Microsoft Releases Open Sorce Project Ion On Bitcoin Blockchain as a Decentralized ID Solution


Tech giants Microsoft has been increasingly showing interest in blockchain technology. We have been bringing you news of the launch of Azure Blockchain services. This will allow clients to build Ethereum (ETH) applications using Azure’s cloud computing platform.

Microsoft’s Yorke Rhodes — who is the Principal Program Manager (PM) of the Azure Blockchain project — now feels that as we move into the future, blockchain will start to attract the interest of more and more businesses owing to its ability to streamline complex operational/biz processes.

Yorke said that his company has been developing a key signing and validation software that relies on public networks, like bitcoin or ethereum. Although they aim to increase the throughput than the underlying blockchain.

Now, they have announced the launch of their open source project called Ion. This is sort of a watershed moment in the crypto ecosystem as this marks the first decentralized infrastructure implementation by a major tech company that is built on Bitcoin blockchain.

More About ION

ION is a public, permissionless, Decentralized Identifier (DID) network that implements the blockchain-agnostic Sidetree protocol on top of Bitcoin (as a ‘Layer 2' overlay) to support DIDs/DPKI at scale.

According to their GitHub page, the system is decentralized, no company, organization, or group owns/controls the identifiers and PKI entries in the system, and no one dictates who can participate. ION notably doesn’t introduce new tokens/coins. Therefore, Bitcoin is the only unit of value relevant in the operation of the on-chain aspects of the ION network. Additionally, we have to keep in mind that ION is not a sidechain or consensus system. The network nodes do not require any additional consensus mechanism.

The announcement reads:

“By leveraging the blockchain-agnostic Sidetree protocol, ION makes it possible to anchor tens of thousands of DID/PKI operations on a target chain (in ION's case, Bitcoin) using a single on-chain transaction. The transactions are encoded with a hash that ION nodes use to fetch, store, and replicate the hash-associated DID operation batches via IPFS. The nodes process these batches of operations in accordance with a specific set of deterministic rules that enables them to independently arrive at the correct PKI state for IDs in the system, without requiring a separate consensus mechanism, blockchain, or sidechain. Nodes can fetch, process, and assemble DID states in parallel, allowing the aggregate capacity of nodes to run at tens of thousands of operations per second.”

Final Take

The world is now starting to take both blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies more seriously now. Companies like e-Bay, Starbucks, JP Morgan and many more have ventured into this space. Facebook earlier had been one of the thought leaders in this area, however, they seem to have lost the mantle to Microsoft.

The head of DID at ConsenSys Rouven Heck, who is also an active member of W3C has confirmed that Facebook has been noticeably absent from all conversations concerning DIDs and always has little or nothing to say about such matters.

Rhodes says that these are still early days of experimentation with the technology. He compared it to the experiments the company ran with Windows 95 which eventually helped the world get better access to the internet.

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