Tag Archives: accelerate

Wild Me joins AI for Earth | Stories

A new investment from Microsoft’s AI for Earth program will accelerate Wild Me, an organization that identifies and tracks individual animals using machine learning and computer vision

REDMOND, Wash. — June 14, 2018 — On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. announced that Wild Me, a Portland-based nonprofit organization that focuses on combatting extinction with citizen science and artificial intelligence, will become a new featured project in its AI for Earth program. This deeper level of investment and engagement will enable Wild Me, and its wide range of users and supporters, to more effectively and efficiently use software and AI to combat extinction.

“The world is facing a major biodiversity crisis, and Wild Me’s work in harnessing computer vision and machine learning to monitor and track individual animals is truly groundbreaking,” said Bonnie Lei, AI for Earth project manager at Microsoft. “Microsoft hopes to accelerate Wild Me’s conservation impact by enabling wider usage of its open source algorithms through making them available on Microsoft Azure as APIs, and boosting the speed and accuracy of its entire Wildbook platform by migrating it over to Azure.”

Wildbook is an open source, cloud-based software platform — created by Wild Me in collaboration with faculty and students at Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Illinois-Chicago — that brings together AI, computer vision, scientific research and citizen science to help protect endangered species. Using images uploaded from conservationists, researchers and citizen scientists, the software helps identify and track animal populations, monitor their migrations and interactions, and evaluate threats to inform and improve conservation efforts.

“Wildbook democratizes science and conservation,” said Tanya Berger-Wolf, director at Wild Me and professor at University of Illinois-Chicago. “The partnership with Microsoft will allow us to enable science and conservation at planetary scale and high resolution over time, space and individual animals.”

Wild Me will be the fifth AI for Earth featured project, joining land cover mapping, Project Premonition, FarmBeats and iNaturalist. With 111 grantees in 27 countries, AI for Earth puts Microsoft’s cloud and AI tools in the hands of those working to solve global environmental challenges. Through grants that provide access to cloud and AI tools, opportunities for education and training on AI, and investments in innovative, scalable solutions, AI for Earth works to advance sustainability across the globe.

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.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Microsoft to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion | Stories

Acquisition will empower developers, accelerate GitHub’s growth and advance Microsoft services with new audiences

Chris Wanstrath, Satya Nadella and Nat Friedman
From left: Chris Wanstrath, Github CEO and co-founder; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services

REDMOND, Wash. — June 4, 2018 Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate to create the future. Together, the two companies will empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects — and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub’s current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives.

“I’m extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality,” Wanstrath said. “Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere.”

Today, every company is becoming a software company and developers are at the center of digital transformation; they drive business processes and functions across organizations from customer service and HR to marketing and IT. And the choices these developers make will increasingly determine value creation and growth across every industry. GitHub is home for modern developers and the world’s most popular destination for open source projects and software innovation. The platform hosts a growing network of developers in nearly every country representing more than 1.5 million companies across healthcare, manufacturing, technology, financial services, retail and more.

Upon closing, Microsoft expects GitHub’s financials to be reported as part of the Intelligent Cloud segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition will be accretive to operating income in fiscal year 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, and to have minimal dilution of less than 1 percent to earnings per share in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, based on the expected close time frame. Non-GAAP excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments, as well as integration and transaction-related expenses. An incremental share buyback, beyond Microsoft’s recent historical quarterly pace, is expected to offset stock consideration paid within six months after closing. Microsoft will use a portion of the remaining ~$30 billion of its current share repurchase authorization for the purchase.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Microsoft. Morgan Stanley is acting as exclusive financial advisor to GitHub, while Fenwick & West LLP is acting as its legal advisor.

Media & Analyst Conference Call

Nadella, Friedman, Wanstrath and Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood will host a joint conference call for media today, June 4, 2018, at 7 a.m. Pacific/10 a.m. Eastern to discuss this transaction. The call will be available to international callers at +1 (201) 689-8023 (no password required), to U.S. callers at (877) 407-0666 (no password required), or via webcast at https://edge.media-server.com/m6/p/eudfciq3 at that time. More information is available on http://news.microsoft.com.

Additional details will be available when the acquisition closes.

About GitHub

GitHub is the developer company. We make it easier for developers to be developers: to work together, to solve challenging problems, to create the world’s most important technologies. We foster a collaborative community that can come together — as individuals and in teams — to create the future of software and make a difference in the world.

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.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com 

Forward looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are any predictions, projections or other statements about future events based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, that the expected financial and other benefits from the GitHub transaction may not be realized, including because of: the risk that the transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all; any restrictions or limitations imposed by regulatory authorities; the impact of the acquisition on GitHub’s developer community and enterprise customers; the extent to which we achieve anticipated financial and buyback targets; the impact of management and organizational changes on GitHub’s business; the impact on GitHub employees and our ability to retain key personnel; our effectiveness in integrating the GitHub platform and operations with Microsoft’s business; and our ability to realize our broader strategic and operating objectives. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements because of these and other risks and uncertainties of our business, which are described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including our Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Microsoft undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Pure Storage cloud plan gets warm reception from end users

After hearing the Pure Storage cloud message, customers at the vendor’s Accelerate annual user conference said they were eager to expand their use cases for the vendor’s all-flash storage portfolio.

Pure executives preached simplicity, security and scalability during keynotes at last week’s San Francisco gathering. Customers said they would like to deploy the flash vendor’s revamped products for legacy and emerging AI applications, as well as in public clouds and expanded private clouds.

Charles Giancarlo, CEO of the Mountain View, Calif., company, conjured images of the San Francisco gold rush, likening storage customers to modern-day forty-niners. On average, about half of an organization’s data is never analyzed, because legacy storage infrastructure isn’t equipped to support it, he said.

“We’re moving into the zettabyte era. There’s a huge opportunity to pull that ore out of the ground, and we give you the picks and shovels to do it,” Giancarlo said.

Mining for medical gold

Benjamin Nathan, CIO at the University of California, Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine, is among those mining for gold in reams of data. Pure Storage FlashBlade scale-out NAS is on his wish list, Nathan said. Although he has no timetable for deploying FlashBlade, Nathan said scale-out NAS is a natural complement to a large FlashArray virtualization cluster.

Pure Storage cloud support for Amazon S3 is attractive, Nathan said, but his Microsoft shop would also like to see Pure integration with Azure.

Nathan became a Pure customer when serving in IT leadership jobs at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City before heading west. At UCLA, Nathan said he installed Pure Storage FlashArray to replace roughly 500 physical servers and provided centralized shared storage for more than two dozen IT teams.

“The thing that interests me about FlashBlade, beyond just the performance and scalability, is you can use it to provide storage-like workspaces from Amazon S3 and, hopefully, eventually, Azure,” he said. “I want to seamlessly be able to incorporate our on-premises and cloud storage in one offering that I can manage on the back end.”

When uptime matters

Robert Green, CTO of virtual desktop infrastructure specialist Dizzion, said he was initially skeptical of Pure’s claims it could scale performance to handle any workload. Dizzion, based in Denver, provides desktop as a service to organizations that need continuous uptime.

“I told them, ‘OK, we’ll throw our most challenging workloads at it,'” Green said. “We have one customer that always red-lines our storage, and they can’t have any downtime. I put that workload on the Pure, and it didn’t miss a beat.”

Dizzion’s Pure Storage cloud consists of dense “pods” of compute and storage, Green said. Each pod has 42 server nodes atop 6U of FlashArray storage and can support 3,000 desktops. Dizzion has scaled to nine pods.

“It cost us less to buy the Pure Storage than to keep building our own servers and flash-based storage devices every year,” Green said.

Some Pure Storage cloud customers — such as Workday — are moving slowly to adopt a multi-cloud architecture. Workday provides financial services and human resources software via its private cloud.

Workday replicates mission-critical data among its own data centers, using the cloud selectively, said Job Simon, the Pleasanton, Calif., company’s vice president of IT strategy and architecture.

Workday deploys a Pure Storage cloud environment on FlashArray//M systems to send fast reads and writes in memory to disk. Pure Storage is enormously helpful in managing the throughput for mixed workloads, Simon said.

Data reduction results

Frost Bank, based in San Antonio, switched to Pure Storage after years as a Hitachi Vantara customer. As a financial services firm, Frost Bank avoids placing data beyond its internal firewall, said Dan King, Frost’s vice president of IT operations.

“One of the interesting things I heard during this conference is that people still think of Pure as an array for point-in-time use cases, and that’s not how we use it at all,” King said. “We use Pure to replace entire Hitachi VSPs [Virtual Storage Platforms]. We run 90% of our workloads on the Pure.”

King said he is most impressed by the high data reduction Pure delivers to his highly virtualized storage.

“We had about 150 TB of VMware, but after data deduplication and compression, that equaled 12 TB of actual storage,” he said. “That’s amazing. I would have bought and paid for all of that [capacity] with any other vendor.”

Facebook Workplace partners team to boost platform uptake

Two Facebook Workplace partners are teaming up to accelerate the adoption of the social media giant’s enterprise collaboration platform.

Talk Social to Me, based in Mill Valley, Calif., and ServiceRocket, based in Palo Alto, Calif., have launched Elevate, a program the companies said targets deskless workers in regulated industries. Talk Social to Me will contribute consulting services in such fields as compliance management, spontaneous conversation trends and influencer coaching, while ServiceRocket will provide its proprietary Moderation and Insights application.

