Bitshares announced today that it is available on Microsoft Azure. This may or may not seem like huge news to you, but I suspect people are missing the point. Just getting on to Microsoft Azure is a gimmick – everyone and their dog will be doing this soon for the publicity and price pump this is presenting at the moment. It’s an open-source platform (Ubuntu VM) and you just need to submit the right code and scripts to make this pass their automated scripts. Once the checks all pass and the mods are happy, it gets merged into the main branch and will then be available on Azure. Check this out on github to see the process. That’s what other cryptocurrencies like Factom and Emercoin have done too (I don’t want to underestimate the hard work of everyone involved though).
However, specifically in the case of Bitshares, I am cautiously optimistic that this is the right move forward for greater adoption. Bitshares differs from many other cryptocurrencies in its high blocksize and throughput. I don’t want to pretend to know all the attack vectors against its proof of stake (POS) algorithm. However, it has never really been ‘broken’ in the wild so far. Assuming it works and its security will continue to work in the future, Bitshares is an incredibly scalable blockchain solution.
Bitshares blockchain is maintained and validated by witness nodes, and they produce a block every 3 seconds – faster than most other blockchains. Given that the ultimate goal of Bitshares is to be a trading platform, it is possible that each block contains scores or even hundreds of transactions. This means the nodes need some really good computing infrastructure to really make the promise of Bitshares a reality. Hosting a witness node in the cloud, on a scalable solution like Microsoft Azure, is a great move, since it allows anyone to easily spin up a witness node and join the network, without having to worry about how their crappy internet connection at home with their pentinum 4 processor computer will hold up. Also, Bitshares’ presence on Microsoft Azure allows the stakeholders to reduce the block times even further if technology evolves, without risking too many orphan blocks.
The Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) is a great move for Microsoft, and is gimmicky for many other cryptocurrencies, but I think in the case of Bitshares, this is truly a moment when its practical scalability can go through the roof, and this will set the foundation for Bitshares’ future ambitions to be the de-facto crypto-currency exchange for other coins (via its clever incentive scheme and price feeds to maintain price – it is not a true exchange in that it doesn’t hold your private keys to other cryptocurrencies).