Tag Archives: Services

Sibos 2017

The financial services industry banks on the Microsoft Cloud for digital transformation

Financial services organizations are at a transformational tipping point. Faced with fierce market pressures – nimble disruptors, complex regulations, digital native customers – technology transformation in the industry is essential, and it’s increasingly becoming a competitive edge. Firms leading the charge into this new era are transforming customer experiences, fostering a new culture of work, optimizing operations and driving product innovation, and they are using Microsoft cloud, AI and blockchain technologies in their journey to become digital leaders of the future. TD Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui and Credito Agricola are among the organizations that have embraced this digital transformation happening in every part of the world.

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DOJ’s ‘responsible encryption’ is the new ‘going dark’

Calling on tech companies that offer encrypted services to deploy those services using “responsible encryption,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein picked up the anti-encryption baton from former FBI Director James Comey.

Rosenstein’s comments at the United States Naval Academy Tuesday echoed Comey’s position on the use of encryption by criminals and others to evade law enforcement or national security agencies. In an attempt to rebrand the debate around “going dark,” Rosenstein urged tech companies to deploy what he called “responsible encryption,” or encryption that can be bypassed by the tech company in order to provide law enforcement agencies access to encrypted data subject to a court order.

“Responsible encryption can involve effective, secure encryption that allows access only with judicial authorization,” Rosenstein said, adding that it was not necessary for the government to mandate any particular key management or escrow service, but rather for individual companies to deploy encryption or encrypted services in a way that supports a “lawful access” to encrypted data on demand by law enforcement or national security agencies.

“Look, it’s real simple. Encryption is good for our national security; it’s good for our economy. We should be strengthening encryption, not weakening it. And it’s technically impossible to have strong encryption with any kind of backdoor,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), when asked about Rosenstein’s proposal for responsible encryption at The Atlantic’s Cyber Frontier event in Washington, D.C.

“This is a conversation we’re going to be involved in forever,” Hurd said. “You can protect our digital infrastructure, chase bad guys and protect our civil liberties all at the same time. It’s hard, but we can do it. And our civil liberties are not burdens — they’re the things that make our country great. So, you can call it whatever you want, but make sure you have strong encryption.”

Look, it’s real simple. Encryption is good for our national security; it’s good for our economy. We should be strengthening encryption, not weakening it.
Rep. Will Hurd(R-Texas)

Unlike previous calls from the Department of Justice to curb secure, end-to-end encryption and put government-accessible backdoors on all data, Rosenstein suggested tech companies that offer encrypted communications services incorporate the ability to access encrypted data in response to court orders.

Rosenstein concluded by saying, “There is no constitutional right to sell warrant-proof encryption. If our society chooses to let businesses sell technologies that shield evidence even from court orders, it should be a fully informed decision.”

In other news

  • The latest company to accidentally expose data in an Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service bucket is Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services giant — and cloud service provider. Chris Vickery, cyber-risk analyst for UpGuard Inc., a cybersecurity company based in Mountain View, Calif., reported the exposure in a blog post. “Accenture, one of the world’s largest corporate consulting and management firms, left at least four cloud-based storage servers unsecured and publicly downloadable, exposing secret API data, authentication credentials, certificates, decryption keys, customer information, and more data that could have been used to attack both Accenture and its clients,” Vickery wrote. “The servers’ contents appear to be the software for the corporation’s enterprise cloud offering, Accenture Cloud Platform, a ‘multi-cloud management platform’ used by Accenture’s customers, which ‘include 94 of the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500’ — raising the possibility that, if valid, exposed Accenture data could have been used for critical secondary attacks against these clients.”
  • The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) suffered as many as 54 data breaches of personal information from the start of 2015 to the end of 2016, according to an audit by the FDIC Office of Inspector General (OIG). The FDIC, a government agency formed in the wake of the Great Depression to protect bank customers, insures all deposits at participating banks up to at least $250,000. To accomplish its mission, the FDIC collects large amounts of data, including personally identifiable information about bank customers. Writing in the audit report, which included in-depth reviews of some of the reported FDIC data breaches, the FDIC OIG “initiated this audit in response to concerns raised by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs regarding a series of data breaches reported by the FDIC in late 2015 and early 2016. Many of these data breaches involved PII.”
  • Trustwave’s SpiderLabs researchers reported a sophisticated hybrid cyberattack against banks netted thieves as much as $40 million. According to the report, the scam involved people opening bank accounts, while also breaking into the banks’ computer systems to manipulate overdraft limits on those accounts, and then having other people withdraw large amounts from ATMs abroad. While the attacks described in the SpiderLabs report were mostly against banks in post-Soviet states, the researchers warned the techniques would spread. “Currently, the attacks are localized to the Eastern European and Russian regions. However, in cybercrime, this area is often the canary in the mineshaft for upcoming threats to other parts of the world.” SpiderLabs warned: “All global financial institutions should consider this threat seriously and take steps to mitigate it.”
  • Rapid7 reported a SQL injection vulnerability in the SmartVista end-to-end banking payment software offered by Switzerland-based BPC Banking Technologies. Rapid7 first notified BPC of the vulnerability in May and, after receiving no response from BPC, notified the U.S. CERT Coordination Center in July. Rapid7 recommended SmartVista users contact BPC support directly for assistance, but in the meantime, users should limit as much as possible access to the SmartVista management interface. The security vendor also recommended performing regular audits of successful and failed logins and using web application firewalls to prevention attacks using SQL injection.

The financial services industry banks on the Microsoft Cloud for digital transformation – The Official Microsoft Blog

Financial services organizations are at a transformational tipping point. Faced with fierce market pressures – nimble disruptors, complex regulations, digital native customers – technology transformation in the industry is essential, and it’s increasingly becoming a competitive edge. Firms leading the charge into this new era are transforming customer experiences, fostering a new culture of work, optimizing operations and driving product innovation, and they are using Microsoft cloud, AI and blockchain technologies in their journey to become digital leaders of the future. TD Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui and Credito Agricola are among the organizations that have embraced this digital transformation happening in every part of the world.

Next week at Sibos, the premier financial services industry event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, myself and others from Microsoft will speak alongside other innovative business leaders driving transformation. Here are some of the scenarios and solutions Microsoft customers and partners are implementing along their journey:

Fostering a new culture of work

Fostering a digital culture is a paradigm shift, one which financial institutions must embark. Jumpstarting this culture shift means designing a workplace where every work style can thrive – one that harnesses digital intelligence to improve experiences, unleashes creativity and enables mobility while keeping organizations, people and information secure. With modern tools, employees from the first line to the back office can do their best work.

State Bank of India, a 200-year-old institution, is working with Microsoft to create a modern workplace for its 263,000 employees across 23,423 branches servicing more than 500 million customer accounts, including some in the most remote locations of the country. SBI has adopted Office 365 to enhance communication and collaboration among its workforce, and believes that Microsoft is delivering the best productivity experience for its employees while ensuring the highest standards of security, compliance and adherence to regulatory requirements.

Emirates NBD is creating more creative and collaborative workspaces for their employees, and has selected Office 365 as well as Surface Hub to deliver on their digital transformation efforts.

Transforming customer experiences

Customer expectations have changed and will continue to evolve at the speed of technology. The imperative for financial services firms is to engage customers in a way that is natural, tailored and delightful at every turn. The most innovative firms will create experiences that harness data from customers to derive actionable insights and deliver greater market success.

TD Bank is known for legendary customer service and aims to match their marquee in-person experience through digital wherever customers may be – at home, at work or on-the-go. With more than 12 million digitally active customers and expectations evolving at the speed of technology, TD has turned to Microsoft Azure and data platform services to help deliver on their promise of legendary service at every touchpoint.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation is transforming their employee workstyles and enhancing their customer experience with the Microsoft Cloud. In addition to building a secure and highly productive office environment utilizing Azure and Office 365, SMBC has also introduced an interactive automatic response system for customer service, powered by the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit and AI services.

Optimizing operations

Shifting line-of-business applications and other capabilities to the cloud is a foundational step along the digital transformation journey that enables banks to save big and reinvest dollars in more innovative, value-add banking services. It also enables firms to be more agile like their industry disruptor counterparts.

UBS is using Azure to power its risk management platform, technology that requires enormous computing power, to run millions of calculations daily on demand. The result — speeding calculation time by 100 percent, saving 40 percent in infrastructure costs, gaining nearly infinite scale within minutes — means the firm can have more working capital on hand and employees can make quicker, more informed decisions for their clients.

Société Générale is using Azure’s high-performance computing capabilities to power the credit value adjustment (CVA) intraday calculation, a critical front-office function, enabling cost-effective, almost limitless on-demand computing power.

Driving product innovation

Driving product and business model innovation allows organizations to harness data as a strategic asset, shifting from hindsight to foresight, automating manual processes, delivering personalization to customers, and innovating with new business models, services, products and experiences to differentiate and capture emerging opportunities.

Crédito Agricola considers open banking as a future standard for the financial services industry. The bank’s digital strategy on open banking seeks to leverage the cloud to provide seamless and frictionless interactions that delight their customers, while complying with regulation. Credito Agricola is using Microsoft Azure to deliver open banking capabilities like API management gateway, security and identity, as well as analytics and insights, with plans to extend their core banking services to third-party service providers.

Microsoft is collaborating with The Monetary Authority of Singapore and The Association of Banks in Singapore to support Project Ubin 2, using Azure to explore the use of blockchain for the clearing and settlement of payments and securities, a key milestone in Singapore’s ambition of becoming a Smart Financial Center.

For the financial services industry, a firm’s deliberate and strategic move to the cloud hinges on security, privacy and regulatory compliance. Microsoft is committed to earning the trust of our financial services customers. We engage with regulators in key markets to share information about our services, the related controls and our approach to enabling customer compliance. We also take input from leading banks and insurers across the globe on an ongoing basis to improve our offerings to help meet regulatory requirements. We do all of this to continue building our customers’ trust in cloud technology.

It’s incredible and humbling to be on this transformational journey with so many ambitious digital leaders. Come visit us at booth No. C46 if you’re in Toronto or follow our stories at our press site. You can also join my session at the Innotribe, “Creating Space for Innovation,” on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and see Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provide the Sibos closing plenary on Thursday, Oct. 19. Satya’s plenary will also be livestreamed here.


Tags: financial services, Sibos

Symphony collaboration takes on Teams, Slack team messaging

Symphony Communication Services, which got its start through investments from Wall Street banks, says it’s ready to take on Microsoft and Slack in the team messaging market where Symphony is a relatively minor player.

The company introduced last week features that could make it a stronger competitor against its larger rivals. The new capabilities let companies distribute a custom instance of the Symphony collaboration software to establish a private channel with customers and partners. Cisco, Microsoft and Slack recently introduced similar capabilities in their respective cloud-based collaboration products.

Also, Symphony released a module for embedding the service into websites and third-party applications. The capability could be used, for example, to provide real-time customer service.

“The Customer Engagement Platform and Embeddable Chat Module open the door for Symphony in entirely new markets — extending our platform with new solutions that allow for secure collaboration with high-value clients and counterparties,” Symphony CEO David Gurlé said in a statement.

Gurlé has big ambitions for the company he founded in 2014. In a memo obtained by Business Insider, Gurlé told employees that the company was “kicking Slack, [Microsoft] Skype for Business and Teams out of every account where we compete with them.”

Symphony collaboration software playing catch up

Gurlé’s boast, however, isn’t reflected in the latest research. “I haven’t seen anything in our data that shows that kind of momentum,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

In an April survey of 700 companies, Nemertes found 27% using team collaboration applications or planning to use them this year. Of that number, 35% used Microsoft Teams, 22% Cisco Spark and 16% Slack. Only 4% used the Symphony collaboration platform.

Symphony claims to have 235,000 licensed users across 200 companies. Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, is part of Office 365, the vendor’s cloud-based business productivity suite with 100 million monthly active commercial users. Slack claims to have 2 million paid users.

