Dell introduces redesigned XPS 15 and XPS 17 | Windows Experience Blog

Dell’s family of XPS laptops

If you’re in the market for a new PC, take note: Dell has announced new devices that deliver larger screens, long battery life and enough power to stream your favorite shows, edit photos for Instagram, render 4K videos for YouTube or create original sounds and textures on your Digital Audio Workstation.
Dell has redesigned the XPS 15 and introduced a new XPS 17 with larger screen sizes so you can see and do more, thanks to virtually borderless, four-sided InfinityEdge displays and new hinges. Whether you’re creating content or consuming it, the XPS systems will meet your needs with immersive visuals.

Dell XPS 17

After a near 10-year hiatus, the XPS 17 returns and it’s leveled up with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core Processors, up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics with Max-Q design and 19 hours of battery life to keep up with demanding projects, gaming and VR. It’s also got a thermal design that increases fan airflow and delivers higher sustained performance.
The redesigned XPS 15 has a larger 16:10 display and new speakers, striking a balance between power and portability to fuel content creation at home or on-the-go, with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core Processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics with Max-Q design and up to 25 hours of battery life.

Dell XPS 15

If you choose the Creator Editions of these devices, you’ll find configurations built with tools that speed high-resolution video editing and graphic design processes.
So many of us are on video calls these days, and on these devices those calls are supported by Dell’s smallest ever HD webcams discretely hidden at the top of the displays. You’ll come across loud and clear thanks to top-mounted mics with advanced echo cancellation and noise reduction technologies.
Running late to virtual hangouts with friends and family? The XPS family helps you log on quickly using Windows Hello – a fingerprint reader built right into the power button – so you can safely unlock your PC and get to visiting without entering a password.
The XPS 15 starts at $1,299.99 and is available in the U.S. and Canada now and across participating European and Asian countries later this week. The XPS 17 starts at $1,499.99 and will be available in the U.S., Canada and participating European and Asian countries this summer.
With Dell Mobile Connect – available to download for free from the Microsoft Store – Android and iOS users can make calls, send texts, fully mirror their phone screen to use apps, and get notifications and drag and drop files between their phone and XPS. It’ll come pre-installed on all Dell consumer systems this spring.
And if you want to move important and hard to replace data and files from any Windows-based PC to your new Dell XPS, you can use Dell Migrate, a new, simple, do-it-yourself tool that will get you up and running fast. It starts at $39 and is now available in the U.S.

Microsoft announces pricing terms for its exchange offers and increases the New 2060 Notes Issue Cap – Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — May 14, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) (“Microsoft”) announced today the pricing terms with respect to its offers to (i) exchange (the “Pool 1 Offer”) the ten series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 1 Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft’s 2.525% notes due June 1, 2050 (the “New 2050 Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable. For each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn prior to 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on May 28, 2020 (the “Expiration Time”) and accepted by Microsoft, the following table sets forth the yield, the total exchange consideration, the principal amount of the New 2050 Notes and the amount of the cash payment, as applicable:

Pool 1 Table(1)
Title of
Security
CUSIP
Number
Acceptance Priority Level Reference
UST Security(2)
Fixed
Spread
(basis
points)
Yield(3) Early
Exchange
Premium(4)
Total
Exchange
Consideration
(4)(5)
Principal
Amount
of New
Notes(6)
Cash Payment(4)
4.875% Notes due 2043

594918AX2

1 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,441.62 $1,000.00 $441.62
5.300% Notes due 2041

594918AM6

2 30-year +105 2.325% $30 $1,486.31 $1,000.00 $486.31
4.450% Notes due 2045

594918BL7

3 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,388.59 $1,000.00 $388.59
4.250% Notes due 2047

594918CA0 4 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,363.95 $1,000.00 $363.95
5.200% Notes due 2039

594918AD6 5 30-year +95 2.225% $30 $1,458.92 $1,000.00 $458.92
4.500% Notes due 2040

594918AJ3 6 30-year +100 2.275% $30 $1,360.57 $1,000.00 $360.57
3.750% Notes due 2043

594918AU8

7 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,237.91 $1,000.00 $237.91
3.750% Notes due 2045

594918BD5

8 30-year +110 2.375% $30 $1,251.94 $1,000.00 $251.94
4.100% Notes due 2037

594918BZ6 9 30-year +87 2.145% $30 $1,266.05 $1,000.00 $266.05
4.200% Notes due 2035 594918BK9 10 30-year +75 2.025% $30 $1,278.89 $1,000.00 $278.89
  1. The figures in this table assume a settlement date of June 1, 2020.
  2. The “30-year Reference UST Security” refers to the 2.375% U.S. Treasury Notes due November 15, 2049.
  3. Reflects the bid-side yield of the 30-year Reference UST Security as of the pricing time of 1.275% plus the applicable Fixed Spread, calculated in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Prospectus.
  4. Per $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes.
  5. Holders who validly tender Pool 1 Notes after 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on May 13, 2020 (the “Early Exchange Time”) will not be eligible to receive the Early Exchange Premium of $30 principal amount of the New 2050 Notes for each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 1 Notes validly tendered and not withdrawn. For the avoidance of doubt, the $30 per $1,000 Early Exchange Premium is included within the total exchange consideration and is not in addition to the total exchange c
  6. Does not reflect any accrued and unpaid interest. The Company will pay accrued and unpaid interest on the Existing Notes up to, but not including, the settlement date.

and (ii) exchange (the “Pool 2 Offer” and, together with the Pool 1 Offer, the “Exchange Offers”) the four series of notes described in the table below (collectively, the “Pool 2 Notes” and, together with the Pool 1 Notes, the “Existing Notes”) for a new series of Microsoft 2.675% notes due June 1, 2060 (the “New 2060 Notes” and, together with the New 2050 Notes, the “New Notes”) and a cash payment, as applicable. For each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn prior to the Expiration Time and accepted by Microsoft, the following table sets forth the yield, the total exchange consideration, the principal amount of the New 2060 Notes and the amount of the cash payment, as applicable:

Pool 2 Table(1)
Title of
Security
CUSIP
Number
Acceptance Priority Level Reference
UST Security(2)
Fixed
Spread
(basis
points)
Yield(3) Early
Exchange
Premium(4)
Total
Exchange
Consideration
(4)(5)
Principal
Amount
of New
Notes(6)
Cash Payment(4)
4.750% Notes due 2055

594918BM5 1 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,514.30 $1,138.86 $375.44
4.000% Notes due 2055

594918BE3 2 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,336.46 $1,000.00 $336.46
4.500% Notes due 2057

594918CB8 3 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,466.62 $1,107.32 $359.30
3.950% Notes due 2056 594918BU7 4 30-year +125 2.525% $30 $1,333.83 $1,000.00 $333.83
  1. The figures in this table reflect any optional adjustments of the total exchange consideration as permitted under the terms and conditions in the Prospectus forming part of the Registration Statement and assume a settlement date of June 1, 2020.
  2. The “30-year Reference UST Security” refers to the 2.375% U.S. Treasury Notes due November 15, 2049.
  3. Reflects the buy-side yield of the 30-year Reference UST Security as of the pricing time of 1.275% plus the applicable Fixed Spread, calculated in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Prospectus.
  4. Per $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes.
  5. Holders who validly tender Pool 2 Notes after the Early Exchange Time will not be eligible to receive the Early Exchange Premium of $30 principal amount of the New 2060 Notes for each $1,000 principal amount of Pool 2 Notes validly tendered and not withdrawn. For the avoidance of doubt, the $30 per $1,000 Early Exchange Premium is included within the total exchange consideration and is not in addition to the total exchange c
  6. Does not reflect any accrued and unpaid interest. The Company will pay accrued and unpaid interest on the Existing Notes up to, but not including, the settlement date.

The aggregate principal amount of Pool 1 Notes and Pool 2 Notes of each series that are accepted for exchange will be based on the order of acceptance priority for such series, as applicable, as set forth in the tables above, up to $6,250,000,000 aggregate principal amount (the “New 2050 Notes Issue Cap”) and up to $3,750,000,000 aggregate principal amount (the “New 2060 Notes Issue Cap,” increased from $3,000,000,000), respectively. Holders who validly tender the Existing Notes after the Early Exchange Time but on or before the Expiration Time will only be eligible to receive the Exchange Consideration, which equals the Total Exchange Consideration minus the Early Exchange Premium as detailed in the tables above.

As permitted under the terms and conditions in the Registration Statement (as defined below), the Company has elected to increase the Cash Payment Percent of Premium on the 4.750% Notes due 2055 from 70% to 73%, the 4.500% Notes due 2057 from 70% to 77%, and the 3.950% Notes due 2056 from 90% to 100%. These changes are reflected in the Cash Payment amounts shown in the tables above.

In addition to the principal amount of New Notes and applicable cash payment specified in the tables above, holders with Existing Notes that are accepted for exchange will receive a cash payment representing (i) all or a portion of the accrued and unpaid interest to, but not including, the settlement date, and (ii) amounts due in lieu of any fractional amounts of New Notes, in each case, as described in the Prospectus.

A Registration Statement on Form S-4, including a prospectus (the “Prospectus”), which is subject to change, relating to the New Notes has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on April 30, 2020 (the “Registration Statement”) but has not yet become effective. The New Notes may not be sold nor may offers to buy be accepted prior to the time the Registration Statement becomes effective. If and when issued, the New Notes will be registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. This news release does not constitute an offer or a solicitation by Microsoft of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any state in which such offer or solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state.

Consummation of the Exchange Offers is subject to a number of conditions as set forth in the Prospectus included in the Registration Statement, including, among other things, the Registration Statement of which the Prospectus forms a part having been declared effective by the SEC and remaining effective on the settlement date.

The Exchange Offers are made only by and pursuant to the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in the Prospectus, which forms a part of the Registration Statement after it is declared effective by the SEC, and the information in this news release is qualified by reference to such Prospectus and the Registration Statement. None of Microsoft, the dealer managers, or the information agent and exchange agent makes any recommendations as to whether holders should tender their Existing Notes pursuant to the Exchange Offers. Holders must make their own decisions as to whether to tender Existing Notes and, if so, the principal amount of Existing Notes to tender.

Copies of the Prospectus pursuant to which the Exchange Offers are being made, may be obtained from D.F. King & Co., Inc., the information agent and exchange agent for the Exchange Offers, at 212-269-5552 (to exchange), at 800-431-9645 (for information U.S. Toll-free), at 212-269-5550 (information for brokers), at www.dfking.com/microsoft, or at [email protected].  Questions regarding the terms and conditions of the Exchange Offers should be directed to the following joint lead dealer managers:

  BofA Securities

620 South Tryon Street, 20th Floor

Charlotte, NC 28255

Toll Free: (888) 292-0070

Collect: (980) 387-3907

Attn: Liability Management Group

    Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.

60 Wall Street

New York, NY 10005

Toll Free: (866) 627-0391

Collect: (212) 250-2955

Attn: Liability Management Group

In order to participate in any Exchange Offer, holders of the Existing Notes located or resident in Canada are required to complete, sign and submit to the exchange agent a Canadian Eligibility Form, which may be obtained from D.F. King & Co., Inc. contacts above, to confirm they satisfy applicable Canadian eligibility requirements and to provide certain additional information.

Any holder of the Existing Notes located in any Member State of the European Economic Area or in the United Kingdom that is a retain investor will not be able to participate in the Exchange Offers. For these purposes, a retain investor means a person who is one or more of the following: (i) a retail client as defined in point (11) of Article 4(1) of the EU Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments (2014/65/EU) (as amended, “MiFID II”); or (ii) a customer within the meaning of Directive (EU) 2016/97, where that customer would not qualify as a professional client as defined in point (10) of Article (4)(1) of MiFID II.

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.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this news release are “forward-looking statements” based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors described above as well as:

  • intense competition in all of our markets that may lead to lower revenue or operating margins;
  • increasing focus on cloud-based services presenting execution and competitive risks;
  • significant investments in products and services that may not achieve expected returns;
  • acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances that may have an adverse effect on our business;
  • impairment of goodwill or amortizable intangible assets causing a significant charge to earnings;
  • cyberattacks and security vulnerabilities that could lead to reduced revenue, increased costs, liability claims, or harm to our reputation or competitive position;
  • disclosure and misuse of personal data that could cause liability and harm to our reputation;
  • the possibility that we may not be able to protect information stored in our products and services from use by others;
  • abuse of our advertising or social platforms that may harm our reputation or user engagement;
  • the development of the internet of things presenting security, privacy, and execution risks;
  • issues about the use of artificial intelligence in our offerings that may result in competitive harm, legal liability, or reputational harm;
  • excessive outages, data losses, and disruptions of our online services if we fail to maintain an adequate operations infrastructure;
  • quality or supply problems;
  • the possibility that we may fail to protect our source code;
  • legal changes, our evolving business model, piracy, and other factors may decrease the value of our intellectual property;
  • claims that Microsoft has infringed the intellectual property rights of others;
  • claims against us that may result in adverse outcomes in legal disputes;
  • government litigation and regulatory activity relating to competition rules that may limit how we design and market our products;
  • potential liability under trade protection, anti-corruption, and other laws resulting from our global operations;
  • laws and regulations relating to the handling of personal data that may impede the adoption of our services or result in increased costs, legal claims, fines, or reputational damage;
  • additional tax liabilities;
  • damage to our reputation or our brands that may harm our business and operating results;
  • exposure to increased economic and operational uncertainties from operating a global business, including the effects of foreign currency exchange;
  • uncertainties relating to our business with government customers;
  • adverse economic or market conditions that may harm our business;
  • catastrophic events or geopolitical conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, that may disrupt our business; and
  • the dependence of our business on our ability to attract and retain talented employees.

For more information about risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q that are incorporated by reference in the Prospectus forming a part of the Registration Statement, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft’s Investor Relations website at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Nvidia unveils A100 GPU for demanding AI workloads

Nvidia unveiled its next-generation Ampere GPU architecture and new hardware that will use it for AI and data science-intensive workloads.

An advancement on Nvidia’s Volta architecture, released three years ago, Ampere will power the Nvidia A100, a new GPU built specifically for AI training and inference, as well as data analytics, scientific computing and cloud graphics.

The chip and software giant unveiled the new products at its GTC 2020 virtual conference Thursday.

AI super users

Nvidia A100 is “a tremendous improvement as Nvidia’s own comparisons with Volta bear out,” said Peter Rutten, research director of infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies at IDC.

“For super users, this is an exceptional processor,” he said.

Nvidia A100, with more than 54 billion transistors and a die size of 826 mm square, is the world’s largest 7 nm chip, according to Nvidia. It also boasts a third-generation Tensor Core with TF32 precision, representing up to 20 times higher performance compared to the previous generation with no code changes, as well as an additional two times boost with automatic mixed precision and FP16, the vendor said.

“The larger number of tensor cores, the different precision levels allowing for different performance scenarios, the partitioning capability, all that is very relevant and important,” Rutten said.

But the new chip, with a thermal design power (TDP) of 400 watts, is more power-intensive than Nvidia’s Volta GPU chip, the V100, which had a TDP of 350w, Rutten noted.

With the A100, Nvidia clearly has supercomputing in mind, or at least some highly demanding AI inferencing and training workloads. Its need for great power could be unattractive to some enterprises that don’t necessarily need such large-scale power for many AI jobs.

Nvidia A100
Nvidia A100

“Whether this is the kind of capability [with the A100] that you need for a new AI initiative, that I would doubt,” Rutten said.

Supercomputing applications

Nvidia also revealed a new product in its DGX line — DGX A100, a $200,000 supercomputing AI system comprised of eight A100 GPUs. The DGX A100, providing 320GB of memory for training huge AI datasets, is capable of 5 petaflops of AI performance. Another new product, the DGX SuperPOD, a cluster of 140 DGX A100 systems, is capable of hitting 700 petaflops of AI computing power, Nvidia said.

As far as the core Nvidia A100’s position in the market, it’s “objectively fair to say that there is currently no competing product,” said Rutten.

For super users, this is an exceptional processor.
Peter RuttenResearch director of infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies, IDC

“In this sense, Nvidia has again succeeded in being far ahead of the competition,” Rutten said. “Of course, we don’t know what’s brewing at competing companies, both incumbents and startups, but I don’t expect anything competitive to A100 to be launched anytime soon.”

Meanwhile, the DGX SuperPOD will likely be one of the more powerful supercomputers available. Nvidia’s previous SuperPOD, built on V100s, is on the Super Computer Top 500 list, Rutten noted.

“So, safe to say that a SuperPod with A100s will be listed as well — and pretty high up,” he added.

AI at the edge

Nvidia also unveiled two new products to its edge computing EGX line — the EGX A100 and EGX Jetson Xavier NX.

Enterprises can integrate the EGX A100 converged accelerator, built on the Ampere architecture, into their servers to carry out real-time AI or 5G signal processing on up to 200 Gbps of data.

EGX Jetson Xavier NX, meanwhile, is a tiny, 70 mm by 45 mm supercomputer designed for high-performance compute or AI workloads in edge systems. The device can deliver up to 21 trillion operations/second (TOPS).

For Nvidia, AI at the edge is a critical piece of its market, Rutten said.

“AI inferencing will become a larger market than AI training in the near future,” he said. “A lot of inferencing will happen at the edge. Nvidia cannot allow itself to let that market slip away to other vendors.”

Yet, Rutten questioned whether the core A100 platform is the answer for many enterprises’ edge computing needs as they evolve.

“It could be overkill for an edge solution, except perhaps for very intensive, larger-scale edge deployments,” he said.

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IT spending now expected to decline 5.1% in face of pandemic

IDC recently further revised its worldwide IT spending forecast for 2020, from an earlier projection of a 2.7% decrease in constant currency to a 5.1% decrease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, IDC had predicted a 5% increase in worldwide IT spending.

Despite the drop to a projected $2.25 trillion in spending, IT infrastructure spending is still expected to rise by almost 4%. Analysts see other reasons to be optimistic.

“In the long term, this won’t disrupt the general trend toward digital transformation — in fact, it might just accelerate it,” said Stephen Minton, program vice president of customer insights and analysis at IDC. “The crisis will likely provide us with proof points which show that companies that were further along the road with things like cloud adoption and digital transformation in general were best positioned to withstand this kind of event.”

Businesses also have to be careful about their business continuity plans and how they proceed with making cuts and how they look at this unique situation in a long-term lens.

“[Businesses] have to get a handle on [their spending and budgeting]. They need to know where they are and they also need to know, assess and come up with scenarios for where the potential for growth is, vs. contraction,” said Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “You know where you should be investing, because if you can do across-the-board cuts, you’re cutting your growth business, too.”

Double-digit decrease in device spending

Devices will be hardest hit, with companies spending 12.4% less on PCs and mobile devices in 2020. Companies were planning to reduce spending on PCs due to last year’s commercial refresh cycle, but mobile devices were expected to see a boost with the impending launches of 5G service and products.

Minton said there is a chance that companies may spend more on devices, however, given the rise in work-from-home initiatives due to shelter-in-place orders.

Businesses have to evaluate which technologies can help them to not only keep operating during the period of social distancing, but also to come out of the crisis at something like full speed.
Stephen MintonProgram vice president, IDC

“There could be some cuts in spending on mobile devices and apps, for example, because people are not currently very mobile,” Minton said. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of crossover between mobile and working from home, so it’s not a simple equation. Businesses have to evaluate which technologies can help them to not only keep operating during the period of social distancing, but also to come out of the crisis at something like full speed, so cutting too much can be just as damaging as not cutting enough in some cases.”

IT infrastructure spending to rise

Although overall IT spending will decrease, infrastructure spending is expected to increase 5.3% this year, mainly due to enterprise spending on infrastructure-as-a-service projects.

“The most long-term impact is probably going to be that this will be a tipping point for cloud, which sees a lot of the laggards finally embrace off-premise public and hybrid cloud services, and begin to scale back or even close down their own data centers and server rooms,” Minton said.

This comes after a strong fourth quarter in 2019 that brought in $14.9 billion in spending for cloud infrastructure, after two consecutive quarters of steady decrease.

IT conferences and events affecting spending

Although technology conferences worldwide have either been canceled out of precaution for attendees, been postponed or gone digital, Minton said they won’t directly affect projected IT spending. The results of the upended conference calendar may be seen down the line, however.

“It impacts the launch of new products and the general process of evaluating and comparing new technologies,” Minton said. “The lack of face-to-face contact in general will have a chilling effect on things like new projects and buying decisions.”

A recent Gartner report, “Addressing Disruptions to Tradeshow and Event Marketing Plans Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19),” contingency plans can help minimize the effects that COVID-19 has had on tech events and conferences. The report found that 11% of their marketing budget is pushed on third-party tradeshows and Gartner recommends companies reallocate their budgets in case of these cancellations.

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Enterprises struggle to learn Microsoft Sonic networking

Enterprises learning how to use Microsoft Sonic in a production environment often struggle with the lack of management tools for the open source network operating system.

Other challenges revealed this week during a panel discussion at the OCP Virtual Summit included weak support for Sonic hardware. Also, the panelists said engineers had to work hard to understand how to operate the software.

The companies that participated in the discussion included Target, eBay, T-Mobile, Comcast and Criteo. All of them plan to eventually make Sonic their primary network operating system in the data center.

In general, they are seeking vendor independence and more control over the development and direction of their networks. They expected to achieve network automation similar to Sonic customers Facebook and Microsoft, which built Sonic and gave it to the Open Compute Project (OCP) for further development.

Challenges with Microsoft Sonic

Target is at the tail end of its evaluation of Sonic. The retailer plans to use it to power a single super-spine within a data center fabric, said Pablo Espinosa, vice president of engineering. The company plans to put a small percentage of a production workload on the network operating system (NOS) in the next quarter.

Eventually, Target wants to use Sonic to provide network connectivity to hundreds of microservices running on cloud computing environments. Target has virtualized almost 85% of its data centers to support cloud computing.

Target’s engineers have experience in writing enterprise software but not code to run on a NOS. Therefore, the learning curve has been steep, Espinosa said. “We’re still building this muscle.”

As a result, Target has turned to consultants to develop enterprise features for Sonic and take it through hardware testing, regression testing and more, Espinosa said.

Online advertising company Criteo was the only panel participant to have Sonic in production. The company is using the NOS on the spine and super-spine level in one of nine network fabrics, engineering manager Thomas Soupault said. The system has 64 network devices serving 3,000 servers.

Also, the company is building a 400 Gb Ethernet data center fabric in Japan that will run only Sonic. The network will eventually provide connectivity to 10,000 servers.

One of Criteo’s most significant problems is getting support for low-level issues in the open hardware running the NOS. Manufacturers won’t support any software unless required to in the contract.

Therefore, companies should expect difficult negotiations over support for drivers, the software development kit for the ASIC, and the ASIC itself. Other areas of contention include the switch abstraction interface that comes with the device for loading the buyer’s NOS of choice, Soupault said.

“It can be tricky,” he said. “When we asked all these questions to manufacturers, we got some good answers, and some very bad answers, too.”

Soupault stopped short of blaming manufacturers. Buyers and vendors are still struggling with the support model for Sonic. “If we could clarify this area, it might help others on Sonic” and boost adoption, he said.

Network management tools for Sonic are also in their infancy. Within eBay, developers are building agents and processes on the hardware for detecting problems with links and optics, said Parantap Lahiri, vice president of data center engineering at the online marketplace. However, discovering the problems is only the first step — eBay is still working on tools for identifying the root cause of problems.

We hope that the community will come together to build the tools and make the product easier to manage [through] more visibility for the operations teams.
Yiu LeeVice president of network architecture, Comcast

Comcast is developing a repository for streaming network telemetry that network monitoring tools could analyze to pinpoint problems, said Yiu Lee, the company’s vice president of network architecture. However, Comcast could use help from OCP members.

“We hope that the community will come together to build the tools and make the product easier to manage [through] more visibility for the operations teams,” he said.

Some startups are trying to fill the void. Network automation startup Apstra announced at the summit support for Sonic-powered leaf, spine and super-spine switches.

Going slowly with Microsoft Sonic

The panelists advised companies that want to use Sonic to start with a low-risk deployment with a clearly defined use case. They also recommended choosing engineers who are willing to learn different methods for operating a network.

Lahiri from eBay suggested that companies initially deploy Sonic on a single spine within a group. That would provide enough redundancy to overcome a Sonic failure.

Soupault advised designing a network architecture around Sonic. Criteo is using the NOS in an environment similar to that of Facebook and Microsoft, he said. “Our use case is very close to what Sonic has been built for.”

A company that wants to use the NOS also should be prepared to funnel the money saved from licensing into the hiring of people with the right skill sets, which should include understanding Linux.

Microsoft built Sonic on the open source operating system used mostly in servers. So, engineers have to know how to manage a Linux system and the containers inside it, Lahiri said.

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Skills for the future start today — new resources for students – The Official Microsoft Blog

Our CEO Satya Nadella references a term from the education field that I think is particularly fitting and important during this unprecedented time in history. Satya talks of the importance of being a “learn-it-all” instead of a “know-it-all.” Learn-it-alls are curious, resourceful and willing to fail, understanding that insights from failure lead to future success.

Learn-it-alls see adversity as a challenge to be overcome, and they work toward the future with focus and determination.

Right now, we’re all working toward the future in different ways. And the future itself is evolving rapidly as we work and learn together to fight and defeat COVID-19 across the globe. Work is changing, learning is changing, life is changing. Every person on the planet will need new skills to be successful tomorrow, one year from now, and one decade from now. This is particularly apropos for students (and the educators teaching them), with the World Economic Forum predicting that two-thirds of students today will work in jobs that do not yet exist. Likewise, LinkedIn continues to report cloud and artificial intelligence as top emerging jobs.

Today’s students are the innovators and inventors of the future who can use technology as a bedrock to help find solutions to the types of problems we’re facing today — and those we can’t predict. Educators are key enablers of this ability, and that’s why I’m excited to announce a new set of opportunities and resources for educators to teach Microsoft technical skills aimed at supporting students to continue learning during this pandemic and beyond.

Introducing Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors

Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors help their peers learn about things they care about most, from social issues to new technologies. Ambassadors get a first look at new Microsoft technologies, gain leadership skills, and receive mentoring from professionals in the industry, and their peers benefit from their knowledge, which can now be shared via the Microsoft Learn platform. All our incoming 2020 interns are invited to join the Student Ambassadors and it’s open to any higher ed student who wants to apply.

We are aiming to help skill millions of students in the coming years — helping tomorrow’s leaders gain knowledge in areas spanning topics like responsible AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and building cloud-native apps, among so much more.

New hub on Microsoft Learn for educators and students

Students are natural continuing learners — it’s in their DNA. And to make it easier for them to both acquire and transfer knowledge, Microsoft Learn now has a new home just for educators and students, including our Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors.

Infographic on tech skills

We’ve partnered with universities to create new learning paths based on their popular courses in data science, cloud development, and AI engineering, all tailored for the students that want to build in-demand job skills and educators that want to teach them:

We’ve also added a new series of learning paths to inspire and challenge students to build with social impact and responsibility in mind. These take a solution-driven, project-based approach to learning:

We continue to offer foundational developer paths designed especially for students that faculty can easily teach in the classroom. These include:

Educators play a pivotal role in empowering students for future success. At Microsoft, we’re committed to enabling and supporting them in their mission. Microsoft Learn for Educators curates online learning paths and supporting instructor-led training materials into the classroom. Eligible educators and faculty members at universities, community colleges, polytechnics and secondary schools can access Microsoft ready-to-teach curriculum and teaching materials aligned to industry-recognized Microsoft certifications. These certifications augment a students’ existing degree path and validate the skills needed to be successful across a variety of technical careers. Provided Microsoft curriculum and instructor-led training materials will cover:

  • Azure Fundamentals
  • Azure Data Fundamentals (coming soon)
  • Azure AI Fundamentals (coming soon)

Python for Beginners on YouTube expands

Last fall, we launched a 44-part video series called Python for Beginners, consisting of short lessons aimed to help students learn Python and then build AI apps on Azure. People kept asking for more, so we’ve expanded on it with 50 additional new videos that dive deeper into the popular Python libraries like NumPy, Pandas, and Scikit-learn. If you’re looking to try Python for the first time or brush-up your skills, begin here!

Python class promotion

Students at Microsoft Build

Microsoft’s annual developer conference, Build, is set to bring the developer community — including student developers and our 2020 class of interns — together virtually May 19-21 to learn, connect and code together. In the spirt of connecting students and professional developers, the Imagine Cup World Championship will be held during Build where teams will compete for the $100,000 grand prize and a mentoring session with Satya Nadella.

The Imagine Cup is perhaps one of the most visible ways we encourage students to address real problems through teamwork and technology. Much like a sports bracket which requires repetitive wins to advance to get the World Championship, teams must win their regional competitions — an impressive feat by itself. This year, tens of thousands of competitors from more than 170 countries participated, culminating in 16 students representing six teams that made it to the championship.

Beyond the excitement of Imagine Cup, the Student Zone at Build will have content tailored to and appropriate for students. Speakers include a variety of top influencers in the digital learning spaces, with content available for each skill level (13-21 years-old) attending our sessions virtually. And, special guest NASA Education Specialist Matthew Wallace will demo a machine learning tool that introduces students to process for analyzing images of Earth taken from the International Space Station, like our astronauts do.

Azure for Students

We believe strongly in providing access to the most current technology, and that’s why we’re providing free Azure accounts, plus a $100 credit, for qualifying students. With their accounts, students can develop in Visual Studio to create custom apps, explore AI through Cognitive Services and smart APIs, and build and train machine learning models faster with the latest open source technologies. Free developer tools are included, as are free learning paths and labs.

I hope you’ll take advantage of all the free content that interests you and join us as learn-it-alls.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Imprivata and Azure AD help healthcare delivery organizations deliver safe and secure care

As hospitals and other healthcare delivery organizations accelerate their adoption of virtual care and mobile devices in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s critical that providers can access cloud and on-premises apps quickly and securely. Imprivata is a healthcare-focused digital identity company that addresses this need. For today’s “Voice of the ISV” blog, I invited Kristina Cairns and Mark Erwich of Imprivata to provide insight into how Imprivata’s solutions are helping healthcare organizations deliver care beyond the four walls of the hospitals.

Supporting healthcare delivery organizations during COVID-19

By Kristina Cairns, Director of Product Marketing, Imprivata and Mark Erwich, VP Marketing, Imprivata

In response to COVID-19, hospitals and clinics have turned to remote tools to care for a surge of patients, while protecting the health of staff. These tools let clinicians connect remotely with patients, care teams, and other organizations, but they can be difficult to securely access from shared workstations or mobile devices, such as tablets. Imprivata digital identity solutions simplify access while maintaining security, so clinicians can deliver quality care safely and conveniently—no matter where they are located.

At the same time, healthcare staffing demands are skyrocketing, and these needs must be met in real time. This can mean quickly adding, or provisioning, new or re-allocated staff and ensuring they have proper access to applications, immediately. Once the crisis is over, these same staff will need to be de-provisioned to ensure security and compliance requirements are met.

Imprivata is a digital identity company that focuses on healthcare. We employ doctors and nurses who have a real-world understanding of the unique needs of hospital environments. Our solutions are designed to work with healthcare workflows and regulations, so hospitals can get up and running with new tools and upgrades, fast. In these challenging times, we’ve partnered with Microsoft to provide an integrated identity and access management platform that meets the needs of healthcare organizations. Our joint solutions make it easy to connect to healthcare’s existing identity and application data and automate at scale. Healthcare providers can use our platforms to address unique demands, such as:

  • Saving precious time in hospitals: Accessing necessary apps quickly while healthcare providers move between clinical workstations and new networked devices at the point of patient care.
  • Protecting healthcare staff and patients: Identifying providers potentially exposed to COVID-19.
  • Scaling up remote work and virtual care: Providing remote access to a diverse set of tools spanning on-premises and cloud infrastructure as providers and patients move outside of traditional healthcare environments.
  • Simplifying role-based access identity management: Securely manage access for temporary workers and existing staff who change roles or departments.

Saving precious time in hospitals

Healthcare workers are busy in the best of times. They juggle administrative tasks with a full day of patient care. As the pandemic has driven up the number of patients admitted to hospitals, time has become even more precious. Imprivata OneSign is a single sign-on (SSO) solution that enables care providers to spend less time with technology and more time with patients.

During a shift, healthcare workers use several cloud and on-premises applications including business and enterprise applications, electronic health records, medical imaging, patient management, and other systems. Each of these apps in this hybrid environment often requires a unique username and password. Imprivata OneSign eliminates the need for clinicians to memorize and manually enter their credentials. They can sign in once to access all their on-premises and cloud apps, including Microsoft Teams, Office 365, and 3,000+ Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Marketplace applications. No Click Access™ lets them sign in with a badge or fingerprint making it faster to access applications and workflows.

Protecting healthcare staff and patients

As healthcare delivery organizations treat patients under evaluation for COVID-19, they must also safeguard the health of clinicians. Yale New Haven Health is using Imprivata OneSign reporting capabilities to identify exactly where and when specific users accessed specific workstations in different patient care zones in the clinical environment. By combining these data with workstation mapping and electronic health record data, Yale can more accurately identify all providers potentially exposed to COVID-19 and take necessary actions.

Scaling up remote work and virtual care

To limit the spread of COVID-19, administrative roles at clinics and hospitals have migrated to remote work when possible. Care providers have rapidly scaled up virtual care services to provide non-emergency healthcare consultations. These providers need to access systems on personal laptops, mobile devices, and temporary devices in temporary care sites. It’s important that devices and individuals are authenticated to protect sensitive data and apps.

Imprivata Confirm ID for Remote Access improves security by enabling multi-factor authentication for remote network access, cloud applications, Windows servers and desktops, and other critical systems and workflows. Imprivata Confirm ID for EPCS (electronic prescribing of controlled substances) supports Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-compliant two-factor authentication methods so providers can quickly prescribe drugs using EPCS workflows. To support healthcare organizations during this crisis we are offering Imprivata Confirm ID licenses for free.

 

Simplifying role-based access identity management

As the number of patients increases, hospitals are rapidly re-assigning workers within the organization, while on-boarding clinicians from lower utilized hospitals. Healthcare organizations need easy and secure ways to manage user roles as they scale up and provision temporary workers.

