‘Industry-first’ blockchain collaboration announced by Microsoft and Intel

14 Aug 2017

Image: whiteMocca/Shutterstock

A new collaboration announced between Intel and Microsoft looks set to make waves in blockchain technology.

Blockchain continues to develop at a rapid pace, altering the digital and financial landscape. But there are some concerns among enterprises that wish to take advantage of the technology. Worries around data confidentiality, governance and transaction latency means many businesses are wary of taking the leap.

The latest announcement from Microsoft should go a long way to allay the fears of those who want to take advantage of blockchain technology. With Intel as a key software development partner, it will build the Coco Framework, a new blockchain innovation specifically for enterprise purposes.

Future Human

“Blockchain is a transformational technology with the ability to significantly reduce the friction of doing business,” said Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Azure at Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to bringing blockchain to the enterprise. We have listened to the needs of our customers and the blockchain community, and are bringing foundational functionality with the Coco Framework.”

Vice-president of the software and services group at Intel, Ricardo J Echevarria, explained how Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) will help improve throughput, efficiency and, crucially, privacy in blockchain transactions. In a traditional blockchain, data is stored publicly and is viewable to any network participant. Coco will instead store that same blockchain data in encrypted form, giving potential users that all-important peace of mind.

“When data is requested and the proper identity validated, the data is decrypted for transaction execution within a private enclave,” Echevarria wrote. As well as privacy, the regulations for the Coco Framework will mean members will have their say in which banks or institutions are allowed access.

Alongside the vital privacy elements, the protocol around transactions will be simplified, resulting in more real-world applications of the technology springing up. The Coco Framework will also be compatible with every ledger, going a long way to make the process a lot friendlier. Blockchain is set to digitally transform industries from healthcare to finance, and initiatives like this will further demystify the often-intimidating technology.

The framework is set to launch as an open-source project on Github in 2018.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects