Microsoft: Fast-growing tech firm brings diverse blockchain solutions to startups and enterprises alike

May 21, 2018

At Applied Blockchain, we focus on blockchain and Smart Contracts (verifiable digital agreements based on blockchain). Our company is just two years old, but our team of developers has created blockchain applications that are already live in production environments in both startups and enterprises that operate around the world.

Applied Blockchain’s founding team has more than 20 years of experience in fields such as IT architecture, big data, and AI, to name a few. By drawing on their experience, Applied Blockchain can build solutions that meet enterprise standards for privacy, security, and integration.

A vision of better ways to conduct business

Adi Ben-Ari, our company’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer, came across blockchain shortly after the 2015 release of Ethereum, the open-source platform that introduced Turing-complete Smart Contracts, enabling decentralized, distributed business process execution. “Smart Contracts completely blew my mind,” he says. “As a techie and an enterprise architect, I thought this was super interesting, so I started a company to innovate in this space.” With that vision in mind, Applied Blockchain approached blockchain as a way to solve integration problems—a way to help organizations, particularly larger corporations, connect to each other and connect their IT systems (enterprise messaging and integration) in a more secure way.

Solutions that serve both startups and enterprises

Our customer base is split between startups and enterprises. Enterprises often require education about how blockchain may impact their business environment. Startup founders are often experienced in a particular sector and understand how blockchain will impact that sector. They come to us for our experience and best practice to accelerate their time-to-market. APPII, one of our startup customers, is using blockchain to verify applicants’ education and work credentials with the institutions and companies on their CVs. Cygnetise uses the technology to manage corporate signatory lists to prevent unauthorized approvals. Nuggets is an e-commerce payments and ID platform that stores your personal and payment data securely in the blockchain. For corporate customers, we’ve built blockchain applications at the proof of concept, pilot, and production stage for global banks, energy companies including Shell, the airline industry, the automotive industry, telecom companies, and even global aid agencies. We’ve shown that blockchain is viable as a core business system across traditional enterprise companies and disruptive startups.

Blockchain technology that powers our business

Applied Blockchain takes advantage of blockchain technologies offered through the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. That means we build applications on top of other respected solutions with proven track records. However, we have also developed a blockchain application development framework operating on Azure that isolates the application from the underlying blockchain while making the platform’s services available to those applications. The purpose is to future-proof our customers’ solutions and give customers the option of using new, more performant blockchain platforms that may emerge. We find that Azure fully supports the open-source systems, programming tools, and methodologies that we use for software development.

We evaluated cloud technologies from other major competing providers; however, many of our customers already use Azure. For example, they may use Azure Active Directory as their enterprise user directory and Azure Key Vault to safeguard cryptographic keys. Azure solutions provide a solid foundation that we can build on, which gives us confidence that we can help our customers address their specific challenges. For Applied Blockchain, choosing Azure just made good business sense.

A valuable corporate relationship

We became interested in Microsoft for Startups (formerly BizSpark) when we connected with Microsoft in Level39, where we are headquartered. (The Level39 fintech accelerator is a connected tech community in Canary Wharf, a London-based financial center.) The Microsoft vision of blockchain very much aligned with ours, and we recognized the program’s value to help us grow more rapidly. As part of the program, Microsoft introduced us to several potential new customers. We took over from there, winning three blockchain deployments with an average of five virtual machines each—a substantial number for a startup like us. We are now a Microsoft One Commercial Partner (OCP) organization.

The blockchain concept has been around for a decade, but its application is in its early days for the customers we serve. Within their markets, these customers are the early adopters, just as Applied Blockchain is their early provider; but to serve them, we must first reach them. We continue to use Microsoft for Startups as a gateway into enterprises, as Microsoft has long-term relationships with big players who are satisfied Azure customers. The confidence that Microsoft expresses in us means those customers have more reason to select us as a partner of choice.