Nevertheless, Symphony has raised $233 million, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion. Its backers include Google, venture capital firms and financial institutions, such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Symphony’s strength is in its security, which stems from the company’s work with the banking industry. “I think Symphony can do well in organizations that have not yet moved to Office 365, or who do not yet feel that Teams offers acceptable security,” Lazar said.

For example, companies using Teams or Slack do not have the option of holding the encryption keys for the respective platforms — a feature that Symphony and Cisco offer. The feature is important to highly regulated businesses that do not want vendors to have the ability to decrypt message traffic.

Symphony’s and Cisco’s security advantage, however, is likely temporary. Microsoft and Slack are expected to offer on-premises encryption keys eventually.

Workday DaaS benchmarking services provide HR analytics

For the first time, Workday is offering DaaS benchmarking services the company said would extend the capabilities of its cloud platform and provide timely benchmarking metrics based on big data.

HR and IT professionals will be able to develop apps and compare the age, diversity and tenure of their workforce against similar employers, or quickly analyze talent retention rates across industry sectors.

Workday unveiled the data-as-a-service benchmarking, analytics and application development capabilities at its Workday Rising user conference in Chicago, which is overlapping with the industry’s biggest conference the same week.

The introduction came a day before the start of the HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas Oct. 10 to 13, and joined a wave of new technology announcements from major HCM suite vendors, including Oracle and Ceridian.

Customers must opt in for service

To use Workday DaaS benchmarking services, customers must legally agree to share their chosen categories of HR and finance data with Workday; the company will then aggregate the de-identified data and merge it with data from participating Workday employer clients around the world, and other data sources.

Dan Beck, senior vice president, WorkdayDan Beck

“We’re giving customers the ability to not just plan and execute – we’ve had that for some time now — but also to analyze,” Dan Beck, senior vice president of product marketing and technology strategy at Workday, told SearchHRSoftware.        

The Pleasanton, Calif. vendor originally revealed plans for its Workday Prism Analytics system last year after it acquired Platfora, a big data analytics platform developer. Workday also announced its benchmarking strategy in 2016.

Beck said the DaaS product is available immediately in Workday’s Release 29, while Prism Analytics will have “limited availability” in the current release and general availability in the second half of next year.

Screenshot of Workday benchmarking metrics showing employee turnover in an enterprise.
Workday benchmarking laptop screenshot showing employee turnover in an enterprise.

HCM analytics competition stiff

With the benchmarking move, Workday has bolstered its offerings in a competitive HCM analytics arena already filled with the likes of software giants Oracle and SAP and native HR tech vendors such as Ultimate Software.

We are not trying to compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, Azure, but we are going to offer services that make sense for Workday.
Dan BeckSVP of product marketing and technology strategy, Workday

Beck said the Workday DaaS benchmarking services would compete vigorously with benchmarking technology from ADP, the payroll outsourcing and HCM mega-vendor, which claims to have data points from 33 million workers in its cloud.

However, Beck acknowledged that Workday is only now embarking on building its data storehouse while ADP already has wide-ranging benchmarking capabilities across industries and HR categories.

Even so, he maintained that Workday would build its benchmarking data store quickly and that Workday clients would soon begin to benefit from Workday’s fully integrated and cloud-based HCM suite.

‘Sizeable number’ of customers plan to join

He noted that Workday has 26 million workers under contract with its 1,800 clients around the world, and said a “sizeable number” of customers have already said they would join the benchmarking program.

“We need customers to participate in the benchmark to populate the benchmark,” Beck said. “The really compelling data customers want around compensation, makeup of their workforce, is going to come from customers opting in.

“Even with a modest acceptance rate of taking us up on our offer, we’ll have very compelling benchmarks,” he said.

In addition to workforce composition and turnover and career retention benchmarks, Workday said in a release that its customers would also have access to a growing catalog that will include benchmarks on:

  • leadership and management effectiveness;
  • Workday usage, including system utilization and business process; and
  • financial management.

As it has traditionally, Workday emphasized in its new releases what it characterized as superior security and integration with software that provides current, reliable data in the right context of the sections of Workday its customers use most.

Workday suggests wide use of HR analytics

The company accentuated the self-service aspects of Prism Analytics in particular, saying the HR analytics capability would be usable throughout an enterprise.

Workday also showed a new user interface based on a smartphone-like card metaphor and optimized for desktop and mobile.

Beck, in the interview with SearchHRSoftware, also focused on what he said was the more advanced adaptability of the vendor’s technology ecosystem along with new extendibility of the Workday cloud HCM platform.

“We are not trying to compete with the likes of Amazon, Google, Azure, but we are going to offer services that make sense for Workday,” Beck said. “You want to build a page or a presentation service for Workday — you can. You want to access our machine learning algorithms for artificial intelligence — you can.

“We’re going to open up lots of applications … so you can build essentially enterprise-grade mashups across the entire Workday application footprint,” he said.

AWS cloud platform will share cloud computing heights, CEO Jassy says

ORLANDO, Fla. — Andy Jassy is confident that Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing division, will remain the world’s top-selling cloud infrastructure provider. The word the CEO gave is optimistic.

But AWS won’t be the world’s only cloud provider, Jassy said.

“There’s not going to be only one successful company,” Jassy said at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here Monday. He predicts companies moving applications and data to the cloud will go with two or more of a cluster of large providers, which include Microsoft, Google and IBM.

But for most companies, Jassy said, multicloud won’t mean splitting workloads evenly among different providers. Many CIOs and IT leaders start off thinking they’ll do that, but “very few end up going that route.”

For one thing, multiple cloud platforms means multiple systems for cloud teams to learn and keep straight, he said. And cloud providers offer volume discounts to companies — the more cloud they use, the better the price. If companies divvy up their workloads, they lose their buying power.

Instead, most companies pick one provider and then put a small percentage of their workloads in a second one. They do this to avoid vendor lock-in and give them the option to switch if the first vendor raises its prices or goes out of business, Jassy said.

The AWS cloud platform will be the primary cloud for many companies, he said, because the company has “so much more functionality than anybody else, a much larger and more mature ecosystem and then a much more mature platform.”

AWS was launched in 2006, and rivals have struggled to keep up with its fast growth and pace of innovation. But in August, AWS tied Microsoft’s Azure for best cloud platform in Gartner’s annual ranking of cloud providers.

Focus on customer needs

Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer interviewed Jassy onstage in front of thousands of CIOs and IT leaders, and asked Jassy about the factors that helped AWS grow so big so fast.

About 90% of what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters to them. The other 10% is listening to customers really carefully about what they’re trying to solve.
Andy JassyCEO, Amazon Web Services

“About 90% of what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters to them. The other 10% is listening to customers really carefully about what they’re trying to solve,” Jassy said. AWS puts this to practice in its product development. Once it launches a new product or service, it examines customer feedback, makes adjustments and tries again.

Another way AWS distinguishes itself, Jassy said, is through its customer support function called Trusted Advisor, which surveys how customers are using AWS and then alerts them if they’re using it in a “suboptimal way.”

If, for example, a customer has a lot of virtual machines in the AWS cloud but isn’t using them, “we’ll send out a note saying, ‘Hey, maybe you want to stop spending money with us, and you can resume spending money when you need it.'”

AWS has sent millions of such notices out to customers over the last few years and as a result has saved them $500 million a year, Jassy said.

But AWS gets dinged by customers, too. In an unofficial survey of about 75 people, Plummer found that people were frustrated by the deluge of AWS cloud platform features — and how they’re accounted for in infamously confusing bills.

“Nobody knows what they’re paying for,” he said.

Jassy said that for some companies keeping up with the number of new features and services is “sometimes daunting” — there were more than 1,000 in 2016 and 1,250 are expected by the end of the year. Customers are happy with the cost savings and innovation they afford them, he said. But they’ve also told AWS it needs to simplify things.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress there, but we still have work to do,” Jassy said.

A call to cloud

Jassy would find an ally in Sasi Pillay, who was in the audience. Now vice president of IT services and CIO at Washington State University, Pillay is a longtime advocate of cloud computing.

