Microsoft unveils open-source blockchain framework

Coco Framework compatible with existing blockchain protocols

Microsoft has unveiled details of the Coco Framework, which it says will help boost enterprise efforts to develop blockchain-based services.

Coco Framework is an “open-source system that enables high-scale, confidential blockchain networks that meet all key enterprise requirements—providing a means to accelerate production enterprise adoption of blockchain technology,” Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich wrote in a blog entry.

“Coco achieves this by designing specifically for confidential consortiums, where nodes and actors are explicitly declared and controlled. Based on these requirements, Coco presents an alternative approach to ledger construction, giving enterprises the scalability, distributed governance and enhanced confidentiality they need without sacrificing the inherent security and immutability they expect.”

The software company has released a technical whitepaper on the framework.

Coco re-evaluates existing assumptions for public blockchain protocols “in the context of a confidential consortium, where nodes and actors (including voting members and other non-voting participants) are explicitly declared and controlled,” the whitepaper states.

Coco relies on trusted execution environments (TEEs) such as Intel’s SGX and Windows Virtual Secure Mode (VSM), Microsoft said. This enables the creation of a “trusted network of physical nodes” on which a blockchain-style distributed ledger can run.

The framework can deliver throughput and latency close to database speeds, according to Microsoft, potentially achieving 1600 transactions per second.

Coco is not restricted to a particular blockchain protocol: Initial Coco Framework implementations will include R3 Corda, Intel Hyperledger Sawtooth, J.P. Morgan Quorum, and Ethereum, Microsoft said.

The framework is compatible with on-premise and cloud implementations.

“We have already begun exploring Coco’s potential across a variety of industries, including retail, supply chain and financial services,” Russinovich wrote.

In Australia, businesses have been exploring the potential application of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) to a range of industries.

Western Australia’s CBH Group recently revealed it has partnered with startup AgriDigital for a pilot that will test the ability of blockchain to offer an efficiency boost for grains handling.

Australia’s banks have publicly revealed details of some of the trials they have run using DLT. The ASX has said it will potentially replace one of its major systems with a DLT-style solution.