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AIOps exec bets on incident response market shakeup

AIOps and IT automation have been hot topics in IT for about three years, but the ultimate vision of hands-off incident response has yet to be realized in most IT shops, says Vijay Kurkal, who was appointed CEO of Resolve Systems on Jan. 16. Kurkal had served as chief operating officer for the company since 2018.

Kurkal’s key priority in the first quarter of 2020 is the release of Resolve Insights, a platform that folds AIOps IP from the company’s August 2019 acquisition of FixStream into its IT automation software. While enterprise IT pros have been slow to trust such systems — which rely on AI and machine learning data analytics to automate common tasks such as server restarts — they have begun to find their way into production use at mainstream companies.

Vijay KurkalVijay Kurkal

Resolve faces a crowded field of competition that includes vendors with backgrounds in IT monitoring, incident response and data analytics. SearchITOperations.com had a conversation with Kurkal this week about how the company plans to hold its own in this volatile market.

Your product pitch sounds familiar to me. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you there are many vendors out there pursuing a vision of proactive IT automation assisted by AI. How will Resolve and FixStream be different?

Vijay Kurkal: There are two ecosystems we’re playing with. There are application monitoring tools like AppDynamics, Dynatrace, New Relic, etc. The users that they are going after are the application operations team. FixStream is complimentary to them. But they have limited visibility into hypervisors and deep into the network infrastructure. FixStream builds out a visual topology of every single infrastructure device that a particular application is touching, and all the events are overlaid on that. It’s [built] for the IT operation teams that are supporting critical applications.

Some of the other AIOps vendors using AI technologies, they have tons of algorithms, but any algorithm is only as good as the source data. It’s a garbage in, garbage out. Our starting point is always around relationship dependency mapping and getting data in context, and prioritizing what to act on. A second differentiator is that AI/ML algorithms are all based on a probabilistic model. [They] say what they believe are the potential root causes [of an issue], but they can’t say that with certainty. Where we’re taking it is, as soon as those events trigger an alert from FixStream, Resolve automates diagnostics. Typically, that requires a network engineer. We’re already trying this out with some pilot customers and by end of Q1 are going to have a product there. Most AIOps companies identify events; they don’t resolve them.

Most AIOps companies identify events; they don’t resolve them.
Vijay KurkalCEO, Resolve Systems

Is there a plan for IT automation beyond diagnostics?

Kurkal: The next step, and I don’t think most customers are there yet, is, ‘I’ve done this 10 times, and I feel very comfortable, just run this [process] automatically.’ You’ll have categories of events — there’ll be 30% that are not super critical. As the organization gets comfortable, these can be completely [automated]. Then there are 50% that are critical, and we can give them diagnostics, and point them in the right direction to solve them pretty quickly. Then 10% will be outliers where no automation can help, and that’s where IT ops experts will always be very, very relevant to run the business.

Another important aspect of observability is informing the development of the product at the other end of the DevOps pipeline. How does your product work within that process?

Kurkal: The people who build the applications know exactly what stresses their application is putting on various elements [of the infrastructure]. We want to equip the DevOps team with a drag-and-drop system to write automation — to tell the IT operations team, here’s the configuration of the infrastructure I’ll need, and here’s a set of diagnostic scripts, and remediation automation that’s pre-approved. And then it’ll be a closed feedback loop where the operations teams can give feedback [to the developer]. We’re not saying we’ll solve every need of the application, but we are trying to bring together these two teams to drive automation and intelligence.

There are some tools that specifically tie outages or incidents to changes in code — could Resolve make another acquisition in that space or further build out its products to address that too?

Kurkal: For us, it’s a strong possibility in late 2020 or in 2021. It might be an organic development of our products, or potentially, an inorganic acquisition around that. But we do see that’s where the market is moving, because no one wants to be reactive, and they want to have it all together.

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NSA reports flaw in Windows cryptography core

After years of criticism from the infosec community about hoarding critical vulnerabilities, the National Security Agency may be changing course.

The highlight of Microsoft’s first Patch Tuesday of 2020 is a vulnerability in the Windows cryptography core first reported to vendor by the NSA. The flaw in CryptoAPI DLL (CVE-2020-0601) affects Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and 2019. According to Microsoft’s description, an attacker could exploit how Windows validates ECC certificates in order to launch spoofing attacks.

The NSA gave a more robust description in its advisory, noting that the Windows cryptography flaw also affects “applications that rely on Windows for trust functionality,” and specifically impacts HTTPS connections, signed files and emails and signed executable code.

“Exploitation of the vulnerability allows attackers to defeat trusted network connections and deliver executable code while appearing as legitimately trusted entities,” NSA wrote in its advisory. “NSA assesses the vulnerability to be severe and that sophisticated cyber actors will understand the underlying flaw very quickly and, if exploited, would render the previously mentioned platforms as fundamentally vulnerable. The consequences of not patching the vulnerability are severe and widespread. Remote exploitation tools will likely be made quickly and widely available.”

Will Dormann, vulnerability analyst at the CERT Coordination Center, confirmed the issue also affects X.509 certificates, meaning an attacker could spoof a certificate chain to a trusted root certificate authority and potentially intercept or modify TLS-encrypted communication.

Johannes Ullrich, fellow at the SANS Internet Storm Center, said the flaw is especially noteworthy because “the affected library is a core component of the Windows operating systems. Pretty much all software doing any kind of cryptography uses it.”

“The flaw is dangerous in that it allows an attacker to impersonate trusted websites and trusted software publishers. Digital signatures are used everywhere to protect the integrity and the authenticity of software, web pages and, in some cases, email,” Ullrich told SearchSecurity. “This flaw could be used to trick a user into installing malicious software. Most endpoint protection products will inspect the digital signature of software the user installs, and consider software created by trusted organizations as harmless. Using this flaw, an attacker would be able attach a signature claiming that the software was created by a trusted entity.”

However, Craig Young, computer security researcher for Tripwire’s vulnerability and exposure research team, said the impact of this Windows cryptography vulnerability might be more limited to enterprises and “most individuals don’t need to lose sleep over this attack just yet.”

“The primary attack vectors most people would care about are HTTPS session compromise malware with spoofed authenticode signatures. The attack against HTTPS however requires that the attacker can insert themselves on the network between the client and server. This mostly limits the attack to nation-state adversaries,” Young told SearchSecurity. “The real risk is more likely to enterprises where a nation state attacker may be motivated to carry out an attack. The worst-case scenario would be that a hostile or compromised network operator is used to replace legitimate executable content from an HTTPS session with malicious binaries having a spoofed signature.”

Beyond patching, NSA suggested network prevention and detection techniques to inspect certificates outside of Windows cryptography validation.

“Some enterprises route traffic through existing proxy devices that perform TLS inspection, but do not use Windows for certificate validation. The devices can help isolate vulnerable endpoints behind the proxies while the endpoints are being patched,” NSA wrote. “Properly configured and managed TLS inspection proxies independently validate TLS certificates from external entities and will reject invalid or untrusted certificates, protecting endpoints from certificates that attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities. Ensure that certificate validation is enabled for TLS proxies to limit exposure to this class of vulnerabilities and review logs for signs of exploitation.”

NSA takes credit

Infosec experts credited the NSA for not only reporting the Windows cryptography flaw but also providing detailed insight and advice about the threat. Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra, based in San Jose, Calif., praised the NSA for recommending “leveraging network detection to identify malicious certificates.”

“I think they did a great job of being concise and clear on both the problem and recommended courses of action,” Morales told SearchSecurity. “Of course, it would be great if the NSA did more of this, but it is not their normal job and I wouldn’t expect them to be accountable for doing a vendor job. Relying on the vendor for notification of security events will always be important.”

Young also commended the NSA’s advisory for being very helpful and providing “useful insights which are not included in either the CERT/CC note or the Microsoft advisory.”

The NSA is designated as the Executive Secretariat of the government’s Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP), designed to organize the process of determining what vulnerabilities found by federal agencies would be kept secret and which would be disclosed. However, the NSA has consistently received criticism from experts that it keeps too many vulnerabilities secret and should disclose more in order to help protect the public. In recent years, this criticism was loudest when leaked NSA cyberweapons were used in widespread WannaCry attacks.

The NSA advisory for the Windows cryptography flaw is rare for the agency, which has been more open with warnings about potential threats but hasn’t been known to share more technical analysis.

Also making this vulnerability an outlier is that the NSA was given attribution in Microsoft’s patch acknowledgements section. Anne Neuberger, deputy national manager at the NSA, said on a call with news media Tuesday that this wasn’t the first vulnerability the NSA has reported to Microsoft, but it does mark the first time the agency accepted attribution.

Infosec journalist Brian Krebs, who broke the story of the Windows cryptography patch on Monday, claimed sources told him this disclosure may mark the beginning of a new initiative at NSA to make more vulnerability research available to vendors and the public.

NSA did not respond to requests for comment at the time of this writing.

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Healthcare CIOs put on alert for potential Iran cyberattacks

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are prompting concerns about possible Iranian cyberattacks against critical U.S. infrastructure and raising questions about how prepared healthcare systems are to handle them.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert Monday for critical infrastructure systems such as healthcare systems. The agency warned of potential Iran cyberattacks in response to the U.S. military strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani. The Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a non-profit organization focused on enhancing healthcare cybersecurity that keeps tabs on threats to the industry, followed suit.

Iran has not historically targeted U.S. health systems. It has opted instead for targets that would drive greater economic influence. But Caleb Barlow, president and CEO of Austin, Texas-based healthcare cybersecurity firm CynergisTek, said that may be changing.

Caleb BarlowCaleb Barlow

“This isn’t a point of scaring the living daylights out of people and saying, ‘Hey, the Iranians are going to attack healthcare.’ That’s not what we’re saying at all,” he said. “What we are saying, however, is that the threat landscape just changed dramatically in the last week. The likelihood that a foreign actor — or someone sympathetic to a foreign actor — may try to impact U.S. critical infrastructure, which includes healthcare, and may use known means that work, are very high.” 

CISA recommended that industries including healthcare increase awareness and organizational vigilance around cyberthreats. Beyond the potential for an Iranian cyberattack, healthcare CIOs should prepare their organizations for destructive malware attacks.

A growing threat

Iranian cyber threat actors continue to engage in more “conventional” attacks such as website defacement and theft of personally identifiable information, but they have continuously improved their cyberattack capabilities and shown a “willingness to push the boundaries of activities,” according to the CISA alert.

The likelihood that a foreign actor, or someone sympathetic to a foreign actor, may try to impact U.S. critical infrastructure, which includes healthcare, and may use known means that work, are very high.
Caleb BarlowPresident and CEO, CynergisTek

Barlow said Iranian cyber threat actors are known for destructive wiper attacks, which he described as “ransomware on steroids.” The number of known wiper attacks is small, but they can be devastating, according to Barlow. IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services found destructive malware attacks destroyed about 12,000 devices and cost organizations more than $200 million on average.

Due to recent tensions, Iranian cyberattacks may be shifting away from targets that could provide economic influence to cyberattacks that could provide political influence. Coupled with the threat of destructive wiper attacks, healthcare CIOs should be on high alert.

How healthcare CIOs can respond

Barlow said healthcare security teams need to rethink their response plans.

“This isn’t just about prevention,” he said. “This is also about, can you maintain the resiliency of your business — whether it’s manufacturing, a hospital, or state or local government — without your IT systems? How would you do it? How would you recover it? And how would you get started?”

Healthcare organizations likely have plans for cybersecurity incidents; most start with calling their insurance company. But many cyber insurance policies do not cover the actions of a foreign nation, according to Barlow.

Healthcare organizations are also unprepared for handling ransomware, malware that locks data until a ransom is paid, and often pay the fine to regain access to their data and systems, according to Barlow. But paying a ransom won’t be an option if they’re hit by a destructive wiper attack.  

“With a destructive attack, you don’t have that option, it’s just gone,” Barlow said. “If you don’t have a plan in place to maintain resiliency, so is your institution.”

David ChouDavid Chou

Wiper attacks can destroy everything, according to David Chou, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. He stressed that even without a potential increase in Iranian cyberattacks, healthcare and government are targets. That’s why organizations like the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (H-ISAC) have issued a call to action to become better prepared for ransomware as well as destructive wiper attacks.

“The healthcare industry has to prepare for wiper, which is definitely something that can be serious and potentially wipe out the business of a hospital,” Chou said.

CISA recommended healthcare organizations focus on vulnerability mitigation and incident preparation, which includes taking steps to disable unnecessary ports and protocols, increase monitoring of email and network traffic, and ensure backups are updated and stored in a separate, but easily retrievable, location from the organization.

Chou said H-ISAC recommends backing up data and keeping systems updated, which he said should be done as good practice regardless of the current state of high alert.

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Wanted – Laptop under £100

I’ve got a mint Acer Aspire 1 14″ A114-31 here that I was about to advertise or take to CEX (£84 offered there). It’s 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC, N3350. It was manufactured 10/10/2018 so just over a year old. I bought it for a Linux project that never happened so it’s barely used and battery is perfect. There’s a box and original charger. Windows 10 S which I upgraded to Win 10 Home. Any good for £95 collected or £105 delivered?

I will be near Birmingham (M40-M42-A42) on Dec 24th so could potentially deliver/meet.

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Join us live or virtually at Bett as we bring you the latest updates on ed tech tools that can drive innovation and success in the classroom | | Microsoft EDU

A new year brings new opportunities to learn about all the latest and greatest from Microsoft Education. Join Microsoft at Bett 2020 in London on January 22-25, either online or right there with us at the event, being held at London’s ExCeL venue.

Bett is an annual event that explores how technology can empower educators and students to reach their full potential. Microsoft, as a worldwide partner of Bett, will be hosting a wide array of sessions and hands-on demonstrations on the show floor, along with inspirational talks to support educators looking for new ways to engage and empower their students.

To kick off a whole week of Bett, we’re releasing a special episode of What’s New in EDU, our show that gets you caught up on the new tools and updates coming from Microsoft Education this year. This Bett episode will be available on January 22 – watch it to learn more about all the new and exciting Microsoft classroom technology that will be available. And don’t forget to stay tuned to the Education Blog for more as it comes in!

We’ll also have special edition What’s New in EDU live events streaming daily from Bett in London. You can register to catch the livestream events each day with the following links:

Whether you’re looking for the latest in mixed reality for education, some grounded advice on how to transform your classroom digitally, or want a peek at what’s next for Minecraft: Education Edition, the schedule below is a good place to start, learn and participate. Make sure to stop by Booth NF40 to see all the new experiences we have relating to STEM, Virtual Reality and new tools for the classroom.

If you’re joining us at Bett in person, we hope to see you at one of the following highlights:

Microsoft keynote | Bett Arena | Wednesday, 22 January, 13:35 – 14:15

Hybrid Intelligences: Amplifying Human Potential

Young people are leveraging emerging technologies such as AI to raise their voices and build solutions to the most pressing issues they face. Emotional intelligence is converging with artificial intelligence as researchers merge psychology and computer science. And educators are adapting and innovating in a profession that will look significantly different by 2030.

Join Microsoft’s Anthony Salcito and Barbara Holzapfel,  Affective Computing researcher Dr. Daniel McDuff, and NetHope Emerging Technologies Initiative Lead Leila Toplic as we explore the technology that will empower educators to navigate the changing needs of the staffroom and the classroom, and enable students to accelerate their impact and transform the world.

Microsoft Sessions
In addition to joining for our keynote in the Bett Arena, be sure to visit us across the Bett show at our own Learn Live Theatre, Microsoft Training Academy, the Bett PD Theatre, Bett Schools Theatre and the Bett Higher and Further Education Theatre!

Learn Live Theatre

This is the perfect place to go if you are looking to see and hear about the latest product releases, see demonstrations, and discover ways you can unlock learning in your students. Each session is held on Microsoft stand NF40 and lasts 25 minutes.

 Time Title
Wed – Sat
10:15-10:30
What’s new in EDU?
Wed – Fri
10:30-11:00
Meet the New Microsoft Edge & Learn How to Deploy it Today
Sat
10:30-11:00
Immersive Reader is Everywhere and other Apps to support your inclusive classroom including: Translator, Presenter Coach, and Seeing AI
Wed – Fri
11:00-11:30
Engage and amplify every scholar with Flipgrid
Sat
11:00-11:30
Unleash Creativity with Windows 10
Wed – Fri
11:30-12:00
Make your classroom more inclusive with built-in, free, and non-stigmatizing learning tools
Sat
11:30-12:00
Intelligent Forms features to transform your data collection and analysis
Wed – Sat
12:00-12:30
Greenwood Academies: Empowering students with Dell Affordable Devices and M365
Wed – Fri
12:30-13:00
Immersive Reader is Everywhere and other Apps to support your inclusive classroom including: Translator, Presenter Coach, and Seeing AI
Sat
12:30-13:00
Build confidence and improve your communication skills with Presenter Coach in PowerPoint
Wed – Sat
13:00-13:30
Empower individual teachers and your entire school system with Microsoft’s free and adaptable professional development resources
Wed – Fri
13:30-14:00
How Office can help your students develop into great writers
Wed – Fri
14:00-14:30
Going for full 1:1 with Surface Pro – journey of infrastructure, CPD and teacher involvement
Wed – Fri
14:30-15:00
Using Microsoft Teams to enable effective professional development
Wed – Fri
15:00-15:30
Develop a Teaching and Learning Video Culture with Teams and Stream | Connect with meetings and live events, teach with web-based screen recording and create on mobile using the Flipgrid Camera
Wed – Fri
15:30-16:00
How Microsoft Sparks Learning: Classroom stories
Wed – Fri
16:00-16:30
Make your Own Arcade Games with MakeCode
Wed – Fri
16:30-17:00
Create inclusive live presentations with PowerPoint
Wed – Fri
17:00-17:30
Deliver Student Centered Learning with Education Devices
Wed – Fri
17:30-18:00
Drive greater faculty engagement and professional development with your faculty using Teams


