Microsoft announced in November 2015 that they were launching a “Blockchain as a Service” on their Azure cloud platform. The Azure cloud is not unlike Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean and others in its offering of hosted virtual machines (VM) – that you can spin up in minutes and then install your applications to thereafter.
Microsoft created a JSON based template to describe a virtual machine build and extensions to install various third-party vendors’ applications or execute custom command line scripts (either Bash or PowerShell depending on your platform). By collecting these scripts together as submitted by various blockchain projects into their GitHub repository, Azure created community driven content curated by Microsoft and delivered as a service on their infrastructure. The only requirement of the end user is an Azure Subscription from which to deploy a backend as a service (BaaS) offering of their choice.
The user-friendly setup is really a matter of:
- Searching for blockchain project
- Clicking the Deploy to Azure button
- Filling a few form fields unique to your deployment
- Connecting to the VM to interact with the blockchain.
All of the dirty work to setup the operating system, install the software, configure the switches and launch the blockchain are handled in that first click.
The initial release of BitShares on Ubuntu 15.10 by Ryan R. Fox on March 9, 2016 is a minimal viable release. The release allows for complete functionality from the command line using the CLI Wallet and Witness Node on a single VM. Future releases will likely include the GUI client and support for other operating system platforms.
Ryan R. Fox added that, “It was a rewarding experience to work with both Microsoft and the BitShares community to bring this release to fruition. I am grateful for the assistance of many community members who tested the template prior to release and contributed their insights in how best to position the BitShares message to Azure BaaS.”