Pillay moved external websites to AWS as CTO at space agency NASA, and now he’s trying to do the same at WSU, where websites are hosted on premises.

“My long-term vision is to own as little IT assets as possible and instead focus on delivering solutions for our customers,” he said.

To determine what faculty, staff and students need from technology, Pillay has worked to streamline the governance structure through which IT discusses projects with working groups, deans and the university cabinet. Also in the works are a student survey, an interactive list of IT projects students can vote on and a hackathon in which they can develop mobile applications that IT can later deploy.

Pillay saw a clear parallel between the partnership he’s forming with WSU constituents and the one AWS has made with its customers.

“I think that’s what AWS is trying to do with its customers. Instead of being just a service provider, it’s becoming a strategic partner,” he said.

Catch up on Azure Networking and Azure Active Directory news from Microsoft Ignite – The Fire Hose

Infographic showing VNet Service Endpoints in Azure
VNet Service Endpoints restricts Azure services to be accessed only from a VNet.

Virtual Network Service Endpoints in Azure and expanded conditional access capabilities for Azure Active Directory were among the announcements made at the Microsoft Ignite conference this week in Orlando, Florida.

“As you continue to bring your mission-critical workloads to Azure, we will continue to simplify the overall network management, security, scalability, availability and performance of your applications,” writes Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking.

Azure services such as Storage and SQL have internet-facing IP addresses, and many customers would prefer that their Azure services not be exposed directly to the internet, Khalidi says. “Virtual Network Service Endpoints extend your virtual network private address space and the identity of your VNet to Azure services. You can restrict Azure resources to only be accessed from your VNet and not via the internet.”

Meanwhile, Alex Simons, director of program management for the Microsoft Identity Division, writes about a new wave of scenarios that expand conditional access capabilities, including integration across Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) Azure Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security services, also announced at Ignite.

Learn more by visiting the Microsoft Azure Blog and the Enterprise Mobility and Security Blog.

Tags: Azure, azure active directory, Ignite 2017, Security

CloudBees, partners add Jenkins services, security

The Jenkins DevOps world has recently gained a series of new services, including advisory and managed services, new security capabilities and database support.

For instance, among the new Jenkins services, CloudBees recently delivered a new, free service, CloudBees Jenkins Advisor, which will analyze any Jenkins continuous delivery environment and provide users with information on issues and performance.

Announced at the company’s Jenkins World conference at the end of August, CloudBees Jenkins Advisor identifies potential issues and advises organizations on corrective actions that can be taken to prevent problems that might affect software delivery, uptime or performance. The service is based on an expansive knowledge base CloudBees has amassed over the years.

“We want to ensure that developers get the best, smoothest experience out of Jenkins. Outages, performance issues and other problems can hurt people’s confidence in software delivery automation,” said Kohsuke Kawaguchi, Jenkins’ founder and CTO at CloudBees, based in San Jose, Calif., in a statement. “With CloudBees Jenkins Advisor, we can proactively identify potential issues for our users in Jenkins, administrators can nip problems in the bud and everyone can focus on other, more important things.”

DevOps Managed Services

We want to ensure that developers get the best, smoothest experience out of Jenkins. Outages, performance issues and other problems can hurt people’s confidence in software delivery automation.
Kohsuke KawaguchiJenkins founder and CTO at CloudBees

Meanwhile, for those interested in managed Jenkins services, CloudBees also introduced DevOps Managed Services, an offering delivered by managed service providers (MSPs) and powered by CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise — the company’s enterprise-grade Jenkins implementation.

CloudBees has certified five MSPs — with whom it will provide technical expertise and 24/7 support — that will provide CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise as a managed service. The initial group of partners providing managed Jenkins services includes CloudHesive, Digital OnUs, iTMethods, Microland and TriNimbus.

Stas Zvinyatskovsky, managing director of modern engineering at Accenture, said the company began its DevOps journey 15 years ago, as it started centralizing a build-and-release infrastructure for its teams.

The company eventually standardized on Jenkins and found its greatest DevOps challenge to be scale.

