Windows Server certifications retirement plan a blow to admins

If you’re a Windows admin, then you might still be reeling from the recent certification news from Microsoft.

It had been more than a year since the Windows Server 2019 release with no sign of a certification when Microsoft announced it was retiring the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications on June 30 — then consequently pushed out to Jan. 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — with no plans for Windows Server 2019 certifications before that deadline. In a blog released Feb. 27, the company said, “Windows Server 2019 and SQL Server 2019 content will be included in role-based certifications on an as-needed basis for certain job roles in the Azure Apps & Infrastructure and Data & AI solution areas.”

This is going to be painful for server admins who have relied on Windows Server certifications to help validate their knowledge and skills in the data center. These accreditations just went extinct in favor of the Azure-based certifications. This decision aligns with Microsoft’s marketing strategy to put the cloud in the spotlight and shift on-premises workloads to the background.

The problem: Not every customer has moved to Azure. With a little digging, it’s easy to find that many companies still have a substantial number of Windows Server workloads that remain in the data center and are most likely not going to budge anytime soon. Microsoft is notoriously guarded with how many Windows Server deployments exist on premises, but a company vice president said there were about 24 million Windows Server 2008 instances, which represented about 60% of the total Windows Server deployments at the company’s Inspire event in July 2019.

If you’re a Windows admin, then you should feel some anger, as well as concern, with this move. Despite the hype, not everything can be put in a container and into the cloud. The effort to redesign applications for this type of virtualization is not as simple as running an installation wizard. And these workloads often require a lot more resources than expected.

Administrators need to evolve and adapt with the times

Windows Server won’t be going anywhere soon, but how it is used and supported has changed. For example, it’s not as efficient to investigate an issue and try to troubleshoot it. It’s easier to redeploy the server with the application rather than try to correct the problem. In distributed application design, there is less focus on correction in favor of replacement for both speed and reliability.

The same holds true with infrastructure components such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, DNS and Active Directory. It’s not ideal to simply replace these, but with solid VM templates and some scripting, the process is quick and relatively painless. This method is related to the loss of these Windows Server certifications. If it’s easier to replace, then why focus on the repair aspect? Without the need for troubleshooting, why have a certification?

This might be a bit disturbing for some admins who don’t use the “pets versus cattle” model, but virtualization and templates make this a viable option. However, just because something can be done doesn’t mean it will work in every situation. The application still needs to support this type of arrangement, and that process has been pretty slow in coming. Applications used in manufacturing, computer-aided design, electronic health record systems and education systems will have difficulty moving to a cloud-based version due to the difficulties with shifting the data away from the data center as well as the loss of customization offered by the on-premises version. Also, a move to Azure or quick replacement won’t work for companies that use on-premise resources due to regulations or preference.

While Microsoft sells and supports its on-premises products of Windows Server 2019 and Exchange Server 2019, it is doing its best to bury them in the product stack so only a Google search will unearth them. It’s difficult to see, but these products are a shrinking island. They might not go away completely, but the footprint will be a shadow of what it once was. In the world of IT, nothing ever goes away as quickly or cleanly as a vendor might hope — and Windows Server is no exception.

By necessity, the Azure certifications will be where most in IT now focus their attention. However, many companies still have legacy Windows Server workloads on site, and many of them will need to migrate to 2019. If you’re an expert in Windows Server technology, then you need to state that on your resume and, in the absence of an official certification, be prepared to cite specific examples that show your proficiency when you apply.

What you can do in the absence of Windows Server certifications

Microsoft, not its customers, should be carrying the torch for Windows Server 2019. But it’s clear the company has moved on — and I think that is a huge mistake. Microsoft education and certification are driven by its marketing and sales groups. This move doesn’t just water down some of the premier industry certifications, it lowers their relevance since they no longer cover all aspects of the core products.

Remember that you’re not the only one who sees what Microsoft is doing with Windows Server; IT managers and staff also see this trend. Don’t be surprised when these skills sets remain in demand. This could open a few more doors if you’re looking for that new opportunity, provided you can work to self-validate some of your supposedly outdated skills. You only have to look at the computer language of COBOL and continued livelihood of the mainframe to see there are jobs to support these legacy technologies that pay exceptionally well for those who know it. It’s too bad Microsoft chose to alienate an entire group of IT professionals in favor of a marketing strategy.

You should never say never to a cloud migration, but it won’t happen overnight. You shouldn’t walk away from Server 2019, despite what the marketing machine says you need to do. You should look at Azure certifications and put in effort to expand your skills portfolio, but don’t ignore your core skill sets.

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The Acid Test for Your Backup Strategy

For the first several years that I supported server environments, I spent most of my time working with backup systems. I noticed that almost everyone did their due diligence in performing backups. Most people took an adequate responsibility to verify that their scheduled backups ran without error. However, almost no one ever checked that they could actually restore from a backup — until disaster struck. I gathered a lot of sorrowful stories during those years. I want to use those experiences to help you avert a similar tragedy.

Successful Backups Do Not Guarantee Successful Restores

Fortunately, a lot of the problems that I dealt with in those days have almost disappeared due to technological advancements. But, that only means that you have better odds of a successful restore, not that you have a zero chance of failure. Restore failures typically mean that something unexpected happened to your backup media. Things that I’ve encountered:

  • Staff inadvertently overwrote a full backup copy with an incremental or differential backup
  • No one retained the necessary decryption information
  • Media was lost or damaged
  • Media degraded to uselessness
  • Staff did not know how to perform a restore — sometimes with disastrous outcomes

I’m sure that some of you have your own horror stories.

These risks apply to all organizations. Sometimes we manage to convince ourselves that we have immunity to some or all of them, but you can’t get there without extra effort. Let’s break down some of these line items.

People Represent the Weakest Link

We would all like to believe that our staff will never make errors and that the people that need to operate the backup system have the ability to do so. However, as a part of your disaster recovery planning, you must expect an inability to predict the state or availability of any individual. If only a few people know how to use your backup application, then those people become part of your risk profile.

You have a few simple ways to address these concerns:

  • Periodically test the restore process
  • Document the restore process and keep the documentation updated
  • Non-IT personnel need knowledge and practice with backup and restore operations
  • Non-IT personnel need to know how to get help with the application

It’s reasonable to expect that you would call your backup vendor for help in the event of an emergency that prevented your best people from performing restores. However, in many organizations without a proper disaster recovery plan, no one outside of IT even knows who to call. The knowledge inside any company naturally tends to arrange itself in silos, but you must make sure to spread at least the bare minimum information.

Technology Does Fail

I remember many shock and horror reactions when a company owner learned that we could not read the data from their backup tapes. A few times, these turned into grief and loss counselling sessions as they realized that they were facing a critical — or even complete — data loss situation. Tape has its own particular risk profile, and lots of businesses have stopped using it in favour of on-premises disk-based storage or cloud-based solutions. However, all backup storage technologies present some kind of risk.

In my experience, data degradation occurred most frequently. You might see this called other things, my favourite being “bit rot”. Whatever you call it, it all means the same thing: the data currently on the media is not the same data that you recorded. That can happen just because magnetic storage devices have susceptibilities. That means that no one made any mistakes — the media just didn’t last. For all media types, we can establish an average for failure rates. But, we have absolutely no guarantees on the shelf life for any individual unit. I have seen data pull cleanly off decade-old media; I have seen week-old backups fail miserably.

Unexpectedly, newer technology can make things worse. In our race to cut costs, we frequently employ newer ways to save space and time. In the past, we had only compression and incremental/differential solutions. Now, we have tools that can deduplicate across several backup sets and at multiple levels. We often put a lot of reliance on the single copy of a bit.

How to Test your Backup Strategy

The best way to identify problems is to break-test to find weaknesses. Leveraging test restores will help identity backup reliability and help you solve these problems. Simply, you cannot know that you have a good backup unless you can perform a good restore. You cannot know that your staff can perform a restore unless they perform a restore. For maximum effect, you need to plan tests to occur on a regular basis.

Some tools, like Altaro VM Backup, have built-in tools to make tests easy. Altaro VM Backup provides a “Test & Verify Backups” wizard to help you perform on-demand tests and a “Schedule Test Drills” feature to help you automate the process.

how to test and verify backups altaro

If your tool does not have such a feature, you can still use it to make certain that your data will be there when you need it. It should have some way to restore a separate or redirected copy. So, instead of overwriting your live data, you can create a duplicate in another place where you can safely examine and verify it.

Test Restore Scenario

In the past, we would often simply restore some data files to a shared location and use a simple comparison tool. Now that we use virtual machines for so much, we can do a great deal more. I’ll show one example of a test that I use. In my system, all of these are Hyper-V VMs. You’ll have to adjust accordingly for other technologies.

Using your tool, restore copies of:

  • A domain controller
  • A SQL server
  • A front-end server dependent on the SQL server

On the host that you restored those VMs to, create a private virtual switch. Connect each virtual machine to it. Spin up the copied domain controller, then the copied SQL server, then the copied front-end. Use the VM connect console to verify that all of them work as expected.

Create test restore scenarios of your own! Make sure that they match a real-world scenario that your organization would rely on after a disaster.


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Author: Eric Siron

Remote Work: Top 5 Challenges (and Solutions) for IT Admins

The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are plain for all to see. Our sympathies go out to everyone struggling to cope with this tragic situation. We are truly indebted to the health workers around the world who are working tirelessly to protect us. But with most countries now restricting movements and public gatherings, perhaps the unsung heroes of the current situation from an economic perspective are the IT admins who are keeping the world’s workforce productive.

Virtually every industry has been impacted by the global pandemic in some waybut the businesses that are fortunate enough to be able to continue operations remotely have to adapt – and quickly. Larger enterprises have been doing this for years and will already have a robust remote work infrastructure in placeBut for those organizations which are transitioning to this new work dynamic, it introduces many new challenges which IT departments are expected to solveThis article will review the top 5 challenges facing IT admins managing remote operations, along with solutions from Microsoft and other service providers. 

1. Drops in Productivity and Business Continuity 

One of the first things that your company will see is a drop in productivity as business operations slow down. This will likely be a combination of remote work challenges due to technology and personal reasons. When people are at home, they are generally more distracted, and they may even be taking care of their children during business hours

Companies should expect these challenges and realize that this could also change work habits. For example, productivity could spike in the early mornings and evenings when children are usually sleepingEncourage managers to ask their staff about any changes in employee behaviour so that the IT department can be prepared. Monitoring Office 365 activity is possible via usage reports:

Monitoring user activity in Microsoft 365

Office 365 Usage Executive Summary

All your staff should have laptops with your company’s line of business applications and productivity suite, which could include Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite. While most of your employees will be familiar with products like Word and Excel, explore whether using SharePoint for content collaboration or OneNote for shared workspaces will help different business units.

It probably goes without saying, but make sure that you are using a reliable virtual communication or meeting tool, such as Microsoft Teams or Google HangoutsEncourage managers to move all their regular in-person meetings to the virtual format to keep their team on track. 

If you haven’t already, provide a password-protected webpage which employees can visit containing a current version of all remote work guidelines, documentation, service notifications and a place to submit help requests. This is particularly important during a transition period with a lot of new remote users. Make sure guidelines are properly followed as this is one of the most important stages to be fully aware of vulnerability issues and to minimize risk.

Microsoft System Center Service Manager (SCSM) can provide this as an ITSM solution with an online help portal. Most IT organizations will see an increase in support requests, so consider redirecting more of your staff towards customer support. IT will be critical in keeping the business running, so having quick customer response time is critical.

It is important to set clear expectations with your business stakeholders that there may be disruptions to IT services during the transition phase and encourage teams to have backup communication plans. This could be as simple as sharing each other’s phone numbers to ensure business continuity in case of an unplanned outage. You want to make the transition as easy as possible so that you can be a hero of your company.

2. Managing Network and Connectivity Issues

Since the coronavirus outbreak started, cities throughout the world have seen a 10 to 40% increase in Internet traffic. This is due to more people working from home and an increased number of children and others in isolation viewing more internet content during business hours from the same building. This has caused many disruptions throughout the internet, however, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been scaling up their infrastructure to support this growth.

While you cannot change these internet-wide problems we are all facing, you can provide your workforce with some best practices to help them address connectivity issues. Remind them that any network usage within their buildingincluding streaming TV, video games or music, will reduce their bandwidth

Some ISPs and cellular providers are offering their residential and commercial customers discounted service upgrades and no data overage charges – check with your company internet provider if they offer this as soon as possible. Furthermore, compile a list of these organizations for your employees. If regular Internet access becomes too slow, remind them that they may be able to set up a mobile hotspot and tether their laptop to their cell phone’s Internet connection.

Once your staff has remotely connected to your infrastructure there are different ways that you can optimize the network traffic. First, scale-out your network hardware. If you are running your services in a public or private cloud, you can take advantage of network virtualization and network function virtualization (NFV) by deploying virtualized routers, switches and load balancers.

If your datacenter is using physical networking hardware, you may want to invest in additional equipment, but be wary of delays if you have to ship anything internationally. If you are expecting an increase in remote users, also consider that you may need to increase the capacity of your entire infrastructure, including virtual machines and storage network throughput 

You should also prioritize network traffic so that requests for business-critical services or VoIP communications are more likely to go through. Network prioritization, or Quality of Service (QoS), can be controlled from various points in your physical and virtual networks. If you are using Hyper-V, you can use storage QoS to prioritize disk access to important dataYou can also learn additional virtual networking best practices from Altaro.

Make sure you have a backup plan in place for different types of outages. Some organizations have deployed a redundant copy of their services in a secondary site or public cloud so you may want to consider turning these resources on to support the extra demand. However, cloud providers are not immune to outages (more about that in Protecting User Data) so you should always have a backup plan in place especially for communications services, a PABX (e.g. 3CX) for Chat & Video outages, and Email continuity solutions (like those of Proofpoint & Mimecast) for email outages. 

If you do experience a service drop, it may not be immediately reported by the service provider as they often prefer to have an official reason and solution in place before they communicate it. Downdetector.com is a great way to quickly check if it is a genuine service drop or it’s just your connection.

monitor app downtime with downdetector

3. Enabling Access to Remote Resources 

Once your users have network access, you want to restrict or grant access to specific resources. Windows Server Active Directory for role-based access control (RBAC) is just the start – you should create groups in Active Directory and assign different users to eachConfigure and manage security policies at the group level to simplify administration when users join or leave the organization. This is also where you can implement VPN restrictions (read more in Ensuring High Security Standards below) 

Some of your users may need to access the operating system of a server, which can be provided through Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDP)This application allows the user to connect directly to a workstation or virtual machine to get access to all the services running on it. Make sure that you provide guidanceideally with graphical step-by-step instructions, for any new processes. Ensure that all employees have a clear escalation path to tech support.

4. Ensuring High Security Standards

In addition to using Active Directory with RBAC, you should take time to deploy security best practices for remote access. This starts with education, making sure that employees are using private Internet connections or connecting via a VPN if they access your services via a public network. Also, ensure that you are following any industry-specific security requirements if you are working with sensitive data or in a regulated industry.

You should already have deployed a strong firewall which you can manage remotely. If the firewall is virtualized as a network function virtualization (NFV) device, then it can be dynamically updated and scaled. By default, disable all inbound and outbound traffic with a “zero trust” security model, and only allow access to specific protocols and ports that you are intentionally using. It is essential to turn Multi-Factor Authentication on for Office 365 access to ensure that remote users go through extra validation via clicking on an email link or entering a code sent to their mobile device.  

For advanced control, use Azure Conditional Access which lets IT departments dynamically grant and revoke access based on different variables. A good example of this is using conditional policies to restrict access from certain counties if you know you shouldn’t have any users logging on from those regions. 

Take advantage of any native security tools offered by your cloud provider, such as Azure Security Center. Portals like this provide an IT department with best practices and reports and use AI-based analytics to find anomalies or unusual traffic patterns.

For more information about Azure Security Center, watch our on-demand webinar Azure Security Center: How to Protect Your Datacenter with Next Generation Security

Azure Security Center webinar

5. Protecting User Data

Now that all of your employees are working remotely from laptops, you want to ensure that their data is backed up and can quickly be recovered. The easiest option is to have your employees place their files on cloud storage, such as Microsoft OneDrive for BusinessMicrosoft SharePoint or Dropbox. This helps by providing a centralized location so that even if the user loses their laptop, a copy of the data is preserved

However, these copies are effectively redundant copies which are not a replacement for backup. These redundant copies enable shared documents to function with approved users able to access the document for collaboration. But this data is constantly rewritten and thus not a genuine alternative to stored backup copies.

If your company is using Microsoft O365 for email, then one copy of that user’s mailbox is available in the cloud. Keep in mind that while the email is always accessible, only one copy of all O365 data is stored by Microsoft. However again, this is effectively redundant data. Thus, the native backup provided by Microsoft will not be enough for most companies considering that with more people working from home, the chances of software outages and blackouts increase due to the strain from supporting the wave of new users.  

This was all too real to users who experienced wide-spread blackouts of Teams and Exchange Online on Tuesday 17 March. 

Microsoft Teams service health

Office 365 Service Health on Tuesday 17 March 2020  

One way to prepare for these events is to have alternative options for the key apps to continue operations and business continuity (discussed above). However, these events also prove that Microsoft is not infallible, and proper backup is essential to ensure you don’t lose the vital data your company relies upon. Therefore, you should also be using a solution such as Altaro Office 365 Backup to create a reliable and secure backup of every O365 mailbox, SharePoint document and OneDrive for Business file.

Altaro Office 365 Backup Logo

Start your free trial of Altaro Office 365 Backup

If your users are not automatically storing their files in the cloud, then at least make sure that their files on their laptops are being regularly and automatically backed up. You can configure global backup settings across your organization using Group Policy Management. This will force backups to be taken on every laptop at certain intervals for certain essential business applications. Consider having the backups automatically copied to a remote file storage location during off-hours.

You now know how to prepare for the top five challenges you will face as your employees start working from home. If this sounds too complicated for your IT team’s skills, consider finding a managed service provider (MSP) or Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to help you through the transition.

Keep in mind that these best practices only cover the needs of your employees. If your business offers technology services, then consider the impact of the home workforce on your line of business applications, and scale them up or down as appropriate. Using these tips, you’ll get ahead of the challenges that your organization will face as more of the staff works remotelyThese are testing times for all of us, but as an IT admin, you can now become one of your company’s heroes by keeping your business running in this new and challenging world. 

Good luck! 


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Author: Symon Perriman

For Sale – EVGA Geforce GTX 1070 FTW Gaming (special edition)

Hi, any interest in a trade with my 1 month old Gigabyte Aorus RTX 2070 Super ?

Jamie.

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For Sale – R7000 Netgear router

No longer required but a great router!

Comes boxed along, PSU and the 3 antennasIMG_20200311_202639.jpgIMG_20200311_202728.jpg

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Ibstock, Leicester
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£50
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Wanted – Microserver Gen 8 or 10

Europe’s busiest forums, with independent news and expert reviews, for TVs, Home Cinema, Hi-Fi, Movies, Gaming, Tech and more.

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For Sale – Seagate ST3000DM001-9YN166 3TB 3.5″ internal hard drives

Anker Card Reader, USB 3.0 8 in 1S D-XC, SD, MMC, RS-MMC, SD-HC, Micro SD, Mini SD and UHS-I cards. £6. ***SOLD***

Samsung HN-M500MBB 500Mb 2.5″ internal hard drive £15 ***SOLD***

Seagate ST3000DM001-9YN166 3TB 3.5″ internal hard drive x 2 £50 each.

Hauppauge Win TV HVR-1700 TV card with WinTV software, all in original package. £25 *** SOLD ***

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C3.ai, Microsoft, and leading universities launch C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute – Stories

C3.ai, Microsoft, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; the University of Chicago; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Carnegie Mellon University form the new C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute

First call for proposals published – AI Techniques to Mitigate Pandemic

Institute to accelerate AI innovation among scientific communities to bring greater advocacy, invention, collaboration, and academic rigor to scaling digital transformation

Redwood City, CA; Redmond, WA; Urbana-Champaign, IL; Berkeley, CA; Princeton, NJ; Chicago, IL, Cambridge, MA; and Pittsburgh, PA. —(BUSINESS WIRE)— March 26, 2020 – C3.ai, Microsoft Corp., the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC announced two major initiatives:

  • C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (C3.ai DTI), a research consortium dedicated to accelerating the application of artificial intelligence to speed the pace of digital transformation in business, government, and society. Jointly managed by UC Berkeley and UIUC, C3.ai DTI will sponsor and fund world-leading scientists in a coordinated effort to advance the digital transformation of business, government, and society.
  • C3.ai DTI First Call for Research Proposals: C3.ai DTI invites scholars, developers, and researchers, to embrace the challenge of abating COVID-19 and advance the knowledge, science, and technologies for mitigating future pandemics using AI. This is the first in what will be a series of bi-annual calls for Digital Transformation research proposals.

“The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a consortium of leading scientists, researchers, innovators, and executives from academia and industry, joining forces to accelerate the social and economic benefits of digital transformation,” said Thomas M. Siebel, CEO of C3.ai. “We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic,” Siebel continued. “I cannot imagine a more important use of AI.”

Immediate Call for Proposals: AI Techniques to Mitigate Pandemic

 Topics for Research Awards may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Applying machine learning and other AI methods to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Genome-specific COVID-19 medical protocols, including precision medicine of host responses
  3. Biomedical informatics methods for drug design and repurposing
  4. Design and sharing of clinical trials for collecting data on medications, therapies, and interventions
  5. Modeling, simulation, and prediction for understanding COVID-19 propagation and efficacy of interventions
  6. Logistics and optimization analysis for design of public health strategies and interventions
  7. Rigorous approaches to designing sampling and testing strategies
  8. Data analytics for COVID-19 research harnessing private and sensitive data
  9. Improving societal resilience in response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic
  10. Broader efforts in biomedicine, infectious disease modeling, response logistics and optimization, public health efforts, tools, and methodologies around the containment of rising infectious diseases and response to pandemics, so as to be better prepared for future infectious diseases

The first call for proposals is open now, with a deadline of May 1, 2020. Researchers are invited to learn more about C3.ai DTI and how to submit their proposals for consideration at C3DTI.ai. Selected proposals will be announced by June 1, 2020.

Up to $5.8 million in awards will be funded from this first call, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each. In addition to cash awards, C3.aiDTI recipients will be provided with significant cloud computing, supercomputing, data access, and AI software resources and technical support provided by Microsoft and C3.ai. This will include unlimited use of the C3 AI Suite and access to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and access to the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Super Computing Applications (NCSA) at UIUC and the NERSC Perlmutter supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

“We are collecting a massive amount of data about MERS, SARS, and now COVID-19,” said Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State. “We have a unique opportunity before us to apply the new sciences of AI and digital transformation to learn from these data how we can better manage these phenomena and avert the worst outcomes for humanity,” Rice continued. “I can think of no work more important and no response more cogent and timely than this important public-private partnership.”

“We’re excited about the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute and are happy to join on a shared mission to accelerate research at these eminent research institutions,” said Eric Horvitz, Chief Scientist at Microsoft and C3.ai DTI Advisory Board Member. “As we launch this exciting private-public partnership, we’re enthusiastic about aiming the broader goals of the Institute at urgent challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on longer-term research that could help minimize future pandemics.”

“At UC Berkeley, we are thrilled to help co-lead this important endeavor to establish and advance the science of digital transformation at the nexus of machine learning, IoT, and cloud computing,” said Carol Christ, Chancellor, UC Berkeley. “We believe this Institute has the potential to make tremendous contributions by including ethics, new business models, and public policy to the technologies for transforming societal scale systems globally.”

“The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, with its vision of cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaboration, represents an exciting model to help accelerate innovation in this important new field of study,” said Robert J. Jones, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “At this time of a global health crisis, the Institute’s initial research focus will be on applying AI to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and to learn from it how to protect the world from future pandemics. C3.ai DTI is an important addition to the world’s fight against this disease and a powerful new resource in developing solutions to all societal challenges.”

“Together with the other C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute partners, we look forward to creating a powerful ecosystem of scholars and educators committed to applying 21st century technologies to the benefit of all,” said Chris Eisgruber, President of Princeton University. “This public-private partnership with innovators like C3.ai and Microsoft, providing support to world-class researchers across a range of disciplines, promises to bring rapid innovation to an exciting new frontier.”

“By strongly supporting multidisciplinary research and multi-institution projects, the C3.ai DTI represents a new avenue to develop breakthrough scientific results with a positive impact on society at a time of great need,” said Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago: “I’m very pleased that the University of Chicago is part of this formidable collaboration between academia and industry to lead crucial innovation with great purpose and urgency.”

“The vision of C3.ai DTI is driven by the recognition of digital transformation as both a science as well as a scientific imperative for this pivotal time, applicable to every sector of our economy across the public and private sectors, including in healthcare, education, and public health,” said Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University. “We are excited to participate in building out the Institute’s structure, program and further alliances. This is just the beginning of an ambitious journey that can have enormous positive impact on the world.”

“At MIT, we share the commitment of C3.ai DTI to advancing the frontiers of AI, cybersecurity and related fields while building into every inquiry a deep concern for ethics, privacy, equity and the public interest,” said Rafael Reif, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “At this moment of national emergency, we are proud to be part of this intensive effort to apply these sophisticated tools to better analyze the COVID-19 epidemic and devise effective ways to stop it. We look forward to accelerating this work both by collaborating with the companies and institutions in the initiative, and by drawing on the frontline experience and clinical data of our colleagues in Boston’s world-class hospitals.”

Building Community
At the heart of C3.ai DTI will be the constant flow of new ideas and expertise provided by ongoing research, visiting professors and research scholars, and faculty and scholars in residence, many of whom will come from beyond the member institutions. This rich ecosystem will form the foundational structure of a new Science of Digital Transformation.

“This is about global innovation based on multinational collaboration to accelerate the positive impact of AI by providing researchers access to real world data and to massive resources,” said Jim Snabe, Chairman, Siemens. “This is exactly the kind of multinational public-private partnership that is required to address this critical issue.”

“I could not be more proud of our association with C3.ai and Microsoft,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of Baker Hughes. “This is exactly the kind of leadership that is required to bring together the best of us to address this critical need.”

“We are at war and we must win it! Using all means,” said Jacques Attali, French statesman. “This great project will organize global scientific collaboration for accelerating the social impact of AI, and help to win this war, using new weapons, for the best of mankind.”

“In these difficult times, we need – now more than ever – to join our forces with scholars, innovators, and industry experts to propose solutions to complex problems. I am convinced that digital, data science and AI are a key answer,” said Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet, Executive Vice President of ENGIE. “The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a perfect example of what we can do together to make the world better.”

Establishing the New Science of Digital Transformation
C3.ai DTI will focus its research on AI, Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data Analytics, human factors, organizational behavior, ethics, and public policy. The Institute will support the development of ML algorithms, data security, and cybersecurity techniques. C3.ai DTI research will analyze new business operation models, develop methods of implementing organizational change management and protecting privacy, and amplify the dialogue around the ethics and public policy of AI.

C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a Research Initiative that Includes:

  • Research Awards: Up to 26 cash awards annually, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each
  • Computing Resources: Access to free Azure Cloud and C3 AI Suite resources
  • Visiting Professors & Research Scientists: $750,000 per year to support C3.ai DTI Visiting Scholars
  • Curriculum Development: Annual awards to faculty at member institutions to develop curricula that teach the emerging field of Digital Transformation Science
  • Data Analytics Platform: ai DTI will host an elastic cloud, big data, development, and operating platform, including the C3 AI Suite hosted on Microsoft Azure for the purpose of supporting C3.ai DTI research, curriculum development, and teaching
  • Educational Program: $750,000 a year to support an annual conference, annual report, newsletters, published research, and website
  • Industry Alignment: C3DTI Industry Partners will be established to assure the institute’s operations are aligned to the needs of the private sector.
  • Open Source: ai DTI will strongly favor proposals that promise to publish their research in the public domain.

To support the Institute, C3.ai will provide C3.ai DTI $57,250,000 in cash contributions over the first five years of operation. C3.ai and Microsoft will contribute an additional $310 million in-kind, including use of the C3 AI Suite and Microsoft Azure computing, storage, and technical resources to support C3.ai DTI research.

To learn more about C3.ai DTI’s program, award opportunities, and call for proposals, please visit C3DTI.ai.

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About C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute
C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute represents an innovative vision to take AI, ML, IoT, and big data research in a consortium model to a level that cannot be achieved at any one institution alone. Jointly managed and hosted by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, C3.ai DTI will attract the world’s leading scientists to join in a coordinated and innovative effort to advance the digital transformation of business, government, and society, and establish the new Science of the Digital Transformation of Societal Systems.

About C3.ai
C3.ai is a leading AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation. C3.ai delivers the C3 AI Suite for developing, deploying, and operating large-scale AI, predictive analytics, and IoT applications in addition to an increasingly broad portfolio of turn-key AI applications. The core of the C3.ai offering is a revolutionary, model-driven AI architecture that dramatically enhances data science and application development. Learn more at: www.c3.ai.

C3.ai Contact:
April Marks
Director of Public Relations
917-574-5512
[email protected]

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft Contact
Microsoft Media Relations:
WE Communications for Microsoft
425-638-7777
[email protected]

About University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public land-grant research university founded in 1867 and dedicated to building upon a tradition of excellence in education, research, public engagement and economic development. The university pioneers innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Illinois faculty, staff and alumni have been leading the way in digital transformation from the invention of the transistor to the birth of the graphical internet browser to high performance computing to the new revolution in data sciences and analytics.

UIUC Contact:
Robin Kale
Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs
[email protected]
217-333-5050

About University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university. Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is a place where the brightest minds from across the globe come together to explore, ask questions and improve the world.

University of California, Berkeley Contact:
Sarah Yang
Assistant Dean, Marketing & Communications
Berkeley Engineering
[email protected]

About Princeton University
Princeton University is a vibrant community of teaching and research that stands in the nation’s service and the service of humanity. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

Princeton University Contact:
Ben Chang, Deputy Vice President, Communications
[email protected]

About University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a leading academic and research institution that has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890. As an intellectual destination, the University draws scholars and students from around the world to its campuses and centers around the globe. The University provides a distinctive educational experience and research environment, empowering individuals to challenge conventional thinking and pursue field-defining research that produces new understanding and breakthroughs with global impact.

University of Chicago Contact:
Rob Mitchum
Associate Director of Communications for Data Science and Computing
University of Chicago
[email protected]
773-484-9890

About Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT is devoted to the advancement of knowledge and education of students in areas that contribute to or prosper in an environment of science and technology.

MIT Contact:
Anne Stuart
Communications Officer in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
[email protected]

About Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon (cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 14,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Carnegie Mellon University Contact:
Jason Maderer
Sr. Director, Media Relations
412.268.1151
[email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center