Blockchain isn’t exactly a household name in the digital commerce world – yet – but for those of us on the inside track it’s already well established as the next big thing in as far as grand-scale transactional computing is concerned. For those who aren’t familiar with it, we’ll explain briefly here; blockchain is a shared distributed ledger technology where each transaction is digitally signed to ensure its authenticity and integrity. From a ‘what does that mean for me’ perspective, it’s a new and very powerful means of upping security for digital transactions as well as ensuring pinpoint accuracy.
Right, now that we’ve got the basic explanation out of the way we’re going to come at this from an angle that’s designed for those of you already very much in the know regarding blockchain. Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like any leading Canadian web hosting provider in that a good many of our customers have ecommerce websites where secure transactions are an absolute priority. As such, blockchain can’t arrive in full soon enough and that’s why recent news from Microsoft is very promising.
Microsoft is about to offer a new serverless blockchain development kit powered by its intelligent cloud platform – Azure. As of now it’s being called the ‘Azure Blockchain Development Kit’ and the aim with it is to facilitate seamless integration of blockchain with the best of Microsoft and other third-party SaaS offerings. The Principal Program Manager at Microsoft states that it will enable users to build key management, off-chain identity and data monitoring and messaging APIs into reference architectures that can be used to quickly build blockchain applications.
It is expected to have 3 major capabilities:
- Integrating data and systems
- Connecting interfaces
- Deployment of smart contracts and blockchain networks
It should enable organizations and individuals to connect to blockchain through user interfaces. The development kit will come ready with voice interfaces, SMSes, internet of things, support for mobile clients, device integration, virtual assistants, and bots. Voice and SMS interfaces for the purpose of tracking and supply chain solutions promise to be very useful for developers, and it will have support for Android and iOS mobile operating systems
In addition, it will be compatible with other ledger technologies like Ethereum and Bitcoin too.
Concurrently with this new Azure Blockchain Development Kit, Microsoft is also announcing their release of a set of Flow Connectors and Logic Apps for blockchain. This Ethereum Blockchain connector will allow users to call contract actions, deploy contracts, trigger other Logic Apps, and read contract state. This is important, because end to end blockchain solutions require integration with data, software, and media that live ‘off chain’ as this state is referred to.
This new product from Microsoft is a next step in their quest to simplify and quicken blockchain accessibility and affordability for anyone who has an idea of what they might be able to do with it. Based on the serverless architecture, the expectation is that it will further reduce costs and thus making it accessible for every blockchain enthusiast, ISV and enterprise.
The Kit is being built atop Microsoft’s investments in blockchain technology and connects to Azure’s compute, storage, data and integration services, which are already proven reliable in the workspace. Over recent years, Microsoft has been working on extending the use of Blockchain and related distributed ledger technologies. The idea is that new digital identities will eventually come together to promote greater personal security, privacy and control.
It should be mentioned that other major players (Google most notably) also recently launched similar blockchain development kits. What will remain to be seen is what developers will think of it and how practical it is for them.
Microsoft has a white paper on how to deploy any decentralized application using the Azure Blockchain Development Kit. You can download it here, and overall the development of Blockchain is definitely something worth keeping tabs on as it continues to change the landscape of the ecommerce world.