Starting next year, Microsoft plans to release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes.
The project, known as the Coco Framework, aims to help companies use blockchain ledger technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business. Coco Framework will work with any ledger protocol and can run on any cloud provider’s services or on on-premises servers, Microsoft representatives said. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday.
Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency, but it has lots of other potential uses that have technologists and venture capitalists excited. It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized “ledger.” Think of it like a database that isn’t tied to a server or public cloud, but rather a cascade of data points that work together to continuously update and verify a record of activity.
There are obvious security benefits to using this type of approach for transactions between companies and their suppliers, and it could be a much more efficient way of doing business than 90-day purchase orders and invoices. However, like a lot of emerging technologies, it is quite complicated to implement within an established corporate technology infrastructure, which is what Microsoft is hoping to solve with its approach.
IBM released a commercial blockchain product in March of this year, but enterprise computing vendors have been taking baby steps toward adopting this technology. Microsoft plans to release the Coco Framework as an open-source project on GitHub in 2018, according to representatives.
While the Coco Framework will work with any ledger technology, R3, Intel, and JP Morgan are planning to support it off the bat with their respective ledgers, Microsoft said.
Mark Russinovich, CTO of Azure, explains the company’s approach and demonstrates the framework in the video below.