Microsoft reveals Coco Framework Azure cloud-based blockchain service

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Microsoft said the Coco Framework is compatible with existing blockchain networks, and was designed specifically for private consortia, where nodes and actors are explicitly declared and controlled.

Microsoft has unveiled a cloud-based blockchain service targeted at businesses and created to handle more than 1,600 transactions per second. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday. The framework offers additional, flexible confidentiality models, distributed governance-based network policy management, and nondeterministic transaction support. However, like a lot of emerging technologies, it is quite complicated to implement within an established corporate technology infrastructure, which is what Microsoft is hoping to solve with its approach.

One of the other key enterprise blockchain problems that the framework aims to solve is that of access controls for transactions.

"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".

With the Coco Framework, enterprise developers can quickly roll out distributed ledger technology at scale that can provide tamper-proof history, distributed governance and enhanced confidentiality.

"Blockchain is a transformational technology with the ability to significantly reduce the friction of doing business", said Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure. A growing number of enterprises are investing in blockchain as a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets across trust boundaries and to collaborate on shared business processes, opening up new opportunities for cross-organizational collaboration and imaginative new business models.

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Speed and scalability are a focus for Coco, offering throughput and latency that is close to database speeds, the post claimed.

It will also be used by the JP Morgan Quorum, Intel Hyperledger Sawtooth and R3 Corda enterprise ledgers. Blockchain of course is best known as the system supporting Bitcoin.

Coco will be compatible, by design, with any ledger protocol and can operate in the cloud and on premises, on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible TEE. The Coco Framework uses Intel SGX to add new levels of privacy and confidentiality to blockchain transactions. It is created to run in any cloud or on-premises environment that supports a compatible trusted execution environment, like Intel's Software Guard Extensions and Windows Server's Virtual Secure Mode.

Microsoft will release Coco as open source on Github next year, and has started work on integrating the Ethereum cryptocurrency into the framework.

CoCo will be ready and made open source by 2018.

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