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Blockchain is a shining example of a new technology that has the potential to have a big impact on partners, their businesses, and the industries they serve.

First, what is blockchain? Blockchain is a cryptographically secure, shared, distributed ledger. By decentralizing, blockchain changes fundamental processes and models. Benefits include:

By expanding blockchain support into the Azure Marketplace, we want to help partners take advantage of this new technology as well as its potential to change the way they do business and serve their customers.

Blockchain 101

Blockchain is an emerging way for businesses, industries, and public organizations to almost instantaneously make and verify transactions from streamlining business processes and saving money to reducing the potential for fraud. At its core, a blockchain is a data structure that’s used to create a digital transaction ledger that, instead of resting with a single provider, is shared among a distributed network of computers.

         

This results in a more open, transparent, and publicly verifiable system that will fundamentally change the way we think about exchanging value and assets, enforcing contracts, and sharing data across industries.

Blockchain as a Service from Azure

Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) provides a rapid, low-cost, low-risk, and fail-fast platform for organizations to collaborate by experimenting with new business processes — backed by a cloud platform with the largest compliance portfolio in the industry.

Microsoft recently announced the expansion of its blockchain support on Azure to be the first public cloud to enable multi-company blockchain networks. This addresses enterprise scenarios that require a deployment of a private network across Azure regions, subscriptions, and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) tenants. Similar to our first blockchain solution, rather than spending hours building out and configuring the infrastructure and networking across organizations, Microsoft has automated these time-consuming pieces to allow you to focus on building out the consortium and your production pilots.

The future of Blockchain

Blockchain has the potential to help us build new solutions that will fix difficult business problems. Think collateral management or crowdfunding within the financial sector to prescription sharing or DNA sequencing within the health care industry. In fact, a World Economic Forum report predicts that by 2025, 10% of global GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain-related technology.

Here are some of the ways you could take advantage of blockchain within your own industry:

Financial: Redesign costly legacy workflows, improve liquidity, and free up capital. Help reduce infrastructure costs, increase transparency, reduce fraud, and improve execution and settlement times.

 

 

Health Care: Remove third-party verifiers such as health information exchanges by directly linking patient records to clinical and financial stakeholders. Provide fast, secure authenticated access to personal medical records across health care organizations and geographies.

 

 

Government: Increase transparency and traceability of how money is spent. Track asset registration, like vehicles. Reduce fraud and operational costs.

 

 

Retail and Manufacturing: Improve supply chain management, smart contract platforms, digital currencies, and tighter cybersecurity.

 

 

Want to get started with Blockchain? Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Sign up for an Azure account.
  2. Set up Blockchain on Azure and play with templates.
  3. Join our Blockchain Advisory Yammer Group.
  4. Once you feel confident, establish a lab.

How have you used blockchain so far? Or, how do you hope to use it in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.