Microsoft launches Azure-powered open and modular blockchain fabric

Microsoft launches Azure-powered open and modular blockchain fabric

After launching Microsoft Azure Blockchain as a Service, Microsoft has introduced Project Bletchley, which outlines the company’s vision for an open, modular blockchain fabric powered by Azure. Microsoft believes that the project highlights new elements that it thinks are key in enterprise blockchain architecture.

Microsoft says that Project Bletchley addresses common themes that they were hearing from early adopters of blockchain across industries, including platform openness, features like identity, key management, privacy and security; and also performance, scale, support and scalability. It also enables consortium blockchains, which are members-only, permissioned networks for consortium members to execute contracts – which Microsoft thinks are ideal.

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In Project Bletchley, Azure provides the fabric for blockchain, serving as the cloud platform where distributed applications are built and delivered. “Microsoft Azure’s availability in 24 regions across the globe, hybrid cloud capabilities, extensive compliance certification portfolio, and enterprise-grade security enable blockchain adoption, especially in highly regulated industries like financial services, healthcare and government,” said Marley Gray Director, BizDev and Strategy, Cloud and Enterprise in the company’s official blog post.

Gray adds in the blog that Azure will be open to a variety of blockchain protocols, supporting simple, Unspent Transaction Output-based protocols (UTXO) like Hyperledger, more sophisticated, Smart Contract-based protocols like Ethereum, and others as developed.

Microsoft explains that Project Bletchley introduces two key concepts – blockchain middleware and cryptlets. Blockchain middleware will provide core services functioning in the cloud, like identity and operations management, in addition to data and intelligence services like analytics and machine learning.

Cryptlets, a new building block of blockchain technology, will enable secure interoperation and communication between Microsoft Azure, ecosystem middleware and customer technologies. Cryptlets function when additional information is needed to execute a transaction or contract, such as date and time, says Microsoft. The company adds that they have potential to become a critical component of sophisticated blockchain systems.

Incidentally, Bletchley Park, located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire England, was the central site for Britain’s codebreakers during World War II. Run by the Government Code and Cypher School, it regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers. The official historian of World War II British Intelligence has written that the “Ultra” intelligence produced at Bletchley shortened the war by two to four years, and that without it the outcome of the war would have been uncertain.

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