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Open-Source Platform Lets Users Build Their Own Blockchain in Under 10 Min

An open-source blockchain platform says the industry is going the same way as the internet: Just like websites, every business now wants their own chain.

An out-of-the-box solution says it enables anyone, even with no experience, to build their own blockchain in under 10 minutes.

According to Nuls, businesses are going through a similar evolution as they did with the early internet, when every company wanted their own website: They now want their own blockchain. And although these firms may not fully understand how to deploy blockchain technology, they are aware of how their business may benefit from it.

Nuls aims is to “dismantle some of the biggest barriers” that are stopping individuals and companies of all sizes from creating their own blockchains. Hurdles for adoption include the need to ensure that networks are fully secure and the sheer cost of bringing them to fruition. On top of this, it can be an incredibly time-consuming process — not least because there aren’t enough skilled developers to keep on top of demand.

The future

The team behind Nuls believes that the future of blockchain will see plenty of third-party providers that simplify the process of establishing a blockchain network. 

One of the company’s solutions, known as ChainBox, allows developers to take their applications and deploy them to a new blockchain in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Nuls hopes that this approach will enable entrepreneurs to focus on the product itself rather than the time or money it takes to deploy their applications onto a chain.

Nuls describes its ChainBox feature as language agnostic — giving developers more choices and making it easier to integrate existing systems with blockchain technology. The platform also says it is keen to ensure that users can personalize and enhance blockchains in line with their specific needs. An upcoming solution known as Chain Factory will allow users to add extra functionality and features through additional module applications that can be automatically downloaded for an instant upgrade.

The benefits

According to Nuls, the fact that major corporations such as Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, ING, IBM, Anheuser-Busch and JPMorgan Chase are creating or exploring their own blockchains powerfully illustrates an “inevitable trend” in which demand for chain-building will increase. Worth noting is that Visa, Mastercard, Uber and others will create nodes on Facebook’s Libra to run their own consortium chains. 

The platform says one of the most powerful benefits it can offer through its straightforward service is the ability to bring innovative products to market up to a year early, in addition to allowing partners to receive ecosystem support through consortium chains.

Nuls is available here

The company also places an emphasis on “ensuring that the blockchains its platform creates are flexible and scalable,” meaning that they can be adapted in line with growing demand and customized to deliver a better service to end-users. In addition, cross-chain transactions are supported and will be built to convert Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Binance Coin (BNB) and more. 

Hackathon

Nuls seeks to illustrate how effective ChainBox is through an online hackathon that invites developers to build modules for “the world’s most adaptable blockchain” — even if they haven’t worked with these networks in the past. 

These modules can be built in any coding language the developer desires, and prizes of up to $500,000 are up for grabs. The top prize is reserved for applications that would solve a practical problem and be in substantial demand in a commercial setting. The winning project will enjoy incubation and a full range of business support, including funding and potential exchange listings, according to the team. The hackathon is scheduled to take place online from July 8 to Aug. 29.

The company has dual headquarters in the Chinese city of Chongqing and in San Jose, California. Nuls adds that it has an ever-expanding team of developers throughout Europe, as it pursues a vision of bringing an open-source, instant blockchain-building platform to the world.

Learn more about Nuls

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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How Blockchain Could Decentralize the Music Industry

How big tech curbed freedom of expression ahead of the Tiananmen Square anniversary.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Our guest authors invite readers to discuss the most polemic, ambiguous and debatable topics within the cryptocurrency, blockchain and fintech industries.

If you want to become our guest author and be published on Cointelegraph, please send us an email at contributor@cointelegraph.com 

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, 

but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” 

— Maya Angelou

Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square protests, the Chinese government is still working to remove any trace of the event from its cultural history. 

Earlier this month a music fan wrote, “I don’t dare to say it, nor do I dare to ask” on a popular Chinese online forum in regard to the disappearance of Li Zhi, a Chinese musician who dared to speak out on social issues and democracy in his songs. 

