In an effort to strike a balance between the security and self-ownership of blockchains and the massive scale needed to create Decentralized Identifier (DID) systems, Microsoft announced a preview of ION (Identity Overlay Network).

ION is a public, permission-less, open network that anyone can use to create DIDs and manage their Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) state.

It is based on Sidetree, which is a blockchain-agnostic protocol for creating scalable DID networks. The company collaborated with Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) to run ION based on an emerging set of open standards.

This greatly improves the throughput of DID systems to achieve tens of thousands of operations per second.

“Our goal is to create a decentralized identity ecosystem where millions of organizations, billions of people, and countless devices can securely interact over an interoperable system built on standards and open source components,” said Daniel Buchner, the senior program manager at Microsoft Identity Division.

ION, like all Sidetree-based DID networks, is a combination of the core Sidetree logic module, a chain-specific read/write adapter, and a content addressable storage protocol (e.g. IPFS) that replicates data between nodes.

There are many aspects of the protocol left to implement before it is ready for testing on Bitcoin mainnet, according to a company post.  

“We’re also engaging with ecosystem partners to operate ION nodes. Collaborating with partners to validate the protocol and build out the network is an essential step in preparation for mainnet release,” said Buchner.