This Press Release by ConsenSys and article in Reuters indicates that Microsoft will make the Ethereum blockchain solution available to Banks and others, using several partners, using the Microsoft cloud-based service called Azure. This is from the Press Release issued by ConsenSys:
“New York, NY, October 28th, 2015 – ConsenSys has chosen to collaborate with Microsoft to deliver enterprise businesses Ethereum Blockchain-as-a-Service by way of Microsoft Azure. The flagship offering will include BlockApps Strato and Ether.Camp, and will be released at the Ethereum developers conference, DEVCON1 on November 10th, in London, UK.
Marley Gray, Director of Technology Strategy, US Financial Services at Microsoft said,“Microsoft is excited to team up with ConsenSys for in Azure’s lead offering of Ethereum Blockchain-as-a-Service. Our enterprise clients will have the ability to deploy private and semi-private or consortium blockchain networks, as well as public Ethereum nodes with a single click on Azure. Through BlockApps Strato and Ether.Camp we’ll have developer tools and applications so enterprise can begin to understand the power behind blockchain technology.”
Andrew Keys, Director of Enterprise Business Development relayed,’A relationship between ConsenSys and Microsoft Corp. solidifies our position to offer scalable enterprise blockchain solutions. We’ve found Azure to be an efficient and powerful cloud to deploy our offerings and are looking forward to further collaboration with Microsoft. The initial offerings of BlockApps Strato and Ether.Camp will serve as foundational protocols and tools for developers to create blockchain applications immediately.’ ”
From the Reuters article we have Microsoft’s perspective on the service and the announcement that four Financial Institutions have already signed up:
“The platform will be available to banks and insurance companies that are already using Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure platform. Microsoft said four large global financial institutions had already signed up to the service.
“Working with our customers that wanted to start playing around with blockchain technology, the major pain point that we kept hearing from them was that it was just too hard to get started, and too expensive,” Microsoft’s director of tech strategy for financial services, Marley Gray, told Reuters on the sidelines of Ethereum’s “DevCon” conference in London.
Gray described the platform as providing a “fail fast, fail cheap” model for firms: they can experiment with the cloud-based technology using templates provided by Microsoft without having to build their own systems.
Gray said the technology would allow companies to create their own private blockchains, or so-called “smart contracts” that automatically execute the terms of an agreement, in 20 minutes, even with no prior experience.
The Seattle-based company, under Chief Executive Satya Nadella, has been shifting its focus to cloud services as demand for the Windows operating system slows. Last month it reported an 8 percent increase in its cloud business for the first quarter.
“We bet the entire farm on the cloud, pretty much,” said Gray.”
Reducing the cost and effort of deploying Blockchain technology will enable banks to focus on the business opportunities this technology can be applied to, however this does not eliminate the need for banks to determine the inherent risks associated with any specific implementation. The most difficult aspect of evaluating any solution built on blockchain technology is associated with the security model. The Bitcoin infrastructure implements a blockchain that utilizes a consensus model that is tightly coupled to the bitcoin miners and the value of a bitcoin. Replacing that consensus model with a similarly mathematically-proven alternative, that does not rely on miners or rewards, has proven devilishly difficult.
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group
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