Microsoft Injects Confidentiality into Blockchain with Coco Framework

Intel, Microsoft to bring blockchain service to the enterprise

The service aims to get businesses prepared for the arrival of the new disruptive technology, providing a means for firms to utilise blockchain applications easily and effectiveness from the outset.

The company plans to offer Coco for free, although it hopes that it will lead to more use of its cloud services. Intel SGX helps the Coco Framework provide confidential data and accelerated transaction throughput.

"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 idea is for businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes. 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. TEE stands for trusted execution environments.

This Thursday, Microsoft unveiled an open framework aimed to improve the performance of the blockchain. "We think blockchain is going to potentially transform every industry". It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized "ledger". This is because existing systems were created to function-and to achieve consensus-in public scenarios amongst anonymous, untrusted actors with maximum transparency. That trust is established through Intel's Software Guard Extensions or Windows' Virtual Secure Mode or any other TEEs as they become available.

There are challenges. One includes the speed in which transaction occur. Some businesses are such that they can not tolerate delays.

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There are obvious security benefits to using this type of approach for transactions between companies and their suppliers, and it could be a much more efficient way of doing business than 90-day purchase orders and invoices.

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.

Interestingly, the company also said the framework also involves "A comprehensive, industry-first distributed governance model for blockchain networks that establishes a network constitution and allows members to vote on all terms and conditions governing the consortium and the blockchain software system".

Russinovich wrote in his post that, "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".

"To start with a general framework is a step in the right direction for the advertising industry", said Ken Brook, CEO at MetaX, which is building out technology to run on top of the Ethereum blockchain specific for digital advertising.

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