Category Archives : Blockchain

15

Nov

Introducing the Azure Blockchain Development Kit
Introducing the Azure Blockchain Development Kit

“Developers! Developers! Developers!” That phrase is synonymous with Microsoft’s history of democratizing complex technologies and empowering anyone with an idea to build software.

Over four decades, we’ve lowered barriers to development with developer tooling, enterprise integration, DevOps, PaaS, and SaaS. Today, serverless offerings from Functions and Logic Apps to Azure DevOps and IoT Central remove friction for development in the cloud.

This morning, we’re excited to announce the initial release of the Azure Blockchain Development Kit which is built on Microsoft’s serverless technologies and seamlessly integrates blockchain with the best of Microsoft and third-party SaaS.

This kit extends the capabilities of our blockchain developer templates and Azure Blockchain Workbench, which incorporates Azure services for key management, off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging APIs into a reference architecture that can be used to rapidly build blockchain-based applications.

These tools have become the first step for many organizations on their journey to re-invent the way they do business. Apps have been built for everything from democratizing supply chain financing in Nigeria to securing the food supply in the UK, but as patterns emerged across use cases, our teams identified new ways for Microsoft to help developers go farther, faster.

This initial

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13

Nov

Deploy, develop, and troubleshoot faster with Azure Blockchain Workbench 1.5.0

On behalf of the entire Workbench team, thank you for your continued support and interest in Azure Blockchain Workbench. With every month’s release, our focus areas are driven by the topics you care about the most. Workbench 1.5.0 focuses on two key themes, making Workbench easier to deploy and simplifying the process of developing and testing your end to end blockchain solutions.

Whether you’re a new customer or upgrading your current deployment, we hope you like what we have built.

Deploy faster

The previous Workbench installation provided a lot of flexibility that most people didn’t need. We have streamlined the deployment template with default values and easier Azure Active Directory (AAD) integration. For advanced users, you still have customization options available within the template. For customers with higher scale needs, we also have newly published guidance on how to scale your deployment.

Develop and troubleshoot easier

You’ve told us that Workbench helps you build and deploy blockchain applications faster, but you would like more help with debugging issues in your contracts and your integration code. We’ve added guidance on how to use Application Insights to troubleshoot issues, added robust telemetry, and more targeted error messages to help you pinpoint issues

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30

Oct

Microsoft @ DevCon4
Microsoft @ DevCon4

At DevCon in 2015, I announced support for Ethereum on Microsoft Azure. It was a humble beginning consisting of a private Ethereum network and a corresponding “Hello World” smart contract. Now in 2018, Azure supports all the major blockchain platforms and can deploy a wide variety of network configurations from a lab environment to more sophisticated consortium networks targeted at production workloads.

Since that time, we have engaged with hundreds of customers across every industry and every corner of the world. We have learned a lot about what business scenarios are viable and what it truly takes to deliver an end to end blockchain solution.

A key learning has been what it takes to build and establish blockchain networks. We strive to improve the overall lifecycle of these networks with better management capabilities, governance frameworks, and integrations with the cloud services needed to build dapps. One of the most impactful observations we have shared with the broader community is a requirement for untrusted networks to support robust applications with multiple participants using varying trust model’s privacy for its participants and potentially outcomes.

The previous statement might seem simple at first, but it’s quite complex if you examine some of the

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30

Oct

Bringing digital ledger interoperability to Nasdaq Financial Framework through Microsoft Azure Blockchain

Nasdaq revolutionized financial markets in 1971 by opening them up to millions of individual investors with the world’s first-ever electronic stock exchange. Since then, the company’s innovative spirit has kept them on the leading edge of technology evolution in capital markets, while transforming the brand into a powerhouse technology provider.

Nasdaq’s commercial technology arm, Market Technology, powers mission-critical capital markets infrastructure at more than 100 exchanges, clearinghouses, and central securities depositories across 50 countries.

To better serve its global clientele, Nasdaq re-architected its enterprise offerings and released the Nasdaq Financial Framework (NFF) in 2016. The Framework’s modular design leverages a single operational core that powers a vast portfolio of business applications and services across the trading lifecycle, enabling Nasdaq customers to easily add, remove and amend their mission-critical technology stack without the cost and complexity associated with monolithic infrastructure systems.

NFF was designed also to take advantage of the benefits of emerging technologies to enable key strategic advantages for customers.

“Our [capital markets] industry is evolving faster than ever with the advent and advancement of cloud, blockchain, machine intelligence and others. Key players in the industry are looking to these technologies to explore how they can become more effective and

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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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