Microsoft propelled its blockchain ambitions today, announcing the Coco Framework — software to help enterprises adopt blockchain.
The Coco Framework is designed to be integrated with blockchain networks to addresses critical needs for commercial adoption. Microsoft created the framework based on feedback from its customers who said if they’re going to adopt blockchain they need high-transaction speed, distributed governance, and confidentiality.
When integrated with a blockchain network, the Coco Framework provides:
- Transaction speeds of more than 1,600 transactions per second;
- Easily managed data confidentiality;
- A 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.
Microsoft has been a proponent of blockchain since 2015 when it began working on its Blockchain-as-a-Service on the Azure cloud platform. The company currently supports various blockchain efforts including Ethereum and the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project. It also works with Chain, a company that has developed blockchain infrastructure software called Chain Core. And Microsoft has added J.P. Morgan’s open source Quorum blockchain software to the Azure Marketplace.
Initial Coco Framework implementations will include Intel Hyperledger Sawtooth, J.P. Morgan Quorum, Ethereum, and R3 Corda.
R3 is a software firm that developed Corda, which is a distributed ledger platform designed specifically for financial services.
And as far as the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, there are five named sub-projects within Hyperledger: Fabric, Sawtooth, Indy, Iroha, and Burrow. Each sub-project provides different approaches to business blockchain frameworks, according to a recent white paper from the Hyperledger project.
Microsoft says its Coco Framework will be able to operate in the cloud and on premises, and on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible trusted execution environment (TEE) such as Intel’s Software Guard Extensions or Windows Virtual Secure Mode.
According to Intel, its Software Guard Extensions (SGX) is hardware-based security technology that provides a trusted execution environment by isolating key portions of a blockchain program. Intel SGX creates private areas in the CPU and memory that can protect code and data during execution. The data confidentiality is achieved by encrypting sensitive blockchain data until it is opened in an Intel SGX enclave by a permitted program. Accelerated throughput is achieved by isolating the transaction verification process.
A Microsoft spokesperson said in an email to SDxCentral, “Think of a TEE as a trusted black box for data. Using Coco, each node in an enterprise blockchain network would have a confidential computing environment. Through the TEE, each node controls the encrypted data coming in and out for different transactions, smart contract agreements, and data exchanges between distributed applications (DApps) built on the blockchain.”
“Blockchain is a transformational technology with the ability to significantly reduce the friction of doing business,” said Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure. “Microsoft is committed to bringing blockchain to the enterprise.”
Microsoft is currently testing the Coco Framework with its partners R3, Intel, J.P. Morgan, and Ethereum. It plans to launch Coco on GitHub in 2018 as an open source project.