Closing skills gaps in manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is being transformed by the rise in new digital industrial technology, known as Industry 4.0. New technologies are changing every stage of production, increasing productivity, optimizing operations, and unlocking new areas of growth. In order for manufacturers to capture the value this technology unlocks, they’ll need to ensure their workforce has the right skills and the right tools.

This is especially true as it relates to an organization’s Firstline Workforce. In manufacturing, Firstline Workers are the employees who deliver products and materials, drive product quality, and keep critical equipment running. To help manufacturers with their digital transformation, we’re enabling new ways to work with Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate more effectively.

Upskilling and equipping the Firstline Workforce

With the rise of Industry 4.0, manufacturers must reimagine the roles, skills, and tools to transform work throughout their organization. This means providing digital and soft skills, empowering workers with modern tools, and blurring the boundaries of technology with new immersive experiences. In an increasingly digital and complex landscape, the types of skills that employees need are rapidly evolving, and it is increasingly difficult for the workforce to keep pace.

Solutions in Microsoft 365 that enable Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate include:

  • Using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online, manufacturers can securely centralize training efforts, easily distribute onboarding and training materials, and connect all levels of the organization to find and share best practices.

  • Using Microsoft Stream, organizations can deliver dynamic, role-based content and video to increase engagement and retention of training programs and support peer-to-peer information sharing.

To help equip workers to operate in a digitally-enabled manufacturing environment, Teams provides a single hub for teamwork to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate production from the engineering rooms to the factory floor.

  • Earlier this year, we announced new capabilities—including urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations—which organizations can use to create a safer and more efficient workplace. For example, these features can help workers identify, communicate, and share the location of hazardous spills to help reduce operational disruptions.

Image of three phones displaying urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations in Teams.

  • Additionally, Microsoft Teams is extensible and allows companies to transform business processes using Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. These services help to digitize everyday activities—such as documentation during quality assurance, data capture, and inventory management—helping reduce costs and free up time for Firstline Workers to focus on higher value activities.

As Industry 4.0 reshapes the manufacturing industry, finding new innovations to help workers learn, communicate, and collaborate remains a top priority. Microsoft is addressing these challenges through breakthroughs in hardware design, artificial intelligence (AI) experiences, mixed reality with HoloLens 2, and through business-ready solutions with Dynamics 365 and industry partners.

  • Using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, technicians can solve problems faster by calling in remote experts via Microsoft Teams to help walk through repairs using mixed reality annotations, sharing diagrams and schematics. And with Dynamics 365 Guides, employees can learn new skills with step-by-step instructions that guide employees to the tools they need and how to use them in real work situations.

Helping our customers succeed

Leading manufacturers choose Microsoft 365 to prepare, equip, and empower their employees at all levels:

To accelerate productivity and information flow, Cummins replaced its existing productivity and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365, introducing a modern knowledge management and collaboration framework to reduce skills gaps and anchor a new culture of work.

Our modern, tech-driven workplaces give employees the tools they need to innovate, so we can introduce new energy products and technology solutions to the market. It’s also a key strategy in attracting top talent.”
—Sherry Aaholm, VP and CIO for Cummins

Goodyear is using the integrated and adaptive tools in Microsoft 365 to help accelerate innovation and enable new capabilities inside the company. For example, Goodyear is connecting its workforce via tools like Teams, which is driving productivity and generating efficiencies to deliver the right products to the right place at the right time.

“Enhancing collaboration is crucial to us for improved decision making and to drive innovation, both in tires and beyond tires… Our multigenerational and multicultural global workforce is now sharing perspectives and ideas more quickly and easily than ever.”
—Sherry Neubert, CIO for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

We’re incredibly excited about our opportunity to help manufacturers transform and we are just getting started!

Join us at Hannover Messe and learn more

Next week, members of the Microsoft team will be at Hannover Messe, the annual manufacturing conference. Visit us at Microsoft stand C40 and learn how Microsoft is enabling Intelligent Manufacturing.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Windows Server cluster sets add more protection to workloads

Microsoft upped the ante with its failover clustering technology in the latest Windows Server 2019 release to give organizations the scale-out abilities that had only been available from a cloud provider until now.

