Public Cloud Providers Expand Blockchain Services

AWS, Azure and Google Cloud make it easier for customers to access the technology.

Public cloud providers are ramping up their blockchain services to give partners and end users managed cloud services they can build application on top of with the goal of better establishing trust in transactions.

AWS officials at the re:Invent show late last year unveiled plans for the blockchain managed service and this week made the Amazon Managed Blockchain offering generally available. Days later, Azure officials, who had been building out some blockchain capabilities in the Microsoft public cloud, launched Azure Blockchain Services to enable users to create and manage blockchain networks.

In addition, Google Cloud Platform, which last year announced partnerships with Digital Asset and BlockApps — two companies that build apps and tools for blockchain deployments — is now also partnering with the open-source Qtum Chain Foundation to bring its blockchain developer tools to the public cloud.

The services offerings from AWS, Azure and Google Cloud embrace a technology that is designed to give businesses involved in multiparty digital transactions a way to create a record of a transaction that can’t be changed and doesn’t need a third-party authority to establish trust. While blockchain is an important technology for a range of industries like financial services, retail and logistics to establish trust in transactions, its first primary use was in the sketchy world of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, creating an initial wariness about it among some businesses.

Azure is using the open-source Ethereum blockchain protocol for its service. AWS is leveraging the Hyperledger Fabric open-source blockchain framework and will add Ethereum in the future. Officials with both said giving partners and customers a managed blockchain service is important in a rapidly digitizing global business world.

Azure’s Mark Russinovich

“Business processes touch multiple organizations and great sums are spent managing workflows that cross trust boundaries,” Azure CTO Mark Russinovich wrote in a blog post. “As digital transformation expands beyond the walls of one company and into processes shared with suppliers, partners, and customers, the importance of trust grows with it. Microsoft’s goal is to help companies thrive in this new era of secure multiparty computation.”

AWS' Jeff Barr

AWS’s Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS, wrote in a blog post that some companies can build up that trust over time with their partners over the course of multiple successful transactions. However, often that time to establish trust isn’t available, which is where blockchain helps.

“The parties must find a way to successfully complete the transaction in the absence of trust,” Barr wrote. “Today, emerging blockchain technologies such as Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum fill this important need, allowing parties to come to consensus regarding the validity of a proposed transaction and create…

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