Announcing the Microsoft Quantum Network – Microsoft Quantum

Creating a scalable quantum computer will require the collective effort of many skilled and diverse teams. To reach that goal, over the past few years we have built a coalition of partners, universities, customers, and developers, all with the goal of sharing knowledge and collaborating with the best quantum innovators 

Today  at our inaugural Startup Summit – we’re formalizing that coalition as the Microsoft Quantum Network. This global community of individuals and organizations will work directly with Microsoft to advance quantum computing, develop practical applications, and build the quantum workforce of the future.    

“The Microsoft Quantum Network is our commitment to establishing the partnerships required to build the quantum workforce and the quantum economy, Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Azure Hardware Systems Group at Microsoft, said during the summit. We believe both are vital to solving some of the world’s toughest problems.

Todd Holmdahl speaking to the Microsoft Quantum Network
Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Azure Hardware Systems Group at Microsoft, speaking to the Microsoft Quantum Network

We’ve previously announced partnerships with some of the world’s leading startup talent in quantum software and algorithm development. Today we welcome two new partners: 

  • HQS Quantum Simulations develops quantum algorithms for predicting molecular properties for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. 
  • Rahko is a quantum machinelearning company developing scalable quantum chemistry solutions for near-term quantum computers and beyond.  

HQS Quantum Simulations and Rahko will join other quantum startups who are working closely with Microsoft to build practical applications and accelerate the adoption of quantum computing.  Quantum Network startups also benefit from a partnership with Microsoft for Startups to help them grow their businesses, build innovative solutions, and connect to valuable resources. 

Other segments of the Microsoft Quantum Network are: 

  • Affiliate organizations have engaged directly with Microsoft to advance their expertise in quantum computing and jointly develop solutions that benefit their organization and industry. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL) are examples of organizations collaborating with us on many solutions in the areas of optimization and chemistry.    
  • Centers dedicated to research, development, and educational excellence have partnered with Microsoft to pursue the advancement of quantum computing. Today we’re performing quantum research alongside some of the best and brightest minds at Purdue UniversityUC Santa Barbarathe University of CopenhagenTU Delft, and the University of Sydney. At these locations, we’ve established Microsoft Quantum Labs where our research teams are advancing Microsoft Quantum research goals while also serving as scientific collaborators and partners with the quantum community. 
  • Developers and organizations have created their own quantum algorithms and applications with our free resources, including the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit, tutorials, Q# librariessamples, and workshops. Developers have now downloaded the Quantum Development Kit more than 100,000 times. 

If you or your organization are interested in becoming a member of the Microsoft Quantum Network as a startup or affiliateclick here to tell us about yourself. 

It will take a diverse set of skills across academia and industry to help develop the world’s first scalable quantum computer and quantum applications.  We are excited to bring together the best minds in quantum computing.  Together, we will bring this vision to life and shape the future of the quantum workforce and economy.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Announcing Windows Server vNext Insider Preview Build 18346 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders!
Today we are pleased to release a new Insider build of the Windows Server VNext Semi-Annual Channel release.

Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand (FOD):
The Server Core App Compatibility FOD was new in Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809.  We are continuing investment in the App Compatibility FOD based on customer and Insider feedback.
New in this Insider release for App Compatibility FOD:

Hyper-V Manager (Virtmgmt.msc)

Create and connect to VMs hosted on Server Core + the App Compatibility FOD!!

Task Scheduler (Taskschd.msc)

Please try it and let us know!  More to come….

Windows Server vNext Semi-Annual Preview The Server Core Edition is available in the 18 supported Server languages in ISO format and in English only in VHDX format.
Windows Server Core App Compatibility FoD Preview
Windows Server Language Packs
Windows Admin Center 1902

The following keys allow for unlimited activations of Windows Server Previews

Server Standard: V6N4W-86M3X-J77X3-JF6XW-D9PRV
Server Datacenter: B69WH-PRNHK-BXVK3-P9XF7-XD84W

This Windows Server Preview will expire July 5th, 2019.
Symbols are available on the public symbol server – see Update on Microsoft’s Symbol Server blog post and Using the Microsoft Symbol Server. Matching Windows Server container images will be available via Docker Hub. For more information about Windows Server containers and Insider builds, click here.

