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Microsoft and Intel want Bitcoin tech in your workplace

They've unveiled a framework that brings blockchain to more businesses.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 13, 2017
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Blockchain is practically tailor-made for business, and not just because it's a cornerstone of Bitcoin. Its decentralized, speedy approach to secure transactions is more convenient for tracking cargo around the world or providing digital IDs to those who'd otherwise have nothing. And Microsoft knows it -- it's partnering with Intel to introduce a framework, Coco, that promises to make blockchain accessible to virtually any large business where it might help. It draws on Intel's Software Guard Extensions to provide blockchain's distributed tech with speed (up to 1,600 transactions per second) and security that scales to just about any kind of business with relative ease. You don't need to spend as much time crafting a custom blockchain system, or pay through the nose for computing power as your demands grow.

There are catches. Although Coco should work with any operating system and hypervisor (virtual machine monitor) that supports the right trusted execution environments, you need Microsoft's Azure cloud services and Intel hardware. This is clearly aimed at enterprises with fairly run-of-the-mill setups. Microsoft and Intel ultimately plan to offer the work from Coco as part of an open source project in 2018, though, and there are already takers like Ethereum and JP Morgan.

This doesn't mean that blockchain will be ubiquitous. However, it could lower many of the barriers to the technology. Rather than treat blockchain as an experiment or a niche tool, your workplace might use it whenever it makes sense. This might be the ticket to making blockchain mainstream.

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