Conversation with Microsoft Azure Blockchain: Will Microsoft's blockchain solution be combined with Libra?

Unitimes AMA (Ask Me Anything) No. 33

Guest project: Microsoft Azure Blockchain

Special guest: Jacky Hsu, Chief Project Manager

Theme: Either's Enterprise Use Cases and Architecture

The AMA is divided into two parts: fixed question and answer and free question and answer.

Fixed question and answer

1, Unitimes: Hello Jacky, welcome to Unitimes AMA. Please introduce yourself and Microsoft Azure Blockchain!

Ok. Hello everyone, I am Jacky. I have been with Microsoft for 18 years. After joining Taiwan, he transferred to Singapore's Asian headquarters, then to Beijing Greater China, and Shanghai Cloud Computing R&D Center. Responsible products include Visual Studio, MSDN, Windows Ecosystem, China Azure CDN…etc. Currently in the Azure blockchain team. Microsoft has many large customers and companies researching or importing blockchains. Based on the needs of these customers and the problems encountered, we have developed a blockchain-related product line and strategy. The biggest difference is that Microsoft does not do its own chain, but helps customers embrace the mainstream blockchain including Ethereum, Quorum, Corda and Superbooks , but we will assist customers in integrating other technologies such as AI, IoT, and Big Data… and quickly develop enterprise-class solutions.

2, Unitimes: What are the main challenges that Microsoft is currently trying to solve with the Azure blockchain development kit?

The Azure blockchain-locked customer base is a corporate customer with three main directions. One is deployment and hosting . It takes a lot of knowledge and time for the customer to build the blockchain network from scratch. Even if the management blockchain network is established, it is a great project and cost. For example, we have a Singaporean customer in order to establish an enterprise-level alliance chain blockchain network, please ask the third-party company to spend $70,000 to build three nodes, and still have an operating and maintenance cost of $80,000 per year. Almost every customer who works with Microsoft wants Microsoft to help deploy and manage a blockchain network (a PaaS service). For example, the general enterprise deployment blockchain uses VMs of the same specification. Once the storage space is insufficient, because the blockchain is a synchronized account book, the nodes of the entire enterprise blockchain will have insufficient space at the same time. Customers have to back up the data themselves, put them on a larger hard disk, and then mount them back, but they are not familiar with the underlying configuration of the blockchain. These operations alone cannot make the blockchain network continue to operate. The hosted PaaS service will allow customers to worry about storage problems. How to use PAYG (Pay As You Go), how much it costs, no need to worry about the storage space is like unlimited space, and can guarantee SLA. The second is rapid development . Microsoft provides a number of tools and middle tiers to help connect different components and services. Take the banking system as an example. If you import the blockchain, it is impossible for the user to directly use the address of the blockchain to log in. It must be integrated with the bank's identity verification system (the elderly can't remember such a long Ethereum address) and save the private. Key (If you forget, is the money in the bank still?), according to the regulations, you need to store off-chain, and you also want to combine data with big data, even learning through AI… Azure Blockchaint Provides many tools, such as Workbench, Logic Apps, Azure Function…etc., to help customers integrate blockchains into different services like building blocks, such as Azure AD, Key Vault, Event Hub, PowerBI… providing end-to-end solution. The last is the enterprise-level needs . Different from the public chain, the enterprise import blockchain must meet the internal security and industry standards. For example, a strong password must be provided. The IP filtering function can be used to access the IP of the blockchain. The private key is not allowed to be transmitted over the network. The BCDR (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery) is also a high availability and remote source. Log and Monitor can set rules to get notifications or automatically execute related scripts when there are sensitive operations or overloads, set RBAC, meet ISO and SOC Type2 standards, and handle EU GDPR data privacy mechanism… Simple In other words, we believe that for the enterprise, the blockchain is a decentralized database technology that allows different organizations to use at the same time. Microsoft is concerned with the problems that enterprises want to solve and how to quickly provide them with end-to-end solutions. For example, Singapore Airlines uses the previous generation of Azure blockchain technology to launch KrisPay products online in three months. Currently available on the App Store or Google Play, there are more than 30 partners in the KirsPay Alliance.

