnership with JP Morgan to make Quorum the first ledger available on the Azure Blockchain Service. Because it is based on the popular Ethereum protocol, which has the largest blockchain developer community in the world, Quorum is a natural choice. It integrates with a rich set of open source tools while supporting confidential transactions, something our enterprise customers require. Quorum customers like Starbucks, Louis Vuitton, and our own Xbox finance team can now use Azure Blockchain Service to rapidly expand their networks with lower costs, shifting their focus from infrastructure management to application development and business logic.
“We are incredibly proud of the success Quorum has had over the past four years, as organizations around the world use Quorum to solve complex business and social problems. We are delighted to partner with Microsoft as we continue to strengthen Quorum and expand the capabilities and services on the platform.”
— Umar Farooq, Global Head of Blockchain at JP Morgan
We are excited to offer customers an enterprise-grade Ethereum stack with Quorum, and look forward to adding new capabilities to Azure Blockchain Service in the coming months, including digital token management, improved application integration, and support for R3 Corda Enterprise.
Read more: What Is Layer 1 in Blockchain?
An application-based approach
The ledger is just the foundation for new applications. After setting up the underlying blockchain network with the Azure Blockchain Service, you need to code your business logic using smart contracts. Until now, this has been cumbersome, requiring multiple command line tools and limited developer IDE integration. Today we are releasing an extension for VS Code to address these issues. This extension allows you to create and compile Ethereum smart contracts, deploy them on the public chain or a consortium network in the Azure Blockchain Service, and manage your code using Azure DevOps.
Once your network is created and the smart contract state machines are deployed, you need to create an application for consortium participants to share the business logic and data represented by the smart contracts. A key challenge has been integrating these applications with smart contracts so that they respond to smart contract updates or execute smart contract transactions. This connects business processes managed in other systems, such as databases, CRM, and ERP systems, to the general ledger. Our new Azure Blockchain Dev Kit makes this easier than ever with connectors and templates for Logic Apps and Flow, as well as integrations with serverless tools like Azure Functions.
You can learn more about creating your first network, coding your smart contracts, and interacting with the ledger in the latest episodes of the Block Talk web series.
Embracing open communities
Over the past year, we have been preparing our Confidential Consortium Framework (CCF) for public release. CCF uses Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) such as SGX and VSM to enable ledgers that integrate with it to execute sensitive transactions with the performance and latency of a centralized database. Confidentiality and high performance are key requirements of our business customers. We are pleased to announce that we have finished the first version of CCF, integrated with Quorum and that the source code is available on GitHub.
Microsoft believes that the best way to bring blockchain to our customers is by partnering with the diverse and talented open source communities that drive blockchain innovation today. We began this journey in 2015, partnering with the growing communities around Ethereum, R3 Corda, and Hyperledger to make those technologies available on Azure. Instead of creating our own ledger or creating an alternative ledger, we’ve worked to make open-source technology developers love and work better with Azure. All the tools released this week allow developers to work with consortium networks on the Azure Blockchain Service and with public Ethereum.
“Microsoft has embraced the open blockchain developer community and brought the best of its cloud development tools to developers building the next wave of decentralized applications. With Azure Blockchain Service and Ethereum integrations for tools like VS Code, Microsoft demonstrates its commitment to open blockchain development.”
— Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum