Microsoft Launches Cloud-Based Blockchain Development Kit Powered by Azure

American software company Microsoft has launched a cloud-based blockchain development kit powered by Azure. The kit has been developed upon Microsoft’s serverless technologies and seamlessly integrates blockchain with Azure Blockchain Workbench and third-party Software as a Service (SaaS).

The kit comprises of features like key management, off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging APIs into a framework that can be used to develop blockchain-based applications. This initial release will focus on some key areas— connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks.

The Azure Blockchain Development Kit requires no-code, no-VM, no-server. With no VMs to manage, built-in scalability, and affordable pricing, the Kit is kept well within the reach of every enthusiast or developer.

The kit enables organizations, people, and devices to connect to the blockchain from a varied set of user interfaces. The Azure Blockchain Development Kit includes solutions for inbound and outbound SMS, IVR, IoT Hub, and IoT Central, Xamarin mobile client for iOS and Android, Dynamics integration via Common Data Service (CDS), bots and assistants (Cortana, Alexa, Google Assistant) and web UX. Solutions are written using online visual workflow designers and Visual Studio Code, a free download that provides an integrated development environment on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The Blockchain Application Development Kit includes Workbench integration samples in the following areas:

Legacy applications and protocols: Sending and receiving files via FTP, processing comma separated files and email delivery of data.

Data: SQL, Azure Search, Excel, and PowerBI.

SaaS: SharePoint, Dynamics, Outlook, and Gmail.

Registries: An accelerator that generates a custom registry and registry item smart contracts to accommodate any scenario.

Microsoft believes that the Azure Blockchain Development Kit will reduce development costs to a great extent, thus, making end-to-end blockchain applications easily accessible, fast, and affordable.

Along with the kit, Microsoft also released a series of Logic Apps that enable the hashing of files and file related metadata. Also included are smart contracts for files and a file registry to store the hashes on the chain.

Logic Apps are created to deliver this functionality for files added to different sources for storing documents and media, like Azure Storage, OneDrive, One Drive for Business, SharePoint, Box, Adobe Creative Cloud, and FTP.

The software giant also declared its plans to release a set of Logic App and Flow Connectors to extend these samples to ledgers like Ethereum, Corda, Bitcoin, and others. The Ethereum blockchain connector has already been made available to users. Users can deploy contracts, call contract actions, read contract state and trigger other Logic Apps based on events from the ledger.

On this, Mike Ward, Head of Product Management, R3, remarked, “At R3, we are committed to ensuring developers can deploy CorDapps quickly, securely and easily. The Azure Blockchain Development Kit will give our enterprise customers tools to integrate with the applications, software, and devices that people use every day like Outlook, Alexa, SMS, and web UX. Blockchain is moving out of the labs and into everyday business applications.”

Going in line with Microsoft’s other solution development models, this kit can readily be addressed in a DevOps model.

The blog post also announced the release of the whitepaper, “DevOps for Blockchain Smart Contracts.”

Along with the whitepaper comes an implementation guide that shows how to implement CI/CD for smart contracts and infrastructure as code using Visual Studio Code, GitHub, Azure DevOps and OSS from Truffle.

Tim Coulter, Founder of Truffle, commented,

“We’re excited to work with Microsoft to create the canonical DevOps experience for blockchain engineers. Our paper, ‘DevOps for Blockchain Smart Contracts’, goes into rigorous detail and provides examples on how to develop blockchain applications with an eye toward CI/CD in consortium environments.”

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