Oracle Cloud Infrastructure updates hone in on security

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle hopes a focus on advanced security can help its market-lagging IaaS gain ground against the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google.

A new feature called Maximum Security Zones lets customers denote enclaves within their Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) environments that have all security measures turned on by default. Resources within the zones are limited to configurations that are known to be secure. The system will also prevent alterations to configurations and provide continuous monitoring and defenses against anomalies, Oracle said on the opening day of its OpenWorld conference.

Through Maximum Security Zones, customers “will be better protected from the consequences of misconfigurations than they are in other cloud environments today,” Oracle said in an obvious allusion to recent data breaches, such as the Capital One-AWS hack, which have been blamed on misconfigured systems that gave intruders a way in.

“Ultimately, our goal is to deliver to you a fully autonomous cloud,” said Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison, during a keynote. 

“If you spend the night drinking and get into your Ford F-150 and crash it, that’s not Ford’s problem,” he said. “If you get into an autonomous Tesla, it should get you home safely.”

Oracle wants to differentiate itself and OCI from AWS, which consistently promotes a shared responsibility model for security between itself and customers. “We’re trying to leapfrog that construct,” said Vinay Kumar, vice president of product management for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

“The cloud has always been about, you have to bring your own expertise and architecture to get this right,” said Leo Leung, senior director of products and strategy at OCI. “Think about this as a best-practice deployment automatically. … We’re going to turn all the security on and let the customer decide what is ultimately right for them.”

Security is too important to rely solely on human effort.
Holger MuellerVice president and principal analyst, Constellation Research.

Oracle’s Autonomous Database, which is expected to be a big focal point at this year’s OpenWorld, will benefit from a new service called Oracle Data Safe. This provides a set of controls for securing the database beyond built-in features such as always-on encryption and will be included as part of the cost of Oracle Database Cloud services, according to a statement.

Finally, Oracle announced Cloud Guard, which it says can spot threats and misconfigurations and “hunt down and kill” them automatically. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Cloud Guard is a homegrown Oracle product or made by a third-party vendor. Security vendor Check Point offers an IaaS security product called CloudGuard for use with OCI.

Starting in 2017, Oracle began to talk up new autonomous management and security features for its database, and the OpenWorld announcements repeat that mantra, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. “Security is too important to rely solely on human effort,” he said.

OCI expansions target disaster recovery, compliance

Oracle also said it will broadly expand OCI’s global cloud footprint, with the launch of 20 new regions by the end of next year. The rollout will bring Oracle’s region count to 36, spread across North America, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, India and Australia.

This expansion will add multiple regions in certain geographies, allowing for localized disaster recovery scenarios as well as improved regulatory compliance around data location. Oracle plans to add multi-region support in every country it offers OCI and claimed this approach is superior to the practice of including multiple availability zones in a single region.

Oracle’s recently announced cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft is also getting a boost. The interconnect that ties together OCI and Azure, now available in Virginia and London, will also be offered in the Western U.S., Asia and Europe over the next nine months, according to a statement. In most cases, Oracle is leasing data center space from providers such as Equinix, according to Kumar.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

SaaS vendors are another key customer target for Oracle with OCI. To that end, it announced new integrated third-party billing capabilities for the OCI software marketplace released earlier this year. Oracle also cited SaaS providers who are taking advantage of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for their own underlying infrastructure, including McAfee and Cisco.

There’s something of value for enterprise customers in OCI attracting more independent software vendors, an area where Oracle also lags against the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google, according to Mueller.

“In contrast to enterprises, they bring a lot of workloads, often to be transferred from on-premises or even other clouds to their preferred vendor,” he said. “For the IaaS vendor, that means a lot of scale, in a market that lives by economies of scale: More workloads means lower prices.”

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Oracle andVMware forge new IaaS cloud partnership

SAN FRANCISCO — VMware’s virtualization stack will be made available on Oracle’s IaaS, in a partnership that underscores changing currents in the public cloud market and represents a sharp strategic shift for Oracle.

Under the pact, enterprises will be able to deploy certified VMware software on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), the company’s second-generation IaaS. Oracle is now a member of the VMware Cloud Provider Program and will sell VMware’s Cloud Foundation stack for software-defined data centers, the companies said on the opening day of Oracle’s OpenWorld conference.

Oracle plans to give customers full root access to physical servers on OCI, and they can use VMware’s vCenter product to manage on-premises and OCI-based environments through a single tool.

“The VMware you’re running on-premises, you can lift and shift it to the Oracle Cloud,” executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said during a keynote. “You really control version management operations, upgrade time of the VMware stack, making it easy for you to migrate — if that’s what you want to do — into the cloud with virtually no change.”

The companies have also reached a mutual agreement around support, which Oracle characterized with the following statement: “[C]ustomers will have access to Oracle technical support for Oracle products running on VMware environments. … Oracle has agreed to support joint customers with active support contracts running supported versions of Oracle products in Oracle supported computing environments.”

It’s worth noting the careful language of that statement, given Oracle and VMware’s history. While Oracle has become more open to supporting its products on VMware environments, it has yet to certify any for VMware.

Moreover, many customers have found Oracle’s licensing policy for deploying its products on VMware devilishly complex. In fact, a cottage industry has emerged around advisory services meant to help customers keep compliant with Oracle and VMware.

Nothing has changed with regard to Oracle’s existing processor license policy, said Vinay Kumar, vice president of product management for OCI. But the VMware software to be made available on OCI will be through bundled, Oracle-sold SKUs that encompass software and physical infrastructure. Initially, one SKU based on X7 bare-metal instances will be available, according to Kumar.

Oracle and VMware have been working on the partnership for the past nine months, he added. The first SKU is expected to be available within the next six months. Kumar declined to provide details on pricing.

Oracle, VMware relations warm in cloudier days

“It seems like there is a thaw between Oracle and VMware,” said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC. The companies have a huge overlap in terms of customers who use their software in tandem, and want more deployment options, he added. “Oracle customers are stuck on Oracle,” he said. “They have to make Oracle work in the cloud.”

Gary Chen, Analyst, IDCGary Chen

Meanwhile, VMware has already struck cloud-related partnerships with AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Google, leaving Oracle little choice but to follow. Oracle has also largely ceded the general-purpose IaaS market to those competitors, and has positioned OCI for more specialized tasks as well as core enterprise application workloads, which often run on VMware today.

Massive amounts of on-premises enterprise workloads run on VMware, but as companies look to port them to the cloud, they want to do it in the fastest, easiest way possible, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

The biggest cost of lift-and-shift deployments to the cloud involves revalidation and testing in the new environment, Mueller added.

It seems like there is a thaw between Oracle and VMware.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC

But at this point, many enterprises have automated test scripts in place, or even feel comfortable not retesting VMware workloads, according to Mueller. “So the leap of faith involved with deploying a VMware VM on a server in the corporate data center or in a public cloud IaaS is the same,” he said.

In the near term, most customers of the new VMware-OCI service will move Oracle database workloads over, but it will be Oracle’s job to convince them OCI is a good fit for other VMware workloads, Mueller added.

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Gen Z in the workforce both want and fear AI and automation

For Gen Z in the workforce, AI and automation are useful and time-saving tools, but also possible threats to job security.

Typically characterized as the demographic born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, Generation Z  is the first generation to truly grow up exclusively with modern technologies such as smart phones, social media and digital assistants.

Many Gen Z-ers first experienced Apple’s Siri, released in 2011, and then Amazon’s Alexa, introduced in 2014 alongside Amazon Echo, at a young age.

The demographic as a whole tends to have a strong understanding of the usefulness of AI and automation, said Terry Simpson, technical evangelist at Nintex, a process management and automation vendor

Gen Z in the workforce

Most Gen Z employees have confidence in AI and automation, Nintex found in a September 2019 report about a survey of 500 current and 500 future Gen Z employees. Some 88% of the survey takers said AI and automation can make their jobs easier.

This generation understands AI technology, Simpson said, and its members want more of it in the workplace.

“For most organizations, almost 68 percent of processes are not automated,” Simpson said. Automation typically replaces menial, repetitive tasks, so lack of automation leaves those tasks to be handled by employees.

Gen Z, Gen Z in the workforce, AI and automation
Gen Z wants more automation in the workplace, even as they fear it could affect job security.

For Gen Z in the workforce, a lack of automation can be frustrating, Simpson said, especially when Gen Z-ers are so used to the ease of digital assistants and automated programs in their personal lives. Businesses generally haven’t caught up to the AI products Gen Z-ers are using at home, he said.

Yet, even as Gen Z-ers have faith that AI and automation will help them in the workplace, they fear it, too.

Job fears

According to the Nintex report, 57% of those surveyed expressed concern that AI and automation could affect their job security.

“A lot of times you may be a Gen Z employee that automation could replace what you’re doing as a job function, and that becomes a risk,” Simpson said.

Everybody says I don’t want to lose my job to a robot, and then Outlook tells you to go to a meeting and you go.
Anthony ScriffignanoChief data scientist, Dun & Bradstreet

Still, he added, automation can help an organization as a whole, and can ease the employees’ workloads.

“Everybody says I don’t want to lose my job to a robot, and then Outlook tells you to go to a meeting and you go,” said Anthony Scriffignano, chief data scientist at Dun & Bradstreet.

Jobs that can be easily automated may eventually be given to an automated system, but AI will also create jobs, Scriffignano said.

As a young generation, Gen Z-ers may have less to fear than other generations, however.

Younger generations are coachable and more open to change than the older generations, Scriffignano said. They will be able to adapt better to new technologies, while also helping their employers adapt, too.

“Gen Z have time in their career to reinvent themselves and refocus” their skills and career goals to better adapt for AI and automation, Scriffignano said.

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Microsoft events — the year ahead – The Official Microsoft Blog

Empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more is a 7 billion-person mission that we don’t take lightly. None of us at Microsoft could ever hope to reach that objective without a vast set of partnerships with curious and passionate people who seek to deeply understand technology and its power to transform individuals, businesses and industries. Facilitating connections, sharing our technologies and partnering to create solutions to real-world challenges is why we create the many Microsoft event experiences we host around the world.

Microsoft event experiences are designed to benefit specific audiences and structured to support clear objectives. We’re committed to closely aligning with all our partners, customers, and business and IT decision makers and connecting you with peers and industry leaders. To find out more about each event, visit our event website for details. Or, if you’re looking for a quick description of each event, read below to get a snapshot of our upcoming events.

Flagship events
IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite — For IT professionals, decision makers, implementors, architects, developers and data professionals. This event provides opportunities to explore the latest tools, receive deep technical training and get specific questions answered by Microsoft experts. With more than 26,000 attendees who join to learn, connect and explore what Microsoft has to offer, this truly is the place where reality meets imagination. Orlando, Florida | Nov. 4-8, 2019

Developers
Microsoft Build — Where leading architects, developers, start-ups and student developers converge to focus on the latest tech trends and innovate for the future. We maintain our “produced by developers and for developers” mantra while inviting the next generation of developers to participate in the student zone. Seattle, Washington | May 19-21, 2020

Microsoft partners
Microsoft Business Applications Summit — An annual opportunity to bring together a community of Microsoft customers and partners in roles that include power users, business analysts, evangelists, implementers and technical architects. This event provides a forum to learn how Microsoft’s end-to-end Dynamics 365 and Power Platform can create and extend solutions to drive business success. Anaheim, California | April 20-21, 2020

Microsoft Inspire — Where Microsoft partners meet to connect and celebrate as one community at the close of Microsoft’s fiscal year. With hundreds of thousands of partners across the world, our partner ecosystem is stronger and more united than ever. We invite you to learn more about how Microsoft leaders are supporting our partners, and how partners can capitalize on the opportunities ahead. We’ve co-located our Microsoft sales kick-off event to build on our shared partnership philosophy. Las Vegas, Nevada | July 20-24, 2020

Regional tours

We started our regional tours for attendee convenience and to gauge how digital transformation is happening around the world. They’ve been a success on both fronts. This year we’re expanding to 30 markets for Microsoft Ignite The Tour and starting Microsoft Envision I The Tour in seven cities. Check out one of the stops on our regional tours in a city near you.

IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite The Tour — We are bringing the best of Microsoft Ignite to you by traveling to 30 cities around the world for both ease of access and for the robust localized content for these distinct markets. Join us for in-depth learning and experiences in a free, two-day format that allows IT professionals and developers to learn new ways to build solutions, migrate, and manage infrastructure and connect with local industry leaders and peers. Visit Microsoft Ignite The Tour for locations and dates.

Business decision makers
Microsoft Envision | The Tour — An invitation-only, single-day event held in multiple cities around the world. With a global focus, this summit allows members of the C-suite to focus on challenges and trends that are changing the way organizations do business. Taking inspiration from our CEO Summit, this conference is designed to give leaders a chance to step back and learn about smart strategies to tackle emerging issues, power new efficiencies and build new business models and revenue streams. Visit Microsoft Envision I The Tour for locations and dates.

Digital learning

For those unable to make it in person or who are looking to quickly skill up on a particular topic, we offer digital learning options. Watch training sessions and event keynote sessions at any time. View multiple modules or choose a learning path tailored to today’s developer and technology masterminds that are designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Additional events

We’re just scratching the surface of the full picture of events that Microsoft has to offer. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, visit our full global events catalog for a list of events in your region and possibly your own city. These are events that are organized around specific product offerings and located in easily accessible locations with a wide range of class levels offered.

We invite everyone to join us to learn and grow, join us to connect with your peers, join us to get the answers you need so that you can deliver the solutions that can help propel your digital transformation. Visit our events website of flagship and regional events, and we look forward to seeing you in the year ahead.

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Gears 5 breaks records as biggest launch for any Xbox Game Studios game this generation – Xbox Wire

Thanks to the incredible support from our fans, Gears 5 kicked off the Holiday season strong – attracting over three million players in its opening weekend and setting new records for Xbox Game Pass with the biggest launch week of any Xbox Game Studios title this generation. The performance easily doubled the first week’s debut of Gears of War 4 and made Gears 5 the most-played Xbox Game Studios title in its first week since 2012’s Halo 4. First week performance includes the four-day early access period beginning Friday, September 6, which was exclusive to Gears 5 Ultimate Edition and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members. On the PC, Gears 5 has nearly tripled the performance of its predecessor, becoming the biggest-ever launch for Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Game Studios’ best-ever debut on Steam.

On Tuesday, Gears 5 expanded into worldwide general availability with the launch of Gears 5 Standard Edition at retail, as well as new Xbox One X and Xbox One S console bundles. For PC fans, Gears 5 is included in a three-month Xbox Game Pass for PC membership bundled with the purchase of select AMD Ryzen™ processors and AMD Radeon™ graphics cards.

Described as “one of the best and most versatile action-game packages in recent memory” by IGN, the game is a hit with critics and fans alike, and enjoys a Metacritic user score of 8.7, the sixth best of any Xbox One game. The excitement extends to the PC version as well, with Digital Foundry declaring, “it fills every desire that I want for the PC version of a game.”

Gears 5 has also received special attention for its commitment to representation and accessibility. Accessibility features include full controller remapping, single stick movement, Xbox Adaptive Controller support, narrated UI and menus, improved subtitles, and more. It was the first AAA game to receive a perfect score from CanIPlayThat.com, “A Deaf/Hoh accessibility masterpiece.”

For more information on the Gears of War franchise, stay tuned to Xbox Wire or follow Gears on Twitter @gearsofwar.

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Addressing the coming IoT talent shortage – Microsoft Industry Blogs

This blog is the third in a series highlighting our newest research, IoT Signals. Each week will feature a new top-of-mind topic to provide insights into the current state of IoT adoption across industries, how business leaders can develop their own IoT strategies, and why companies should use IoT to improve service to partners and customers.

As companies survey the possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT), one of the challenges they face is a significant growing talent shortage. Recent research from Microsoft, IoT Signals, drills down into senior leaders’ concerns and plans. Microsoft surveyed 3,000 decision-makers at companies across China, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom who are involved in IoT.

Exploring IoT skills needs at enterprises today

Most IoT challenges today relate to staffing and skills. Our research finds that only 33 percent of companies adopting IoT say they have enough workers and resources, 32 percent lack enough workers and resources, and 35 percent reported mixed results or didn’t know their resourcing issues. Worldwide, talent shortages are most acute in the United States (37 percent) and China (35 percent).

Of the top challenges that impede the 32 percent of companies struggling with IoT skills shortages, respondents cited a lack of knowledge (40 percent), technical challenges (39 percent), lack of budget (38 percent), an inability to find the right solutions (28 percent), and security (19 percent).

a close up of a logo graph of tech assessment

a close up of a logo graph of tech assessment

Companies will need to decide which capabilities they should buy, in the form of hiring new talent; build, in the form of developing staff competencies; or outsource, in the form of developing strategic partnerships. For example, most companies evaluating the IoT space aren’t software development or con­nectivity experts and will likely turn to partners for these services.

Adequate resourcing is a game-changer for IoT companies

Our research found that having the right team and talent was critical to IoT success on a number of measures. First, those with sufficient resources were more likely to say that IoT was very critical to their company’s future success: 51 percent versus 39 percent. Hardship created more ambivalence, with only 41 percent of IoT high performers saying IoT was somewhat critical to future success, whereas 48 percent of lower-performing companies agreed.

Similarly, companies with strong IoT teams viewed IoT as a more successful investment, attributing 28 percent of current ROI to IoT (inclusive of cost savings and efficiencies) versus 20 percent at less enabled companies. That’s likely why 89 percent of those who have the right team is planning to use IoT more in the future versus 75 percent of those who lack adequate resources.

IoT talent shortage may cause higher failure rate

Getting IoT off the ground can be a challenge for any company, given its high learning curve, long-term commitment, and significant investment. It’s doubly so for companies that lack talent and resources. IoT Signals found that companies who lack adequate talent and resources have a higher failure rate in the proof of concept phase: 30 percent versus 25 percent for those with the right team. At companies with high IoT success, the initiative is led by a staffer in an IT role, such as a director of IT, a chief technology officer, or a chief information officer. With leadership support, a defined structure, and budget, these all-in IoT organizations are able to reach the production stage on an average of nine months, while those who lack skilled workers and resources take 12 months on average.

Despite initial challenges, company leaders are unlikely to call it quits. Business and technology executives realize that IoT is a strategic business imperative and will be increasingly required to compete in the marketplace. Setting up the right team, tools, and resources now can help prevent team frustration, business burnout, and leadership commitment issues.

Overcoming the skills issues with simpler platforms

Fortunately, industry trends like fully hosted SaaS platforms are reducing the complexity of building IoT programs: from connecting and managing devices to providing integrated tooling and security, to enabling analytics.

Azure IoT Central, a fully managed IoT platform, is designed to let anyone build an IoT initiative within hours, empowering business teams and other non-technical individuals to easily gain mastery and contribute. Azure includes IoT Plug and Play, which provides an open modeling language to connect IoT devices to the cloud seamlessly.

Additionally, Microsoft is working with its partner ecosystem to create industry-specific solutions to help companies overcome core IoT adoption blockers and investing in training tools like IoT School and AI Business School. Microsoft has one of the largest and fastest-growing partner ecosystems. Our more than 10,000 IoT partners provide domain expertise across industries and help address connectivity, security infrastructure, and application infrastructure requirements, allowing companies to drive to value faster. 

Learn more about how global companies are using IoT to drive value by downloading the IoT Signals report and reading our Transform Blog on IoT projects companies such as ThyssenKrupp, Bühler, Chevron, and Toyota Material Handling Group are driving.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

New Ways to do Screen Capture – Windows Developer Blog

Screen capture supports scenarios like screen recording for eLearning, screen sharing for collaboration, game streaming, remote diagnostics, and taking screen shots for visual comparison or editing. The new UWP WindowsGraphicsCapture APIs provide a modern, performant way of capturing screen contents in Win32 and UWP applications.WindowsGraphicsCapture APIs first shipped in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (1803). These APIs were built for developers who depended on screen capture functionality for their modern applications without depending on restricted capabilities. These APIs enable capture of application windows, displays, and environments in a secure, easy to use way with the use of a system picker UI control.

When an application makes a capture request, it is presented to the user in the form of a control where the user can decide what visuals (displays or applications) they’ll allow the application to capture. Because the operating system manages this experience, UWP applications cannot spoof a request for access to windows outside of the capturing application’s process.

System Picker for Capture Selection
Once the capture is initiated, the visual being captured is enhanced with a small yellow border to remind the user of what is being shared and/or possibly recorded.

Yellow Boarder Capture Indicator
You can see an example of the WindowsGraphicsCapture APIs paired with the Windows.Media.Transcoding APIs in this simple Screen Recorder demo.

For the Windows 10 October Update (1809), we delivered a convenience feature that enables applications to capture any child visual they “own.”
CreateFromVisual allows developers to do various things with their existing content:
Save snapshots of visual trees (similar to RenderTargetBitmap)
Save a stream of frames from their visual trees (can be hooked up to WinRT encoding APIs to save video)
Apply expensive effects that are not supported by the compositor
Because the application owns its content (by virtue of having access to the visuals), no dialog or consent is required. Instead, developers can construct a GraphicsCaptureItem that represents a visual by using a static method.

A common request from Win32 developers was better interoperability between Windows Graphics Capture and HWNDs.
For the Windows 10 May 2019 Update our capture team’s engineering efforts went to support Win32 interop scenarios with two new APIs. Now Win32 applications who use screen capture features can use modern APIs that create capture items they’re familiar with.
These API extensions allow the graphics capture API to target a single window or monitor given its ntuser handles (HWND and HMONITOR). It otherwise operates identically to the WinRT-clean version of the API that receives a capture item from the Capture Picker UI. These APIs are available in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (look in the Windows.Graphics.Capture.Interop.h header).
Samples for WPF and Win32 screen capture are available at the Windows.UI.Composition-Win32-Samples GitHub.

IsCursorEnabled
Windows insiders who have opted in to skip ahead/fast rings and are running build 18994 or greater will see a new API IsCursorEnabled which supports omitting the cursor from capture. Please see all the warnings that apply to APIs in these environments.
ExcludeFromCapture
We have added a new flag to the SetWindowDisplayAffinity function, which supports content protection by returning black in screen captures of these windows. Sometimes, applications want to simply exclude a window from capture and not return black because things like recording buttons are not always desirable in captured content. When the new flag, WDA_EXCLUDEFROMCAPTURE, is set, the window will be removed from capture entirely.

If you have feedback or want to get in touch with the capture team, you can send us email at [email protected] If you want to stay up to date on the latest features from our team, follow us on Twitter @WindowsUI.

Celebrating the Voices of Hispanic Culture, Impact and Future | Microsoft Latinx

Alvaro Celis - Hola

For over half a century, it has become tradition in the U.S. to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th. This is a month of celebration, tribute and pride for those of us that relate to the Hispanic/Latinx culture, either because we are part of it, or because we have grown fond of this community and feel a connectionBut, this is also a time for reflection.

For some time now, our community has been going through challenging times deriving from strong external narratives that fail to represent our beauty, our diversity and the real challenges that we face today and in the past. Stories that attempt to create deep social divisions. Stories that intend to tear down the very fabric of what the Hispanic and Latinx communities truly represent 

HOLA Team

As a Latino and Executive Sponsor of HOLA (Hispanic & Latinx Organization of Leaders in Action), Microsoft’s Hispanic/Latinx Employee Resource Group, I have learned so much on my journey to represent and propel the Latino culture in the USA. It’s just amazing to see the positive impact that Latinos have daily.  On one hand, 86% of all new US businesses have been launched by Latinos over the last decade and Latinas create small businesses 6x faster than any other group in the country.[1] Latino GDP was $2.13 Trillion in 2015, and it’s growing 70% faster than the rest of the economy.[2] 

Latinos are contributing to the very fabric of this country and that is why it is extremely important that our individual voices and personal stories of struggles, achievements and contributions to the North American culture continue to collectively rise.  Hispanic Heritage Month is a perfect moment to share the true narrative of who we are, and the great impact and role each one of us plays in society.  

Nasdaq_Adelante_Hola

To honor Hispanic Heritage Month, Microsoft is celebrating Latinx culture and inspirational stories through Our Voz.  This will include local events in the community, celebrations, as well as stories from our own Latinx employees who are making an impact in the community.  

Microsoft HOLA, in partnership with our Global Diversity and Inclusion team and our many internal allies across all businesses, have established strong partnerships with key stakeholders in the Latino community.  By joining forces, we have helped accelerate progress across a wide range of topics from our own internal culture and ability to bring our true selves to work, to supporting families through immigration challengesimproving education, and much more. We would like to take the opportunity to recognize and thank these organizations for their partnership and the great work they do every day to make a difference for our community.  You can view the full list of partner organizations below. 

It is my belief that through empathy, mutual understanding and purposeful action we can make a lasting, bigger impact that changes how we experience the world – and how the world experiences us. Please visit microsoft.com/en-us/hispanic-heritage-month/default.aspx for the most current news and opportunities to celebrateengage and be inspired. If you want to learn more about broader initiatives for diversity and inclusion at Microsoft please visit here.  

Let’s continue this conversation and share our stories to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month! Follow me on Twitter, @alvarocelis and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/alcelis/.

 

[1] Hispanic Sentiment Study, Xeno Group 2018  

[2] Latino Donor Collaborative  

 

H.O.L.A Partner Organizations  

  • ALPFA
    ALPFA’s mission: To empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. 
  • DigiGirlz
    DigiGirlz is Microsoft’s own global outreach program that gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops. 
  • HACR
    HACR’s Mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level commensurate with our economic contributions. 
  • HITEC Global  
    HITEC is a premier global executive leadership organization of senior business and technology executives who have built outstanding careers in technology. HITEC’s premiere network spans the Americas and is focused on building stronger technology and executive leaders, leadership teams, corporations, and role models in a rapidly changing, flatter, and technology centric world.  
  • IPLI 
    The “HNBA/Microsoft IP Law Institute” provides opportunities for Latino students interested in intellectual property law. This summer, up to twenty-five Latino law students from law schools across the country will be chosen to participate in an IP immersion program in Washington, DC. Candidates are selected in a highly competitive process, and the selected students are provided substantive instruction, the opportunity to observe first-hand U.S. IP institutions at work, and the chance to meet leading members of the IP legal community who will serve as mentors and potentially provide pathways for future job opportunities. 
  • iUrbanTeen 
    Mission: To expose and inspire underrepresented youth to become tomorrow’s business and technology leaders. iUrban Teen is a nationally recognized program focused on bringing career focused education to underrepresented teens ages 13 to 18. Youth receive hands-on exposure to a variety of careers and civic engagement that step them outside of their current boundaries. Our target demographics are African American, Latino and Native American males, however, the program is inclusive of all youth.
  • KIND (Kids in need of Defense)
    Microsoft, along with Angelina Jolie, founded KIND in 2008 to provide legal services to unaccompanied children entering the U.S.  Brad Smith Microsoft President is also KIND Chairman of the Board.  Many of our Microsoft in house attorneys and other professionals work on KIND cases on a pro bono basis, and Microsoft also supports for a KIND fellow, an attorney who works for KIND and supports Microsoft’s pro bono efforts.  More information about KIND can be found Here  
  • LatinaGeeks  
    Empowering and inspiring adult Latinas by sharing technical knowledge, business skills, and entrepreneurship resources through hands-on workshops and community events. 
  • Nuevo Foundation
    Inspiring kids to be curious, confident, and courageous by discovering the world of STEM. 
    Offers coding workshops that provide hands on opportunities for students to learn real-world problem-solving skills using coding, hardware and their own imagination. 
    Also, offers virtual sessions to share the stories of people who have succeeded in STEM fields with students worldwide. 
    Lastly, offer speaker engagements to motivate students to pursue STEM education. 
  • SHPE
    SHPE changes lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development. 
  • Tapia conference
    The Tapia conference is the premier venue to acknowledge, promote and celebrate diversity in computing. 
  • TECHNOLOchicas
    Microsoft is a sponsor of TECHNOLOchicas, a campaign of our strategic partner, the National Center for Women and Information Technologies (NCWIT) and the Televisa Foundation to increase the visibility and participation of Latinas in technology.    Each campaign year a Latina Microsoft technologist serves as one of the TECHNOLOchica Ambassadors featured in the campaign video and social media assets and represents our company at TECHNOLOchica events. 
  • We Are All Human Foundation 
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Author: Microsoft News Center

DerbyCon attendees and co-founder reflect on the end

After nine years running, DerbyCon held its ninth and final show, and attendees and a co-founder looked back on the conference and discussed plans to continue the community with smaller groups around the world.

DerbyCon was one of the more popular small-scale hacker conferences held in the U.S., but organizers surprised the infosec community in January by announcing DerbyCon 9 would be the last one. The news came after multiple attendee allegations of mistreatment by the volunteer security staff and inaction regarding the safety of attendees.

Dave Kennedy, co-founder of DerbyCon, founder of TrustedSec LLC and co-founder of Binary Defense Systems, did not comment on specific allegations at the time and said the reason for the conference coming to an end was that the conference had gotten too big and there was a growing “toxic environment” created by a small group of people “creating negativity, polarization and disruption.”

Kennedy claimed in a recent interview that DerbyCon “never really had any major security incidents where we weren’t able to handle the situation quickly and de-escalate at the conference with our security staff.”

Roxy Dee, a vulnerability management specialist, who has been outspoken about the safety for women at DerbyCon, told SearchSecurity that “it’s highly irresponsible to paint it as a great conference” given the past allegations and what she described as a lack of response from conference organizers.  

Despite these past controversies, attendees praised DerbyCon 9, held in Louisville, Ky from Sept. 6 to 8 this year, there have been no major complaints, and Kennedy told SearchSecurity it was everything the team wanted for the last year and “went better than any other year I can remember.”

“When we started this conference we had no idea what we were doing or how to run a conference. We went from that to one of the most impactful family conferences in the world,” Kennedy said. “It’s been a lot of work, a lot of time and effort, but at the end of the day we accomplished everything we wanted to get out of the conference and then some. Family, community and friendship. It was an incredible experience and one that I’ll miss for sure.”

As a joke, someone handed Kennedy a paper during the conference reading “DerbyCon 10” and the image quickly circled the conference via Twitter. Kennedy admitted he and all of the organizers “struggled with ending DerbyCon this year or not, but we were all really burned out.”

“When we decided, it was from all of us that it was the right direction and the right time to go on a high note. We didn’t have any doubts at all this year that there would ever be another DerbyCon. This is it for us and we ended on a high note that was both memorable and magical to us,” Kennedy said. “The attendees, staff, speakers and everyone were just absolutely incredible. Thank you all to who made DerbyCon possibly and for growing an amazing community.”

The legacy of DerbyCon

Kennedy told SearchSecurity that his inspiration for fostering the DerbyCon community initially was David Logan’s Tribal Leadership, “which talks about growing a tribe based on a specific culture.

“A culture for a conference can be developed if we try hard enough and I think our success was we really focused on that family and community culture with DerbyCon,” Kennedy said. “A conference is a direct representation of the people that put it on, and we luckily were able to establish a culture early on that was sorely needed in the INFOSEC space.”

April C. Wright, security consultant at ArchitectSecurity.org, said in her years attending, DerbyCon provided a “wonderful environment with tons of positivity and personality.”

“I met my best friend there. I can’t describe how much good there was going on, from raising money for charity to knowledge sharing to welcoming first-time attendees,” Wright said. “The quality of content and villages were world class. The volunteers and staff have always been friendly and kind. It was in my top list of cons worldwide.”

Eric Beck, a pen-tester and web app security specialist, said the special part about DerbyCon was a genuine effort to run contrary to the traditional infosec community view that “you can pwn or you can’t.”

“We all start somewhere, we all have different strengths and weaknesses and everyone has a seat at the table. Dave [Kennedy], set a welcoming tone and it meant that people that might otherwise hesitate took that first step. And that first step is always the hardest,” Beck said. “DerbCon was my infosec home base and where I recharged my batteries and I don’t know who or what can fill its shoes. I have a kiddo I thought I’d share this conference with and met people I assumed I’d see annually. I’m personally determined to contribute more in infosec and make the effort to reach out, but I have a difficult time imaging being part of something that brought in the caliber of talent and the sense of welcoming that this conference did.”

Danny Akacki, senior technical account manager with Gigamon Insight, said his first time attending was DerbyCon 6 and the moment he walked in to the venue he “fell in love with the vibe of that place and those people.”

“I still didn’t know too many people but I swear to god it didn’t matter. I made so many friends that weekend and I had the hardest bout of post-con blues I’ve ever experienced, which is a testament to just how profound an effect that year had on me,” Akacki said. “I had to skip 7, but made it to 8 and 9. Every year I went back, it felt like only a day had passed since the last visit because that experience and those people stay with you every day.” 

For Alethe Denis, founder of Dragonfly Security, DerbyCon 9 was her first time attending and she said the experience was everything she expected and more.

“The atmosphere was like a sleepover, compared to the giant summer camp that is DEF CON, and I really enjoyed that aspect of it. It felt like it was a weekend getaway with friends and the lack of casinos was appreciated. But I don’t feel that the quality of the talks and availability of villages was sacrificed in the least,” Denis said. “Even as small as Derby is, it was really tough to do everything I wanted to do because there were so many interesting options available. I feel like it brought only the best elements of the DEF CON type community and DEF CON conference to the Midwest.”

Micah Brown, security engineer at American Modern Insurance Group and vice president of the Greater Cincinnati ISSA chapter, echoed the sentiments of brother/sisterhood at DerbyCon and the cheerfulness of the conference and added another key tenet: Charity.

“One of the key tenets of DerbyCon has always been giving back. During the closing ceremonies, it was revealed that over the past 9 years, DerbyCon and the attendees have given over $700,000 to charity. That does not count the hours of people’s lives that go into making the presentations, the tools, the training that are freely distributed each year. Nor does it factor in the personal relationships and mentorships that are established and progress our community,” Brown said. “It was after my first DerbyCon I volunteered to be the Director of Education for the Greater Cincinnati ISSA Chapter and after my second DerbyCon I volunteered to be the Vice President of the Chapter. DerbyCon has also inspired me to give back by sharing my knowledge through giving my own presentations, including the honor to give back to the DerbyCon community with my own talk this year.”

Beyond DerbyCon

Xena Olsen, cyberthreat intelligence analyst in the financial services industry, attended the last two years of DerbyCon and credited the “community and sense of belonging” there with encouraging her to continue learning and leading her to now being a cybersecurity PhD student at Marymount University.

“The DerbyCon Communities initiative will hopefully serve as a means for people to experience the DerbyCon culture around the world,” Olsen said. “As far as a conference taking the place of DerbyCon, I’m not sure that’s possible. But other conferences can adopt similar values of community and inclusiveness, knowledge sharing and charity.” 

Wright said she has seen other conferences with similar personality and passion, “but none have really captured the heart of DerbyCon.”

“There are a lot of great regional cons in the U.S. that I think more people will start going to. They are affordable and easily accessed, with the small-con feel — as opposed to the mega-con vibe of ‘Hacker Summer camp’,” Wright said, referencing the week in Las Vegas that includes Black Hat, DEF CON, BSides Las Vegas, Diana Con and QueerCon plus other events, meetups and parties. “I don’t think anyone can fill the space left by DerbyCon, but I do think each will continue with its own set of ways and personality.”

Akacki was adamant that “no other con will ever take Derby’s place.”

“It burned fast and it burned bright. It was lighting in a bottle, never to be seen again. However, I’m not sad,” Akacki said. “I can’t even say that its vibe is rising from the ashes, because it would have to have burned down for that to happen. The fire that is the spirit of DerbyCon still burns and, I’d argue, it burns brighter than ever.”

I’m not sure any other con will be able to truly capture that magic and fill the space left by Derby.
Alethe DenisFounder, Dragonfly Security

Denis said it will be difficult for any conference to truly replace DerbyCon.

“I feel like the people who organized and were passionate about DerbyCon are what made Derby unique. I’m not sure any other con will be able to truly capture that magic and fill the space left by Derby,” Denis said. “But I guess that remains to be seen and hope that more cons, such as Blue Team Con in June 2020 in Chicago bring high quality content and engaging talks to the Midwest in the future.”

Wright noted that some of her favorite smaller security conferences included GRRcon, NOLAcon, CircleCityCon, CypherCon, Showmecon, Toorcon and [Wild West Hackin’ Fest], and she expressed hope that the proposed “DerbyCon Communities” project “will help with the void left by the end of the era of the original DerbyCon.”

The DerbyCon Communities initiative

The organizers saw DerbyCon growing fast, but “didn’t want to turn the conference into such a large production like DEF CON,” Kennedy told SearchSecurity.

“We wanted to go back to why DerbyCon was so successful and that was due to three core principles: Posivitiy and Inclusiveness, Knowledge Sharing and Charity. There is a direct need for a community to help new people in the industry and help charity at the same time,” Kennedy said. “The goal for the Communities initiative is to bring people together the same way DerbyCon did for one common goal.”

Kennedy also confirmed that there will be some involvement with the Communities initiative from the “core group” of organizers, including his wife Erin, Martin Bos and others.

Akacki said that with the local Derby Communities initiative, “the spirit of Derby has exploded into stardust, covering our universe.”

“You can’t kill what we’ve built, you can’t contain it and you can’t stop it,” Akacki said. “I’m not crying because it ended, I’m smiling and laughing … because it just became bigger than ever.”

On Sept. 11, Kennedy pitched the full idea of DerbyCon Communities to the team and said there should be four main areas of focus:

  • Chapter Groups
    • Independently run with chapter heads
    • Geographically placed
    • Volunteer network
  • Established Groups
    • Partner with similar groups that meet criteria and approval process to join DerbyCon network.
  • Conferences
    • Established or new. Allow for new conferences to be created.
  • Kids
    • Programs geared towards teaching next-gen children.

Ultimately, Kennedy told SearchSecurity he wants new groups to “be welcoming and accepting of new people and making a difference and impact in their local communities or worldwide.”

“Our hope is that not only do DerbyCon Chapters spawn up, but other conferences and chapter groups will join forces to create a DerbyCon network of sorts to grow this community in a positive way.”

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Nectar launches Customer Experience Assurance platform

Nectar Services Corp. recently launched Nectar Customer Experience Assurance, a customer experience testing and monitoring platform for contact center and interactive voice response team, promising to eliminate the need for legacy network monitoring platforms.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance offers a range of capabilities, including auto-discovery, voice recognition and simulation, dynamic call automation and load testing. These features enable contact center DevOps teams to test and discover network issues in a timely manner and to save time when launching new platforms or making configuration changes.

Nectar’s Customer Experience Assurance also offers perpetual monitoring that performs testing in regular intervals to monitor platforms for service availability and configuration changes, the company said. This enables contact center management teams to alert and carry out historical reporting based on factors affecting customer experience (CX) metrics such as service availability, functionality and call quality.

Nectar CX Assurance includes the following features:

  • Auto discovery enables reverse-engineering of calls flows that speed up interactive voice response (IVR) and provides accurate and timely customer experience monitoring. 
  • Real-time alerting notifies companies via email and/or text when issues are identified.
  • Voice automation provides text-to-speech and speech recognition that, in combination with call recording, enable a high level quality control and monitoring.  
  • Voice quality scoring identifies clicks and noises, artifacts, intermittent gaps and jitter due to packet loss in audio during playback.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance is the first product to apply its experience in unified communications (UC) monitoring, diagnostics and reporting to the contact center environment. It is built upon Nectar’s core products, network and endpoint operations for UC and provides cloud-based CX testing for enterprise contact center and IVR operations.

In the CX monitoring market, Nectar competes with Oracle, Clarabridge and Integrated Research, known as IR. Oracle CX Cloud Suite offers a full set of applications from marketing to sales, and commerce to service. Clarabridge’s product stresses AI technology that provides audio transcription of agent-customer interactions, along with sentiment, tone and voice analysis for customer service conversations. IR’s Prognosis for Contact Center offers complete contact center ecosystem from Cisco and Avaya, and the underlying UC systems with one platform.

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