Microsoft has released the public preview build of its ‘Azure Blockchain Tokens’, a spin-off of its ‘Azure; product, which enables users to issue and manage “ledger-based tokens” through the Azure Blockchain Platform. This is a spin-off of the pre-existing ‘blockchain service’ offered by Microsoft Azure.
Azure Blockchain Tokens is touted as a means of making the process of creating blockchain based applications even easier and faster, including a collection of pre-built templates that can be customised to suit the project’s needs. These templates were created in line with standards developed by the Token Taxonomy Initiative, of which Microsoft is a member.
Token Taxonomy Initiative was announced back in April. It is a program engineered by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), with special contributors like IBM and R3, which sees its members working together on the establishment of standardised development protocols and standards.
EEA is comprised of a massive list of blockchain advocates, developers and industry leaders as members: from Accenture, to VMware; and the Bank of New York Mellon, to Securitize.
Like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure is a cloud platform which provides essential resources and infrastructure to address the exponential demands of technology companies in today’s data economy.
These types of solutions are classed as ‘middle-ware’ and are highly popular with software and web creators as they offer a modular, ‘plug-and-play’ approach to development.
Due to reasons such as economy-at-scale and a history of financial success, the market shares of the leading cloud providers are overwhelmingly centralized: with Amazon Web Services boasting a reported 48% share of the commercial cloud computing market at large.
Centralized cloud platforms are behind more products and services than you may have realised. Netflix, Samsung, Adobe and Unilever may not come as a surprpise; but AWS and Azure is becoming integral component upon which many blockchain products depend.
AWS-based blockchains include: Corda Enterprise Blockchain and Kaleido Enterprise Blockchain SaaS (by ConsenSys). Blockchain partners incorporating Microsoft Azure include: Xbox, Nasdaq and 3M.
Benefits include out-of-the-box compatibility and competitive tools, as well as short term cost-savings. The flipside is that clients are highly reliant on third party services, which often increase prices over time based on the number of consistent dependant customers.
A decentralized network should be capable of enduring outages, so long as there are still unaffected nodes on the network but in theory, even the greatest decentralized network could fall victim to centralized incidents when relying on such middle-ware. An AWS outage was reported to have had a considerable on a number of cryptocurrency exchanges back in August 2019.
This brings into question the veracity of any such company which uses one of these products whilst advertising its blockchain products as being absolutely independent or decentralized.
In spite of these criticisms Regardless of these criticisms, AWS and Microsoft Azure are finding popularity with blockchain developers who wouln’t have become adoptors unless they believed the benefits to outweigh the potential risks.
If you are one of those interested parties, click here to take part in the preview.