Software giant Microsoft has debuted a new Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) product that allows businesses across industry verticals to deploy a flexible instance of Ethereum tailored specifically for enterprise environments.
Announced on Tuesday, Ethereum Proof-of-Authority on Azure allows enterprises to build applications on an Ethereum blockchain that is not secured by a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm and consequently does not require mining — features that are better suited for networks in which participants do not trust one another.
PoW “works great in anonymous, open networks where cryptocurrency promotes security on the network,” said Azure Global software engineer Cody Born. “However, in private/consortium networks the underlying ether has no value.”
Born explained that, since all participants on an enterprise blockchain network are known and reputable, governance can be separated from network operation.
Proof-of-Authority allows network administrators to engage in on-chain voting | Source: Microsoft Azure
To this end, the Proof-of-Authority product features a built-in decentralized application (DApp or dApp) called the “Governance DApp” that provides consortium members with the authority to govern the network or delegate their voting power to others. Network participants can also delegate other nodes to vote on their behalf in the event that their primary nodes go offline, ensuring that all members maintain continual consensus participation.
Network administrators, in turn, can use on-chain voting to vote on and alter network authorities in a transparent and auditable manner.
Along with Azure’s original, PoW-based Ethereum product, blockchains using this new consensus model can be deployed in as little as five minutes, providing enterprises with a “single-click” DLT solution.
To further increase the product’s usability, Microsoft integrated support for smart contracts built using Parity’s WebAssembly (Wasm) toolkit, enabling developers to write smart contracts in familiar programming languages such as C, C++, and Rust in lieu of learning Solidity, Ethereum’s primary programming language.