Microsoft Spearheads Blockchain Revolution With Azure BaaS

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by Chris Larsen

While several leading banks and tech companies have started to experiment with the blockchain technology, Microsoft is carving a place of its own with its Azure blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS).

“Blockchain and the whole ecosystem is a fast moving space. We look to make Microsoft Azure the absolute best place to develop, test and deploy distributed ledger applications in cloud, hybrid and local environments”, says Marley Gray, who leads Microsoft’s project and is technology strategist for financial services at Azure.

Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web. The tech giant wants financial companies to host their blockchain software inside Azure, MIT Technology Review reported.

“We see a huge opportunity here,” MIT Technology Review quoted Gray. “Enterprise-scale and enterprise-grade infrastructure is going to be vitally important for this financial infrastructure that will be woven using blockchain over these next few years.”

Several blockchain-based startups and other companies are joining the platform – Emercoin, Eris, BitPay, CoinPrism, and recently announced MultiChain and Netki. Recently, eleven member banks of the R3 blockchain consortium successfully completed their first experiment, coordinated by R3 CEV using Ethereum, hosted on a virtual private network in Microsoft’s Azure.

Banks are interested in the blockchain, the decentralized public ledger that underpins Bitcoin. However, they are not interested in the digital currency and want their “permissioned” blockchains to record transactions in financial assets, such as currencies, bonds, or derivatives. Tech companies and banks are also exploring “smart contracts,” – self-executing contractual states, stored on the blockchain, which nobody controls and therefore everyone can trust.

Gray says that doing that inside Microsoft’s cloud servers can enable banks to manage and deploy blockchains more easily, and enhance their reliability.

“I don’t think it will be solely in Azure, but it can be a backbone,” he said and added that Microsoft’s BaaS also makes it easy to experiment with different takes on the technology as companies try to figure out relevant use cases.

However, the technology itself is at a very nascent stage and the recent surge in interest among banks has led to complaints the concept is “overhyped”, MIT Technology Review noted.

Chris Larsen, CEO of Ripple, believes that Microsoft’s involvement can help alleviate such fears. “Microsoft adds credibility as to where the industry is going,” Larsen told MIT Technology Review.

This article originally appeared in EconoTimes

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