Although Bill Gates appears to have developed a cold heart for cryptocurrencies, his multinational software company, Microsoft is not backing out of the blockchain revolution. In fact, it appears to be investing more and more around blockchain innovation. Microsoft is currently working with Hyperledger, the United Nations, research consortium R3 and Cornell University’s Blockchain Research Group to harness multiple aspects of blockchain technology. Also, Microsoft has reportedly shown interest in the technology for digital identity purposes as well.
The General Manager for Microsoft Azure, Matthew Kerner General Manager, announced the release of Azure Blockchain Workbench in a blog post on Monday. He said “we’re excited to announce the public preview release of Azure Blockchain Workbench, a new offering that can reduce application development time from months to days. Workbench gets customers started quickly by automating infrastructure setup, so developers can focus on application logic, and business owners can focus on defining and validating their use cases.”
Matthew explained that the new Workbench allows users to:
- a) Associate blockchain identities with federated identity systems through Azure Active Directory for single sign-on, and for simplified consortium identity management.
- b) Store secrets and keys securely with Azure Key Vault.
- c) Ingest and manage the events required to trigger smart contracts using Service Bus and Event Grid.
- d) Use the included signing, hashing and routing tools to transform messages into the format expected by the blockchain’s native API.
- e) Synchronize on-chain data with off-chain storage and databases to more easily generate business insights from ledger data.
- f) Easily integrate blockchain workflows with existing systems and applications using tools like Logic Apps.
- g) Extend capabilities with a REST-based API for client development and a message-based API for system-to-system integration.”
The new Azure Blockchain Workbench links blockchain to the cloud very easily while it simplifies development and facilitates testing with prebuilt networks and infrastructure. The Blockchain Workbench by Azure makes configuration, and deployment of a consortium network very painless. It is ideal for development/test exploration. The automatic ledger deployment, network construction, and pre-built blockchain command reduce the time required for infrastructure development to a large extent.
The Workbench offers the support for end-to-end blockchain application and is very easy to set up. Microsoft aims to simplify the way companies and their development teams can build apps on top of Azure-based blockchains. A number of the company’s existing partners have already started using the Workbench like Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, major food distributor Nestle and software producer Apttus.
This move is the latest innovation of the technology giant, which has joined several blockchain-focused partnerships in recent past.