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Microsoft Unveils New Ethereum Blockchain-as-a-Service

In what may be the most potent sponsorship of blockchain to date, Microsoft has quietly released Ethereum on Azure–its new Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) that allows enterprises to use and customize their own permissioned Ethereum blockchain networks.

Unveiled in a blog post on Aug. 7, the software giant’s new product purportedly enables consumers and enterprises to build and deploy decentralized apps (dApps) in private and consortium networks.

Instead of utilizing Ethereum’s standard Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism, Microsoft has opted for Proof-of-Authority (PoA), which they maintain is a “more efficient” choice with no mining required.

Where the Ethereum main network may be appropriate for trust-less environments, Microsoft points out that such a consensus mechanism falls short in permissioned blockchain deployments—the target market of the software giant, evidently.

Arguing this point, Cody Born, a software engineer at Azure Global, stated:

[Proof-of-Work] works great in anonymous, open networks where competition for cryptocurrency promotes security on the network. However, in private/consortium networks the underlying ether has no value.

In contrast to Ethereum’s current protocol, PoA grants approved individuals the right to validate transactions and blocks without the competitive and consumptive process of mining.

Ethereum: World Supercomputer, Forevermore?

With a number of smart contract platforms edging closer to the top tier, Microsoft’s move may have given Ethereum a new lease on life.

While dwarfed by Ethereum’s $36 billion market capitalization, the likes of NEO, EOS and Zilliqa have claimed transactional throughput in the realm of thousands per second—figures that would presumably make Vitalik and his team break a sweat.

As the Ethereum developers devise various methods to overcome the platform’s known scalability issues, they may be imagining the success by proxy Microsoft may grant them.

Meanwhile, Microsoft may offer Ethereum an inconceivable reach to enterprises and consumers, all while opening up the network to broader use cases than its prolifically used “scam” dApps.

Despite the addition of such a powerful benefactor, Ethereum still braces against the record low prices that have not been seen since last November.

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