3. Unitimes: What is the Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench (Azure Blockchain Workbench)? How does it make it easier to create blockchain applications?

At present, Microsoft's publicly available blockchain services can focus on Azure Blockchain Service and Azure Blockchain Workbench. The two are complementary. The Azure Blockchain Service is just the PaaS service mentioned, and it takes only 10 minutes to build an Ethereum network with a coalition chain. The current trend in blockchain deployment is BaaS, which is Blockchain as a Service. It takes weeks to build, build and configure (for example, testing what VMs are chosen, what are the bottlenecks, what consensus algorithm to choose…), and deploying blockchains using scripts is like finding an aunt to clean At home, at the beginning, it is orderly, but then it is maintenance and repair, and even adding additional alliance chain member nodes must also carry out the underlying configuration and security settings. The service provided by BaaS is like a serviced apartment. Every day, there are people. Cleaning, security is responsible for safety, equipment is broken and repaired immediately… The most important thing is PAYG hourly billing. When you don't need it, just delete it. Each node is less than one dollar per hour. Azure Blockchain Workbench is a framework that is built on top of ABS to quickly generate solutions . According to the architecture design of many customers, Microsoft has summarized the relatively common design architecture. Users can automatically deploy the corresponding components, except the underlying ABS and the AAD service that integrates the identity system, and the Azure Key Valut, which stores the key. , the event hub that handles the event, the PowerBI… that connects to the analytics service, etc., and these services are all automatically configured and connected, and can be used directly. Take the car as an example. The blockchain is like the engine of a car. The workbench provides the public version of the car. It integrates the commonly used services and can be used directly.

4. Unitimes: In what areas does the company currently have the need to import blockchains? As a cloud computing vendor, how does Azure focus on these areas?

The needs of the enterprise are very strict, such as how to deal with lost keys, how to associate transactions on the blockchain to Hadoop or database and quickly query, quickly deploy and dynamically allocate node resources, blockchain network performance, integration ERP or CRM system, privacy and alliance management, integration with existing systems and solutions, how smart contracts are invoked and executed according to external data sources, hybrid deployment of public and private clouds, how to ensure security and face Attack…etc. The Azure blockchain takes advantage of cloud computing to complement these needs so that the blockchain can be used in an environment that fits the enterprise's solution . For example, customers may be in the US and Africa at the same time. Azure can quickly deploy blockchain trading nodes to data centers or new regions in the US or Africa to quickly respond to customer needs. The enterprise alliance chain may handle a large amount of data ( For example, the shipping alliance's hundreds of millions of blockchain transactions in a year is very normal.) With valuable transactions, Azure can take advantage of cloud computing's high availability, scalability and off-site backup to assist the uninterrupted operation of the blockchain network. Azure handles hundreds of attacks every day, so there are fixed security programs to scan and report, Azure blockchain service will also easily defend against attacks under these security mechanisms… In addition, Azure emphasizes that PaaS has many development components and Services can be integrated with blocks, so we see an opportunity for a perfect combination of cloud computing and enterprise blockchain .

5. Unitimes: Azure Blcockchain has been working with many corporate customers, can you share the use cases and architecture of two corporate customers?

Recently, the Japanese Railways (JR) I was doing, with the assistance of the government, combined with Mizuho Bank, Toyata, Nissay Insurance, etc., formed a coalition of Mobility as a Service. MaaS is a smart city concept, mainly to make transportation services like cloud computing, can be used on demand, and can be matched according to travel plans like building blocks. For example, a three-day trip to Tokyo may require a tram from the airport to the city at the beginning, then transfer to the bus, then to the hotel; follow-up may be by tram or car. Different transportation services, different suppliers, different tickets, and different purchase locations. If the train is delayed, it is very troublesome to change the ticket. MaaS can purchase tokens in the alliance through an application and select services from different vendors, such as three-day tram + one-day bus + one-day car rental + insurance. These different tickets are converted into digital assets, resulting in tokens that are used independently by the user to facilitate the direct use of different services. Insurance is the SLA in cloud computing. If the tram is delayed, you will be able to collect the vouchers for the taxi from the application. The integration of these different sets of tickets can have a preferential plan, and the delay to the taxi vouchers requires the liquidation of different suppliers, so this architecture is based on Ethereum's ERC20/ERC721, which combines the connection to the IBM Bank cloud for digital The function of currency trading, the ticketing system produces ERC721 digital ticket like encrypted cat, and the function of scanning the entrance and exit gates like Alipay QR code, combined with DID decentralized identity system, combined with RFC IOT to blockchain can open the door The function…the engineers of different companies work together, the entire POC architecture, deployment and development is 3-4 weeks. In addition, Microsoft's XBox, there are a lot of game publishers and studios, such as ActiveVision…, etc., each user buys a game, they have to clear the fees to the publisher, the publisher then liquidates to the studio… many processes inside On the one hand, digitalization is not enough, there is no standard, and if the new system provides API, adding suppliers will be complicated… It took more than 40 days for developers to see real income, and it is almost instantaneous after importing the blockchain. Others include Starbucks, LV, Xiaomi, Costco, XBox, Maersk Maski, 3M, Nestle…etc., their respective applications in different industries, may be Wuyuan, supply chain finance, loyalty points…etc. Companies may have multiple projects, for example, Singapore Airlines currently has five blockchain projects in place. The time relationship cannot be specified.

6, Unitimes: As a representative of cloud computing vendors, Azure, please tell us about the layout of different cloud computing vendors in the blockchain.

At present, most cloud vendors choose to provide super-books for BaaS services, such as AWS, Oracle, etc. Although Microsoft will support other chains, it is mainly based on Ethereum and Quorum. Because we see that the number of developers in Ethereum is more than ten times that of other chains. If you are looking for related books or Github projects, it is almost the world of Ethereum. In addition, many companies need to have token applications among affiliate members, which is the technology that has been verified and can be quickly imported on Ethereum. Therefore, we are mainly based on Ethereum. The second is how deep the managed services are. Many cloud computing vendors' blockchain services may allow you to select more than 15 VMs, different storage, and network configurations during deployment…but users cannot match the value, for example, how many TPS can be supported, suitable for How big is the alliance, how to choose different scenarios of dev/ops and production, if the underlying connected service has a problem, how can I fix it… We have seen very different practices, for example, Oracle charges the transaction amount, you can’t see it at all. Understand the underlying nodes; AWS exposes all the details to the user, the problematic users handle it themselves, Microsoft is in the middle, providing abstracted blockchain node concepts and business models, and fully managed by PaaS services. . This business model of the Azure blockchain is what I set here. This is a new market and you can see very different ways of playing. Everyone is trying and understanding the market, just like the Eight Immortals crossing the sea.

7, Unitimes: I understand that you are mainly responsible for the Asia Pacific region (Singapore, Japan, China, etc.). Looking at the information you have, how is the blockchain ecology of Asia Pacific countries developing?

The Asia-Pacific market, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia are very active, and most of them are based on Ethereum , because they think this is an opportunity for them to quickly lead other countries, so the supervision is relatively loose. The government is also actively leading and participating in blockchain projects. For example, the Japanese MaaS just mentioned, the Singapore port, and the power company also have a blockchain project with Microsoft. In addition, they also use token to do a lot of creative projects. China is biased towards developing its own chain, hoping to lead the standards and establish its ecosystem. Others are mostly super-books. For example, I attended the membership dinner of the super-book on Tuesday, knowing that there are 50 members in China. It accounts for 20% of all members. Therefore, the blockchain chain in different regions is different from the maturity and even the government's supervision.

8. Unitimes: The Ethereum Technology and Application Conference will be held the day after tomorrow (29th). As one of the speakers at the conference, can you disclose your speech topic and your expectations for the conference?

