Microsoft announces expansion of blockchain offering on Azure Cloud

Microsoft announces expansion of blockchain offering on Azure Cloud

Microsoft is expanding its Azure Cloud service offering by adding new features to its blockchain support platform, specifically new tokenization and blockchain data management services. The new token tool is designed to “simplify the definition, creation and management of compliant tokens built to industry standards”. The new blockchain data management features will simplify “the cumbersome task of integrating existing applications with data that sits on a blockchain ledger”.

Microsoft recently published its announcement on the official Microsoft Azure blog. It read:

With this latest offering, we can now offer customers an end-to-end experience of easily creating and managing tokens for physical or digital assets via Azure Blockchain Tokens (preview), in addition to managing the blockchain network itself via Azure Blockchain Service.

Microsoft Azure was initially released in February of 2010 as “Window Azure”, but it was re-branded four years later. Per its website:

Microsoft Azure is an ever-expanding set of cloud services to help your organization meet your business challenges. It’s the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive, global network using your favorite tools and frameworks.

Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Workbench already has eleven user case studies highlighted on its website. The workbench service enables developers to capture, transform, and decrypt data that resides on the blockchain ledger and then allows for its delivery to a designated destination. Microsoft handles the infrastructure in the background, while facilitating an easy integration with other Microsoft products.

These platforms permit developers to focus on the production of decentralized applications, which can also access Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric and purpose-built blockchains like Corda. In tandem with these blockchain tools, Microsoft announced “Azure Heroes”, which will act as “non-fungible blockchain tokens aimed at rewarding its developer community”.

Examples of current blockchain user case studies include:

  • General Electric – Aviation Unit tracks parts in its system and reduces inefficiencies;
  • 3M Technologies – Uses blockchain solutions to prevent the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals;
  • Cloudburst – Russian techwear brand enhances retail service with blockchain solutions, combined with NFC wireless chip technology;
  • Singapore Airlines – Blockchain ledger tracks customer loyalty programs;
  • Marco Polo Network – Azure and Corda blockchain combine to modernize international trade and trade finance;
  • Webjet – Uses blockchain approaches to resolve and improve arbitration and transaction dispute resolutions;
  • XBOX – Blockchain solutions improve tracking and reporting of royalties for Xbox game publishers

The Azure token support services include templates for common use scenarios, and the current plan is to create a “gallery” of templates from those developed by partners in the system. The ability to “tokenize” physical or digital assets also has a real world application up and running with its partner CEEK VR Inc. The firm has utilized Azure Blockchain tokens to create “smart tickets” that enable content providers to accurately track viewer-ship of their written material.

Mary Spio, chief technology officer of CEEK VR noted:

CEEK Virtual Reality was looking for a trusted partner to help us with content viewer-ship verification on the blockchain. Azure Blockchain Tokens was perfect because it helped to drastically reduce our time to market and offered a trusted partner for providing proof on the blockchain.

According to reporting from Database Trends, general manager Matthew Kerner said that:

Azure Blockchain Service has seen strong adoption since its launch, with customers using it to simplify the management and formation of their blockchain networks so they can focus on business logic. With the release of Azure Blockchain Tokens, the idea is to simplify the ability to define, create, and manage compliant tokens that are built to industry standards.

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