Facebook Workplace partners have been upping their investment in the platform in recent months, with the Elevate service being one of the more recent examples. Facebook said it has 30,000 companies using Workplace by Facebook, which the company launched in October 2016. The company unveiled a partner program at that time.

Carrie Basham Young, CEO and founder of Talk Social to Me, said ServiceRocket’s Moderation offering is a customizable off-the-shelf application. The application lets enterprises set keyword monitors and velocity controls, which alert administrators when a particular conversation generates a lot of reaction in terms of comments or shares. Young said the administrators could be Workplace community managers or executives in charge of a particular employee group within a company.

Talk Social to Me, meanwhile, will help build ServiceRocket’s moderation tool into an enterprise’s crisis communication plan or community management plan, Young said. She added the company will also teach organizations how to respond to critical conversations, whether they are positive or negative.

Carrie Basham Young, CEO and founder at Talk Social to MeCarrie Basham Young

Young said the Elevate program could apply to any company that seeks to have better insight into organizational conversations. She said the industries that could prove the best fit for the program include retail, healthcare and manufacturing. In those segments, she said, “you have a majority of employees who don’t sit at a desk all day” and may rely on union leaders or local managers to convey information from headquarters.

Young said her company and ServiceRocket had previously connected several times around shared customers, with each company providing different services. The Elevate announcement, she said, formalizes that partnership and go-to-market strategy.

Logicworks rolls out cloud monitoring tool

Logicworks, a cloud and managed service provider (MSP) based in New York, is rolling out a cloud monitoring service that integrates with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

[The Elevate program suits industries such as retail, healthcare and manufacturing where] you have a majority of employees who don’t sit at a desk all day.
Carrie Basham Youngfounder and CEO, Talk Social to Me

The offering, dubbed Pulse, is a software-as-a-service portal that Logicworks said is geared to enterprises operating mission-critical application in AWS and Azure cloud environments. Logicworks’ customers can access the portal at no charge. Pulse, according to the cloud company, includes automated industry best practice enforcement bots that scan customers’ cloud environments, custom scans for common architectural red flags that could lead to unauthorized account access, and text message alerting and notification regarding important changes to mission-critical applications. Those changes could include traffic surges or unusual usage patterns.

Ken Ziegler, CEO at Logicworks, said Pulse has its origins in software the company built for internal use. He said his company realized, as the cloud environments under its management continued to grow, it would become “impossible to keep track of all the various cloud-native services running for our customers across different platforms on a manual basis.”

Logicworks developed a programmatic way to scan for anomalies in cloud environments, with the alerts generated from the scanners distributed to internal team members, Ziegler noted. Pulse came about when customers asked to have control over the scanners and the associated notification engine.

Reliam looks to grow via acquisitions

Reliam LLC, a managed services provider focusing on public cloud platforms, plans to use a recent round of funding to pursue acquisitions. Great Hill Partners, a private equity firm in Boston, has provided an initial investment of $17 million and has reserved up to $75 million for further investment.

Reliam is looking for deeper consulting capabilities for complex cloud migrations, noted Simon Anderson, CEO at Reliam. “That is an important building block,” he said.

Anderson also said the company will look to build capabilities, through in-house efforts or via acquisition, in database management optimization. In addition, the Los Angeles company may look to make geographic acquisitions to build up sales and business development teams in different regions in the U.S.

Reliam will also use the funding to invest in automation and tooling for delivering managed services, Anderson added.

The company reported a triple-digit percentage revenue increase year over year, citing new customer growth and existing customers adding new cloud-based applications that need to be managed.

Other news

Cloud-based ERP vendor Oracle NetSuite expanded its roster of partners with consulting and implementation firms Apps Associates, BTM Global and ISP3.

Mphasis, an IT solutions provider, has selected Fortinet over Cisco and Palo Alto Networks as its cybersecurity provider. Mphasis will deploy Fortinet Security Fabric offerings in its network, which spans eight locations in India. Channel partners have been finding consulting and integration opportunities in the Fortinet Security Fabric.

Continuum, which provides an IT service delivery platform for MSPs, has entered the Southern African market through a partnership with Sovaton, a cybersecurity distributor. The Sovaton pact will offer Continuum’s remote monitoring and management platform to potential customers in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Skybox Security, a cybersecurity management vendor, named Uri Levy as its vice president of worldwide channels. In his new role, Levy will oversee the development of Skybox’s global reseller network and channel program. Levy’s 2018 goals include launching a new program for managed security services providers and systems integrators, according to Skybox.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

How cloud computing platforms fuel digital transformation

Many enterprises are turning to cloud computing platforms to accelerate digital transformation strategies. The cloud promises to provide a consistent set of APIs for developers to innovate around. It also makes it easier to reuse enterprise data more efficiently as part of a more modern software development ecosystem.

