Officially marking its foray into blockchain, Microsoft has launched its fully managed Azure Blockchain Service. The service will eliminate the pain points and complexity of creating and maintaining blockchain networks.
In a blog post about the service, Microsoft explained how users can “create and deploy a permissions blockchain network” with just few a clicks. The Azure Portal, they said, would make it easy to manage consortium policies.
Microsoft had been actively building up to the release. Last year, tech blogs like Techie State and Tech Dats gave details on the Azure Blockchain Workbench. Frank Shaw, Microsoft communication director, said the tool was “a simple UI to model blockchain applications on a pre-configured, Azure-supported network.”
The Azure Blockchain Developer Kit became available to developers in November, and this expanded the capabilities of the workbench tool.
Currently, the service will launch as a preview. The first company to take advantage of the Azure Blockchain Service will be J.P. Morgan through its Ethereum-based Quorum ledger.
Microsoft’s announcement comes after Amazon’s release of its own fully managed blockchain service. Amazon Managed Blockchain will roll out gradually. It will eventually support Ethereum, but for now, the service is limited to Hyperledger Fabric.
The Quorum ledger will be used to support both Microsoft and J.P. Morgan’s blockchain programs. It will also support the bank’s internal cryptocurrency, JPMCoin, as well as its Interbank Information Network. Additionally, it will support royalty payment points for Xbox’s gaming platform.
The goal of the partnership between Microsoft and J.P. Morgan is to address enterprise, developer and vendor needs for the building of blockchain applications that use Azure’s cloud-based servers.
In addition, Microsoft will provide support for network users, including engineering support.
Quorum will be more easily available to customers through the Azure platform.
The announcement brings into question whether J.P Morgan will now spin off Quorum into its own entity.