February 15, 2017
Microsoft’s vision is to make blockchain accessible to everyone, just like it did with the personal computer.
Azure, Microsoft’s cloud portal, establishes a user-friendly way for developers worldwide to develop and visualise smart contract applications without the need to build infrastructure from scratch or requiring an in-depth knowledge of Ethereum. It does so by combining Ethereum’s core programming language, Solidity, with the functionality and familiarity of Microsoft’s Visual Studio platform. Users of Azure only need to set up an Ethereum account and load it with Ether in order for them to make their smart contract applications available to the market.
50% of Fortune 500 companies and government entities such as the UK’s Ministry of Defence already use Microsoft Azure. Developers will be able to join the ranks of Apple iCloud, Ebay, Samsung, Boeing, BMW, Symantec and Pixar in using the portal to support the creation and deployment of a wide range of applications.
Microsoft is no stranger to exerting its influence on its user base to secure its market dominance. One extension of Azure is Project Bletchley, a means for Microsoft to provide standardisation and customer support across the smart contract application development industry so that anyone can deploy their own Ethereum protocol with a single click. Users are encouraged to adopt Azure’s templates adapted for use on Android, iOS and Windows’ operating systems. Furthermore, Microsoft’s wide array of capabilities like Cortana Analytics (for machine learning) and Power BI (data visualisation tools) are made to be easily integrated in to the development of these applications.
Ultimately, Microsoft is offering the Ethereum blockchain as a service without limit to industry or country. The service has already extended to China, with collaboration efforts in place with Alibaba Cloud Computing and Tencent among the top names interested in exploring the scale and potential of using the Ethereum blockchain.
Ethereum isn’t able to reach its full potential without the likes of Microsoft’s support given the cost-intensive nature of creating and maintaining data centres. These are the systems that are needed to ensure that the technology keeps running as expected. With Microsoft injecting over $10bn in the past two years alone to improving its data centres globally, Microsoft clearly intends Azure to be the frontiersman in providing blockchain applications to the masses.