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Microsoft adds blockchain capability to Azure SQL

Microsoft is building a distributed ledger for their Azure SQL database. Does this mean that DLT has come of age? ByzGen CTO Terry Leonard unpicks the pros and cons.
Terry Leonard
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Terry Leonard
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Illinois today recently published an article about Microsoft building a distributed ledger for their Azure SQL database. It’s an interesting read, so check it out here. But what does this really tell us about where enterprise DLTs should go next?

Pros, cons, and future considerations... 

Reading the article made me aware that I could answer some of the concerns highlighted in the piece relating to blockchain being complex or tricky to deploy – and explain how ByzGen’s FALKOR could provide more comprehensive capability. Essentially allaying those fears.

A big corporation such as Microsoft releasing distributed ledger type capability as part of its cloud database offering, tells us that the traction around the type of capability has reached a certain level. And gives us an insight that this capability should be taken into the cloud in terms of how it’s leveraged by clients. This has synergy with ByzGen in terms of the area of technology. And also the fact that cloud-first deployments have been our direction since day one. 

The main blockchain capability they’ve focused on is the tamper proofing of data held within their Azure Cloud SQL databases. The other point is that they suggest distributed ledgers have challenges around cost, complexity, and performance. And their argument is that taking implementation via Azure will save clients from experiencing those. 

Our response?

Yes, tamper proofing is important, and there’s complexity in terms of deployment in terms of full DLT. However, our approach was to overcome that complexity to provide a richer range of capability for DLT, and then integrate surrounding components to it. It means that this fuller capability can reach further use cases, and solve real challenges such as scalable, trusted data exchanges and regulatory monitoring within multiple party ecosystems. And as we deploy DLT as services on the cloud, the expense is only the standard cloud usage storage cost.

Avoid vendor lock-in to keep DLTs truly connected

The other issue we see with clients taking this approach with Azure is that they’re then locked into this vendor for their DLT needs. We’ve seen multiple use cases where the real benefit of the distributed ledger is being able to distribute the proposal, validation, and storage of the ledger into multiple third parties of an ecosystem – whilst still maintaining control and privacy of specific datasets where needed between the parties. 

These parties are likely to have individually chosen their cloud of choice, and onboarding those parties to the ledger on their existing cloud infrastructure is highly desirable for the efficiency of an ecosystem deployment. 

It’s also important to note that a number of the issues with Azure, are also true for AWS and IBM blockchain offerings – they too are generic blockchain and cloud provider specific.

Future-proof your DLT

Overall it’s pleasing for us to see the traction around DLT capability increase and start to be used by Azure cloud users. However, from our experience with data ecosystem use cases, the following needs consideration for the future:

  • Richer DLT capability as the number of users and third parties interacting with data increases. A requirement to generate validated transactions for all interactions with data in an ecosystem, in order to maintain control, trust and transparency.
  • Services working around DLT such as encryption and permissions. Owners of data should be able to maintain control and privacy of data, but still be able to have third parties interact with the data where needed, for ecosystem policy. 
  • Avoiding vendor lock in, and properly deploying and distributing the network and data transactions to multiple clouds in order to generate maximum involvement and trust by everyone in the ecosystem.  
  • Being able to leverage multiple different DLT solutions in an appropriate way based on the type of transaction being proposed. And having a bridge between the solutions to preserve the integrity that the whole ecosystem is operating against.

Excitingly, these are the sort of considerations we’ve used in our development of FALKOR. 

We have full DLT capability. There are services that integrate with the DLT capability for data to be controlled and secured whilst it is being distributed, deployment scripts that allow for cloud infrastructure agnostic networks to be generated – and we run multiple DLT solutions giving you the option to leverage the appropriate one based on transaction type, and bridge between them. 

If you're exploring DLT solutions for your business, we are always happy to chat. Just get in touch below.

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