“We have 400,000-plus employees and 25,000 unique users on our infrastructure, and they have their unique needs,” Zvinyatskovsky said. “We solve that by running CloudBees at the core as the engine. We also have our own Accenture DevOps platform, ADOP [Accenture DevOps Platform], that allows us to repeatedly and reliably deploy continuous delivery pipelines from team to team with best practices codified in those pipelines.”

DevOps security testing

For its part, Checkmarx, an application security software company, introduced a new release of its Interactive Application Security Testing product, CxIAST. The product enables continuous application security testing in real time, so software delivery schedules are not affected by security testing.

In addition to CxIAST, the Checkmarx application security platform features a secure coding platform known as Codebashing, a static application security testing tool known as CxSAST and an open source analysis tool known as CxOSA, which all complement each other.

Maty Siman, CTO and founder of Checkmarx, said the company’s application security platform “correlates data and results from all Checkmarx products across the software development lifecycle and then leverages that information intelligently to generate fast, accurate and actionable results.”

DevOps to the database

Finally, Datical, a provider of database release automation technology, has delivered a plug-in that brings DevOps to the database.

The Datical integration for Jenkins enables users to access Datical DB’s database release automation capabilities directly from Jenkins, without having to write scripts or command lines. The integration of Datical and Jenkins enables users to bring continuous integration to their database changes, the company said.

Pete Pickerill, vice president of product strategy and co-founder of Datical in Austin, Texas, said the plug-in allows development teams to manage database releases the same way they manage application releases.

Moreover, CloudBees’ Kawaguchi said a common challenge for Jenkins users moving to continuous delivery is how to handle the database.

Thus, “It’s great to see Datical integrating their technology with Jenkins Pipeline to give Jenkins users the tools to solve one of the harder problems in continuous delivery,” he said in a statement.

Oracle Universal Credits another shot directed at AWS

Oracle continues to do everything it can to compete with Amazon Web Services, but the question remains whether IT pros will take the bait.

This week, the company introduced Oracle Universal Credits for cloud consumption to allow customers under one contract to spend on a pay-as-you-go, monthly or yearly basis. Oracle claims its software license agreement (SLA) will guarantee Oracle databases can run on Oracle Cloud for 50% less than on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Oracle Universal Credits can be used for infrastructure as a service and platform as a service (PaaS) across Oracle Cloud services, such as Oracle Cloud and Oracle Cloud at Customer. Customers are allowed to switch across services at any time.

Oracle also introduced a “Bring Your Own License” program for customers to use their own existing licenses for PaaS.

Oracle Universal Credits is something that piques the interest of at least one current Oracle Cloud customer.

“Universal Credits are a great program for budgeting and controlling speed, while still providing great flexibility,” said Nikunj Mehta, founder and CEO of Falkonry Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif., startup that provides artificial intelligence for operational intelligence. “Oracle’s move toward pricing innovation parallels T-Mobile’s business model disruption and has the real potential of shaking up the industry.”

But it won’t be easy for Oracle to sustain, analysts said.

“The SLA guaranteeing that Oracle databases are cheaper than AWS by 50% is a big commitment,” said Jean Atelsek, analyst with 451 Research. “As AWS continues to cut its prices, it’ll effectively squeeze Oracle to cut its pricing.”

Few would argue that Oracle licensing methods could use some clarification. In February of this year, Oracle effectively doubled its licensing requirements for customers that run its software on other cloud platforms, such as AWS and Azure.

While Oracle continues to make strategic moves aimed at AWS, the licensing model could also signify a way for the company to bridge its on-premises and cloud business closer together in an easier transition from legacy products into the cloud.

“It’s about time Oracle figured out those of us with on-premises licenses were not going to just abandon our perpetual license and jump to the cloud,” said Brian Peasland, an Oracle database administrator and TechTarget contributor, about Oracle Universal Credits. “Oracle licensing is not cheap, and it is a long-term investment. It’s nice to know we can leverage that investment to help move to the cloud.” 

Oracle autonomous database details emerge

The company has also provided more details on its autonomous database, which also aims to lower overall cloud costs. The automated database will be based on machine learning, and Oracle said it guarantees 99.995% uptime, which amounts to less than 30 minutes of planned downtime per year.