I will share a few interesting projects that companies use Ethereum to build a coalition chain, and I hope that I can bring you some application ideas. In addition, I will do a real-world demonstration of Azure Blockchain Service, let's see how a ten-minute code can build a token project, used in a private chain or public chain environment.

Free question and answer

After the fixed Q&A session, members of the AMA can freely ask questions. Here are a few questions and answers from Unitimes' questions from group members:

1. What underlying blockchain is currently supported by Azure Blockchain? What blockchains are supported in the future?

At present, Ethereum Quorum (the Ethereum-based enterprise-level blockchain platform launched by JPMorgan Chase), other mainstream including Corda, super-books, etc. are in preparation.

2. Is the discount offered by the insurance company based on the bet?

Currently only the scene is implemented, and the business model needs to go deeper. MaaS features a subscription business model that procures large numbers of different transportation providers and uses subscription services to provide users. Known as the Netflix in the transportation industry. There is no problem with the portion of the profit that can cover insurance.

3. Is Azure planning to join Libra? Or provide services for their nodes?

This is currently discussed internally but there is no conclusion 🙂

4. Using the blockchain to solve the pain points of enterprise application, can you give an example?

For example, Azure Data Center purchases a large amount of memory and SSD every year. Because of the supplier's information process, it may be too late to ship, the price is different from the original one, or it can't keep up with the price drop after buying too much. But did not receive the information in advance… a loss of 1.5 billion a year. Currently in the introduction of the blockchain, it is expected that 1% can save a lot of money. The average enterprise is to improve efficiency, increase performance, and increase customer satisfaction. The KPI before planning is very important.

6. Can you guarantee the performance and stability of Ethereum? How is it considered? Since it is facing the enterprise, it is based on the alliance chain. Has Microsoft considered self-developing a more targeted blockchain system?

The trend we see is that companies start with Ethereum and use POA for POC. But after importing, Quorum will be selected to achieve high TPS and private transactions. So we have a deep cooperation with Quorum, and the transaction manager inside can be replaced, we will replace it with CoCo that may have been heard before.

7. Will the use of Ethereum change the consensus algorithm? Is it only using evm?

Will do. At present, Ethereum focuses on POA consensus in enterprise applications, saving resources, including Parity or Geth. Quorum supports IBFT and RAFT. The former is more suitable for enterprise alliances that do not trust each other, and the latter is fast.

8. Jacky, you have been working on blockchain solutions all the time. What do you think about Libra? Is it possible to combine your solution with Libra?

Combination is absolutely possible, because it is easy to dock through the end point. Now is the degree (the problem). Microsoft will look at customer demand decisions. Currently Office runs on Mac iPhone Android, the game cooperates with Sony and Nintendo, and AWS pushes the service together. I attended the Linux Foundation's Superbooks membership dinner on Tuesday (Microsoft also joined the superbook)… Nothing is impossible:-) Right, everyone may have heard of JP Morgan's Goldman Sachs, doing cross-banking and cross-border Transaction. This will run in Azure Blockchians, we have a partnership, and their Ethereum Quorum is also used by many companies.

9. Sorry, I will ask another question, how does the blockchain downgrade the procurement cost? I don’t understand it, thank you.

Because the procurement information is separate, it may be mail fax… There are too many supply chains that are not transparent enough, so you may buy more, buy less, or buy expensive… all of which leads to losses. We estimate that our customers' cloud computing needs are high in China and Japan, but we lack SSDs to provide enough VMs to satisfy our customers.

10. Is there a program that you can use for testing?

Yes, apply for a free Azure trial. Select Azure BLockchain Service in Azure. I will have hands on (self-demonstration) at the Ethereum Technology Development Training Camp on Sunday, using ABS to quickly implement Ethereum token. Do not include the currency, please send your own code to the public network. The Token code is the same and can be published to the enterprise's blockchain, or the Ethereum main network. Token is not only a currency. If I make a token, each student sends one. Then accept the token for several addresses, which becomes the voting function.