Microsoft Training Academy

If you are looking for a hands-on opportunity to try, test and experiment with Microsoft products and devices, this is the perfect stage for you. Get tips and tricks and learn about the best way to use a Microsoft solution in the classroom, from and with our own teachers, trainers, and Microsoft Learning Consultants. Each session is held in the Platinum Suite Level 2 foyer and lasts 25 minutes.

Time Title
Wed – Sat
10:30-11:00
How we empower teaching and learning by getting teachers to learn and students to teach
Wed – Sat
11:00-11:30
Grow your practice with free professional learning and resources with the Microsoft Educator Center
Wed – Sat
11:30-12:00
How you can build an Inclusive classroom with Microsoft Learning Tools
Wed – Sat
12:00- 12:30
Helping students grow and improve with Teams Assignments
Wed – Sat
12:30-13:00
The impact that OneNote Class Notebook is driving for teachers, students, and classrooms everywhere
Wed – Sat
13:00-13:30
Enabling your school with Office’s free and easy-to-use web apps!
Wed – Sat
13:30-14:00
Utilizing smart assistance and intelligence across Office apps
Wed – Sat
14:00-14:30
Transformative Teaching with Minecraft: Education Edition
Wed – Fri
14:30-15:00
 Build an app in 25 mins or less to free up teacher time
Wed – Fri
15:00-15:30
App Smashing in Teams
Wed – Fri
15:30-16:00
Maximizing Teams for your education institution
Wed – Fri
16:00-16:30
Foster an inclusive classroom with Flipgrid
Wed – Fri
16:30-17:00
Grow your practice with free professional learning and resources with the Microsoft Educator Center
Wed – Fri
17:00-17:30
The impact that OneNote Class Notebook is driving for teachers, students, and classrooms everywhere
Wed – Fri
17:30-18:00
How you can build an Inclusive classroom with Microsoft Learning Tools


Microsoft on the Stage (PD Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
13:00 – 13:30
(South Hall)
Empower students with the Immersive Reader in the inclusive classroom
Wed
15:00 – 15:30
(South Hall)
Whole school professional learning with the Microsoft Educator Center
Fri
15:00 – 15:30
(North Hall)
Saving time through authentic assessment using Microsoft Forms


Microsoft on the Stage (Schools Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
11:50 – 12:20
Digital transformation of teaching and learning to support all
Wed
15:10 – 15:40
Innovation Driven By Community
Thurs
11:45 – 12:15
Improving outcomes through the use of technology in the classroom
Thurs
14:45 – 15:10
Implementing digital transformation – Wimbledon High’s Journey
Fri
11:50 – 12:20
Enriching and engaging learning in a challenging environment
Fri
15:10 – 15:40
Learning Tool in Action:  Helping Students of all Abilities thrive at Louis Riel


Microsoft on the Stage (Higher and Further Education Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
11:50 – 12:20
DigiLearn: Empowering transformational change in education
Wed
15:30 – 16:00
Working better together: Using Microsoft Teams to embed digital skills at Newcastle University
Thurs
11:35 – 12:05
Strategic Digital Transformation: A blueprint for adoption
Thurs
15:00 – 15:30
A digital University by ethos and design – how the university of Bath is putting digital at its core
Fri
11:35 – 12:05
Establishing a digital learning platform that works for all
Fri
15:00 – 15:30
Transforming Teaching, Learning and Assessment using technology: empowering all learners to achieve more

Community Learning Center | Booth SM45 |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

jp.ik and Microsoft have been partnering together for the last decade and gathered the necessary expertise in this vertical by implementing several large-scale sustainable projects around the world and impacting over 16 million students and 1 million teachers in over 70 countries. Throughout our journey we have been facing the lack of basic structures (schools), the lack of basic utilities (electricity and sanitation) and the lack of telecommunication network. This is why jp.ik, Microsoft and their partners have come together to create a Community Learning Center to empower rural areas and connect them throughout the entire globe.

