At its Inspire conference in Washington, D.C., last week, Craig Hajduk, a principal program manager at Microsoft for blockchain engineering, said, “I would tell you that about 50 percent of the investment right now in blockchain-based applications is going into the financial sector,” Redmond Magazine reported. Hajduk said this initial uptake by financial services isn’t surprising because the technology came from cryptocurrencies. But it’s quickly moving into myriad other industries including retail, manufacturing, and health care.
Microsoft is bullish on the Ethereum platform, which uses blockchain for its cryptocurrency named “Ether.” But Ethereum also has gained recognition as a platform for other blockchain applications such as smart contracts.
In addition to enabling private blockchains based on Ethereum, Microsoft also supports other blockchain efforts. Microsoft is involved with the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project; it works with Chain, a company that has developed blockchain infrastructure software called Chain Core. And in February, Microsoft announced it had added J.P. Morgan’s open source Quorum blockchain software to the Azure Marketplace.
Both JPMorgan and Microsoft are founding members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
Blockchain Developers Needed
But considering how new the technology is, there’s a serious shortage of developers with knowledge about the software. Programmers working on blockchain projects can be broadly classified into three types, reports Coindesk.
- There are those that work on some aspect of a core blockchain protocol, such as the networking layer of peer-to-peer communication or the consensus layer where participants come to a distributed consensus.
- The second type of developer writes back-end applications that run on a blockchain. Smart contracts are one example. Demand is high for programmers who know the Ethereum language Solidity.
- Finally, a third type of developer builds applications that interact with the blockchain through APIs.