Registered Insiders may navigate directly to the Windows Server Insider Preview download page.  If you have not yet registered as an Insider, see GETTING STARTED WITH SERVER on the Windows Insiders for Business portal.

The most important part of a frequent release cycle is to hear what’s working and what needs to be improved, so your feedback is extremely valued. For Windows Admin Center, Send us feedback via UserVoice. We also encourage you to visit the Windows Admin Center space on the Microsoft Tech Communities forum to collaborate, share and learn from experts.
For Windows Server, use your registered Windows 10 Insider device and use the Feedback Hub application. In the app, choose the Windows Server category and then the appropriate subcategory for your feedback. In the title of the Feedback, please indicate the build number you are providing feedback on in this format:
[Server #####] Title of my feedback
We also encourage you to visit the Windows Server Insiders space on the Microsoft Tech Communities forum to collaborate, share and learn from experts.

We fixed an issue where RDP to ServerCore and ServerACore SKU’s did not work.

(New) Error after remoting to machine with RDP post FOD installation.  The error message indicates immediately that the remote session has ended with potential reasons, followed by a black RDP screen. This only impacts remoting to a physical machine with Server Core + FOD.
(New) Applies to App Compat FOD MMC.exe only: Multiple Active Directory Users and Computers snap-ins added to the same MMC.exe instance could show inconsistent or no data on part of the snap-ins after adding extra columns to the UI view.  Wokaround: for UI user management, use a separate MMC for each ADUC (DSA.MSC) snap-in.
A local user’s last logon time output from “net user username” may not be recorded even when the user has accessed the server’s network share.
Scheduled startup tasks may fail to run. An event is logged, ID 101 with the error code ERROR_LOGON_FAILURE when the failure occurs.
A virtual machine may not report all virtual fibre channel (vfc) LUNs after powering on if there are 2000+ vfc LUNs. WMI queries from the host show the LUNS available.  Restarting the VMMs may show the LUNS again as available.
DCPromo fails if the interface metric of the physical NIC is larger than Loopback Interface.
Third-party password filter dlls may not be notified when the local Administrator account’s password was changed.
[New] Attempting system image recovery from an image located on a network share may result in error “A specified logon session does not exist. It may already have been terminated”Server FODs are not retained after in-place (or B2B) upgrade.
Domain Controller rename updates incorrect attributes in AD leaving orphaned data behind (ValidateSPNsAndDNSHostNameActual).  This can be reproduced by adding a new FQDN, setting it as primary, restarting the domain controller, then removing the current FQDN.  Checking the msDS-AdditionalDnsHostName, msDS-AdditionalSamAccountName and servicePrincipalName attributes will incorrect values.
Invalid file may be created in %Systemroot%System32LogFilesSum by User Access Logging.Self-service users cannot install Feature on Demand (FOD) packages and Language Packs for Windows Server Update Service (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Autopilot scenarios.
A container host may become unresponsive due to a deadlock when attempting to mount a volume. On an affected system, Docker hangs on all commands.
When a Windows Defender Application Guard container crashes, the resulting type of dump may be unexpected.

This is pre-release software – it is provided for use “as-is” and is not supported in production environments. Users are responsible for installing any updates made available from Windows Update.   All pre-release software made available to you via the Windows Server Insider program are governed by the Insider Terms of Use.
No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18351 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18351 (19H1) to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.
If you are looking for a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring – head on over to Flight Hub. You can also check out the rest of our documentation here including a complete list of new features and updates that have gone out as part of Insider flights for the current development cycle (which currently is 19H1).

If you haven’t been able to get the game State of Decay for free (for a limited time), we’ve just made more slots available! Whether you’ve tried it in earlier builds or haven’t had the chance yet, these instructions have everything you need. We’ve also made fixes to improve the download and install experience thanks to your feedback, so please try again if you had problems before.
We fixed an issue from recent builds that could result in monitors being missing from the built-in Color Management application.
We fixed an issue causing Explorer.exe to crash for some Insiders when Jump list content was updated.
We fixed an issue resulting in some devices unexpectedly experiencing a 30 second wait before pin re-entry was available after a pin was incorrectly entered on the lock screen.
We fixed an issue where the time shown on the clock in Windows Sandbox might not match the clock outside of Windows Sandbox.

We fixed an issue where text scaling values did not persist across upgrades for Win32 applications.
Due to a Narrator reading reliability issue for the “Change how capitalized text is read” feature, the feature has been disabled starting in build 18351.
We fixed an issue where the mouse pointer color might be incorrectly switched to white after signing out and signing back in.

Launching games that use anti-cheat software may trigger a bugcheck (GSOD).
Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. We are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.
While this flight contains some night light improvements, we’re continuing to investigate reported issues in this space.
Some Realtek SD card readers are not functioning properly. We are investigating the issue.
We’re investigating reports of the Chinese version of multiple games not working.
We’re investigating an issue where region settings are being reset on upgrade for some Insiders.
We’re investigating an issue preventing VMware from being able to install or update Windows Insider Preview builds. Hyper-V is a viable alternative if available to you.

If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring, optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

We have locked down the inbox apps in 19H1. These simplified versions of some of the inbox apps are what will ship with 19H1 when it is released. As a result, Insiders may have noticed that some features have disappeared from these apps. This was probably most noticeable with the Photos app. Insiders can get these features back by going into the settings of an inbox app like Photos and clicking the “Join preview” button.

Going somewhere? Save time and money on your next trip. Use Bing Maps to plan your route and see gas prices, hotels, attractions, and restaurants along the way.
If you want to be among the first to learn about these Bing features, join our Bing Insider Program.
No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

For EHR vendors, there’s no one approach to interoperability

Interoperability may not be a word commonly used to describe EHRs, but three large EHR vendors are trying to change that. 

Cerner Corp., Meditech and Epic Systems Corp. have taken steps to improve interoperability by building and participating in ways for providers to share and use patient data beyond their own organizations. They face a landscape mired by data silos and outdated technology that makes exchanging information difficult. Additional players, such as app developers and federal regulators, add to the complexity, forcing EHR vendors to approach interoperability from more than one angle.

Even then, true interoperability won’t happen unless healthcare organizations push for it, rather than settle for a limited and even fractured patient data exchange, according to Brian Murphy, analyst at Chilmark Research, based in Boston.

“You can say what you want about the EHR vendors, but for the most part, I think they’re trying to do what their customers want,” he said. “Right now, it seems like the healthcare organizations need to want to do it more than they have to do it.”

EHR vendors on interoperability

Epic’s One Virtual System Worldwide initiative, which launched last year, is an effort to increase the amount of data Epic customers can exchange with each other. The initiative enables its customers to access images such as CT scans from across Epic organizations, as well as make referrals and send messages. The initiative also enables patients to access a merged view of their healthcare records and schedule telehealth services with any Epic organization.

Matt Doyle, Epic’s software development team leader for interoperability, said One Virtual System Worldwide aims to connect all of those involved in a patient’s care, including primary care doctors, emergency room doctors and community-based organizations.

But Epic isn’t just working on creating interoperability for its customers. The EHR vendor also participates in The Sequoia Project’s Carequality Interoperability Framework. The Carequality Interoperability Framework develops initiatives for nationwide health exchange and is used to connect more than half of healthcare providers in the U.S.

Cerner and Meditech serve as contributing members in the CommonWell Health Alliance, a nonprofit that deploys a vendor-neutral platform for healthcare data exchange and is connected to the Carequality Interoperability Framework.

“CommonWell-connected providers provide a centralized method for identifying patients and locating records for document retrieval across different organizations and EHRs,” Christine Parent, associate vice president at Meditech, said in an email. “They also give all clinicians convenient access to comprehensive patient information for an uninterrupted view of the patient story.”

Meditech Expanse is an interoperable system that facilitates access between Meditech healthcare systems and affiliated organizations by giving providers access to patient records in other EHRs, according to Parent.

“With one touch, providers can access the patient’s record in another EHR without logging onto the other system or searching for the patient, thus streamlining workflow,” she said.

Cerner wants to help establish a network of trusted exchange partners between healthcare systems, according to John Gresham, Cerner’s vice president and general manager of DeviceWorks and interoperability.

Trusted exchange partners are non-Cerner healthcare systems for which Cerner customers have vouched. Once a non-Cerner healthcare system is identified as a trusted exchange partner, Cerner can automatically compile patient information from that organization on patients who check into a Cerner hospital. The EHR vendor can then validate and prepare data from a trusted partner to be integrated with the Cerner system, Gresham said, which makes the interoperability process easier.

“You can still exchange data with everybody else, but the workflow simplification will occur there, because, in essence, the organization is saying, ‘I’m comfortable with what they’re sending, and I trust them. And, therefore, I’m OK with it to reconcile into my legal, clinical record,'” he said.

All three EHR vendors already support the FHIR standards, as well — something that recently proposed rules from CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT would require healthcare organizations to use to better enable health data access for patients.

The proposed rules would require healthcare organizations to adopt and use APIs to standardize how healthcare systems talk to each other. Meditech, for example, provides a set of FHIR APIs within the EHR software that enables patients using third-party applications to gain access to their data, Parent said.

“We believe that, at its core, standards-based APIs promote innovation, as well as help providers deliver better care and encourage patients to be well-informed and active participants in their care,” she said.

One of interoperability’s biggest hindrances: Healthcare organizations

Murphy said, while interoperability ultimately benefits healthcare organizations, EHR vendors need to make sharing and using health data a seamless experience.

“Your doctor could’ve benefitted from some other place you might’ve gone to,” Murphy said. “But if we’re taking 20 minutes to figure out where it was and how to get the data, the benefit is wiped out by the frustration of spending time looking for it.”

Even then, EHR vendors can waste a significant amount of money addressing interoperability as a technical problem when it’s really a business problem, Murphy said.

At this point, it’s the healthcare organizations that need to decide to move ahead with this.
Brian Murphyanalyst, Chilmark Research

“At this point, it’s the healthcare organizations that need to decide to move ahead with this,” he said.

As things stand, there aren’t a lot of good reasons for healthcare organizations to double down on interoperability, according to Murphy.

Healthcare organizations compete with each other, so the fear of losing patients to other systems and referral networks eroding is real, despite the fact that most Americans participate in some form of narrow network-type arrangement with their payers, according to Murphy, who described the fear as irrational. Patients don’t often have the ability to jump easily between healthcare organizations, because they’re limited to providers covered by their insurance.

Murphy said healthcare organizations have to decide that sharing usable data represents an opportunity, not a threat, before there is widespread commitment to interoperability.

They may have to make that realization sooner rather than later. The newly proposed, more aggressive rules and regulations from federal regulators are creating a greater push for interoperability. The rules call for easier health data access for patients and attempt to foster a more competitive healthcare market.

“There is some sense of urgency about getting the taxpayer’s money’s worth that hasn’t been there in the past,” Murphy said.

The shift to value-based care should also help, Murphy said. Focusing more on quality of care, rather than quantity of services provided, could push healthcare systems to rethink their approach to holding onto data.

“This advent of value-based care is certainly going to help in the sense that it’s going to cause providers to think less about the number of referrals they’re getting and more about delivering the best possible care to patients and attracting more patients based on higher-quality care,” he said. 

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Guidelines for Human-AI Interaction


Guidelines for Human-AI Interaction

Eighteen best practices for human-centered AI design

By Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Saleema Amershi, and Penny Collisson

Today we’re excited to share a set of Guidelines for Human-AI Interaction. These 18 guidelines can help you design AI systems and features that are more human-centered. Based on more than two decades of thinking and research, they have been validated through a rigorous study published in CHI 2019.

Why do we need guidelines for human-AI interaction?

While classic interaction guidelines hold with AI systems, attributes of AI services, including their accuracy, failure modalities, and understandability raise new challenges and opportunities. Consistency, for example, is a classic design guideline that advocates for predictable behaviors and minimizing unexpected changes. AI components, however, can be inconsistent because they may learn and adapt over time.

We need updated guidance on designing interactions with AI services that provide meaningful experiences, keeping the user in control and respecting users’ values, goals, and attention.

Why these guidelines?

AI-focused design guidance is blooming across UX conferences, the tech press, and within individual design teams. That’s exciting, but it can be hard to know where to start. We wanted to help with that, so…

  • We didn’t just make these up! They come from more than 20 years of work. We read numerous research papers, magazine articles, and blog posts. We synthesized a great deal of knowledge acquired across the design community into a set of guidelines that apply to a wide range of AI products, are specific, and are observable at the UI level.
  • We validated the guidelines through rigorous research. We tested the guidelines through three rounds of validation with UX and HCI experts. Based on their feedback, we iterated the guidelines until experts confirmed that they were clear and specific.

Let’s dive into the guidelines!

The guidelines are grouped into four categories that indicate when during a user’s interactions they apply: upon initial engagement with the system, during interaction, when the AI service guesses wrong, and over time.

Initially

1. Make clear what the system can do.

2. Make clear how well the system can do what it can do.

The guidelines in the first group are about setting expectations: What are the AI’s capabilities? What level of quality or error can a user expect? Over-promising can hurt perceptions of the AI service.

PowerPoint’s QuickStarter illustrates Guideline 1, Make clear what the system can do. QuickStarter is a feature that helps you build an outline. Notice how QuickStarter provides explanatory text and suggested topics that help you understand the feature’s capabilities.

During Interaction

3. Time services based on context.

4. Show contextually relevant information.

5. Match relevant social norms.

6. Mitigate social biases.

This subset of guidelines is about context. Whether it’s the larger social and cultural context or the local context of a user’s setting, current task, and attention, AI systems should take context into consideration.

AI systems make inferences about people and their needs, and those depend on context. When AI systems take proactive action, it’s important for them to behave in socially acceptable ways. To apply Guidelines 5 and 6 effectively, ensure your team has enough diversity to cover each other’s blind spots.

Acronyms in Word highlights Guideline 4, Show contextually relevant information. It displays the meaning of abbreviations employed in your own work environment relative to the current open document.

When Wrong

8. Support efficient dismissal.

9. Support efficient correction.

10. Scope services when in doubt.

11. Make clear why the system did what it did.

Most AI services have some rate of failure. The guidelines in this group recommend how an AI system should behave when it is wrong or uncertain, which will inevitably happen.

The system might not trigger when expected, or might trigger at the wrong time, so it should be easy to invoke (Guideline 7) and dismiss (Guideline 8). When the system is wrong, it should be easy to correct it (Guideline 9), and when it is uncertain, Guideline 10 suggests building in techniques for helping the user complete the task on their own. For example, the AI system can gracefully fade out, or ask the user for clarification.

Auto Alt Text automatically generates alt text for photographs by using intelligent services in the cloud. It illustrates Guideline 9, Support efficient correction, because automatic descriptions can be easily modified by clicking the Alt Text button in the ribbon.

Over Time

12. Remember recent interactions.

13. Learn from user behavior.

14. Update and adapt cautiously.

15. Encourage granular feedback.

16. Convey the consequences of user actions.

17. Provide global controls.

18. Notify users about changes.

The guidelines in this group remind us that AI systems are like getting a new puppy: they are long-term investments and need careful planning so they can learn and improve over time. Learning (Guideline 13) also means that AI systems change over time. Changes need to be managed cautiously so the system doesn’t become unpredictable (Guideline 14). You can help users manage inherent consistencies in system behavior by notifying them about changes (Guideline 18).

Ideas in Excel empowers users to understand their data through high-level visual summaries, trends, and patterns. It encourages granular feedback (Guideline 15) on each suggestion by asking, “Is this helpful?”

What’s next?

If you’d like some more ideas, stay tuned for another post on this work where we share some of the uses we’ve been working with at Microsoft. We’d love to hear about your experiences with the guidelines. Please share them in comments.

Want more?

Authors

Mihaela Vorvoreanu is a program manager working on human-AI interaction at Microsoft Research.

Saleema Amershi is a researcher working on human-AI interaction at Microsoft Research AI.

Penny Collisson is a user research manager working on AI in Office.

With thanks to our team who developed The Guidelines for Human-AI Interaction: Saleema Amershi, Dan Weld, Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Adam Fourney, Besmira Nushi, Penny Collisson, Jina Suh, Shamsi Iqbal, Paul Bennett, Kori Inkpen, Jaime Teevan, Ruth Kikin-Gil, and Eric Horvitz.

Thanks also to Ruth Kikin-Gil for her thoughtful collaboration, and for curating examples for this post.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Wanted – Apple iMac Pro 27″ 1TB, 3.20GHz, 32GB, Pro Vega 56, Applecare

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by smallangryboy, Feb 22, 2019.

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      I’m hunting for one for my other half and her photography business. Unlikely people will be moving these on just yet but thought I’d see.

      Cheers

      Location: Thame | Oxfordshire

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      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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National Bank of Canada reinvents workplace, empowers employees with Microsoft 365 – Microsoft 365 Blog

Logo of the National Bank of Canada.


Profile picture of Ron Markezich.National Bank of Canada—one of Canada’s leading integrated financial groups—set out to increase collaboration, speed up decision-making, and improve business results by reinventing their way of working. National Bank redesigned its headquarters, introducing open floor plans with no offices. All employees across business units can work together to deliver on strategic objectives, including the bank’s executives. But they didn’t just transform the physical environment, they embarked on a journey of digital transformation empowering their employees to drive innovation with Microsoft 365 technologies.

The way National Bank encouraged all 23,000 employees to adopt these transformative digital tools is a fascinating example of innovative “low touch” change management. It was also confirmation of how empowering Microsoft cloud technologies really are. When National Bank began its cloud journey with Microsoft 365, a survey revealed most people were content with the existing workplace. Despite their satisfaction with the status quo, employees embraced the new tools because they valued them, not because they were required.

Denis Rousseau, Modern Workplace program leader at National Bank, tells the story:

We had a vision to transform how people work. By giving employees the highly secure tools from Microsoft 365, they have access to any information on any device, from anywhere, so they can work the way they want. To encourage adoption, we treated employees the way we treat our customers, using internal marketing, peer influencers, self-learning, and corporate social media to motivate everyone to download Office apps from our portal.

With no formal directive, in just nine months 80 percent of the company had adopted new tools and were changing how they collaborate. And it only took six months for more than half of our workforce to adopt Microsoft Teams. As we transition into a cloud-first, mobile-first environment, we proved that people can work productively from anywhere with Microsoft 365.

Continuing this digital workplace transformation, National Bank plans to incorporate intelligent search and artificial intelligence (AI) services next. I’m excited to see how National Bank continues to reinvent productivity and agility in the banking industry.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Sensu architecture smoothes monitoring data workflow for NCR

An enterprise IT shop with over 80,000 locations to manage found the level of monitoring and control it needed in the overhauled Sensu architecture.

Sensu, an open source monitoring tool that specializes in event data collection, had been on the radar for a few years at Atlanta-based NCR Corp., which makes point-of-sale (POS) systems, self-service kiosks, ATMs and other retail data processing systems. Sensu’s monitoring-as-code approach, which allows developers to directly automate and customize the configuration and delivery of monitoring agents, appealed to NCR’s DevOps teams, but the tool was too unwieldy to set up and operate. That changed when the Sensu Go architecture rolled out in December 2018.

“The challenge was that Sensu was so Ruby-focused and took a lot of infrastructure expertise in Redis to set up the right way,” said Michael Hedgpeth, software director at NCR. The company also used Chef, an infrastructure-as-code tool written in Ruby in its early versions, but found Sensu much more difficult to learn.

When Sensu Go launched, it represented a complete rewrite of the Sensu app in the Go programming language, with a focus on simplicity and accessibility, along with an architectural revamp that eliminated the requirement to set up separate instances of Redis and RabbitMQ for in-memory data management and application messaging queues. The new Sensu architecture includes an embedded instance of etcd that handles both, the company said.

Sensu Go simplifies monitoring as code

The Sensu architecture update arrived as NCR sought a monitoring tool suitable for some 80,000 restaurant POS systems that belonged to a customer. NCR needed a lightweight agent that could be deployed and reconfigured by developers automatically, as well as an easy means to extract POS event data for processing with Google Cloud Platform data analytics services. It previously used a Nagios-based monitoring tool from Zabbix and considered tools from SolarWinds. But with the updated Sensu architecture in place, the monitoring-as-code approach won out.

Monitoring as code gives developers more control over the observability of their apps and integrates into NCR’s CI/CD process. NCR stores Sensu agent configuration files in JSON format inside a Git repository. Developers determine which monitoring checks run in each instance of an application, and the configuration files and their settings flow to restaurant endpoints according to policy, without manual setup.

Michael Hedgpeth, software engineering director at NCRMichael Hedgpeth

“[With other monitoring software,] you don’t have as much control over what the agents are doing, so that’s a part of it. And another part of it is cost. We need an open source [product] to get to the scale that we’re talking about,” Hedgpeth said. “But maybe the biggest issue is the complexity of the problem — we have roughly 80,000 data centers.”

For most of those endpoints, generic monitoring is good, Hedgpeth added. But restaurant customers with their own IT department sometimes need a standardized way to interact with the monitoring system, and the monitoring-as-code approach means developers that work for the restaurant company can add on to NCR’s version of Sensu agents.

“I’m not convinced anything UI-driven would be able to handle that level of complexity and scale,” he said.

In the past, the support model for restaurant customers had been log data shipments at regular intervals, but using Sensu as a routing engine will allow for an automated flow of data into a Google data lake for analytics that can optimize the performance of systems NCR doesn’t fully control. Sensu’s agents push event data to back-end systems by default, rather than pulling it in through communications between endpoints and a central data collection system. This reduces strain on WAN bandwidth and doesn’t require firewall ports to be opened at customer sites for data collection access.

Sensu architecture
The recently overhauled Sensu Go architecture

Sensu architecture has room to improve

It’s the Ferrari of monitoring, but you really have to start with the pieces and build your own car.
Michael Hedgpethsoftware director at NCR

NCR hasn’t finished its Sensu rollout, and not every DevOps team has a monitoring-as-code process established yet, Hedgpeth said, though NCR plans to use Sensu everywhere long term. Sensu was also a hard sell for Hedgpeth internally, because it requires a separate graphing and visualization system to display the data it collects.

“It’s the Ferrari of monitoring, but you really have to start with the pieces and build your own car,” Hedgpeth said. “If they want their community to grow, they need to be able to communicate why the product is good to business managers in a conference room with pretty graphs, at least enough to do a demo.”

As an open source monitoring tool, Sensu has been around since 2011. But its commercial backer, Sensu Inc., which emerged a year later, only began to focus fully on Sensu development as an enterprise commercial product in 2016. The company remains in the early stages of collecting paying enterprise monitoring customers, of which it has about 100 so far.

Since the December 2018 release of Sensu Go, an incremental release in February 2019 added enterprise features, such as integration with ServiceNow help desk ticketing software, LDAP identity management and Atlassian’s Jira team collaboration system. Graphing support, granular role-based access control and namespace-based multi-tenancy support for companies such as NCR that use Sensu to manage customer data remain on the Sensu Go roadmap for 2019, said Caleb Hailey, Sensu Inc.’s co-founder and CEO.

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Wanted – Apple iMac Pro 27″ 1TB, 3.20GHz, 32GB, Pro Vega 56, Applecare

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by smallangryboy, Feb 22, 2019.

    1. smallangryboy

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      I’m hunting for one for my other half and her photography business. Unlikely people will be moving these on just yet but thought I’d see.

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