Microsoft yesterday announced a strategic partnership with R3, a distributed ledger consortium of 40-plus global banks to push the development of blockchain technology.
The announcement came as a part of Microsoft Envision, a new event that brings together thousands of business leaders from nearly every industry to share insights and uncover solutions for success in the digital age.
The goal of the partnership according to Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of global business development at Microsoft, is to develop and test blockchain-based technologies as a replacement for the current financial infrastructure in banking and enterprise industries.
“Together, we will help R3’s over 40 member banks develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” Johnson wrote in a blog post yesterday.
Under the terms of the partnership, the R3 consortium will host their labs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform while Microsoft will provide the consortium access to its 45 cloud-based tools, including those created by other companies under Microsoft Azure’s Blockchain as a Service platform.
In addition to the software, Microsoft will also provide the consortium a dedicated team of technical architects, project managers, lab assistants and support services at the technology centers it has in a number of cities, including New York, Milan, Beijing and Sao Paulo.
According to David Rutter, CEO of R3, the partnership between Microsoft and R3 will change the entire financial services industry and accelerate the adoption of distributed ledger technology increases.
"The Azure platform and intelligent cloud services bring advanced capabilities to this budding financial ecosystem, and the commitment by Microsoft will accelerate the adoption of distributed ledger technology around the globe and take our R3 Lab and Research Center offering to a new level of capability." Rutter said in a statement.
Since launching its Azure cloud-computing platform, Microsoft has been adding a steady stream of partners to its blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) solution such as ConsenSys, Ripple, Eris Industries, Factom and BitPay.
Microsoft's director of technology strategy, Marley Gray told CoinDesk in an interview last year that consortia projects can leverage the Azure platform to offset the need for traditional types of trust agreements in permissioned blockchain networks.
The announcement for the partnership with R3 consortium comes after R3, along with 11 members of the group, tested a distributed ledger based on the public Ethereum network hosted on a private network on the Microsoft Azure platform last month.
According to Charley Cooper, managing director of R3, the consortium decided to ink the partnership with Microsoft after conducting a series of tests with other potential partners, including Amazon and IBM.
“Throughout the experiments we started to realize that the level of expertise they gave us in terms of the man-power and the technology actually made them the ideal partner,” Cooper told CoinDesk.
Regarding the expansion of the partnership, Copper said that it would depend on how the software company and the banking consortium work together.
“Where this raises the stakes is, rather than just a couple experiments, we view this as a long term partnership that will expand,” Cooper told CoinDesk.