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Salesforce adds new features to Trailhead Live and Go mobile app

Salesforce has added two new features to both Trailhead Live and the Trailhead Go mobile app, making it easier to connect with other users and learn on the go.

Trailhead Live, which features training sessions about Salesforce-related topics with instructors in real time, now includes expert-led Q&As during live broadcasts, enabling viewers to ask instructors questions during sessions. Sessions can also now include live chat capabilities, giving viewers the opportunity to speak with one another. Live is no longer only available to desktop users; it is also available on the Trailhead Go mobile app.

“While it’s great to follow a recorded video, the reality is that at some point you want to be able to interact in real time with a trainer,” said Nicole France, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Live training sessions — even virtual ones — are the only way to do that.”

Learning on the go

Live was one of the most requested Trailhead features on both the mobile app and desktop site, said Amber Boaz, a Salesforce MVP and Salesforce solution architect at Rapid7.

“Lots of users learn in different ways, and Trailhead Live fills a hole in Trailhead functionality,” Boaz said.

Trailhead is Salesforce’s free customer success learning platform, enabling both users and nonusers to gain skills in the CRM giant’s systems.

Greg Grothaus, a Salesforce administrator at Cloud Pathfinder and a platform app builder, has logged 20 to 30 hours on Trailhead Go since its launch at Dreamforce 2019, and three to five hours with Trailhead Live. For the most part, he finds the app helpful when he doesn’t have access to his laptop or a full web browser and is a way to fill his time when he has a few minutes to spare.

In the old days when we had downtime during a commute, we would listen to audiobooks. Now we can get job skills, for free.
Greg GrothausSalesforce administrator, Cloud Pathfinder

“In the old days when we had downtime during a commute, we would listen to audiobooks,” he said. “Now we can get job skills, for free.”

Grothaus is currently working toward his third Salesforce certification — Sales Cloud consultant. This is the fourth most-sought certification after administrator, platform app builder and platform developer I, according to the Mason Frank Salary Survey 2019/2020. The survey also showed that 94% of survey respondents use the Salesforce training tool.

Boaz also uses the Go app in her spare time, in place of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or playing Candy Crush.

“Hour for hour though, I do more Trailhead on my laptop than my phone,” she said.

Trailhead Go shortcomings

While the Trailhead Go mobile app makes it convenient for Salesforce users to study for certifications and learn more about the product, it is not a replacement for the desktop site.

Trailhead Go screenshot
This personalized homepage on the Trailhead Go app provides a link to Trailhead Live materials.

Trailhead Go users are able to do the reading portions of training modules from the app, but when they need to do any hands-on work in a sandbox, the app asks users to open a Salesforce training environment, moving them from the app to the full website version of Trailhead.

“To do the work in the sandbox, you really need a mouse and a keyboard,” Grothaus said.

Trailhead Go is currently only available for iOS, while the full site is available on any device.

The reason for an iOS-only mobile app is that a high proportion of the Trailhead audience is likely on some form of iOS device, France said.

“Nevertheless, Salesforce is definitely missing a trick in not making it available to Android users as well,” she said.

Trailhead users who want to take advantage of real-time broadcasts can view the schedule in advance on the Trailhead Live webpage.

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Google Cloud security gets boost with Secret Manager

Google has added a new managed service called Secret Manager to its cloud platform amid a climate increasingly marked by high-profile data breaches and exposures.

Secret Manager, now in beta, builds on existing Google Cloud security services by providing a central place to store and manage sensitive data such as API keys or passwords.

The system employs the principle of least privilege, meaning only a project’s owners can look at secrets without explicitly granted permissions, Google said in a blog post. Secret Manager works in conjunction with the Cloud Audit Logging service to create access audit trails. These data sets can then be moved into anomaly detection systems to check for breaches and other abnormalities.

All data is encrypted in transit and at rest with AES-256-level encryption keys. Google plans to add support for customer-managed keys later on, according to the blog.

A secrets manager … is really no different than a database, but just with more audit logs and access checking.
Scott PiperAWS security consultant, Summit Route

Google Cloud customers have been able to manage sensitive data prior to now with Berglas, an open source project that runs from the command line, whereas Secret Manager adds a layer of abstraction through a set of APIs.

Berglas can be used on its own going forward, as well as directly through Secret Manager beginning with the recently released 0.5.0 version, Google said. Google also offers a migration tool for moving sensitive data out of Berglas and into Secret Manager.

Secret Manager builds on the existing Google Cloud security lineup, which also includes Key Management Service, Cloud Security Command Center and VPC Service Controls.

With Secret Manager, Google has introduced its own take on products such as HashiCorp Vault and AWS Secrets Manager, said Scott Piper, an AWS security consultant at Summit Route in Salt Lake City.

Scott Piper, an AWS security consultant at Summit Route Scott Piper

A key management service is used to keep an encryption key and perform encryption operations, Piper said. “So, you send them data, and they encrypt them. A secrets manager, on the other hand, is really no different than a database, but just with more audit logs and access checking. You request a piece of data from it — such as your database password — and it returns it back to you. The purpose of these solutions is to avoid keeping secrets in code.”

Doug Cahill, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy GroupDoug Cahill

Indeed, Google’s Key Management Service targets two different audiences within enterprise IT, said Doug Cahill, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

“The former is focused on managing the lifecycle of data encryption keys, while the latter is focused on securing the secrets employed to securely operate API-driven infrastructure-as-code environments,” Cahill said.

As such, data security and privacy professionals and compliance officers are the likely consumers of a key management offering, whereas secret management services are targeted toward DevOps, Cahill added.

Meanwhile, it is surprising that the Google Cloud security portfolio didn’t already have something like Secret Manager, but AWS only released its own version in mid-2018, Piper said. Microsoft released Azure Key Vault in 2015 and has positioned it as appropriate for managing both encryption keys and other types of sensitive data.

Pricing for Secret Manager during the beta period is calculated two ways: Google charges $0.03 per 10,000 operations, and $0.06 per active secret version per regional replica, per month.

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Qualtrics XM adds mobile, AI, information governance

Qualtrics XM added AI and information governance tools to its customer and employee experience measurement platform this week and gave its year-old mobile app an infusion of dashboards to put data into the hands of front-line workers on the go.

In some ways, the new features reflect the influence of SAP, which acquired Qualtrics for $8 billion a year ago. The new features, such as mobile dashboarding, likely reflect a step toward making Qualtrics data relevant and available to customer-facing employees who use other SAP applications, in addition to marketing and research teams, Constellation Research principal analyst Nicole France said.

Getting such data into the hands of front-line employees makes the data more likely to be effectively used.

“Simply making these tools more widely available gets people more used to seeing this type of information, and it changes behaviors,” France said, adding that new features like mobile dashboards subtly get more people involved in using real-time performance metrics. “It’s doing it in almost a subliminal way, rather than trying to make it a quick-change program.” 

A number of Qualtrics competitors have also slowly added mobile dashboarding so employees can monitor reaction to a product, customer service or employee initiatives. But they’re all trying to find the right balance, lest it degrades employee experience or causes knee-jerk reactions to real-time fluctuations in customer response, Forrester Research senior analyst Faith Adams said

Qualtrics XM mobile NPS dashboard
Qualtrics XM mobile-app upgrades include dashboards to convey real-time customer response data to front-line employees responsible for product and service performance.

“It can be great — but it is also one that you need to be really careful with, too,” Adams said. “Some firms have noted that when they adopt mobile, it sometimes sets an expectation to employees of all levels that they are ‘always on.'”

Both France and Adams noted that the mobile app will help sales teams keep more plugged in to customer sentiment in their territories by getting data to them more quickly.

BMW, an early adopter of the new mobile app, uses it in dealerships to keep salespeople apprised of how individual customers feel about the purchasing process during the sale, and to prevent sales from falling through, according to Kelly Waldher, Qualtrics executive vice president and general manager.

AI and information governance tools debut

Qualtrics XM also added Smart Conversations, an AI-assisted tool to automate customer dialog around feedback. Two other AI features comb unstructured data for insights; one graphically visualizes customer sentiment and the other more precisely measures customer sentiment.

Prior to being acquired by SAP, Qualtrics had built its own AI and machine learning tools, Waldher said, and will continue to strategically invest in it. That said, Qualtrics will likely add features based on SAP’s Leonardo AI toolbox down the road.  

“We have that opportunity to work more closely with SAP engineers to leverage Leonardo,” Waldher said. “We’re still in the early stages of trying to tap into the broader SAP AI capabilities, but we’re excited to have that stack available to us.”

Also new to Qualtrics XM is a set of information governance features, which Waldher said will enable customers to better comply with privacy rules in both the U.S. and Europe. Qualtrics users will be able to monitor who is using data, and how within their organizations.

“Chief compliance officers and those within the IT group can make sure that the tools that are being deployed across the organization have advanced security and governance capabilities,” Waldher said. “SAP’s global strength, their presence in Western Europe and beyond, has strongly reinforced the path [of building compliance tools] we were already on.”

The new features are included in most paid Qualtrics plans at no extra charge, with a few of the AI tools requiring different licensing plans to use.

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How to install and test Windows Server 2019 IIS

Transcript – How to install and test Windows Server 2019 IIS

In this video, I want to show you how to install Internet Information Services, or IIS, and prepare it for use.

I’m logged into a domain-joined Windows Server 2019 machine and I’ve got the Server Manager open. To install IIS, click on Manage and choose the Add Roles and Features option. This launches the Add Roles and Features wizard. Click Next on the welcome screen and choose role-based or feature-based installation for the installation type and click Next.