Three months ago, Li’s tour was unexpectedly canceled, his social media accounts went offline and his entire discography was scrubbed from China’s music streaming platforms. This involuntary “ghosting” isn’t isolated: The Chinese government has been cracking down on artists and activists like Li in preparation for the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that took place on June 4, 1989. It’s reported that China’s Communist Party has detained dozens of activists and artists who have mentioned the atrocities of that massacre.

It’s no surprise that the Chinese government has never acknowledged that day or the thousands of civilians who were shot and killed at the hands of its army. This isn’t uncommon for countries with one-party systems and regimes that want to control information. But while it attempts to erase the collective memory of the Tiananmen protests, artists and activists like Li are fighting to remember — to ensure that something so dark would never take place at the hands of a governing body again. 

Tech giant censorship

Unfortunately, tech giants in the United States fundamentally aid in the disenfranchisement of creators like Li — and therefore, in the suppression of democracy. In the early spring, Hong Kong Free Press reported that Apple Music had removed Hong Kong-based singer Jacky Cheung’s song for its reference to Tiananmen Square: 

“The youth are angry, heaven and earth are weeping/ How did our land become a sea of blood?/ How did the path home become a path of no return?” 

Pro-democracy singers Anthony Wong and Denis Ho have also been removed from Apple Music in China. The Apple App Store removed applications from its Chinese offering that discussed the Tiananmen Square protests, including The New York Times, Radio Free Asia and Tibetan News. Twitter recently refused to approve an emoji marking the 30th anniversary of the protests. Microsoft and LinkedIn steer clear of talking about their policies in China with the media. You get the picture. 

The tech industry has failed artists like Li Zhi, Jacky Cheung, Anthony Wong and Denis Ho by aiding in the suppression of information and free speech. 

If the U.S. is truly a nation that values democracy, freedom, and humanity — the technology industry should wield its power to combat censorship. 

Centralized vs. decentralized services

Right now, music services cannot — and will not — protect the voices of artists worldwide, because the interests of the powerful will almost always win over those of creators on centralized services. That’s why we must put the power back in the hands of the people by using decentralized services and blockchain technology. 

Because companies like Apple Music are centralized, they must comply with local regulations to remain operational, however unjust that regulation may be. This means they rapidly and readily succumb to the pressure of censors of many kinds, including one-party states like China. Creators don’t have any say in how their content is used or whether it stays available at all. This is true because it’s playing out right before our very eyes. 

The next generation of music services should use technology like blockchains to combat censorship. Decentralizing the control of music distribution and content ownership gives artists, fans and community members the freedom to express themselves and interact directly with one another on their own terms. With no central authority — a government or corporation — a decentralized network can protect controversial creators from being silenced. Meanwhile, centralized services like Apple Music are required delist content when told to; with decentralized control, nobody would be capable of this — Li Zhi’s music would never have been taken down and the history of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests would never be erased. 

Use cases

This isn’t just a dream or a manifesto. Companies and projects are already using blockchain to solve some of the music industry’s biggest issues. My company, Audius, is a decentralized music-sharing protocol and the first to deliver a social music experience that directly connects artists and fans. Open Music Initiative is using blockchain to identify music creators so they can receive their deserved royalty payments. Smackathon, a competition created by Pitbull, is working to bring the top decentralized streaming services to music. 

Music on blockchain

So, what exactly does music on the blockchain mean? What would the industry look like? It will be a decentralized community of artists, fans and developers sharing and defending the world’s music in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Decentralization: Members of the network will operate it, maintaining control of their data. With no central authority, it will be censorship-resistant, secure and community-driven. 
  2. Open-source: Anyone can contribute ideas, build new clients or features, or host nodes on the network.  
  3. Aligned incentives: Everyone who contributes value is fairly compensated. 

Musicians will be able to generate immutable and time-stamped records of their creative works, making content ownership publicly verifiable and unchangeable. With a network that is decentralized, content-addressed and secured by a blockchain, content cannot be tampered with. If a creator elects, their content will remain live forever.

Content moderation will be community-driven, with disputes being resolved by a jury of peers on the network. For example, this arbitration system could resolve claims of piracy or determine revenue shares for derivative content. No government intervention or centralized entity will be able to call the shots on what can and can’t be taken down in the way they do today to silent dissenting voices. 

It’s time we protect vulnerable creators with censorship-resistant technology. Let’s enable artists to distribute what they like, when they like, to whom they like — making it impossible for a government to decide which content can and cannot be listened to by its citizens.

What effect do you think blockchain will have on the music industry? How do you feel about big tech removing artists from their platforms to comply with governments like China?  Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

While Cointelegraph fully supports the right to free speech, Cointelegraph reserves the right to exclude comments that it believes to be objectionable, offensive, disrespectful or otherwise inappropriate.

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Gartner: Blockchain Tech Used by Enterprises at Risk of Becoming Obsolete Within 18 Months

Many enterprises have unrealistic expectations when looking to implement blockchain, the research firm Gartner has warned.

Research firm Gartner has warned that 90% of the blockchain technology used by enterprises will need to be replaced within the next 18 months, tech site ITPro reported on June 3.

The company’s senior research director, Adrian Lee, said the industry’s fragmented nature means the technology implemented by some companies is at risk of becoming obsolete or insecure by 2021.

Lee also said blockchain vendors often use marketing messages that fail to address an enterprise’s needs — leaving companies confused as to how decentralized platforms work, and whether they would add any net benefit to their operations. He told ITPro:

“Many CIOs overestimate the capabilities and short-term benefits of blockchain as a technology to help them achieve their business goals, thus creating unrealistic expectations when assessing offerings from blockchain platform vendors and service providers.”

The Gartner executive said this ultimately creates a headache for IT departments, as they need to decide which blockchain would be the best fit for their business.

Lee predicted that fragmentation will only increase in the blockchain industry over the coming years — and instead of joined-up thinking, standardization and unification, a multiplatform world will develop. As a result, Gartner does not expect a single blockchain platform to assert dominance between now and 2024.

Back in February, Gartner had warned businesses to stay away from blockchain for the time being, with research fellow David Furlonger claiming that the industry’s level of maturity means there are a series of challenges that need to be addressed before enterprises can confidently use the technology at scale.

Nonetheless, April saw the company forecast that 20% of the world’s top 10 grocers will be using blockchain technology by 2025.

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ConsenSys Spinoff Truffle Integrates With Goldmans Sachs-Supported Blockchain: Report

Truffle is integrating with AxCore as it seeks to expand into enterprise-grade solutions, according to a Forbes report.

Truffle is integrating with AxCore, a proprietary blockchain jointly created by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan-supported Axoni, Forbes reported on April 29.

The ConsenSys spinoff, which makes tools that are widely used by Ethereum developers, has reportedly raised $3 million as it aims to expand into enterprise-grade solutions.

According to the Forbes report, Truffle plans to use the investment to complete a suite of blockchain development tools designed to appeal to enterprise clients.

An estimated 60% of Truffle’s current revenue comes from liaising with startups, larger corporations and governments that want to use its services.  The company’s executives believe the capital will enable it to explore “other revenue-generating opportunities.” Truffle’s founder and CEO, Tim Coulter, told Forbes:

“Enterprise adoption is finally happening because the maturity of our space is finally advancing to a level where enterprises can capitalize.”

Coulter added that the U.S.-based company plans to grow beyond the Ethereum ecosystem and “go where the large, important projects are.”

As reported by Cointelegraph last year, Axoni raised $32 million in a funding round led by Goldman Sachs amid plans to process transactions for the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation’s Trade Information Warehouse by using distributed ledger technology. DTCC held an active test phase of the technology in November 2018.

Cointelegraph has contacted Truffle for comment but has yet to receive a response as of press time.

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Enterprise Blockchain on the Rise Despite Criticisms

Enterprise blockchains to grow in popularity despite criticisms.

In the announcement for the launch of its blockchain security testing service, IBM X-Force Red highlighted the rise of enterprise blockchains and said that “organizations are seeing real efficiencies and cost savings from its use.”

IBM also highlighted the IDC’s 2018 Spending Guide, which forecasts worldwide blockchain spending to grow to $9.7 billion in 2021.

This arrived on the back of a Forbes article in February that explored the reasons “Why 2019 May Become The Year Of Enterprise Blockchain,” which also highlighted Deloitte’s 2018 global blockchain survey that found 95 percent of companies across different industries were investing in blockchain tech projects.

All of that indicates a rosy outlook for blockchain growth. But some critics contend there’s no need for enterprise blockchains and question whether such investments are warranted. It’s that pushback that has placed many companies in a difficult position — fearful of falling behind competitors, but wary of investing in a technology that may not require proprietary solutions.

The dilemma is reflected in the mix of comments in the enterprise vs. public chain debate.

Sky Guo, CEO of Cypherium, a startup offering enterprise-ready blockchain solutions, said to Forbes that enterprises no longer question whether blockchain is worth the attention but that, on the contrary, they are now proactively seeking new ways of incorporating this technology in their legacy systems.

This is something Leanne Kemp, CEO and founder of Everledger, a global digital registry for diamonds powered by the IBM enterprise blockchain platform, would agree with. Kemp, who won the 2018 Advance Award for technology, indicated that the introduction of enterprise blockchain solutions has the potential to completely revolutionize traditional supply chains, not just for the diamond trade:

“Where we’re at in terms of the world for 2030 and 2050 and beyond, we have to rethink supply chains. We have to think about how do we re-imagine product in market. We started with diamonds but our vision is much grander than diamonds.”

The difference between enterprise and public blockchains

Enterprise (also called private) blockchains and public blockchains share a number of characteristics. Both consist of a distributed peer-to-peer network, where the network is governed and maintained through a consensus protocol. Both types also provide some level of immutability of the network to prevent malicious attempts by individual participants to manipulate the data stored on the blockchain

That is as far as the commonalities go, and there are a number of key differences.

The biggest difference is who is allowed to participate on the network — meaning, who is allowed to join the network, to have visibility over the information on the blockchain, to write on it (e.g., launch DApps, execute transactions, etc.) and to participate in its consensus protocol.

Public blockchains are open for anyone to join and is also why they are often referred to as permissionless blockchains. As such, public blockchains are more decentralized and no one entity has absolute control over the governance of the network. Most cryptocurrency platforms run on a public blockchain, and well-known examples include Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).

The disadvantages of public blockchains are the fact that they can take an enormous amount of computational power to reach consensus on the network, especially proof-of-work (POW) blockchains, and there is little or zero privacy for transactions.

Private blockchains require an application or invitation to join the network. Acceptance to the network would normally depend on a set of rules established by the originator of the network. As such, private blockchains are also referred to as permissioned blockchains.

This process of permission puts a restriction on who is allowed to join the network and in what capacity they are allowed to participate.

The permission process will also vary from network to network. A regulator within the network could issue licenses for participation, it could be in the form of a consortium that makes the decision, or the current network participants could come to an agreement on future participants.

Enterprise blockchains are less anonymous, which helps with compliance such as Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, and transaction visibility is contained within the network, which provides a level of privacy and security. It is also cheaper, as the network wouldn’t require the vast amounts of processing power of public blockchains and nodes don’t necessarily have to be paid to verify transactions. Consensus tends to be faster, as there are far fewer nodes on a network that has to come to a majority consensus, which also provides for better scalability. These are important factors for large corporations.

Examples of enterprise blockchain networks include R3 Corda, Hashgraph, Everledger, Hyperledger and Quorum (from JPMorgan Chase). Other corporations that have tested and invested in private blockchain networks include Goldman Sachs, Santander and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

The number one drawback to private blockchains is that they tend to be more centralized, as there are often significantly fewer network participants than on public blockchains. This increases the risk of manipulation by a small group, or even a single malicious actor.

As a result, a number of criticisms have been levied against private blockchains.

Advantages and drawbacks of public and private blockchains:

Private (permissioned/enterprise) blockchains — e.g., R3, Hyperledger

 

Public (permissionless) blockchains — e.g., Bitcoin, Ethereum

+ Less anonymous; helps with regulation (KYC)

+ Open for anyone to join and participate

+ More private, transaction visibility is limited

+ More decentralized

+ Cheaper, faster and more scalable

+ No one single entity or small group of entities control the network

– More centralized

– High energy requirements and compensation to nodes make it more expensive

– Increased risk of data manipulation

– Little or even zero privacy

Not everyone is a fan of enterprise blockchains

An article published by international consulting firm McKinsey & Company in January 2019 took a very cynical view on blockchain’s influence, stating that the technology has yet to become the game-changer some expected, and the bottom line is that, despite billions of dollars of investment — and nearly as many headlines — evidence for a practical, scalable use for blockchain is thin on the ground.

Jimmy Song, a Bitcoin developer and venture partner Blockchain Capital, said in an interview that private, centralized systems, such as an enterprise blockchains, “makes zero sense,” while Bill Barhydt, CEO of cryptocurrency wallet and investing app Abra, called enterprise blockchains “nonsense” during an episode of Fortune’s “Balancing The Ledger”:

“Just like people realized extranet was a waste of time, it was all about the Internet.”

Research firm Gartner held their annual Symposium event in February, and the message from them was also overwhelming to stay away from blockchain for the time being.

Gartner research fellow David Furlonger said, “It’s still not appropriate for the vast majority of enterprises to consider blockchain technology at its current level of maturity,” despite “blockchain” being the top search term on Gartner.com since January 2017.

The firm stated that blockchain still has a number of challenges that have to be overcome before enterprises can confidently implement it at scale.

Adrian Leow, research director at Gartner, also said that the majority of blockchain proof-of-concepts were based on Ethereum — followed by HyperLedger and Corda — but that businesses could expect that, within just a couple of years, another platform would replace them. He likened it to Nokia and Blackberry, which were the initial leaders in the mobile phone market, before Apple and Samsung pushed them out.

“Probably the dominant blockchain platform of the future doesn’t exist yet,” Leow said.

Furlonger added that, for an outcome on the debate of public versus public blockchains, it all depends on who you listen to on a given day:

“I often feel I’m in the middle of this maelstrom of hyperbole and general commentary in the market. Virtually every day there’s someone saying something positive or negative about blockchain.”

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The Trick to Selling Blockchain Solutions? Don't Say 'Blockchain'

When Adrian Patten, co-founder of FX blockchain project Cobalt, pitches to banks these days, he chooses his words carefully.

In a move that may do much to validate Gartner’s finding this week that blockchain hype cycle is entering the so-called “trough of disillusionment,” Patten admitted he rarely brings up the technology, choosing instead to focus on the cost savings Cobalt can bring without the benefit of some of the most popular buzzwords of the last few years.

“We try not to mention blockchain or DLT too much in case it complicates matters,” he said.

In Patten’s view, many financial firms have taken a “me too” approach with blockchain, exemplified by things like the herd of banks joining the R3 consortium. In addition, most are probably invested in too many proofs-of-concept, he said.

“They tend to think, if everybody else is in it, they ought to be in it, just in case a board member asks them what they are doing in blockchain,” he continued.

The result is that people have rushed into DLT looking to use the technology rather than considering its process requirements, message requirements and whether it actually works, added Patten. But Cobalt, which created custom distributed ledger tech for its particular post-trade use case, is not alone.

There are other companies out there with live systems that are actually doing stuff, such as Baton Systems, also in the FX space with DLT, but who are using it less publicly, or at least not letting the technology dominate their messaging.

Seeing successful firms without blockchain front and center could be viewed as refreshing, or perhaps a source of misgiving. Forrester Research projects there will be a pruning, with 90 percent of blockchain projects with a flabby business focus ultimately shutting down in the coming years.

As such, Martha Bennett, principal analyst at Forrester, went so far as to say that those who persevere will likely come to understand that succeeding “isn’t really about technology, but about business.”

After the gold rush

Ready to embrace the disillusionment, some firms don’t mind even admitting they used the term “blockchain” when in fact they were using some of its key elements, without the hype mantle, for quite some time.