We look forward to welcoming you in Booth SM45, located next to the Bett arena in the South Hall to discover our solar-powered, digitally connected Community Learning Center.

Microsoft Certifications Testing Lab | Platinum Suite 5 |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

In partnership with Microsoft, Prodigy Learning is offering Bett 2020 attendees the opportunity to complete a Microsoft Certification Exam for FREE. We are delighted to announce the Microsoft Technical Certifications (MTC) in Azure Fundamentals, M365 Fundamentals & Dynamics Fundamentals. Learn more.

Microsoft Partner Adventure |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

Take part in the Microsoft Partner Adventure and for a chance to WIN a Surface Pro, a Surface Go, or a 3rd party partner Windows device daily! Discover Microsoft’s unique off-campus partners and answer a question to reveal a code, scanned using the Bett app!  Participants will have to visit all 15 partner booths to answer all the questions, scan the QR codes.  Competition closes at 15:00 and winner drawn at 16:00 daily (Wed to Fri) and closes at 13:00 and winners drawn at 14:00 on Saturday in front of the Learn Live Theater on the Microsoft stand NF40. Winners must be present to collect their prizes.

Solutions Showcase | Platinum Suite 7 |Wednesday, 22 January & Thursday, 23 January, 10:30 – 16:15

Digital transformation is an indisputable force revolutionizing industries and reshaping the workplace. Education leaders around the globe are faced with the need to prepare students for this new world. These sessions are your opportunity to meet fellow practitioners and hear first-hand global experiences and trends and how these might help support you.  Learn more.

Microsoft Education Developer Platform and Data Solutions | Gallery Suite 8 |Wednesday, 22 January – Friday, 24 January

This free event features sessions in two tracks for technical audiences:

CIOs and IT Pros –

Come learn how Microsoft can integrate with your IT system and learning apps to save time and data management costs, protect student data privacy, and accelerate learning in the Classroom.

Application Developers and Microsoft Partners –

Come learn how Microsoft can help you create and deliver applications that empower learners and educators to achieve more.  Whether you are enhancing an existing application or building a new solution from scratch, Microsoft’s Education platform can help you facilitate deployment, maximize inclusion, increase engagement and improve outcomes.

Secure your seat and register for the sessions that you would like to attend. Learn more.

Transformation Leaders’ Summit | Platinum Suite 6 | Thursday, January 23, 10:30 – 13:00

Driving successful change is challenging whether in an individual school or system-wide. Across the world, leaders are discovering the most effective ways to improve student experience and outcomes, using technology to support learning, teaching and school administration. This Microsoft event aims to explore innovative, impactful journeys that leaders are taking to support their students, bringing together hands-on experience, networking opportunities and strategic insight for leaders at school and system-level. Learn more.

Privacy & Security Summit | Platinum Suite 6 | Friday, January 24, 10:30 – 14:00

Microsoft Worldwide EDU will be launching VIP invitation only CEO / CIO / CSO Privacy and Security Summit at the BETT conference. Subject matter experts from Microsoft product teams will be listening to customer feedback and discussing AI, Privacy and Security in K-12. Agenda will encompass discussions around student security on campus, trends for privacy in schools worldwide as well as how AI can drive positive impact. Learn more.

Become a Microsoft Global Training Partner | Platinum Suite 6 | Thursday, January 23, 13:30 – 15:30

Join this session to learn about the Microsoft Global Training Partner Program, explore how it fits your existing Professional Development training model and what are the partnership models possible with Microsoft. Learn more.

MakeCode Saturday | Platinum Suite 6 & 7 | Saturday, 25 January, 10:00 – 15:00

Microsoft MakeCode Saturday is a fun, hands-on workshop at BETT that is free and open to teachers, parents and students.  Microsoft MakeCode is an open source platform for creating engaging computer science learning experiences that support a progression path from Blocks into real-world programming. Learn more about MakeCode Saturday.

Explore tools for Future Ready SkillsExplore tools for Future Ready Skills

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Turning the next generation into everyday superheroes thanks to Hour of Code 2019 – Microsoft News Centre Europe

When you think of coding, your first thoughts might be about highly specialized technical know-how. But did you know that effective coding requires skills like creativity, innovation and collaboration too – all of which will be hugely important for the workforce of tomorrow?

According to Microsoft research with McKinsey, the fastest growing occupations, such as technology professionals and healthcare providers, will require a combination of digital and cognitive skills such as digital literacy, problem solving and critical thinking. Young people having access to learning tools to improve both these sets of skills is crucial – a fact non-profit organizations like JA Europe recognize through their work to get young people ready for the future of work. If young people are given the opportunity to develop their digital skills, the European Labor Market will see significant benefits when they move into the workforce. According to a LinkedIn Economic Graph report, AI Talent in the European Labour Market, training and upskilling ‘near-AI’ talent could double the size of the current AI workforce in the EU. It also found that AI skills are concentrated in a small number of countries and that this must be addressed to reduce the digital skills gap in Europe.

In conjunction with Computer Science Education Week which began yesterday and extends to December 15, Microsoft continues its multi-year commitment to Hour of Code, a global movement that introduces students to computer science and demystifies what coding is all about. Activities are running across Europe to fuel imagination and demonstrate how these skills could be used to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. As such, code has the power to turn anyone into an everyday superhero.

To bring this to life, Microsoft is inviting young people to ‘save the day’ through Computer Science. Created in partnership with MakeCode, a new Minecraft tutorial combines code, Artificial Intelligence and problem solving skills. It is inspired by various Microsoft AI for Earth projects and encourages students to use their critical thinking skills to plot where forest fires could happen, put plans in place to stop them with AI and ultimately save the Minecraft village!

Since 2012, Microsoft has helped more than 137,000 young people and educators in Europe through Hour of Code events and programs. And, as the end of the decade draws near, we are keen to support even more people to get into coding and show how it can change the world. If you’re looking to help your children or students become coding superheroes, we have developed two training guides – one for students and one aimed at educators – no cape needed!

Go forth and code!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – Monitor: Dell 24inch Monitor SE2417HG 1920 x 1080 2ms @60Hz

Used for about 6 months now no longer needed, as new in box, still has the protective plastic on the back.

Comes fully boxed with unused VGA cable, power cable and instructions.

Just see the photos, my feedback, buy with confidence and grab a bargain.

Can be collected (preferred) for free from Northampton or posted at cost for the buyer.

Dell SE2417HG => £75 ono collected or + p&p

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For Sale – Monitors: Acer ED323QURwidpx 31.5 inch WQHD 1800R Curved Monitor 2560 x 1440 @75Hz and Dell 24 Monitor SE2417HG 1920 x 1080 2ms @60Hz

Both Monitors used for about 6 months now no longer needed, as new in box, still have the protective plastic on the back.

The Acer comes with unused Display-port cable, power cables and instructions.

The Dell comes with unused VGA cable, power cable and instructions.

Just see the photos, my feedback, buy with confidence and grab a bargain.

Can be collected (preferred) for free from Northampton or posted at cost for the buyer.

Acer ED323QUR => £229 collected or + p&p

Dell SE2417HG => £75 collected or + p&p

IMG_0310.jpgIMG_0311.jpgIMG_0312.jpgIMG_0313.jpgIMG_0315.jpgIMG_0316.jpgIMG_0317.jpgIMG_0318.jpgIMG_0320.jpg

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For Sale – Monitors: Acer ED323QURwidpx 31.5 inch WQHD 1800R Curved Monitor 2560 x 1440 @75Hz and Dell 24 Monitor SE2417HG 1920 x 1080 2ms @60Hz

Both Monitors used for about 6 months now no longer needed, as new in box, still have the protective plastic on the back.

The Acer comes with unused Display-port cable, power cables and instructions.

The Dell comes with unused VGA cable, power cable and instructions.

Just see the photos, my feedback, buy with confidence and grab a bargain.

Can be collected (preferred) for free from Northampton or posted at cost for the buyer.

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Amazon cloud database and data analytics expand

Amazon Web Services is quite clear about it: it wants organizations of all sizes, with nearly any use case, to run databases in the cloud.

