According to Marley Gray, principal program manager at Microsoft Azure Blockchain Engineering, Bletchley 1.0 significantly reduces the time it takes to deploy an Ethereum network.
“It reduces the estimated three-week process of setting up a globally distributed multi-node consortium Ethereum network down to 8 questions and 5-8 minutes,” Gray wrote in a blog post. “Not only does Bletchley v1 automate the setup of the network infrastructure but it sets up a portal for rapidly getting started developing applications on Ethereum.”
Being able to set up and run consortium blockchains is a significant step towards creating scalable, next-generation enterprise apps that can utilize the best aspects of the blockchain, which is the distributed ledger technology used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Microsoft said.
Consortium blockchains are essentially blockchains “where the consensus process is controlled by a pre-selected set of nodes; for example, one might imagine a consortium of 15 financial institutions, each of which operates a node and of which 10 must sign every block in order for the block to be valid,” as per the Ethereum Foundation’s own description. Consortium blockchain networks can be set up as either “public”, meaning they’re accessible to everyone, “restricted”, or “partially decentralized”.
Bletchley 1.0 is Microsoft’s attempt at helping developers familiarize themselves with private multi-node consortium networks, the company said. According to Christine Avanessians, senior program manager at Microsoft Azure , it’s planning to grow this part of its Azure-based blockchain-as-a-service through strong integration with the rest of its cloud services.
“We are ‘releasing early and releasing often’ to provide you with the latest updates quickly and to get your feedback throughout the development of the service,” Avanessian said in a canned statement. “Keep an eye out for further updates including support for additional Microsoft services, like Azure Active Directory and Key Vault, and other blockchain protocols.”
Blockchain technology is exciting lots of companies besides just Microsoft. Just this summer, IBM launched its own secure, cloud-based blockchain service that uses its LinuxONE systems to offer firmware protection that prevents root users and system admins from accessing data. And in August, IBM followed up with the creation of its Industry Platforms business unit that will oversee its blockchain efforts.
“The Industry Platforms business will bring clients radically optimized processes and marketplaces that leverage Watson, IBM Cloud, IBM Systems, blockchain, deep domain expertise and ecosystems of partners and developers,” said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at the time.