Back before the bitcoin white paper was released, Guardtime was developing its Keyless Signatures Infrastructure (KSI) which uses concepts like linked time-stamping (integral to bitcoin) to eliminate the need for trusted third parties or cryptographic keys to verify data.

As the blockchain gold rush gathered pace around him, Guardtime CEO Mike Gault said he got caught up with the perceived benefits of aligning his company with the blockchain movement.

“We called ourselves a blockchain company unashamedly. We were sitting in conferences listening to all this blockchain mania starting to happen and we looked at each other and said, ‘Wait a minute, isn’t this what we do?'”

Guardtime, which boasts a broad range of users from shipping giant Maersk to the U.K.’s NHS (National Health Service), is very different from ethereum, noted Gault, but the end result is the same: a single source of truth and immutability.

Gault also derided “crypto zealots who think everything has to be decentralized,” a view which he says is “totally irrelevant for enterprise.” “We will have no problem doing a quick marketing switch when ‘blockchain’ becomes a negative, in order to return focus to our own category of KSI technology,” Gault continued.

“There will be a turning point, especially in enterprise where there are zero production use cases. People are going to see the emperor has no clothes,” he said.

Cobalt’s Patten also thinks the space is being driven in a wrong-headed fashion by “evangelists and fundamentalists.”

“The idea that every message and every part of a life cycle is going to be encrypted and decrypted when it already exists in hundreds of databases in clear text format is somewhat naive,” he said.

Taking a hard-headed business approach, he called Cobalt a product rather than a project and said, “Unless we are cutting costs by 80 percent, people are not going to move away from incumbents. We have to be much cheaper and better.”

A bank’s perspective

So how does the idea of side-stepping the blockchain evangelists resonate with a bank’s blockchain department? Turns out, the sentiment appears to be trending.

“That is exactly what we would like to see,” said Ville Sointu, head of emerging technologies at Nordea Bank. “It should be business first. We have now moved to a phase where indeed we should see more companies coming up with a clear business case and having the fact that it’s a blockchain or a DLT network in the background.”

Sointu is perhaps not a typical blockchain evangelist, however.

After being brought in at Nordea midway through last year, he gathered the blockchain team under one roof and shut down almost all the prototyping. Nordea has narrowed its efforts down to We.Trade, plus a real estate pilot with the Finnish government, and a corporate identity blockchain, which has now passed the proof-of-concept stage.

“I don’t think we need another proof-of-concept for something like KYC,” said Sointu. “We don’t need another international payments PoC; we don’t need another FX PoC. These things have been proven.”

Asked if he has started to see a trend where fintech vendors mention the business case first and blockchain second, Sointu said, “Maybe this is a call to action. But right now we don’t see too many of those.”

“Ninety-nine percent of the companies that come to talk to us say, ‘We have the world’s most scalable blockchain network and here are 100 use cases that we can use the technology for,'” he said, concluding:

“Those are not helpful at all for us.”

Silent businessman image via Shutterstock

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Software Multinational SAP Announces Launch of Cloud Blockchain Platform

Multinational software company SAP has launched a blockchain-as-a-service platform, SAP Leonardo Blockchain, the company reported Wednesday, June 6. The platform is designed to let corporate customers build applications and networks using blockchain technology.

SAP’s official announcement notes that the new blockchain service will support Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain, and will be built on top of SAP’s SAP HANA data management system.

Gil Perez, SAP’s senior vice president for product and innovation as well as head of digital customer service initiatives, explained that SAP will not commit to any one underlying distributed ledger technology in order to be more flexible as the blockchain market changes and grows.

Last fall, SAP accepted 27 new members from industries including retail, pharmaceuticals, logistics, public services and telecommunication to its blockchain program with the aim to integrate the technology into the Internet of Things, manufacturing, and supply chain solutions.

This spring, both Microsoft and Amazon announced new advances in their blockchain tech applications, with Microsoft Azure releasing its blockchain app creation service and Amazon launching blockchain frameworks for Ethereum (ETH) and Hyperledger Fabric.