Microsoft Teams Up with 3 New Companies for Azure Blockchain as a Service

Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain has added Eris, CoinPrism (OpenChain) and Factom as new partners to its blockchain-toolkit platform.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters. It provides both PaaS and IaaS services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. Photo: Bryan Wilhite/Flickr

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure for building, deploying and managing applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed and Microsoft partner hosted datacenters. It provides both PaaS and IaaS services and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. Photo: Bryan Wilhite/Flickr

Having launched its blockchain-based service for users of its cloud platform Azure, Microsoft Corp. has been partnering with firms that are going to become its collaborators and service providers. So, in October Microsoft announced its partnership with ConsenSys, a New York-based Ethereum-coder group that will enable enterprise customers on the Azure cloud platform to get an access to the Ethereum Blockchain-as-a-Service (E BaaS).

“Focusing on financial services we saw a lot of potential for a framework and platform like Ethereum to go across the platform of financial institutions and modernize a lot of processes that were stuck in the past. We thought that Ethereum was a really good platform for building distributed ledger applications,” Marley Gray, Director of Technology Strategy, US Financial Services at Microsoft, told Techcrunch.

So far, about a week ago, Microsoft teamed up with Ripple, the interledger protocol to its blockchain toolkit. Ripple, which owns offices in New York, Sydney and San Francisco, develops financial solutions that let banks conduct international transactions instantly and at a lower cost. As the company’s website reads, it is committed “to enable the world to exchange value like it already exchanges information – giving rise to an Internet of Value (IoV).”

In fact, Microsoft first launched its Ethereum Blockchain as a Service at a DEVCON1 conference in November. The service was designed for financial organizations, including insurance companies and banks, that could leverage the benefits offered by the blockchain technology.

On Tuesday, Marley Gray announced three new members to join Microsoft’s blockchain service. The new partners are CoinPrism, Eris and Factom.

Eris claims to be freeware that permits any adopter to develop their “own secure, low-cost, run-anywhere data infrastructure,” by making use of blockchain technology, reads the company’s site. Microsoft sees Eris as a “platform for industrial applications of smart contract technology.” “Azure clients will be able to upload the details of their permissioning requirements for the blockchain network in question as part of the instantiation process,” notes Mr Gray.

CoinPrism, an open source distributed ledger technology, is the company behind “colored coins”, the Open Assets standard now used by companies such as Overstock and NASDAQ. Microsoft wants to use Coinprism’s OpenChain to allow customers and companies to use their own version of the chain to “issue and manage digital assets in a robust, secure and scalable way.”

Last but not least, Factom, a blockchain startup, functions by keeping data off the blockchain with its protocol features on its own distributed data layer. According to Gray, in Q1 2016, Microsoft is going to deploy a “factomd service exposing the Factom APIs” assisted by the above-mentioned startup. Plus, Microsoft also sees Factom as a provider of “Bitcoin data service of prices from different exchanges.”

Moreover, Gray confirmed the importance of Bitcoin replying to a comment below his post: “We do support Bitcoin and it is the most important Blockchain for cryptocurrency. BaaS is about using Blockchain (distributed ledger) technology and value added services for other purposes. There is a whole ecosystem springing up around cryptoapps.”

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