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Azure Blockchain Workbench now in Public Preview

Big announcement in the blockchain space at the recent Microsoft Build 2018 conference, where the Azure team released Azure Blockchain Workbench in public preview.
 
What is Azure Blockchain Workbench?
Workbench is the fastest way to get started with blockchain on Azure and orchestrates services such as Azure Active Directory, Azure Key Vault, Azure SQLDB, Application Insights, Azure Functions and Service Bus around a pre-configured blockchain network and into a reference architecture that can be used to build a blockchain-based application. Workbench is an easy-to-use tool with a simplified interface that enables users to create end-to-end blockchain applications leveraging the best of Azure. It comes equipped with sample cross-organizational workflows and smart contracts as well as an out of the box UI and admin experience that developers, ISVs and SI partners alike can use to drastically reduce development costs and accelerate time to value.
 
What do I get?
Azure Blockchain Workbench provides the following key capabilities and differentiation factors:
  • Easy and automatic creation of blockchain applications that help reduce blockchain application development time from months to weeks.
  • Abstraction of blockchain “plumbing” so that users can configure and deploy a consortium network with just a few clicks. Ideal for dev/test scenarios, Workbench’s automatic ledger deployment and network construction greatly reduces infrastructure development time.
  • Workbench is an extensible platform built to be modular and extensible. Microsoft customers and partners can easily integrate blockchain workflows with existing systems and applications leveraging Microsoft Flow and Logic Apps and extend capabilities with a REST-based API for client development and a message-based API for system-to-system integration.
 
The automatic integration of blockchain application with non-blockchain services allows developers to:
  • Reduce development time and cost with prebuilt integrations to the cloud services needed for application development.
  • Associate blockchain identities with Azure Active Directory (AD) for easier sign in and collaboration.
  • Store secrets and keys securely with Azure Key Vault. Ingest and manage the messages and events required to trigger your smart contracts with Service Bus and Event Grid. Signing, hashing, and routing tools transform messages into the format expected by the blockchain’s native API. Synchronize on-chain data with off-chain storage and databases to more easily query attestations and visualize ledger activity.
 
What’s New
If you have been working with the private preview of Azure Blockchain Workbench, you may notice a new UI and the availability of a public API. In addition, the following capabilities have been improved:
  • Configuration and Verification: Instead of having to create two configuration files for your blockchain application, you only need to create one. Also, when working on your smart contract code and configurations, we will provide verification and checking on upload. You will get error messages to help with troubleshooting in blockchain app development.
  • Service Bus Messaging System: We have swapped out Event Hub for Service Bus, as the central messaging system in Workbench.
  • Ethereum PoA and OMS Dashboard: Workbench deploys a private Ethereum Proof of Authority network with an Operations Management Suite (OMS) Dashboard for monitoring your blockchain network.
 
Next Steps
Get Started – For more information you can check out our announce blog and get your hands dirty with some great documentation, including get started guides, tutorials and samples. For a walkthrough on how to build your first smart contract with Workbench, watch this video on Microsoft Mechanics.
 

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