One of the biggest adopters of blockchain in present times, Microsoft Azure recently announced the launch of its Proof-of-Authority protocol; a significant addition to the list of its blockchain-based verticals.

What is ‘Proof-of-Authority’ consensus?

Focusing primarily on industrial applications, the Proof-of-Authority protocol on Azure will allow developers to assign authority to specific nodes, called ‘Consensus Nodes’ to create new blocks and add blocks to the chain, instead of a distributed topology for the same. This eliminates the need for mining without sacrificing the network’s efficiency to cope-up in the event of a Byzantine failure – a type of network failure in distributed networks. In layman terms, Proof-of-Authority enables an enterprise to choose particular nodes to build consensus in the blockchain.

Azure’s tie-up with ConsenSys

Earlier in 2015, Microsoft Azure intimated the world about its collaboration with ConsenSys to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) to allow enterprises and developers deploy Proof-of-Work protocol in their business operations. The launch was intended to fuel the development of Smart Contract-based applications with the help of two new products, namely Ether. Camp (an integrated development environment) and BlockApps (an Ethereum blockchain environment with customizable privacy).

To maintain nodal and consensual authenticity, Azure’s Proof-of-Authority networks are embedded with an identity leasing system that ensures that there no two nodes are identical.

The platform also announced the launch of Web Assembly Smart Contracts that will let developers write and edit Smart Contracts in mainstream programming languages like C, C++ and Rust, and an Azure Monitor to keep a tap on node and network statistics, which is crucial to resolving network issues.

Enhanced Blockchain Governance with Azure

Regarding governance, the protocol launch includes a DApp for governance, which enables consensus nodes to transfer the governance authority to network operators securely. Additionally, any change in the network is made live after on-chain voting by specific administrators and is recorded in a transparent and traceable way.

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