Automated operations for databases are an important part of Oracle’s effort to become a full-fledged cloud provider, both for customers looking to move work to the cloud and for providers such as Oracle that must efficiently take over day-to-day administration work from customers.

Success on the cloud is crucial to Oracle. It is, in the estimation of IDC analyst Carl Olofson, an issue of “survival.”

“The big picture for Oracle is to lead the customer to the cloud,” Olofson said, while cautioning that the move to cloud for most organizations is “still in its early days.”

The biggest challenge for Oracle going forward with its new licensing scheme is to convince customers it truly is simplifying how they pay.

“[Oracle] is notorious for complex licensing structures. … A lot of customers [and ex-customers] are very wary when it comes to Oracle licensing,” said Bob Sheldon, an analyst and TechTarget contributor. “Oracle could have an uphill battle convincing them that the company can be trusted.”

A notable feature missing from Oracle this week revolves around hybrid, Sheldon said, who noted that the new Oracle licensing structure on paper could stand to be a “boon to hybrid implementations.”

At next month’s Oracle OpenWorld event, the company is expected to provide details on Oracle 18, or 2018 — not Oracle As recently reported, it will change the cadence of release cycles and a version-numbering scheme that had become a bit creaky.

In July, Oracle added its SaaS offering to its Oracle Cloud at Customer portfolio. Built on Oracle Database Exadata Cloud, Oracle Integration Cloud, Identity Services and more, this package is seen as a way to prepare Oracle customers for the flight to cloud.

SearchOracle Senior News Writer Jack Vaughn also contributed to this report.

Comcast networking adds ActiveCore SD-WAN; AT&T NetBond tackles cloud

Comcast Business has launched its software-defined networking platform for managed services, and rival AT&T, which introduced its SDN platform last year, is focusing on providing connectivity to multiple clouds.

The announcements, made this week, demonstrates how the managed service providers are leveraging SDN to deliver network services to enterprises. Comcast Business, a subsidiary of cable company Comcast, launched SD-WAN as the first Comcast networking offering on the ActiveCore platform while AT&T is focusing on improving cloud connectivity.

Comcast is the first U.S. cable company to provide a managed SD-WAN service, which will compete with similar offerings from internet service providers and telcos, including AT&T. Comcast Business is using Versa Network’s SD-WAN, which Comcast had been making available to enterprises on a trial basis since May.

SD-WAN provides companies with more efficient use of network connections at branch offices. Administrators can configure the software to direct latency-sensitive traffic, such as video conferencing, over highly reliable MPLS links while lower priority traffic is sent to cheaper broadband connections. Companies also use SD-WAN to incorporate 4G LTE as a backup link.

SD-WAN as a managed service on Comcast networking

Network service providers are launching SD-WAN-as-a-service products to grab a share of a fast-growing market. Worldwide revenue from SD-WAN is growing by 90% annually and will top $6 billion by 2020, according to IDC. Service providers will account for more than a third of the overall market.

Comcast hosts its SD-WAN controller in its data center and provides customers with an on-premises device that connects to the software. The company plans to launch other services on ActiveCore, which is essentially a platform for running and managing virtualized network functions (VNF). Comcast provides a customer portal for configuring services.

The cable operator pairs ActiveCore with its upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 Comcast networking service, which provides 1 Gbps internet speeds.

AT&T NetBond for Cloud

In March 2016, AT&T introduced its SDN platform, called Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy, or ECOMP. The software platform is used to deliver a variety of on-demand network services, including Ethernet connectivity, IP VPNs and other WAN services.

The latest version of NetBond for Cloud is a separate software-based service for routing traffic directly from customer locations to multiple cloud environments. The service connects through a MPLS-based private VPN.

NetBond, according to AT&T, avoids traffic slowdowns that occur when cloud traffic has to go through a company’s data center before heading to the internet. Also, AT&T can automatically increase bandwidth to accommodate unexpected or peak traffic loads.

AT&T first introduced NetBond in 2013. Since then, more than 20 companies providing cloud-based services have joined the NetBond partner program. They include Amazon, Box, IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce.