Microsoft is paving the way for easily deployable, private blockchain networks with the launch of their Ethereum Consortium Blockchain Network. The project works through Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service.
The aim of the project is to allow groups of companies to deploy a private Ethereum network with just one click. They’ve done this through the release of their Ethereum Consortium Blockchain Network solution as one of the Azure Quick Start templates. That one click deploys and configures an entire private Ethereum-powered, blockchain network.
Microsoft has steadily been moving towards utilizing the many benefits of blockchain technology within their Azure cloud service. Smart contracts would allow businesses to streamline and automate many processes, increasing efficiency. Through five new tools built into their consortium network project, a company would be able to develop complex smart contracts for use across many business applications. Marley Gray, Microsoft Azure's principal blockchain architect, said:
"We're focused on building a sandbox for developers, working with customers and partners to develop and test combinations of technologies, and ultimately, helping collections of customers select the right tools that solve specific business problems."
A benefit of this Microsoft service is that a group could create a blockchain network with a minimum of three nodes running on the same IP address. Though, due to Azure being a cloud service, nodes could be in different, remote locations and still perform the same functions. The system will also generate private keys for you via a provided passphrase to increase security.
Microsoft appears to be positioning itself to be a frontrunner in providing global industries with custom blockchain networks. They’re looking ahead to when blockchain becomes more widely implemented across industries outside of finance. Currently, the Ethereum Consortium Blockchain Network is available as a free trial, with plans to eventually charge users to host their blockchain network on Azure.