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What Does Microsoft’s New Consensus Addition to Azure Mean?

Microsoft just did away with mining requirements for customers on their Azure platform that builds Ethereum-based applications, by sending out a new extra consensus mechanism.

The new mechanism has been dubbed “proof-of-authority”, and it is set to definitively replace the standard proof-of-work mining procedure that is common practice in public blockchain networks. However, Azure software developer Cody Born explained that this mechanism will be applicable only in networks where access has been gathered with permission. This means that only parties that have been invited might participate as nodes on the private or consortium blockchains.

The addition of this new proof-of-authority mechanism aims to help the Azure user base and their bigger institutional clients conduct and verify transactions with more efficiency, and also keep them under high levels of security, even though the underlying ether might have no value, Born explained.

He said further:

“An alternative protocol, Proof-of-Authority, is more suitable for permissioned networks where all consensus participants are known and reputable. Without the need for mining, Proof-of-Authority is more efficient while still retaining Byzantine fault tolerance.”

The new proof-of-authority consensus basically calls for the presence of more and more invited parties in the blockchains, as a proof that they are indeed participating more in the decentralised network.

In order to realise this goal, Microsoft’s post explained that the new mechanism “each consensus participant to delegate multiple nodes to run on their behalf”. The aim of this feature is that even if one node goes down for any reason, the authority of the consensus in the network can still maintain its presence there, and conduct operations fluidly.

Interestingly enough, the idea of proof-of-authority is not exactly a brand new concepts. Developers at the Ethereum client Parity were the first to conceive it. The mechanism has also been put to use on the VeChain blockchains.

This is the latest addition by Microsoft, who launched their Azure Blockchain Workbench back in May – an application that aims to make the procedure for companies developing decentralised applications on the cloud computing platform more efficient and well organised.