Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Microsoft reveals Coco Framework Azure cloud-based blockchain service

Microsoft reveals Coco Framework Azure cloud-based blockchain service

This is because existing systems were created to function-and to achieve consensus-in public scenarios amongst anonymous, untrusted actors with maximum transparency. While that is essential to maintaining the integrity of these public blockchains, it creates scalability and confidentiality problems for the enterprise. While providing sturdy security for the blockchain, the Xeon processors are also expected to boost the performance of the new technology.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco achieves this by designing specifically for confidential consortiums, where nodes and actors are explicitly declared and controlled.

Modifying a piece of blockchain software to work with the Coco Framework isn't a trivial exercise, but it's also not absurdly complicated.

"As enterprises look to apply blockchain technology to meet their business needs, they've come to realize that many existing blockchain protocols fail to meet key enterprise requirements such as performance, confidentiality, governance, and required processing power". Providing these foundational capabilities opens up more complex, real-world blockchain scenarios across industries — like financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail — further proving blockchains potential to digitally transform business.

Support for non-deterministic transactions.

"We expect this to be the foundation for blockchain for enterprise", Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing division, said at a press briefing.

The Coco Framework needs a trusted execution environment because it relies on shared trust between machines running modified blockchain software in order to avoid the need for transaction verification.

Other features Coco enables is governance and compatibility.

It will be available both on-premises and in the cloud.

By design, Coco is open and compatible with any blockchain protocol.

Microsoft is now testing the Coco Framework with its partners R3, Intel, J.P. Morgan, and Ethereum. The framework offers additional, flexible confidentiality models, distributed governance-based network policy management, and nondeterministic transaction support. Initial Coco Framework implementations will include R3 Corda, Intel Hyperledger Sawtooth, J.P. Morgan Quorum, and Ethereum.

Coco Framework combines advanced algorithms and trusted execution environments (TEEs), like Intel's Software Guard Extensions (SGX) or Windows Virtual Secure Mode (VSM).

Industry enthusiasm for blockchain is growing, and while it will still take time for blockchain to achieve enterprise assurance, we remain laser focused on accelerating its development and enterprise adoption in partnership with the community.

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