Category Archives : Blockchain

16

Oct

Accessibility and array support with Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.4.0

We’ve been very grateful for the feedback you’ve given us since we first introduced Azure Blockchain Workbench in public preview a few months ago. Your feedback continues to be an essential and impactful part of our work. For this release, we focused on making Workbench more accessible for everyone. Accessibility is a key pillar in our vision of empowering every person and every organization to achieve more. We are excited to share some of the improvements we’ve made with accessibility in mind.

To use 1.4, you can either deploy a new instance of Workbench through the Azure Portal or upgrade your existing deployment to 1.4.0 using our upgrade script. This update includes the following improvements:

Better accessibility for screen readers and keyboard navigation

Azure Blockchain Workbench is far more than UI within client apps. Workbench provides a rich developer scaffold for you to develop and integrate blockchain solutions within your enterprise.

The Web client gives you an easy to use the environment to validate, test, and view blockchain applications. The application interface is dynamically generated based on smart contract metadata and can accommodate any use case. The client application delivers a user-facing front-end to the complete blockchain applications generated

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15

Oct

Sweet updates about Truffle on Azure
Sweet updates about Truffle on Azure

Development and deployment of Ethereum based applications, commonly referred to as DApps, can be a challenging task for developers. With over 1 million downloads, Truffle has proven to be a premier suite of tools that can be used for developing smart contracts and DApps for both the public Ethereum network on main-net as well as private consortiums.

Truffle streamlines the process of recognizing changes, migrating them to the underlying blockchain, and providing a framework to allow a rich debugging experience with common step through of code and inspection of low-level components.

The Truffle Suite fits very nicely with the products that Microsoft is building to help developers build end to end solutions on Ethereum. For example, when building solutions leveraging Azure Blockchain Workbench, a key component is creating the underlying smart contract(s). Using Truffle framework to build, test, and maintain the smart contracts, which will be uploaded to Azure Blockchain Workbench, makes the process for developers and IT Pros a streamlined process.

The team at Truffle hosted the first annual TruffleCon this weekend in Portland, Oregon. The event brought together developers from around the country to continue to build the community and create connections in the Ethereum developer space,

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09

Oct

Improved governance experience with Ethereum Proof-of-Authority 1.2

Since launching Ethereum Proof-of-Authority we’ve received great feedback and have learned more about the ways our customers have leveraged this solution to roll out their Blockchain applications. We’ve rolled out a number of features that improve user-experience, configuration, and deployment reliability.

Governance DApp

This update comes with a new governance experience that makes consortium management more intuitive.

The Governance DApp is used for admin management and validator delegation. Each admin can select a set of validators which will propose blocks within PoA consensus. Admins also have the power to vote either to add or remove other admins. This form of on-chain governance helps decentralize the power of network operation and provides a familiar mechanism to maintaining a healthy network over time.

Please note, that this new UI will not be compatible with previously deployed networks of Proof-of-Authority (PoA).

WebSocket support

We’ve added WebSocket support to make it easy to subscribe to events directly or connect to external tools and applications such as BlockScout, an open-source block explorer. You can locate the WebSocket endpoint as part of the deployment output or post-deployment email.

BlockScout block explorer

We have also put together a new deployment guide with instructions on

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04

Oct

GoChain blockchain available on Azure
GoChain blockchain available on Azure

The team at GoChain is bringing their private, scalable blockchain offering to Microsoft Azure. GoChain is a smart contract blockchain based on a go-ethereum code fork, with changes to protocol and consensus model primarily to increase the transaction speed of the network. This is acheived through core protocol changes as well as the introduction of Proof of Reputation consensus mechanism. This function similar to the current Proof of Authority based models in that verification of blocks are controlled by validation nodes agreed upon by the consoritium.

GoChain is an Ethereum compatible blockchain which enables enterprise customers and developers the ability to build and deploy decentralized applications and smart contracts. With this compatibility, existing Ethereum assets can be reused with little changes require, such as solidity based smart contracts.

Enterprises are looking for blockchain solutions that allow them to take advantage of core blockchain attributes such as immutability, strong digital signatures, and distributed architecture. However, they have needs that differ from public based chains in that they have controlled participants on the network. Solutions such as GoChain allow this type of deployment.

Upgradable Smart Contracts

An area that the team at GoChain has been focused on is enabling a more

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24

Sep

Building with blockchain on Azure
Building with blockchain on Azure

Today my team is in Orlando, meeting with technical and business decision makers interested in how blockchain can transform the way they do business and wondering just how to get started with Azure.

As Satya mentioned in his keynote this morning, we’ve seen tremendous progress from businesses building with blockchain on Azure. The feedback from early adopters has been consistent on two fronts, blockchain has the potential to extend digital transformation outside their four walls and into the processes they share with suppliers, partners, and customers, but building these new shared applications is a challenge and they’re looking for trusted partners to help. Businesses across industries are increasingly turning to Microsoft and its partners as they begin this journey.

Over the past few years, the power of Azure has enabled companies to break out of data silos. Scalable data platforms like Azure Databricks and analytics tools like PowerBI let companies collaborate on heterogeneous data sets across departments, and extract insights through Machine Learning and AI. Blockchain empowers the next step enabling not only a single authentic data set, but also shared business logic across multiple companies or individuals.

