July 2018

Volume 33 Number 7

[Editor's Note]

Mastering Blockchain

By Michael Desmond | July 2018

Michael DesmondYou may have noticed that MSDN Magazine has been shining a light on the topic of blockchain technology, which can leverage shared business processes and data across multiple, semi-trusted organizations. While cryptocurrencies were the first application for blockchain, the technology promises to have profound impacts on everything from financial services to inventory and supply chain management.

In March, Jonathan Waldman published his widely read feature, “Blockchain Fundamentals” (msdn.com/magazine/mt845650), which provides a great introduction to the workings of blockchain technology and its application beyond the arena of cryptocurrencies. Then last month Stefano Tempesta published a walk-through of Azure Blockchain Workbench (msdn.com/magazine/mt846726), which Microsoft debuted at the Build Conference in Seattle in May. The tool streamlines development of complex blockchain applications so organizations can focus on things that add value, like robust business logic and smart contracts, rather than scaffolding.

Now in this issue, Tempesta returns with his feature, “Decentralized Applications with Azure Blockchain as a Service,” which explores Microsoft’s effort to provide, as Tempesta puts it, “a rapid, low-cost, low-risk platform for building and deploying blockchain applications.” Just as important, Blockchain as a Service takes the next step in enabling blockchains to interact with external data assets, so they can be applied to a wide variety of scenarios.

“Overall, Blockchain as a Service in Azure provides a level of integration among multiple Azure services that you cannot find in any other cloud offering,” Tempesta explains. “Azure Active Directory (AD), Key Value, Service Bus, App Service and SQL Server are all part of an ecosystem of services connected among each other in a secure way to guarantee the integrity of the blockchain.”

Tempesta says Microsoft has successfully leveraged the reliable and secure cloud infrastructure of Azure to position itself as a leader in the enterprise blockchain space.

Our work in this area is hardly done. Next month, Waldman returns with a follow-up to his March feature, diving into topics like the transaction hash chain and proof-of-work and proof-of-stake consensus algorithms. He’ll also explore what he calls the “inevitable formation” of blockchain forks and how they can be resolved. And Tempesta is eyeing a follow-up of his own that will focus on encryption and security.

Why all this coverage? As Waldman points out, because it’s needed.

“Based on feedback I received from my March article, it’s clear many readers want to learn about blockchain technologies, but have been disappointed by the prevalence of educational material that targets or advocates for a particular implementation,” he says. “By exploring what I call ‘core technical underpinnings,’ readers can build a mental map of what a blockchain looks like. Then they can overlay that image as they study specific blockchains or as they begin to design their own blockchain-powered applications.”

As blockchain solutions and technology continue to advance and evolve, our coverage of it will also. Is there an aspect of blockchain development and implementation you would like to see addressed in MSDN Magazine? E-mail me at mmeditor@microsoft.com and let me know.

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.

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