Getting Started with Ethereum using Azure Blockchain


In this post, Senior ADM Mike Finley discusses how to get started with Ethereum and Azure Blockchain.


What is Blockchain? At the most basic level of understanding, blockchains are a simple approach to a distributed database. A blockchain is a peer-to-peer system with no central authority managing data flow. One of the key ways to removing central control while maintaining data integrity is to have a large distributed network of independent users. You can think of blockchains as distributed databases that a group of individuals controls and that store and share information. The most popular form of a blockchain implementation out there is BitCoin which is a cryptocurrency.

A blockchain is a data structure that makes it possible to create a digital ledger of data and share it among a network of independent parties. There are three main categories of blockchains: Public, Private and Permission. Each type uses cryptography to allow each participant on any given network to manage the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority to enforce the rules. The removal of central authority from database structure is one of the most important and powerful aspects of blockchains.

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How can Azure help customers with their blockchain needs? Microsoft is bringing blockchain to the enterprise, working with customers, partners, and the blockchain community to continually advance its enterprise readiness. Our mission is to help companies thrive in this new era of secure multiparty collaboration by delivering platforms and services that any company (ledger startups, retailers, health providers, and global banks) can be used to improved shared business processes.

As an open, flexible, and scalable platform, Azure supports a rapidly growing number of distributed ledger technologies that address specific business and technical requirements for security, performance, and operational processes. Our Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence) platform provides unique off-chain data-management and analysis capabilities that no other platform offers. And the vast Microsoft partner ecosystem extends the capabilities of our platforms and services in unique ways that fit specific workload and industry needs.

Get started on the blockchain that best fits your scenario with our easy-to-deploy templates for the most popular ledgers. Whether you're modeling your shared process through a single-member proof of concept or building a multimember consortium, we offer tools that reduce the time you spend building and configuring your blockchain’s network infrastructure, so you can focus on building your workflows and smart contracts. There are currently 18 templates as of the date of this publication and here is small sampling: Azure Blockchain Service, Emercoin Blockchain Engine, Ethereum Studio, BlockApps Multinode Blockchain and Syscoin Full Node.

What is Ethereum? The Ethereum network is another implementation of the blockchain concept. It takes the core blockchain structure and adds a programming language that is built inside of it. Like Bitcoin, it has over 5,000 full nodes and is globally distributed. Ethereum is primarily used to trade Ether, make smart contracts, and create decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). It’s also being used to secure blockchain applications and smaller blockchains.

Why Ethereum? In Financial Services particularly, blockchain is a major disruptor to some of their core businesses, and FinTech companies are driving innovation in this space.  Ethereum is open, flexible can be customized to meet our customer’s needs allowing them to innovate and provide new services and distributed applications. Ethereum enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications to be built, potentially cutting out the middleman in many industry scenarios streamlining processes like settlement.

“Ethereum Blockchain as a Service” provided by Microsoft Azure and ConsenSys allows for financial services customers and partners to play, learn, and fail fast at a low cost in a ready-made dev/test/production environment. It will allow them to create private, public and consortium based Blockchain environments using industry leading frameworks very quickly, distributing their Blockchain products with Azure’s World Wide distributed (private) platform. That makes Azure a great Dev/Test/Production Environment for Blockchain applications.

How do I get started with Ethereum on Azure? Within the Azure portal, navigate to the Azure Marketplace and search for “Ethereum Consortium Blockchain”. Then just click create and this templated solution deploys an Ethereum simulated multi-member network, consisting of a set of load-balanced transaction nodes with which an application or user can interact to submit transactions and a set of mining nodes to record transactions. It can take between 5-20 minutes to provision. Once complete, through the administrator web page, you can configure additional Ethereum accounts to get started with smart contracts and application development.

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Let us help you get started with your Azure Blockchain efforts.

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