Blockchain is one of the top 10 emerging technologies of 2016, as per the World Economic Forum, and has immense potential to fundamentally change the way markets and governments work. Recognizing this early on, Microsoft launched Microsoft Azure Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) that provides an open, hyper-scale cloud platform and an expanding ecosystem of blockchain technologies for enterprises, consortiums and governments. It enables them to learn and innovate quickly through pilots and prototypes in a cost-effective manner.
Today, more than 80 percent of the world’s largest banks and more than 75 percent of the global systemically important financial institutions are using Microsoft Azure, representing the highest bar for legal, compliance, security and acquisitions teams.
The Ethereum Foundation’s Chief Scientist Vitalik Buterin notes that “We are seeing good leadership with Microsoft in bringing blockchain to their customers using the Azure platform. We highly appreciate their continued support and collaboration with the Ethereum Foundation and the Ethereum ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”
Using Microsoft Azure BaaS, R3 has created a peer-to-peer distributed ledger, with multiple blockchain partners such as smart contract platforms Ethereum, Eris and Tendermint, that connects many of the consortium’s leading banks including Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Citi, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
According to Peter Gartenberg, General Manager, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft, “In India, the availability of Microsoft Azure BaaS from local, hyper-scale datacenters, with their hybrid cloud capabilities, extensive compliance certification portfolio, and enterprise-grade security will help enable blockchain adoption in regulated sectors like banking and financial services, insurance and healthcare as well as governments. It will help them optimize their Digital Transformation journey in a cost-effective yet scalable manner across development, testing and production environments.”
Microsoft and Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced a collaboration on blockchain to fuel transformation of trade finance transacting. KPMG Singapore recently announced their Digital Ledger Services with Microsoft Azure’s BaaS to address the growing demand of the customers in the region for blockchain. The Azure marketplace has eight blockchain partner solutions enabled via single-click deployment. These include blockchain infrastructure, identity services and self-contained development environments.
Since launching BaaS in 2015, Microsoft has been working side-by-side with businesses and partners to understand core industry scenarios, and to develop the technologies and ecosystem through Project Bletchley. The project outlines the vision for an open, modular blockchain fabric powered by Azure. Microsoft has already launched an initial version of Project Bletchley allowing users to create a diverse distributed ledger ecosystem to focus on the requirements of private multi-node consortium networks. Additionally, Microsoft has been integrating the Solidity language into development tools such as Visual Studio to enable rapid development of next generation decentralized applications on blockchain.