“The rise of PaaS [platform as a service], in all its flavors, indicates that the focus of innovation is shifting even further toward software development,” said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “Cloud computing platforms are becoming developer platforms first and foremost, not simply new infrastructure hosting locations or collections of cheap infrastructure.”

Cloud computing platforms are differentiating themselves at the developer services level on features like analytics, messaging, functional programming, other middleware, low-code platforms and internet of things. “While infrastructure is still important, we’re at a point where infrastructure is not only consumed on demand by developers and business units themselves, but increasingly consumed directly by their apps,” Bartoletti said.

Bring cloud computing platform paradigm together

Enterprise architects are facing a big challenge with everything about apps changing at once. App development styles are moving from Agile to DevOps. App architectures are moving from monoliths to microservices. App infrastructure is moving from virtual resources to cloud-native container platforms. Leading digital transformers are creating innovation labs where they can test and become experts on all three of these shifts at once.

“You can do one or two of these transformations without the third, but the network and positive reinforcement effects of doing all three in a focused innovation lab environment — funded differently and with different objectives — are powerful,” Bartoletti said. “Leaders are allowing teams to fail fast and fail often … and focus on delivering minimum viable products as quickly as possible.”

Start with the data

A good starting place for pursuing digital transformation should start with an analysis of the data. Bartoletti said there are plenty of different domains of this puzzle that enterprise architects should consider exploring at Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne. This includes looking at how data is collected, where it is collected, and how and where they will find the analytics tools to drive new insights from the data their company collects.

Oracle has a large and popular SaaS portfolio — with which companies collect tremendous amounts of customer data — and a rapidly expanding set of cloud development services to derive insights from all that data. “Combined with new cloud infrastructure services, the Oracle cloud ecosystem is expanding, and I’ll be watching for how EAs [enterprise architects] can combine the many cloud services on offer from Oracle to get to that first new insight faster,” Bartoletti said.

Digital transformation strategies for all companies

Many enterprises are starting to leverage the cloud to drive their digital transformation when app development is outside of their focus of expertise. For example, Rancon Group in Murrieta, Calif., has built a thriving real-estate business while outsourcing many noncore functions, including HR, payroll and IT. It recently adopted the Oracle Financials Cloud to modernize its financial data management infrastructure. Steven Van Houten, CFO at Rancon Group, said a key differentiator was the service’s ability to effortlessly ingest older financial transaction data from Rancon’s legacy systems.

By moving all this data to the cloud, they can now quickly compare the positions of hundreds of separate business entities Rancon manages. Many of these kinds of analysis would take days in the past, or they were not practical at all. This digital transformation has given management the kinds of insight they require to make better decisions.

The biggest challenge has been finding a balance between new cloud features and services that sound nice, but didn’t necessarily add value. “New functionality and products are becoming available all the time. It is challenging to decide when you should make changes or implement solutions just because they are there,” Van Houten said. “I would recommend managers make sure the capabilities are really there to improve your current business process. If you can stay on top of what is being changed and added, you can continue to support your enterprise and take advantage of new functionality as it becomes available.”

Find the right balance between microservices and monoliths

DreamWorks has been pursuing a digital innovation strategy to move its infrastructure to a hybrid cloud built on a microservices architecture. The goal is to create a cloud-native environment for public-facing services, as well as its internal animation-based workflows. One of the biggest challenges has been around orchestrating microservices for its digital animation infrastructure.

Doug Sherman, principal engineer at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, Calif., plans to talk about orchestration and choreography approaches at JavaOne. Both strategies for making use of DreamWorks’ many microservices proved to be both rewarding and challenging. “One of the biggest challenges was dealing with when things didn’t follow the ‘happy path,'” Sherman said. “Ultimately, good logging strategies and offering sensible debugging pathways are essential when so much is going on in so many places.”

Part of this transformation is moving a digital asset management application, called Paperboy, from a monolith built on Java to a microservices architecture designed to run in the cloud. Sherman said a good practice is to invest time upfront into identifying the most effective boundaries for breaking the monolithic application into different components. 

“Like many other monoliths before it, much of the initial work was to strategize on how best to break things down into meaningful parts,” Sherman explained. “There is an initial temptation to microsize everything, but there is certainly a balance that needs to be struck. Next steps involved determining the best back-end resources to pair the services up with.” 

Share experience to learn faster

Another good practice lies in reflecting on what other companies have done. Sherman said he believes enterprise architects have a lot to gain from speaking at events like JavaOne. The process helps them to better understand their own architectures. It is also a powerful tool for enterprise architects to compare their own enterprise digital transformation strategies with others.

“One of the reasons I decided to start speaking at events like JavaOne was because I enjoyed modeling my approaches after what other successful companies had done,” Sherman said. “Sharing experiences and comparing notes is essential before you start down this path.”