Microsoft Unveils Coco, an Open-Source Blockchain Framework

Microsoft announces its new Coco Framework, compatible with all the ledgers, to tackle throughput, latency, governance and confidentiality issues.

Despite blockchain technologies are drawing more and more attention from the side of general public as well as diverse investors there are still plenty of technical issues to solve.

The largest part of issues falls to the share of enterprises who want and ready to adopt this technology for smart contracts and other use cases. The issues include mainly throughput, latency, governance and confidentiality.

To address these problems and eventually make blockchains more suitable for the enterprise Microsoft announces its new Coco Framework (stands for Confidential Consortium).

The system connects to different blockchain networks to solve some fundamental issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns. For this purpose The Coco Framework introduces a trusted execution environment (TEE).

The idea is as follows: there is a trusted box on which someone can put his/her blockchain code. That trust is established through Intel’s Software Guard Extensions or Windows’ Virtual Secure Mode or any other TEEs as they become available. Then can be built a network of trusted enclaves that all agree on the ledger and Coco code they are running.

Having these trusted enclaves solves one more issue – it becomes unnecessary to perform any proof of work, which greatly increases the transaction speed, due to the trustworthiness of the updates to the ledger.  Microsoft says Coco and Ethereum can handle up to 1,600 transactions per second making the platform roughly 100 times faster.

Enterprises may not worry about confidentiality as well (even given the public  character of a ledger), as Coco adds a confidentiality layer on top of any of it.

Other features Coco enables is governance and compatibility. Coco is compatible with any ledger protocol which can be run anywhere from in the cloud or on premises, and on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible trusted environment.

“We are building in this flexibility in part to allow the community to integrate Coco with additional protocols, try it on other hardware and adapt it for enterprise scenarios we haven’t yet thought of.” – said Coco’s developers.

Planned adopters include Corda, the blockchain of bank consortium R3, Intel’s blockchain Sawtooth and Quorum, the blockchain developed by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“We are thrilled to work with Microsoft to bring blockchain to the enterprise,” said Rick Echevarria, vice president, Software and Services Group and General Manager, Platforms Security Division at Intel, in today’s announcement. “Our mutual customers are excited by the potential of blockchain. Intel is committed to accelerating the value of blockchains powered by Azure on Intel hardware, by improving the scalability, privacy and security of the solutions based on our technologies.”

Coco’s source code will be available to the open source community in 2018. Now the team is still hardening the code and getting it ready for open sourcing.

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