Microsoft is shutting down blockchain service

Microsoft is shutting down its Azure Blockchain Service on September 10, 2021, after being in service for around six years.

As of May 10, 2021, the company has stopped supporting new deployments or member creations.

However, it will continue to support existing deployments until September 10, 2021.

Microsoft initially offered Azure’s Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) in 2015, with an offering on the Etherum Platform in partnership with ConsenSys.

It was only in 2019 that the company launched the fully-managed consortium network, Azure Blockchain Service for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks.

Microsoft has provided no explanation about the closure of Azure Blockchain.

Microsoft is shutting down its azure blockchain service

So, let’s shed more light on this occurrence.

How did Microsoft blockchain technology come into existence?

Foremost, it may come as a surprise to some individuals that Microsoft owns a blockchain service. This could be because the service was not marketed on a large scale to many small businesses.

However, you should note that the Microsoft blockchain service was not a new project as it existed for several years. Factually, it had achieved several astounding things because it backed out of blockchain technology.

Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service

The news was broken by ZDNet that Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service would come to an end in September 2021.
However, the deployments of the company got support until the period.

Microsoft to shut down azure blockchain service

It was then offered as a fully managed Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) preview in late 2019.

Microsoft’s original aim for Azure was to develop a certified blockchain marketplace giving users the “ability to discover Blockchain technologies and value-added services.”

Despite insisting that no new deployments will be accepted on this service, Microsoft is yet to remove the Azure page that lets new users sign up for free. In recent months, Microsoft has been sending mixed messages about its stand towards blockchain and crypto.
In that context, President Brad Smith said earlier this year that the multinational company was not interested in dabbling in Bitcoin.

But, in late March, the firm released an online poll that asked users how likely they would be to use BTC for purchases in the Xbox Games Store.

You can choose to use the same Quorum version or follow the below steps to use latest version of ConsenSys Quorum.

Upgrade Quorum version 2.6.0 or 2.7.0 to ConsenSys 21.1.0

Upgrading from Quorum version 2.6 or 2.7 version is straightforward. Download and update using the following links.

  1. Download ConsenSys Quorum and related binaries v21.1.0.
  2. Download the latest version of Tessera tessera-app-21.1.0-app.jar.

Upgrade Quorum version 2.5.0 to ConsenSys 21.1.0

  1. Download ConsenSys Quorum and related binaries v21.1.0.

  2. Download the latest version of Tessera tessera-app-21.1.0-app.jar.
    For versions 2.5.0, there are some minor genesis file changes.

Instead, a spokesperson said “We are asking (Azure Blockchain Service) customers to transition to the ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Solution. As industry dynamics have changed, we made the decision to shift our focus from a product-oriented offering to a partner-oriented solution.”

Update (May 25).

And here’s the direct reply on positioning of ACL, courtesy of a spokesperson:

“Azure Confidential Ledger doesn’t replace Azure Blockchain Service but is another distributed ledger that can be used by customers who want the maximum level of privacy afforded to them. With Azure Confidential Ledger, customers can take advantage of Azure’s Confidential Computing to harness the power of secure enclaves when setting up the distributed blockchain network.

The network ID is the same for consortium. PRIVATE_CONFIG=tm.ipc geth –config /geth/config.toml –datadir /opt/blockchain/data/working-dir/dd –networkid $NETWORK_ID –istanbul.blockperiod 5 –nodiscover –nousb –allow-insecure-unlock –verbosity 3 –txpool.globalslots 80000 –txpool.globalqueue 80000 –txpool.accountqueue 50000 –txpool.accountslots 50000 –targetgaslimit 700000000 –miner.gaslimit 800000000 –syncmode full –rpc –rpcaddr –rpcport 3100 –rpccorsdomain ‘*’ –rpcapi admin,db,eth,debug,net,shh,txpool,personal,web3,quorum,istanbul –ws –wsaddr –wsport 3000 –wsorigins ‘*’ –wsapi admin,db,eth,debug,net,shh,txpool,personal,web3,quorum,istanbul

Validator Node

Validator node steps are similar to the transaction node except that Geth startup command will have the additional flag -mine.

TANT] You should stop all applications initiating new blockchain transactions on to the network. Active applications may lead to data loss or your original and migrated networks being out of sync.

Download data

Data format v1

Download the data using the Microsoft Support provided short-lived SAS URL link.

[!IMPORTANT] You are required to download your data within seven days.

Decrypt the data using the API access key.

You can get the key from the Azure portal or through the REST API.

[!CAUTION] Only the default transaction node API access key 1 is used to encrypt all the nodes data of that member.

Do not reset the API access key in between of the migration.

Data format v2

In this version, the SAS token is encrypted instead of the data, resulting in faster snapshot creation.

Morgan, Singapore Airlines, Starbucks and Xbox as customers.

Microsoft’s documentation suggests users start migrating to an alternative now. The recommended migration destination is ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Service.

Users also could opt to self-manage their blockhains using VMs.

I asked Microsoft for official word as to why the company decided to shut down Azure Blockchain. No response so far.

Update (May 21 — better late than never): “We are asking customers to transition to the ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Solution.
Microsoft has a rich history of working with partners with the shared goals of innovating and delivering solutions to our customers.

TLS, see the Tessera configure TLS article.

  • Update NSG rules to allow inbound connections to port 9000.

  • Run Tessera using the following command:

    java -Xms512M -Xmx1731M -Dlogback.configurationFile=/tessera/logback-tessera.xml -jar tessera.jar -configfile /opt/blockchain/data/working-dir/tessera-config.json tessera.log 2&1&

  • Geth

    1. Update IPs in enode addresses in /opt/blockchain/data/working-dir/dd/static-nodes.json. Public IP address is allowed.

    2. Make the same IP address changes under StaticNodes key in /geth/config.toml.

    3. Update NSG rules to allow inbound connections to port 30303.

    4. Run Geth using the following commands:

      export NETWORK_ID=”# Get network ID from metadata.

    Transaction node)quorum_version2.7.0Version of Quorumtessera_version0.10.5Tessera versionjava_versionjava-11-openjdk-amd64Java version Tessera usesCurrentBlockNumberCurrent block number for the blockchain network

    Migrated Data Folder structure

    At the top level, there are folders that correspond to each of the nodes of the members.

    • Standard SKU – Two validator nodes (validator-node-0 and validator-node-1)
    • Basic SKU – One validator node (validator-node-0)
    • Transaction Node – Default transaction node named transaction-node.

    Other transaction node folders are named after the transaction node name.

    Node level folder structure

    Each node level folder contains a zip file that is encrypted using the encryption key.

    Once you have a copy of your data, you can transition this data to your preferred alternative.

    The recommended migration destination is ConsenSys Quorum Blockchain Service. To onboard to this service, register at the Quorum Blockchain Service page.

    To self-manage your blockchain solution using virtual machines in Azure, see Azure VM-based Quorum guidance to set up transaction and validator nodes.

    Export data from Azure Blockchain Service

    Based on your current development state, you can either opt to use existing ledger data on Azure Blockchain Service or start a new network and use the solution of your choice.

    For details on the obtaining the encryption key, see the Download data section of this article.Directory/FileDescription/config/config.tomlGeth parameters. Command line parameters take precedence/config/genesis.jsonGenesis file/config/logback-tessera.xmlLogback configuration for Tessera/config/static-nodes.jsonStatic nodes.

    Bootstrap nodes are removed and auto-discovery is disabled./config/tessera-config.jsonTessera configuration/data/c/Tessera DB/data/dd/Geth data directory/env/envMetadata/keys/Tessera keys/scripts/Startup scripts (provided for reference only)

    Frequently asked questions

    What does service retirement mean for existing customers?

    The existing Azure Blockchain Service deployments cannot be continued beyond September 10, 2021.

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