Innovation

Microsoft's Coco Framework aims to make blockchain easier to use for business

The Coco Framework is an open source system that allows businesses to build scalable, secure blockchain networks and better leverage the technology to get work done.

Coco, a new open source framework from Microsoft, could make it easier for businesses to properly utilize the power of the blockchain, the company announced in a blog post on Thursday. The ultimate aim of Coco, the post said, is to accelerate the enterprise use of blockchain in production systems.

"A growing number of enterprises are investing in blockchain as a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets across trust boundaries and to collaborate on shared business processes, opening up new opportunities for cross-organizational collaboration and imaginative new business models," the post said.

Traditional blockchain technologies and similar ledgers are designed to operate in the public eye for maximum transparency, the post said. While that is essential to maintaining the integrity of these public blockchains, it creates scalability and confidentiality problems for the enterprise.

SEE: The executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology (PDF download)

The Coco Framework looks to address these problems by "designing specifically for confidential consortiums," the post said. With Coco, nodes are declared and controlled, and standard blockchain protocols are used alongside trusted execution environments, cryptography, and distributed systems, the post said.

Speed and scalability are a focus for Coco, offering throughput and latency that is close to database speeds, the post claimed. The framework offers additional, flexible confidentiality models, distributed governance-based network policy management, and nondeterministic transaction support.

Coco, itself, isn't a ledger. Instead, it offers key tools and features to make ledgers more business-friendly. It also offers integrations with existing ledgers such as Ethereum, Quorum, Hyperledger Sawtooth, and Corda.

"Coco will be compatible, by design, with any ledger protocol and can operate in the cloud and on premises, on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible TEE," the post said. "We are building in this flexibility in part to allow the community to integrate Coco with additional protocols, try it on other hardware and adapt it for enterprise scenarios we haven't yet thought of."

Microsoft has been working on blockchain initiatives for quite some time, including its blockchain as a service partnership with the R3 banking consortium. The Redmond giant has also experimented with blockchain to fight human trafficking, and as a means of creating a global ID system.

The source code for Coco will be given to the open source community in early 2018, the post said.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft's open source Coco Framework helps businesses build more confidential and scalable blockchain tools and services.
  2. While not a ledger itself, Coco integrates with Ethereum, Quorum, Hyperledger Sawtooth, and Corda.
  3. Coco's source code will be available to the open source community in 2018.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/suphakit73

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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