Blockchain is the technology that underpins the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. But it has uses beyond that. A blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that can store the complete transaction history of not just cryptocurrency but other kinds of records. As such, it's of interest to many enterprises, especially those in banking and finance.
Microsoft initially launched Azure Blockchain-as-a-Service in November 2015. Last year, Microsoft took the wraps off version 1 of its Project Bletchley blockchain template. Bletchley is accessible via the Azure resource manager and is aimed at helping customers and partners create private consortium Ethereum networks.
Ethereum is an open-source, blockchain-based distributed computing platform that provides a decentralized virtual machine.
Other members of EEA include Credit Suisse, UBS, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, and Thomson Reuters. More information on EEA is available on its website. Its mission statement:
"The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance connects Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics, and technology vendors with Ethereum subject matter experts. Together, we will learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production - Ethereum - to define enterprise-grade software capable of handling the most complex, highly demanding applications at the speed of business."
There are other industry blockchain alliances including the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project, which includes among its members IBM and Hitachi.
Ethereum was the first blockchain supported in Azure, as the Microsoft post notes, even though Azure and Bletchley are independent of any particular blockchain system.
"Ethereum and Enterprise Ethereum are supported by Azure middleware services like Cryptlets, Azure Active Directory for Identity, data services via Cortana Analytics Suite, Key Vault for key management, operations and deployment as well as rich tooling," the Microsoft post adds.
How banking went from batch-oriented to a real-time business: