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Coinbase Taps Amazon Web Services Vet as Engineering VP

Cryptocurrency exchange startup Coinbase has hired Amazon Web Services veteran Tim Wagner as its new vice president of engineering.

Wagner was with AWS for five years, serving as a general manager and overseeing its API gateway, as well as various serverless services. Prior to that, he spent six years at Microsoft as director of development for Visual Studio Ultimate.

The development continues Coinbase’s 2018 hiring spree. Since the start of the year, the company has hired Tina Bhatnagar to serve as vice president of operations and technology; Emilie Choi as its vice president of corporate and business development; Eric Soto as vice president of finance; Rachael Horwitz as vice president of communications; Alesia Haas as its new chief financial officer; and Jeff Horowitz as its chief compliance officer, among others.

With Wagner, Coinbase is beefing up its engineering team, which the AWS vet will help grow, according to Coinbase.

“Engineering is central to our mission of creating an open financial system for the world. It is core to our strategy to deliver the most trusted and easiest to use cryptocurrency products and services. We have built an amazing engineering team at a Coinbase, one which Tim will now lead and expand,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong wrote in a blog post announcing the hire. 

Brian Armstrong and Tim Wagner image courtesy Coinbase

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Amazon Eyes Ethereum (ETH), Partners With ConsenSys To Simplify Blockchain Access

The Consensus Summit is ongoing and continually bringing news of blockchain developments by the minute. Current news indicate that the cloud computing arm of famous online retailer, Amazon, is partnering with Ethereum Design Studio Consensys,in a bid to assist in the deployment of blockchains for business entrerprises and make them faster and easier to create and deploy.

The Cloud computing arm of is known as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments on a paid subscription basis. Subscribers are then able to access the real computer hardware available through the service. This includes CPUs, GPUs, RAM, Hard Disc storage amongst other hardware services. There is also the option of operating systems, networking and pre-loaded software such as web servers, databases and CRM.

This partnership with ConsenSys aims at bringing blockchain technologies to the same clients, at an easier and faster pace than the usual ICO option.

ConsenSys is an Ethereum based project and infrastructure that furthers the cause of a decentralized world on the blockchain.

Amazon has been eyeing Ethereum for quite sometime now and Matt Yanchyshyn, the global technical lead for AWS’s partner program, told Coindesk the following:

We have been following ethereum closely as it’s what many of our customers have been exploring, especially for enterprise use cases.

With AWS being protocol agnostic, it can support other platforms such as Hyperledger’s Sawtooth and R3’s Corda Platforms. AWS had also released a new service back in April, that launches out-of-the-box blockchain networks for the Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric protocols.

With the ConsenSys partnership, the two entities will focus on a new start-up that was launched today called Kaleido which is an incubator product of ConsenSys. This will accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology by businesses to a level where the business owners do not need PhDs in cryptography or learn complex coding skills to run the technology running their businesses. Customers will not need to worry about managing the blockchains themselves. It will be part of the service provided by AWS and ConsenSys. joins a growing list of high profile firms showing their interest in blockchain technology. Just today, DNV GL bought a stake at popular blockchain project, VeChain (VEN). The goal of the partnership is to develop new digital assurance solutions on the blockchain.

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AWS Moves to Simplify Production-Grade Business Blockchains

Cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) is partnering with the ethereum design studio Consensys to make enterprise blockchains easier and faster to deploy.

Announced Tuesday at Consensus 2018, the two firms’ business blockchain cloud service, Kaleido, aims to smooth the onboarding process for enterprise consortium members – a major challenge in the space – while simplifying the operation of private blockchain networks.

“We have been following ethereum closely as it’s what many of our customers have been exploring, especially for enterprise use cases,” Matt Yanchyshyn, the global technical lead for AWS’ partner program, told CoinDesk.

However, he stressed that AWS is “protocol-agnostic,” noting that the company also supports Hyperledger’s Sawtooth and R3’s Corda platforms.

Indeed, AWS is no stranger to the space, having announced back in 2016 that it would start working with blockchain startups, offering dedicated technical support and infrastructure for the firms involved.

More recently, in April of this year AWS unveiled a new service for launching out-of-the-box blockchain networks for the ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric protocols.

Now, however, the unit of Amazon has aligned itself with one of the most influential organizations in the ethereum community. “Working with ConsenSys will allow us to further understand customer needs and help accelerate their blockchain efforts,” Yanchyshyn said.

Those who were around at Ethereum DevCon 1 back in 2015 might be reminded of ConsenSys’ first stab at offering ethereum in the cloud, via Microsoft’s Azure platform. But Kaleido aims to take the concept further.

Michael Dickson, the enterprise blockchain business development lead at ConsenSys, said Microsoft’s early blockchain-as-a-service was essentially a set of scripts to enable users to quickly stand up a sandbox environment for blockchains.

“This is great when you are starting out and you are experimenting, but it will only get you so far,” he said. “What we are seeing now is enterprises really have an appetite to try to get their projects all the way to production,” which Kaleido can handle.

Enterprise challenges

Stepping back, enterprises looking to participate in some kind of shared blockchain architecture face an array of physical networking and performance challenges around connecting their respective data centers.

In terms of managing participation in a blockchain consortium, one of the most commonly asked questions is how to onboard members. The process can take weeks, but a public cloud can reduce that time dramatically, according to Dickson.

Then there’s the complexity that goes with advanced cryptography and consensus algorithms, not to mention governance, another big area of concern going forward.

Kaleido’s “shared IT” approach can deal with changes such as defining a new version of a smart contract, for example, said Dickson.

“It’s about having the right tools and processes in place so that a consortium can set up policies that say ‘there need to be so many votes or signatures collected before this contract gets deployed,'” he said.

The AWS-Consensys venture also brings a step closer the goal, increasingly shared by enterprise blockchain professionals, of connecting their private blockchains to the ethereum mainnet.

The platform offers a “state relay” between a private chain that a group of enterprises can set up and operate and a public blockchain.

“This allows you to configure a time interval and based upon the time interval, it aggregates together hashes and writes those up to the mainnet, so on the public blockchain,” said Dickson.

In this way, the public blockchain serves as a ledger of last resort, as it were.

“So you get this permanent data point out on the mainnet that is irrefutable and acts as an objective arbitrator should a disagreement appear on the private chain,” Dickson said.

Quorum in the cloud

Kaleido allows users to switch between several consensus algorithms and choose between two packages: Geth, which is the most popular client for the ethereum blockchain app platform; and Quorum, the enterprise version of ethereum developed by JPMorgan Chase.

Offering JPMorgan’s Quorum as an alternative package within Kaleido is timely, given that the Wall Street giant is widely known to be considering a spin-out of the project.

According to sources familiar with JPMorgan’s thinking, IT management across a wide range of Quorum users was becoming burdensome to the bank. Kaleido seems to be designed to shoulder that task.

“In the enterprise ethereum space, Quorum is a very popular choice. It gives our users the ability to send private transactions between a certain subset of members on a private chain,” Dickson said.  “It was a no-brainer for us to include as an option on the platform.”

Amazon Web Services image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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R3's Corda Platform Launches on Amazon Web Services

Consortium startup R3 has launched its Corda distributed ledger (DLT) platform on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) marketplace.

Allowing AWS users to develop and deploy applications for finance and commerce – or use existing “CorDapps” from R3 – Corda has become one of the first DLT solutions available on the marketplace, according to an R3 blog post.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said the news marks a “milestone” for enterprise blockchain technology.

Rutter continued:

“Corda’s strength comes from its vibrant ecosystem of interoperable applications, and extending the pool of potential developers to the vast network of AWS users will spark further innovation among businesses building innovative DLT apps for finance and commerce.”

The consortium, which now boasts over 100 banks, regulators and technology firms as members, announced the launch of the production version of Corda in October.

The release saw R3 guaranteeing that the platform’s three core APIs would be compatible with older versions of the software.

Corda 1.0 also enhanced privacy, including support for confidential identities, and a network map service designed to make it easier to scale.

Amazon image via Shutterstock

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