Microsoft recently announced that Azure Blockchain will be retired on September 10, 2021. Microsoft credited industry changes and declined interest in the product as the main reasons for discontinuing the marketing of Azure Blockchain. Microsoft partners with ConsenSys to offer a migration path for existing customers. ConsenSys’s Quorum Blockchain Service claims to be fully compatible with the Azure Blockchain service.
Microsoft explained its decision in the following terms:
Based on recent changes in the blockchain industry and the growing business needs of our customers, we are collaborating with ConsenSys, one of our blockchain technology providers, to offer a managed offering of their blockchain ledgers on Azure. As a result of this, combined with lowered interest in our existing offering, we are retiring Azure Blockchain Service on 10 September 2021.
Existing users will have to migrate ledger data to an alternative offering. In its migration guide, Microsoft recommends that users who already developed a blockchain solution migrate to the Quorum Blockchain Service for a managed offering, or opt to manage their blockchain stack themselves using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) VMs. To users who were still in the evaluation phase, or in the early stages of developing a blockchain solution with Azure Blockchain, Microsoft recommends evaluating either Quorum or Besu templates, both of which are available in the Azure Market Place.
Azure Blockchain Service is a fully managed ledger service that strives to provide users with the ability to scale and operate blockchain networks on the Azure infrastructure. Azure Blockchain Service featured built-in consortium management with governance controls backed by pre-defined smart contracts. Microsoft listed GE Aviation, J.P. Morgan, Singapore Airlines, Starbucks, and Xbox as customers.
The strategy+business magazine explained how using blockchain technologies may reduce costs in the aviation industry by securing the sharing of data about aircraft history, maintenance, and operations:
Blockchain offers the capacity to create a “digital birth certificate” for every part and update it each time the part moves through the supply chain or is installed on a plane. The part’s status also gets updated every time the plane is serviced or inspected by a technician. […] These digital records […] provide a real-time snapshot of its condition from the moment it exits the assembly line to the day decades later when it is returned to its lessor or retired from service. And by ensuring that participants have access only to the information they’re entitled to, blockchain could simultaneously improve participants’ visibility into their own businesses while safeguarding their data from competitors.
Blockchain consortia let individual companies cooperate with other companies — including competitors — on common concerns in ways that benefit the whole group. The blockchain technology strives to provide tamper-proof records of transactions. Transaction data cannot be lost or corrupted as all blockchain participants own a copy of the full transaction history. Blockchain technologies can thus create trust between possibly competing actors by providing secure ways to share data between members.
Microsoft’s migration guide is available online and contains additional information on how to delete resources, download, and export data from Azure Blockchain Service.