Microsoft expands blockchain support with Coco Framework

Coco Framework High Level Overview (https://github.com/Azure/coco-framework/blob/master/docs/Coco%20Framework%20whitepaper.pdf)
Coco Framework High Level Overview

Microsoft has extended its blockchain offerings. Notably it claims to handle more than 1,600 transactions per second – which would be faster than most current networks (but not as fast as the 3M+ ‘promised’ by Toda-Algorand).  Perhaps more important is the flexibility which Microsoft introduces with its Coco Framework. It claims this:

  • is easier to use than other blockchain products
  • makes the technology widely available across a range of sectors, including financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail
  • is secure, so data remains safe and confidential.

Blockchain is a transformational technology with the ability to significantly reduce the friction of doing business,” said Mark Russinovich, Chief Technology Officer of Azure at Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to bringing blockchain to the enterprise. We have listened to the needs of our customers and the blockchain community and are bringing foundational functionality with the Coco Framework. Through an innovative combination of advanced algorithms and trusted execution environments, like Intel’s Software Guard Extensions or Windows Virtual Secure Mode, we believe this takes the next step toward making blockchain ready for business.

Mark Russinovich, Chief Technology Officer of Azure, Microsoft (https://www.linkedin.com/in/markrussinovich/)
Mark Russinovich, Chief Technology Officer of Azure, Microsoft

Why is the Microsoft Coco Framework interesting?

The image above captures the reason the Coco Framework (Coco) should interest enterprises.  Coco is an underpinning which should enable different blockchains to ‘work together’.

A blockchain is a database where you can add data but not modify it. It is this which makes data secure. Each entry, or block, links to the previous one, which makes for quick and easy use. The blockchain, known best for its role with Bitcoins, can apply to any sort of transaction. As such blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionise many sectors.

But current blockchain technology needs complex development to meet the operational and security needs of enterprises. Coco simplifies this. It adds “high transaction speed (with) distributed governance. Network members can vote on terms and conditions. The Coco Framework is compatible with any ledger protocol and can operate in the cloud and on-premise, on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible trusted execution environment” (see also this Microsoft blog post).

It also sits on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, and so benefits from Azure’s security and efficiency.

Availability and links to Project Bletchley

Microsoft will launch the framework on GitHub in 2018 as an open source project. It says it will work with customers and partners, blockchain technical and business communities. Its objective is to advance ‘foundational blockchain technology’.

As important, Microsoft told the Blockchain Expo in London earlier this year that ‘the cloud is the best way to use the technology and it is working on an ecosystem to support it, codenamed Project Bletchley.’  To Microsoft, Project Bletchley is “blockchain 3.0 while most people are in blockchain 2.0″ (Microsoft Cloud Architect Thomas Conte).

What does it mean

Coco has already attracted support. JP Morgan Chase, the global bank, technology group Intel and database specialists R3 have agreed to start using the Coco Framework in conjunction with their own blockchain ledger platforms.

For enterprises, besides the enhanced transaction processing rate, which remains to be proven, it is the Coco Framework’s ability for different blockchains to work together which must attract. This would free up different internal enterprise initiatives as well as inter-enterprise initiatives to work together without needing agreement to adopt one single blockchain solution.

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