Microsoft Hopes For Wider Adoption Of Blockchain With Project Bletchley
AÂ few days ago, Microsoft has announced the launch of its Azure-based project Bletchley enabling those interested to use so-called blockchain fabric to create their own blockchain systems of any complexity.
The release could catapult Microsoft to a different level of blockchain technology acquisition.
WHAT IS BLETCHLEY
Marley Gray, Microsoft’s Director for BizDev & Strategy, Cloud and Enterprise wrote in the blog post:
â€śIn Project Bletchley, Azure provides the fabric for blockchain, serving as the cloud platform where distributed applications are built and delivered. Microsoft Azure’s availability in 24 regions across the globe, hybrid cloud capabilities, extensive compliance certification portfolio, and enterprise-grade security enable blockchain adoption, especially in highly regulated industries like financial services, healthcare and government.â€ť
The project’s whitepaperÂ introduces three concepts, namely middleware, enterprise consortium nodes, and cryptlets.
Middleware is the dark matter fuelling the entire project. In fact it is the blockchain fabric in question. It is aimed to provide basic services like identification or process control, and would tie all Bletchley-based systems together. Cryptlet is in fact a variation on a block in a blockchain.
â€śCryptlets function when additional information is needed to execute a transaction or contract, such as date and time. They will become a critical component of sophisticated blockchain systems, enabling all technology to work together in a secure, scalable way,â€ť Gray elaborated.
Enterprise consortium node, according to Gray, is a â€śmodular frameworkâ€ť allowing â€śconsortiums to pick the best of breed components and build their distributed applications regardless of the detail underneathâ€ť.
This will enable such systems to interact in a way similar to that computers interact via the internet.
â€śProject Bletchley is a vision for Microsoft to deliver Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) that is open and flexible for all platforms, partners and customers. We’re thrilled to be on this journey with the blockchain community, and are looking forward to helping transform the way we think about and do business today,â€ťGray concluded.
BLOCKCHAIN AS A SERVICE AS A NEW MARKET
According to Gray’s post, the need for a project like that is justified by common dissatisfaction of how blockchain technology as is may meet the demands of different businesses. Notably, the very demand for blockchain-based solutions has created a brand new market. However, the market in question is fractured at the moment.
In the report titled â€śBlockchain & Bitcoin 2016: A Survey of Global Leadersâ€ť, Magister Advisors investment bank wrote:
â€śThe software market has already split into Blockchain platform providers (e.g. those providing Blockchain frameworks on which to build custom applications) and Blockchain application providers (e.g. those providing ‘end-to-end’ solutions addressing a specific business process). We estimate that spending by financial institutions on Blockchain projects will exceed $1bn in 2017, which will make it one of the fastest developing enterprise software markets of all time.â€ť
Bletchley is in fact yet another attempt to create a new niche in the emerging blockchain market and tie it together. The hype around blockchain technology isn’t news. The statement that it is capable of disrupting the way business is done is a commonplace.
Cloud-based blockchain services may allow those involved to test, deploy and research the technology at a cost significantly lower than what might have been required to deploy the system using their own hardware and software.
Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) thus looks a very promising area of development. No wonder the concept has already established a competition between very big corporations. There are at least four serious companies developing their own solutions in this regard, and Microsoft is just one of them.
Microsoft’s Azure was the first to introduce the concept with a little help from their friends represented by ConsenSys and Ethereum last November. As early as this April, Microsoft partnered with R3CEV aka The Evil Empire, a consortium of 43 banks from around the world. With the release of Bletchley, Microsoft now has a nearly unbeatable edge over its competitors.
The second player on the field is another software Leviathan, IBM, which rolled out BlueMix this February. Their BaaS solution uses Hyperledger, an open source blockchain project developed under the auspices of the Linux Foundation by companies from both IT and financial industries like IBM itself, as well as Cisco, ConsenSys, Digital Assets Holdings, Fujitsu Limited, Hitachi, Intel, SWIFT and Wells Fargo. Notably, the list of partners thereto includes R3. The platform enables developers to create digital assets and corresponding solutions. IBM seems very interested in developing blockchain-based solutions, as it has established an international network of blockchain centers IBM garage, with offices working in Singapore, New York and Tokyo. IBM Garage’s main purpose is to allow developers to test their own blockchain protocols.
This May, Deloitte rolled out so-called Rubix Core, a BaaS solution for developing Distributed Applications they may require. The solution allows customers to understand what they can do with the technology by creating prototypes and smart contract applications. It is a full-fledged private environment where any organization may act as it wishes.
Finally, there’s Amazon and their AWS introduced also this May. Having sided with the sovereign of cryptoworld investors, Digital Currency Group, the company will provide the BaaS solution to companies included in DCG’s portfolio.
All in all, the competition is evident but hardly fierce so far. However, as blockchain technology gains momentum and recognition, it may become very serious, and Bletchley, in case it works as designed, will be able to promote it even further.
By Jenny Aysgarth
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