Windows Server cluster sets give enterprises more flexibility by connecting multiple clusters to aid certain procedures, such as increased VM mobility. The Windows Server cluster sets feature removes the need to build one extremely large cluster and spreads the workload across many connected clusters.

Windows Server cluster sets give added elasticity

The care and feeding of critical workloads can still take up a good portion of an administrator’s day. One way to prevent an outage is to deploy a failover cluster to reduce the risk of downtime.

Companies that invest in Windows Server 2019 have a new option for added high availability with the cluster sets feature. This technology joins multiple clusters that might not even reside in the same data center and eases traditional administrative headaches, such as decommissioning an older cluster.

Multiple elements make up a Windows Server cluster set

Building a cloudlike feature like a cluster set requires a number of underlying technologies working in sync to keep VMs moving across the network to avoid disruption. Once deployed, a Windows Server cluster set makes adjustments automatically, but administrators should have an understanding of how the different components interact.

Each cluster set has a cluster set master and a cluster set worker. The former ensures each cluster can talk to each other in the event the management cluster fails. A cluster set worker resides in each cluster to help the cluster set master with certain operations, such as the positioning of VMs in a cluster.
Some assembly required with Windows Server cluster sets.

It won’t come as a surprise to many administrators, especially those who like to live on the cutting edge of Microsoft technology, that the deployment and management of a cluster set will require some help from PowerShell.

Microsoft provides new cmdlets to uncork the scale-out clustering technology and assist with its maintenance. These PowerShell commands perform different tasks, such as building the cluster set master that facilitates communication between the clusters and collecting logs for the IT staff to review.

Cluster sets will require some manual effort

Windows Server cluster sets offer a lot of promise to overworked administrators who flinch every time a help desk ticket hits their desk. But, despite all the potential to ease some of the operational burden, this functionality has some limits.

For example, clusters built on Windows Server versions older than 2019 cannot join a cluster set. But there are ways to get around this limitation by using the rolling upgrade function to make the cluster compatible with the cluster set requirement.

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Backblaze cloud backup pays off for financial software firm

Talisys IT staff members Chadd Warwick and Simon Battersby like the Backblaze cloud backup their company uses so much, they also pay for the service at home.

Warwick, a systems architect at the financial software company, said he can’t think of another product on his work desk that he pays to use personally.

“The fact that we run it at home says a lot,” Warwick said.

Firing up Backblaze backup

Talisys, which is based in Colorado and serves brokerage firms, has been using Backblaze cloud backup for about six years.

Warwick said Talisys also looked at Carbonite, which was a popular choice at the time. But he didn’t like Carbonite’s per-usage cost. Backblaze offered unlimited use, charging per OS on a month-to-month basis.

“From a budgetary perspective, it was and still is the easiest product to deal with,” Warwick said. “Backblaze, not only does it work, it’s a set price.”

Backup is useless if you can’t restore it.
Chadd WarwickSystems architect, Talisys

Talisys uses Backblaze cloud backup for its user protection system. The company uses mainly Veeam Software with some Commvault to back up its data center, but Backblaze is for its end users’ computers. Talisys uses Hitachi Vantara and Cisco for primary storage.

Battersby, an IT analyst, said Backblaze is easy to use and simple to manage. Users can fully function without the need for training, and IT doesn’t have to deal with infrastructure, because the product is cloud-based.

Users have needed to recover files from their backups, and they can get into the program and function without IT support. They can also recover a file at home rather than having to go back to the office.

“Backup is useless if you can’t restore it,” Warwick said.

Talisys carries 130 licenses for the product and protects about 125 TB. The company generally carries five to 10 more licenses than it uses, so a new worker can immediately access it.

Warwick said he’d like to see enhanced reporting within the product, but, generally, Backblaze cloud backup does exactly what the vendor claims. And he’s happy that his multiple terabytes of personal data are also under its protection. So is Battersby. He recalled a time when a melted hard drive resulted in lost baby pictures, but now he has Backblaze at home to protect personal files.

Backblaze builds a bridge for backup

Backblaze Cloud Backup 6.0 released in early 2019 features larger restore sizes and the ability to save backed up data to cloud storage snapshots.

Backblaze doubled the capacity of its restore hard drives. For the Restore by Mail feature, a $99 flash key now holds up to 256 GB, and a $189 hard drive now holds up to 8 TB.

Yev Pusin, Backblaze director of marketing, said Restore by Mail can help in the event of a complete system failure, because downloading a full restore over the internet could take too long and use up too much bandwidth.

Users can also now zip and archive backups to a snapshot in Backblaze’s B2 Cloud Storage. The files are available until the user deletes the snapshot. That’s even if the user has deleted the original files from the computer and backup.

“It’s essentially a bridge between the two,” Pusin said of Backblaze cloud backup and B2.

Screenshot of saving backup files to B2
Backblaze enables users to archive backups to a snapshot in B2 Cloud Storage.

B2 Cloud Storage costs half a penny per gigabyte, per month. It’s 1 cent per gigabyte to download the data if the user needs it back.

Warwick said Talisys could use the B2 feature as an archive, for example, with data after an employee leaves.

Backblaze claims to have more than 750 petabytes of data under management and to have restored about 40 billion files.

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For Sale – 27″ iMac 2015 model

Hey Guys
up for sale my

iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Mid 2015)
3.3 GHz Intel Core i5
8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
AMD Radeon R9 M290 2048 MB

Have original box etc , will send by UPS which should cost about 25-30 max

I havent updated to latest OS but i believe i will have to install it before sale

Price and currency: 900
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: bacs
Location: london
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
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  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

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IBM-Red Hat merger timing, fairness in question

Ed Scannell and Chris Kanaracus

Red Hat posted 2019 year-end financial results this week that exceeded analyst expectations, but the company said nothing about its pending $34 billion purchase by IBM as industry experts question the value to Linux users and whether the deal will actually close in the second half of this year.

While major roadblocks to the IBM-Red Hat merger have yet to become public, its sheer size has some industry observers in speculation mode.

“If this deal doesn’t go through, it wouldn’t be a problem for anyone except IBM,” said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC in Gilford, N.H. “People are quite happy with an independent Red Hat overseeing the development of an important product like Linux along with a cloud software infrastructure stack.”

For the most part, IT pros weren’t excited about the deal because of what IBM brings to Red Hat, but what Red Hat brings to IBM, Gardner said. This is reflected in the “staggering” $34 billion IBM paid for Red Hat, he added.

Meanwhile, Red Hat’s fourth quarter revenue jumped 14% to $879 million, with the full 2019 fiscal year total at $3.4 billion, a 15% rise. Fourth-quarter profits were $139 million, compared to a loss of $12 million one year prior. Full-year net income was $434 million, up from $262 million the year before.

Red Hat did not hold a conference call to discuss its results, in part presumably to avoid answering questions about the status of the IBM deal. The company also did not provide financial outlook projections for 2020. This is not surprising, given the constraints both companies are under to avoid statements that could impact their stock prices while the deal remains under review.

Red Hat’s earnings follow published reports that U.S. authorities charged with probing the deal have made a second inquiry for information.

IBM and Red Hat previously said they expect the deal, which was announced in October, to close in the second half of this year. Red Hat shareholders overwhelmingly approved the merger in January.

“We continue to work together with IBM to receive the necessary transaction approvals,” a Red Hat spokesperson said Monday via email.

The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.

Hybrid cloud presents opportunity, possible hindrance for IBM-Red Hat deal

Some analysts speculated the reported second inquiry made by DOJ had to do with IBM partnering with Red Hat to dominate the hybrid cloud market. In a keynote speech at IBM’s Think conference in February, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said she expected that strategically important market would grow to be worth $1 trillion.

Whoever gains control over the hybrid market will have more to do with economics than technology, something that always draws the attention of the DOJ. If IBM can approach a large Red Hat user organization and undercut all of the other public cloud providers, for instance, that is something even larger companies will find hard to pass up.

“Whoever establishes the de facto standard for hybrid clouds will be hugely influential,” Gardner said. “They will have an extreme ability to leverage things when it comes to price.”

Approval of the IBM-Red Hat merger could come later than predicted if the second inquiry by the DOJ involves deep investigation into new claims by competitors or users, IT industry experts said.

If anyone thought this was going to get done in 90 days or six months, they are nuts.
Frank DzubeckPresident, Communications Network Architects

“If anyone thought this was going to get done in 90 days or six months, they are nuts,” said Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, a consultancy in Washington, D.C. “There’s a better bet it will take a year.”

Any deal of this magnitude would draw the attention of the DOJ, Dzubeck said. With the Trump administration in power — an administration whose trade deals and proposed trade deals have been heavily scrutinized — approval could be a lengthier process.

“They can’t rubber-stamp anything now,” Dzubeck said. “Every move they make has someone coming out to take a shot at them, especially when 800-pound gorillas are involved.”

A research report issued late last month by Manalo LLP, a London-based firm that provides research to investors around mergers and acquisitions, concluded that from an antitrust point of view, the proposed deal “has presented a degree of complexity due to the parties’ long-standing vertical relationships.” It contended that IBM and Red Hat act more as partners than competitors and collaborate closely on Linux.

The report noted that investigators could “probe whether IBM has enough incentive to shift or shape” their vertical relationship in a way that later on could prove anticompetitive. One possibility could be IBM holding up delivery to competitors of key software offerings or crippling compatibility with competitors’ products.

“This parallels Apple’s situation where they own a platform (the App Store) but are competing against companies selling apps on that same platform,” Dzubeck said. “Some see this as a heavy conflict of interests.”

Linux users, enterprises mum on IBM-Red Hat merger

Earlier this month, the D.C.-based nonprofit lobbying group Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) issued a letter that decried the pending merger as detrimental to modern computing.

“At present, Red Hat controls the most important Linux distribution for Internet and cloud servers,” KEI director James Love said in the letter. “If IBM acquires Red Hat, the trust in Red Hat will be eroded, and IBM will have powerful incentives to influence Red Hat’s software development efforts towards providing special functionality and benefits to IBM and the IBM cloud services, and even to degrade the functionality of services to companies that compete directly with IBM, or fail to buy services from IBM.”

KEI hasn’t been joined by a broader chorus of critics, in particular ones with a more direct stake in the cloud computing market.

If those groups and other constituencies, such as Red Hat customers themselves, have no quarrel with IBM’s move, the deal will get approved that much more easily, Love said in an interview.

“It really depends on some of the better-known groups in the software developer community,” he said.

The most prominent among those would arguably be The Linux Foundation, which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds and has broad participation and funding from tech industry players both large and small.

The Linux Foundation spokesperson Emily Olin declined to take a stance on the IBM-Red Hat merger. “As a member-based nonprofit, we have to remain vendor-neutral,” she said.

The IBM-Red Hat deal is hardly a compelling issue for most enterprise IT shops as many are committed to Windows Server.

“There has been zero discussion within our company or the end users’ companies we work on site with regarding Linux,” said one solutions architect with a large service provider that implements mission-critical projects.

There is precedent for community opposition halting, or at least slowing down, major tech deals over open source software-related concerns. MySQL database co-creator Michael “Monty” Widenius mounted a heated campaign against Oracle’s 2009 acquisition of Sun Microsystems, arguing that the open source database’s prospects under Oracle ownership would be at risk.

The European Commission launched an investigation into the deal in September 2009, but concluded in January 2010 that it posed no significant anticompetitive threats. Questions about the future of Sun SPARC and Solaris technologies under Oracle remain in question.

MySQL has remained under development by Oracle and Widenius has built a company around MariaDB, which is rooted in a fork of the MySQL codebase.

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For Sale – Custom-Made Gaming PC – AWD-IT Falcon Blue – High-Spec! – DELIVERY AVAILABLE

For sale a custom built Falcon Blue gaming computer by AWD-IT. Computer has a high specification as follows:

OS: Windows 10 Home x64
Motherboard: Asus H110M
Processor: Intel Core i5-7400 @3.00GHz
RAM: 8gb
Graphics Card: nVidia GTX 1060 6gb
Hard drive: 1TB
USB: 4 x 3.0, 6 x 2.0 (serial keyboard and serial mouse)
Display: VGA, 2 x DVI, 3 x Display Port, 1 x HDMI
Disk drive: DVD R/RW
Fans: 2- user controlled variable speed
PSU: 500w
Case lighting: blue
Dimensions: 50cm (h) x 48cm (d) x 18cm (w)

Computer is in perfect condition and has barely been used. It has been reset and fully updated on Windows 10 (as at 06/02/19).

The protective covering is still fixed to the clear side panel. The computer comes with original box, packaging, power cable and invoice.

Screen, mouse and keyboard not included.

Price and currency: 400
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: Cash or transfer prior to taking item
Location: Bristol
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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Closing skills gaps in manufacturing

The manufacturing industry is being transformed by the rise in new digital industrial technology, known as Industry 4.0. New technologies are changing every stage of production, increasing productivity, optimizing operations, and unlocking new areas of growth. In order for manufacturers to capture the value this technology unlocks, they’ll need to ensure their workforce has the right skills and the right tools.

This is especially true as it relates to an organization’s Firstline Workforce. In manufacturing, Firstline Workers are the employees who deliver products and materials, drive product quality, and keep critical equipment running. To help manufacturers with their digital transformation, we’re enabling new ways to work with Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate more effectively.

Upskilling and equipping the Firstline Workforce

With the rise of Industry 4.0, manufacturers must reimagine the roles, skills, and tools to transform work throughout their organization. This means providing digital and soft skills, empowering workers with modern tools, and blurring the boundaries of technology with new immersive experiences. In an increasingly digital and complex landscape, the types of skills that employees need are rapidly evolving, and it is increasingly difficult for the workforce to keep pace.

Solutions in Microsoft 365 that enable Firstline Workers to learn, communicate, and collaborate include:

  • Using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online, manufacturers can securely centralize training efforts, easily distribute onboarding and training materials, and connect all levels of the organization to find and share best practices.

  • Using Microsoft Stream, organizations can deliver dynamic, role-based content and video to increase engagement and retention of training programs and support peer-to-peer information sharing.

To help equip workers to operate in a digitally-enabled manufacturing environment, Teams provides a single hub for teamwork to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate production from the engineering rooms to the factory floor.

  • Earlier this year, we announced new capabilities—including urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations—which organizations can use to create a safer and more efficient workplace. For example, these features can help workers identify, communicate, and share the location of hazardous spills to help reduce operational disruptions.

Image of three phones displaying urgent messaging, location sharing, and image annotations in Teams.

  • Additionally, Microsoft Teams is extensible and allows companies to transform business processes using Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. These services help to digitize everyday activities—such as documentation during quality assurance, data capture, and inventory management—helping reduce costs and free up time for Firstline Workers to focus on higher value activities.

As Industry 4.0 reshapes the manufacturing industry, finding new innovations to help workers learn, communicate, and collaborate remains a top priority. Microsoft is addressing these challenges through breakthroughs in hardware design, artificial intelligence (AI) experiences, mixed reality with HoloLens 2, and through business-ready solutions with Dynamics 365 and industry partners.

  • Using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, technicians can solve problems faster by calling in remote experts via Microsoft Teams to help walk through repairs using mixed reality annotations, sharing diagrams and schematics. And with Dynamics 365 Guides, employees can learn new skills with step-by-step instructions that guide employees to the tools they need and how to use them in real work situations.

Helping our customers succeed

Leading manufacturers choose Microsoft 365 to prepare, equip, and empower their employees at all levels:

To accelerate productivity and information flow, Cummins replaced its existing productivity and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365, introducing a modern knowledge management and collaboration framework to reduce skills gaps and anchor a new culture of work.

Our modern, tech-driven workplaces give employees the tools they need to innovate, so we can introduce new energy products and technology solutions to the market. It’s also a key strategy in attracting top talent.”
—Sherry Aaholm, VP and CIO for Cummins

Goodyear is using the integrated and adaptive tools in Microsoft 365 to help accelerate innovation and enable new capabilities inside the company. For example, Goodyear is connecting its workforce via tools like Teams, which is driving productivity and generating efficiencies to deliver the right products to the right place at the right time.

“Enhancing collaboration is crucial to us for improved decision making and to drive innovation, both in tires and beyond tires… Our multigenerational and multicultural global workforce is now sharing perspectives and ideas more quickly and easily than ever.”
—Sherry Neubert, CIO for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

We’re incredibly excited about our opportunity to help manufacturers transform and we are just getting started!

Join us at Hannover Messe and learn more

Next week, members of the Microsoft team will be at Hannover Messe, the annual manufacturing conference. Visit us at Microsoft stand C40 and learn how Microsoft is enabling Intelligent Manufacturing.

Go to Original Article
Author: Microsoft News Center

Server 2008 R2 end of life hitting home for many in IT

The end of the road for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 is rapidly approaching, but the migration path is not so clear for many in IT.

The Windows Server 2008 R2 end of life is January 2020. Microsoft is using this deadline to make a move to its Azure cloud platform seem more attractive, but many on-premises workloads currently running in the data center might stay there for the foreseeable future.

Windows Server 2008 R2, by the numbers

Server OS market share numbers are notoriously difficult to come by, but a January 2018 tweet from Ned Pyle, principal program manager in the Windows Server high availability and storage group, indicated Windows Server made up about 70% of server OS installations with approximately 40% of that number on Server 2008/2008 R2. A recent webinar from the Docker container platform company showed, out of 21 million enterprise applications, 80% of them run on Windows Server, with 70% of that number using Windows Server 2008 or an earlier version.  

Why are the numbers for a server OS that’s about to lose security updates still alarmingly high? Because inertia remains one of the most powerful forces in IT. Once IT pays for the Windows Server license and the application runs reasonably well, there is strong motivation to leave well enough alone. Microsoft wants to organizations to move these 2008/2008 R2 workloads into Azure with a few enticements. As part of this campaign, Microsoft offers three years of free support for VMs on those OSes after the Windows Server 2008 R2 end-of-life date. Microsoft will give extended support after the January deadline for companies with deeper pockets that can afford the extended security plan.

“This is an opportunity for Microsoft to get people either into Azure or into a sort of hybrid mode, which is not just a stick-your-head-in-the-mud strategy anymore,” said John Abbott, analyst with 451 Research. “You can actually get some value of having some on-prem connected to the cloud. People are starting to realize that for the first time.”

When it comes to Windows Server migrations, pick your poison

Despite Microsoft’s siren call for Windows shops to make their lives easier and put those 2008 R2 workloads into Azure, it’s not a simple process. For better or worse, Windows Server is tightly integrated to the day-to-day operations of many organizations and handles a wide range of responsibilities, so any change is likely to cause some form of disruption. Even organizations that rely on a cloud service, such as file sharing, most likely use on-premises Active Directory to handle the single-sign on process so end users only need one set of credentials to access the SaaS applications and services .

This is an opportunity for Microsoft to get people either into Azure or into a sort of hybrid mode, which is not just a stick-your-head-in-the-mud strategy anymore.
John Abbott Analyst, 451 Research

For organizations that want to stay on premises and migrate to a newer Windows Server OS, that operation is not much easier. If the decision is to move to Windows Server 2016 or 2019, then it requires a double hop: first to Windows Server 2012, then to the desired server OS. For some, it might be enough to move to Server 2012 R2 to stave off the loss of security updates, but that server OS leaves extended support in October 2023.

“For years, Microsoft didn’t really take into account these sort of problems,” Abbott said. “Now, it is starting to look at the rest of the industry and say, ‘We really do need to support some of these older versions and move them up.'”

Windows Server 2019 introduced a Storage Migration Service feature, but as the name indicates, it only handles storage roles, not applications. The Windows Server In-place Upgrade feature, which preserves features and settings for a deployment while transitioning to a newer Windows Server version, only works for two previous versions.

Not only are there are a number of technical hurdles related to a server OS migration, but there are logistical problems to unwind. For example, if a company has a single 2008 R2 installation but that server runs multiple roles — Active Directory, print server and domain name services — trying to avoid downtime might be next to impossible.

IT’s dirty little secret is there are still plenty of applications running on unsupported Windows versions. In quite a few instances, the reason is to keep a legacy enterprise application running. Ned Pyle’s tweet thread mentioned that about 15% of Windows Server workloads were on Server 2003, which went out of support in July 2015. Despite the real threat of ransomware and damage to the corporate brand, many organizations continue to fall victim to these threats. The 2017 WannaCry outbreak is one example of attacks that used vulnerabilities in outdated Windows systems to lock up data and hold it hostage.

For some, it’s a question of too much cloud

Michael Stump, a systems engineer who handles infrastructure hosting for a US federal agency, works in a traditional operational environment, managing a mix of VMware, SQL, SharePoint, Solaris, Linux and storage workloads.

For Windows Server, he estimated about 10% are on Server 2016, 50% to 60% are on Server 2012 R2 with the remainder on Server 2008 R2. There are several Server 2008 workloads that are hanging on due to application requirements. With approximately 500 workloads total on Server 2008/2008 R2, Stump said migrations to another on-premises Windows Server OS will be the main focus of his environment this year, but most likely not Windows Server 2019.

“A few of us are interested in [Server 2019], but because there’s no compelling reason for us to move to it at this time, we’ll probably lag for a couple of years on that one,” Stump said. “There’s a lot of hybrid cloud technologies and migration technology built in 2019 that I think is really just a Trojan horse to get you into Azure. We’re just not there yet.”

Stump is not averse to the cloud. He already works with a number of cloud vendors, but he wants to avoid adding more to the mix.

“I think the only one we haven’t collected yet is VMware AWS, but they’re eagerly trying to push us in that direction. I don’t want to end up with too many clouds,” he said.

While 2018 was a turbulent one for Windows administrators — he dubbed it “the year of the rescinded patch” — Stump said Windows Server is a solid operating system, and part of the blame for bad experiences with patch deployment falls on the administrator.

“I don’t want to blame the victim, because ultimately Microsoft made a bad patch, but if the administrator is not applying any analysis to the Microsoft patch, then the administrator could literally be replaced with a scheduled task and a PowerShell script,” Stump said.

Surveys indicate healthy interest in remaining on premises

Results from the TechTarget IT Priorities Survey for 2019 indicated that while just 19% of organizations plan to increase spending for stand-alone x86 servers, interest in hyper-converged and converged infrastructure is strong with 69% and 54% of organizations planning to spend more in those areas, respectively. Those results, coupled with a strong interest in spending in PaaS and IaaS seem to indicate a thawing attitude toward cloud services and hybrid cloud deployments in the enterprise.

This matches up with what Abbott sees from a recent 451 Research survey in which about 30% of companies expected to increase the number of x86 servers in 2019. He said one reason for this growth could be to establish a hybrid cloud in these organizations.

“This isn’t just laggards continuing to stick to on-prem because they’re frightened of going to the cloud. It’s more that they are looking to do things like hyper-converged composable and open converged infrastructure,” Abbott said.  

He said Microsoft appears to recognize these growing cloud ambitions with the enhanced and new features in the Windows Server 2019 release, such as cross-domain failover clustering and support for Kubernetes container orchestration.  

“The hybrid cloud support with Azure and the software-defined networking makes it easier to run multi-cloud. Microsoft’s actually adding features that Linux and Azure people have had for some time, so that’s I think that’s encouraging,” Abbott said.

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Ghidra update squashes serious bugs in NSA reverse-engineering tool

An update to the National Security Agency’s reverse-engineering tool, Ghidra, patched serious vulnerabilities and helped prove the software will be supported.

The Ghidra update — version 9.0.1 — took care of a list of bugs, as well as three serious security vulnerabilities that had been found in the software. An anonymous researcher who goes by the name “sghctoma” on Twitter discovered the most severe Ghidra bug the same day the National Security Agency (NSA) released it as open source.

The researcher found that a malicious actor could perform an XML external entity attack by tricking a user into opening a poisoned Ghidra project. And researchers for Tencent later developed a proof of concept showing how that vulnerability could be leveraged into remote code execution.

Beyond that, the Ghidra update fixed an issue where debug mode would open remotely accessible ports by default and a vulnerability where a certain plugin would render HTML when it shouldn’t. The latter of those issues, according to sghctoma, could have been used in a server-side request forgery attack or an NT LAN Manager relay attack.

Prior to the NSA releasing Ghidra, the infosec community saw the potential of a free tool that could compete with current, expensive reverse-engineering products, but there was hesitation. Some worried that the NSA would include backdoors or other methods to spy on users, and others thought the tool would be abandoned after being released.

Honestly, the speed of this release was much faster than I anticipated and will undoubtedly build goodwill for NSA.
Jake WilliamsFounder and CEO, Rendition Infosec

Jake Williams, founder and CEO of Rendition Infosec in Augusta, Ga., and former member of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations hacking group, called the Ghidra update “a real win for the NSA.”

“One of the major questions around this release was how responsive NSA would be in fixing issues that were identified. Honestly, the speed of this release was much faster than I anticipated and will undoubtedly build goodwill for NSA,” Williams said. “Overnight, more people tested Ghidra than likely ever have before. As a result, NSA has fixed a huge number of functionality bugs, some of which may have presented NSA analysts with bad information — without them realizing it.”

The sentiment was echoed on Twitter by a popular security researcher known as OSXreverser who specializes in macOS reverse-engineering.

However, Williams added that while the Ghidra update was an overall positive, the vulnerabilities found might not have been “that big of a deal” anyway.

“It is exceedingly rare that reverse-engineers run this sort of software on production machines,” Williams said. “Exploitation of any of the vulnerabilities would have been extremely difficult in any case.”

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For Sale – Custom-Made Gaming PC – AWD-IT Falcon Blue – High-Spec! – DELIVERY AVAILABLE

For sale a custom built Falcon Blue gaming computer by AWD-IT. Computer has a high specification as follows:

OS: Windows 10 Home x64
Motherboard: Asus H110M
Processor: Intel Core i5-7400 @3.00GHz
RAM: 8gb
Graphics Card: nVidia GTX 1060 6gb
Hard drive: 1TB
USB: 4 x 3.0, 6 x 2.0 (serial keyboard and serial mouse)
Display: VGA, 2 x DVI, 3 x Display Port, 1 x HDMI
Disk drive: DVD R/RW
Fans: 2- user controlled variable speed
PSU: 500w
Case lighting: blue
Dimensions: 50cm (h) x 48cm (d) x 18cm (w)

Computer is in perfect condition and has barely been used. It has been reset and fully updated on Windows 10 (as at 06/02/19).

The protective covering is still fixed to the clear side panel. The computer comes with original box, packaging, power cable and invoice.

Screen, mouse and keyboard not included.

Price and currency: 400
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: Cash or transfer prior to taking item
Location: Bristol
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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