Imprivata Identity Governance is an end-to-end solution with granular, role-based access controls and automated provisioning and de-provisioning. Streamlined auditing processes and analytics enable faster threat evaluation and remediation. These capabilities allow IT to respond to the needs of the organization without sacrificing security. Imprivata Identity Governance ensures that, on day one, the right users have the right access to the right on-premises and cloud applications, and the audit trail to prove it.

Imprivata Identity Governance can now be hosted in an Azure environment, unlocking scalability and flexibility for healthcare enterprises.

Making healthcare technology available to everyone

The following resources can help hospitals and clinics move quickly to support patient care beyond the four walls of the hospitals:

Learn more

Solutions like the Imprivata Identity and Access Management platform, Microsoft Azure AD, and Microsoft Teams are helping keep healthcare workers productive and safe as they confront the current crises. As healthcare evolves, Microsoft and Imprivata will continue to innovate together to further enhance scenarios for in-person and remote access.

Learn more about Microsoft’s COVID-19 response and Imprivata’s COVID-19 response.

Read about capabilities in Teams that support healthcare workers and other integrations between Microsoft and Imprivata.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

CISA identifies malware from North Korean hacking group

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in conjunction with the FBI and Department of Defense, identified three new variants of malware used by a state-sponsored North Korean hacking group.

The three malware variants are known as Copperhedge, Pebbledash and Taintedscribe; Copperhedge is a remote access tool, and the latter two are Trojans. CISA attributed the malware to Hidden Cobra (AKA Lazarus Group), which is credited with much of the nation’s malicious state-sponsored activity, including Copperhedge, Pebbledash and Taintedscribe.

The CISA alert did not specify how the malware variants were being used by nation-state hackers, or what entities were being targeting, but the agency did say the malware was being used in current threat activity.

“[The] FBI has high confidence that Hidden Cobra actors are using malware variants in conjunction with proxy servers to maintain a presence on victim networks and to further network exploitation,” the CISA malware analysis report said.

U.S. Cyber Command put the malware samples of all three variants on VirusTotal, a website and tool for file and URL analysis, so that other organizations and enterprises can analyze and block them. The CISA alert urged users and administrators to review the samples in VirusTotal, as well as CISA’s malware analysis reports, to better defend themselves against the threats.

North Korea has a history of malicious cyber activity, which includes notable exploits such as the 2014 Sony Pictures hack and the 2013 Dark Seoul attacks. Much of its reported malware has consisted of Trojans, but other types of malware are represented as well, such as proxy malware, worms, the WannaCry ransomware and more.

A CISA representative declined to comment further on the alert.

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Microsoft announces definitive agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, expanding approach to empower operators and partner with network equipment providers to deliver on promise of 5G – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, we are announcing that we have signed a definitive agreement to acquire Metaswitch Networks, a leading provider of virtualized network software and voice, data and communications solutions for operators.

The convergence of cloud and communication networks presents a unique opportunity for Microsoft to serve operators globally via continued investment in Azure, adding additional depth to our hyperscale cloud infrastructure with the specialized software required to run virtualized communication functions, applications and networks.

This announcement builds on our recent acquisition of Affirmed Networks, which closed on April 23, 2020. Metaswitch’s complementary portfolio of ultra-high-performance, cloud-native communications software will expand our range of offerings available for the telecommunications industry. Microsoft intends to leverage the talent and technology of these two organizations, extending the Azure platform to both deploy and grow these capabilities at scale in a way that is secure, efficient and creates a sustainable ecosystem.

As the industry moves to 5G, operators will have opportunities to advance the virtualization of their core networks and move forward on a path to an increasingly cloud-native future. Microsoft will continue to meet customers where they are, working together with the industry as operators and network equipment providers evolve their own operations.

We will continue to support hybrid and multi-cloud models to create a more diverse telecom ecosystem and spur faster innovation, an expanded set of unique offerings and greater opportunities for differentiation. We will continue to partner with existing suppliers, emerging innovators and network equipment partners to share roadmaps and explore expanded opportunities to work together, including in the areas of radio access networks (RAN), next-generation core, virtualized services, orchestration and operations support system/business support system (OSS/BSS) modernization. A future that is interoperable has never been more important to ensure the success of customers and partners.

By enabling advancements in enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency communications and massive machine-type communication to enable IoT at scale, 5G offers significant potential for enterprises and governments and in turn creates new opportunities for operators. 5G will ultimately give operators a path to accelerate service innovation and deliver new transformative experiences that are faster, more resilient and more secure, spurred on by software advances to drive transformation at scale.

We have a long history of working with operators as they increasingly embrace software-based solutions and continue to support the advancement of cloud-based networking while helping create new partnership opportunities for existing network equipment providers. Our intention over time is to create modern alternatives to network infrastructure, enabling operators to deliver existing and value-added services – with greater cost efficiency and lower capital investment than they’ve faced in the past.

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Author: Microsoft News Center