The emergence of blockchain networks

Recently, we’ve seen our customers shift from

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07

Aug

Ethereum Proof-of-Authority on Azure
Ethereum Proof-of-Authority on Azure

We’ve had great traction with our support of Ethereum on Azure. The existing Proof-of-Work solution has been deployed tens of thousands of times across a variety of industry verticals. Through the extensive development on our platform, we’ve received great feedback from the community that has helped us shape our next Ethereum ledger product. I’m excited to announce the release of Ethereum Proof-of-Authority on Azure.

Proof-of-Authority

Proof-of-Work is a Sybil-resistance mechanism that leverages computation costs to self-regulate the network and allow fair participation. This works great in anonymous, open networks where competition for cryptocurrency promotes security on the network. However, in private/consortium networks the underlying ether has no value. An alternative protocol, Proof-of-Authority, is more suitable for permissioned networks where all consensus participants are known and reputable. Without the need for mining, Proof-of-Authority is more efficient while still retaining Byzantine fault tolerance.

Enterprise-ready

We’ve built this solution with the same principles that we drive in all our production services at Microsoft. In Proof-of-Authority, each consensus node on the network has its own Ethereum identity. In the case that a node goes down, it’s important that the member doesn’t lose consensus participation. Ideally, each member would run redundant consensus nodes to ensure

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02

Aug

Improve collaborative care and clinical data sharing with blockchain

Currently, the healthcare industry suffers major inefficiencies due to diverse uncoordinated and unconnected data sources/systems. Collaboration is vital to improve healthcare outcomes. With digitized health data, the exchange of healthcare information across healthcare organizations is essential to support effective care collaboration. Traditional health information exchanges have had limited success.

Blockchain offers new capabilities to greatly improve health information exchange. At Microsoft we are working to maximize the benefits of solutions that have the potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance the experiences of patients and healthcare workers. With that I’d like to announce a new partner solution and pilot for a better health information exchange that uses blockchain, and runs in Microsoft Azure.

Interoperability and exchanges

Grapevine World, one of the leaders in the application of blockchain technology, make use of the Institute for Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) methodology for interoperability. They employ multiple blockchains for tracking data provenance, and provide a crypto token as means of exchange within their ecosystem.

Grapevine World is a decentralized ecosystem for the seamless exchange and utilization of health data in a standardized, secure manner. In collaboration with the University of Southampton and Tiani Spirit, they have developed a new blockchain-enabled

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24

Jul

Top feature requests added with Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.2.0

We’re excited to see a ton of engagement and positive feedback on Azure Blockchain Workbench since our initial public preview release in May. Last month, we made our first major update to the public preview release based on your feedback and feature requests. Today, we’re releasing our next update to Workbench, which we’re calling version 1.2.0. You can either deploy a new instance of Workbench through the Azure Portal or upgrade your existing deployment to 1.2.0 using our upgrade script.

This update includes the following improvements:

Enable/disable apps

Many of you have started to iterate and create multiple blockchain apps using Workbench. One of the most requested features we’ve heard is the ability to disable unused blockchain apps within the Workbench Web app. With 1.2.0, you will be able to enable or disable applications. In addition, the UI will allow you to filter the list of applications to only show enabled or disabled applications.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Blockchain

As part of the Workbench deployment, we deploy a set of Ethereum Proof-of Authority (PoA) nodes within a single member’s subscription. This topology works great for situations where it’s OK to have one member manage all the blockchain

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24

Jul

Top feature requests added with Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.2.0

We’re excited to see a ton of engagement and positive feedback on Azure Blockchain Workbench since our initial public preview release in May. Last month, we made our first major update to the public preview release based on your feedback and feature requests. Today, we’re releasing our next update to Workbench, which we’re calling version 1.2.0. You can either deploy a new instance of Workbench through the Azure Portal or upgrade your existing deployment to 1.2.0 using our upgrade script.

This update includes the following improvements:

Enable/disable apps

Many of you have started to iterate and create multiple blockchain apps using Workbench. One of the most requested features we’ve heard is the ability to disable unused blockchain apps within the Workbench Web app. With 1.2.0, you will be able to enable or disable applications. In addition, the UI will allow you to filter the list of applications to only show enabled or disabled applications.

BYOB – Bring Your Own Blockchain

As part of the Workbench deployment, we deploy a set of Ethereum Proof-of Authority (PoA) nodes within a single member’s subscription. This topology works great for situations where it’s OK to have one member manage all the blockchain

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17

Jul

Blockchain as a tool for anti-fraud

Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. In 2016, healthcare costs in the US are estimated at nearly 18 percent of the GDP! Healthcare is becoming less affordable worldwide, and a serious chasm is widening between those that can afford healthcare and those that cannot. There are many factors driving the high cost of healthcare, one of them is fraud. In healthcare, there are several types of fraud including prescription fraud, medical identity fraud, financial fraud, and occupational fraud. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates conservatively that health care fraud costs the US about $68 billion annually, which is about three percent of the US total $2.26 trillion in overall healthcare spending. There are two root vulnerabilities in healthcare organizations: insufficient protection of data integrity, and a lack of transparency.

Insufficient protection of data integrity enables fraudulent modification of records

Cybersecurity involves safeguarding the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of data. Often cybersecurity is mistakenly equated with protecting just the confidentiality of data to prevent unauthorized access. However, equally important is protecting the availability of data. That is, you must secure timely and reliable access to data, as well as the integrity of the data. You must ensure records are accurate, complete,

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