Microsoft is integrating blockchain into its cloud platform

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft has joined the long list of major players who are experimenting with blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin.

Together with blockchain company ConsenSys, Microsoft will be offering the Ethereum Blockchain as a Service on its Azure cloud platform.

Ethereum is a platform for de-centralised smart contracts – programmed contracts that are self-fulfilling. This means that anyone can write a set of commands that execute independently of any middle man, and are verified and recorded by a series of distributed ledgers.

Such contracts are essentially un-spoofable, and as the ledgers are updated every 15 seconds, quite fast.

Azure clients, many of whom are in the finance sector, can start to use the Ethereum platform to run their exchanges and settlement processes.

While still nascent, smart contracts have been touted to run electoral systems, financial exchanges and even intellectual property enforcement in the future. Although there is still some confusion with how this will mesh with existing legal notions of ownership and settlement.

“Ethereum enables SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (ĐApps) to be built, potentially cutting out the middleman in many industry scenarios streamlining processes like settlement” explained Marley Gray, Microsoft’s Director of Technology Strategy

“But that is just scratching the surface of what can be done when you mix the cryptographic security and reliability of the Blockchain with a Turing complete programming language included in Ethereum, we can’t really image what our customers and partners will build.”

“Through BlockApps Strato and Ether.Camp we’ll have developer tools and applications so enterprise can begin to understand the power behind blockchain technology.”

Microsoft have already uploaded an Ethereum template for users to begin experimenting with.

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