Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich: cloud-based blockchain services are ready for prime time, even inside Microsoft

Among the emerging technologies of our time, blockchain technology has somehow been the recipient of both the most hype and the most disdain, thanks to the excitement around cryptocurrencies and the murky prospects for blockchain in other areas. But Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich thinks this is the year that blockchain technology outside the cryptocurrency world will become a mainstream tech, and Microsoft is putting its money where its mouth is.

Russinovich, who will kick off our GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit June 27th at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash., told Geekwire this week that “from an industry perspective, we’re seeing now blockchain go into production. People have been saying for several years, ‘this is the year of production blockchain,’ and this finally really is the year.” Shipping giant Maersk is ready to deploy a blockchain-based insurance program that was developed in part with Microsoft and EY, and Microsoft’s finance group is also about to roll out its own blockchain system in partnership with Bank of America to reduce the amount of paperwork required to complete some deals, he said.

Blockchain technology creates distributed ledgers of transactions between two parties that are publicly accessible and nearly impossible to alter. It does this by incentivizing people to use computing power to execute complicated crytographic tasks to verify the identity of the two parties in a transaction, and it’s what has turned Bitcoin into a worldwide phenomenon.

Mark Russinovich, Azure CTO, Microsoft (Microsoft Photo)
However, the wild and wacky world of cryptocurrencies isn’t for everybody, and lots of other companies and entrepreneurs have looked for ways to use blockchain technology in other industries. Microsoft is seeing the technology used to track perishable goods in agricultural supply chains, for digital-rights management, and as the underlying technology for customer reward programs, Russinovich said.

We’ll talk about blockchain technology and a lot more during Russinovich’s opening session on June 27th, so make sure to get there early, and you can register below. Now in its second year, our GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit is bringing together the leaders of the cloud computing revolution to discuss the pressing issues of this industry and share knowledge about best practices for operating within this fast-changing environment.

Our goal with the Cloud Tech Summit is to host a platform-agnostic conference, where top technology minds can exchange information, lessons and insights about the future of computing. We think the Seattle area is the best place in the world for this type of conference given the heavy concentration of developers, engineers and technical leaders who are pushing the envelope in these fields. And with this year’s lineup, we think we’ve assembled the very best non-vendor aligned cloud computing conference in the industry.

Other speakers at the event include Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare; Carlos Guestrin, senior director of AI and machine learning for Apple; and Peter DeSantis, vice president of global infrastructure for Amazon Web Services. And the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit will be a great place to learn about other core cloud technologies, including artificial intelligence and serverless computing, across our different tech tracks.

More than 600 people attended the inaugural Cloud Tech Summit last year, which you can read about here. A third of attendees are engineers, developers, designers or technical leaders. This year, we’re expecting a bigger turnout, and we are also excited to showcase a business track that will dive into the economics, sales and marketing of cloud computing services, featuring leading venture capitalists, CIOs and analysts.

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