Microsoft is getting into the blockchain business. Don’t worry though, it’s not about to launch a Bitcoin competitor. But it is debuting an expansion of its Azure cloud platform to include the Azure Blockchain Service, a new foundation for business-developed blockchain platforms that can help improve trust across organizations. The first one to sign up to this new preview service is J.P. Morgan with Quorum, a smart contract platform built upon the Ethereum protocol.
Blockchain technology is most well known for being the backbone of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but over the years the technology has seen a variety of uses outside of that niche. Its ability to provide trust between organizations and individuals in the digital space has made it useful for voting machines, organizing medical records, and handling permissions in major companies. Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service is designed to expand the technology’s potential into a new sphere of cloud connected businesses.
Since blockchain can be a little hard to wrap your head around at times — especially when it comes to its specific uses beyond the abstract — Microsoft’s new service is entirely managed to help simplify the creation and management of blockchain services and networks. We’re told that Microsoft has made it so that setting up a new distributed ledger is as simple as a few clicks. There are also easy to understand management features which helps to add new members or set permissions for anyone who’s using the service.
The Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service also includes smart-contract functionality, which makes it possible for individuals and businesses to set specific conditions for completion of work, payments, and data access. Microsoft even released an extension for its Visual Studio code to make implementing them easier.
J.P. Morgan has already partnered with Microsoft for its Quorum blockchain, bringing it over to Microsoft’s managed platform. That service has customers as diverse as Starbucks and Louie Vuitton, and Microsoft itself even uses it as part of its Xbox Finance Team.
If you’re interested in trying out the Azure Blockchain Service, it’s now available in Preview. You can make a free Azure account here, and get $200 towards your first network. Microsoft also goes into more detail about it during the latest episode of its Block Talk Azure webshow.
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