At the AWS re:Invent 2019 conference in Las Vegas, the cloud giant outlined the Amazon cloud database strategy, which hinges on wielding multiple purpose-built offerings for different use cases. 

AWS also revealed new services on Dec. 3, the first day of the conference, including the Amazon Managed Apache Cassandra Service, a supported cloud version of the popular Cassandra NoSQL database. The vendor also unveiled several new features for the Amazon Redshift data warehouse, providing enhanced data management and analytics capabilities.

“Quite simply, Amazon is looking to provide one-stop shopping for all data management and analytics needs on AWS,” said Carl Olofson, an analyst at IDC. “For those who are all in for AWS, this is all good. For their competitors, such as Snowflake competing with Redshift and DataStax competing with the new Cassandra service, this will motivate a stronger competitive effort.”

Amazon cloud database strategy

AWS CEO Andy Jassy, in his keynote, detailed the rationale behind Amazon’s cloud database strategy and why one database isn’t enough.

“A lot of companies primarily use relational databases for every one of their workloads, and the day of customers doing that has come and gone,” Jassy said.

There is too much data, cost and complexity involved in using a relational database for all workloads. That has sparked demand for purpose-built databases, according to Jassy.

ndy Jassy, CEO of AWS, speaks on stage at AWS re:Invent 2019 conference
AWS CEO Andy Jassy gives keynote at AWS annual user conference

For example, Jassy noted that ride sharing company Lyft has millions of drivers and geolocation coordinates, which isn’t a good fit for a relational database.

For the Lyft use case and others like it, there is a need for a fast, low-latency key value store, which is why AWS has the DynamoDB database. For workloads that require sub-microsecond latency, an in-memory database is best, and that is where ElastiCache fits in. For those looking to connect data across multiple big datasets, a graph database is a good option, which is what the Amazon Neptune service delivers. DocumentDB, on the other hand, is a document database, and  is intended for those who work with documents and JSON.

If you want the right tool for the right job that gives you differentiated performance productivity and customer experience, you want the right purpose-built database for that job.
Andy JassyCEO, AWS

“Swiss Army knives are hardly ever the best solution for anything other than the most simple tasks,” Jassy said, referring to the classic multi-purpose tool. “If you want the right tool for the right job that gives you differentiated performance productivity and customer experience, you want the right purpose-built database for that job.”

Amazon Apache Managed Cassandra

While AWS offers many different databases as part of the Amazon cloud database strategy, one variety it did not possess was Apache Cassandra, a popular open source NoSQL database.

It’s challenging to manage and scale Cassandra, which is why Jassy said he sees a need for a managed version running as an AWS service. The Apache Managed Cassandra launched as a preview on Dec. 3 with general availability set for sometime in 2020.

With the managed service there are no clusters for users to manage, and the platform provides single-digit millisecond latency, Jassy noted. He added that existing Cassandra tools and drivers will all work, making it easier for users to migrate on-premises Cassandra workloads to the cloud.

Redshift improvements

AWS also detailed a series of moves at the conference that enhance its Redshift data warehouse platform. Among the new features Jassy talked about was Lake House, which enables data queries not just in local Redshift nodes but also across multiple data lakes and S3 cloud storage buckets.

“Not surprisingly, as people start querying across both Redshift and S3 they also want to be able to query across their operational databases where a lot of important data sets live,” Jassy said. “So today, we just released something called federated query which now enables users to query across Redshift, S3 and our relational database services.”

Storage and compute for data warehouse are closely related, but there is often a need to scale storage and compute independently. To that end, AWS announced as part of the Amazon cloud database strategy its new Redshift RA3 instances with managed storage. Jassy explained that as users exhaust the amount of storage available in a Redshift local instance, the RA3 service will move the less frequently accessed data over to S3.

Redshift AQUA

As data is spread across different resources, it generates a need to accelerate query performance. Jassy introduced the new Advanced Query Accelerator (AQUA) for Redshift help meet that challenge.

Jassy said that AQUA provides an innovative way to do hardware accelerated cache to improve query performance. With AQUA, AWS has built a high-speed cache architecture on top of S3 that scale out in parallel to many different nodes. Each of the nodes host custom-designed AWS processors to speed up operations.

“This makes your processing so much faster that you can actually do the compute on the raw data without having to move it,” Jassy said.

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