Make sure that My Server is selected and click Next. I’m prompted to choose the roles that I want to deploy. We have an option for web server IIS. That’s the option I’m going to select. When I do that, I’m prompted to install some dependency features, so I’m going to click on Add Features and I’ll click Next.

I’m taken to the features screen. All the dependency features that I need are already being installed, so I don’t need to select anything else. I’ll click Next, Next again, Next again on the Role Services — although if you do need to install any additional role services to service the IIS role, this is where you would do it. You can always enable these features later on, so I’ll go ahead and click Next.

I’m taken to the Confirmation screen and I can review my configuration selections. Everything looks good here, so I’ll click install and IIS is being installed.

Testing Windows Server 2019 IIS

The next thing that I want to do is test IIS to make sure that it’s functional. I’m going to go ahead and close this out and then go to local server. I’m going to go to IE Enhanced Security Configuration. I’m temporarily going to turn this off just so that I can test IIS. I’ll click OK and I’ll close Server Manager.

The next thing that I want to do is find this machine’s IP address, so I’m going to right-click on the Start button and go to Run and type CMD to open a command prompt window, and then from there, I’m going to type ipconfig.

Here I have the server’s IP address, so now I can open up an Internet Explorer window and enter this IP address and Internet Information Services should respond. I’ve entered the IP address, then I press enter and I’m taken to the Internet Information Services screen. IIS is working at this point.

I’ll go ahead and close this out. If this were a real-world deployment, one of the next things that you would probably want to do is begin uploading some of the content that you’re going to use on your website so that you can begin testing it on this server.

I’ll go ahead and open up file explorer and I’ll go to this PC, driver and inetpub folder and the wwwroot subfolder. This is where you would copy all of your files for your website. You can configure IIS to use a different folder, but this is the one used by default for IIS content. You can see the files right here that make up the page that you saw a moment ago.

How to work with the Windows Server 2019 IIS bindings

Let’s take a look at a couple of the configuration options for IIS. I’m going to go ahead and open up Server Manager and what I’m going to do now is click on Tools, and then I’m going to choose the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. The main thing that I wanted to show you within the IIS Manager is the bindings section. The bindings allow traffic to be directed to a specific website, so you can see that, right now, we’re looking at the start page and, right here, is a listing for my IIS server.

I’m going to go ahead and expand this out and I’m going to expand the site’s container and, here, you can see the default website. This is the site that I’ve shown you just a moment ago, and then if we look over here on the Actions menu, you can see that we have a link for Bindings. When I open up the Bindings option, you can see by default we’re binding all HTTP traffic to port 80 on all IP addresses for the server.

We can edit [the site bindings] if I select [the site] and click on it. You can see that we can select a specific IP address. If the server had multiple IP addresses associated with it, we could link a different IP address to each site. We could also change the port that’s associated with a particular website. For example, if I wanted to bind this particular website to port 8080, I could do that by changing the port number. Generally, you want HTTP traffic to flow on port 80. The other thing that you can do here is to assign a hostname to the site, for example www.contoso.com or something to that effect.

The other thing that I want to show you in here is how to associate HTTPS traffic with a site. Typically, you’re going to have to have a certificate to make that happen, but assuming that that’s already in place, you click on Add and then you would change the type to HTTPS and then you can choose an IP address; you can enter a hostname; and then you would select your SSL certificate for the site.

You’ll notice that the port number is set to 443, which is the default port that’s normally used for HTTPS traffic. So, that’s how you install IIS and how you configure the bindings for a website.

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Microsoft offers few upgrades for Skype server in 2019

Microsoft added no significant end-user features to on-premises Skype for Business in 2019, closing out the year with a December update that mostly fixes bugs.

Microsoft’s lack of investment in Skype server underscores how the company views the product as a placeholder for businesses not yet ready to move to the cloud.

In recent updates, Microsoft extended location-based routing to Skype for Business mobile clients. The feature, now a standard component of modern business phone systems, helps companies reduce PSTN costs by keeping audio traffic in-network when possible.

Microsoft also this year began a phased replacement of the Skype server’s IT control panel, which is based on outdated technology. Another update gave IT admins new tools for automating user settings on a large scale.

Otherwise, the vendor’s July and December updates contained mostly bug fixes and security tweaks for the Skype server. In years past, those updates would have included significant features for the Skype product. But more recently, the vendor has focused its research and development efforts on cloud-based Microsoft Teams.

Consequentially, many organizations are not even bothering to purchase the latest iteration of Skype server, version 2019, released last October, said Tom Arbuthnot, principal solutions architect at Modality Systems, a Microsoft-focused systems integrator.

Instead, those customers are sticking with the previous iteration, version 2015. Microsoft has scheduled extended maintenance for the 2015 and 2019 versions of Skype to end simultaneously in 2025, giving businesses little incentive to make the costly switch.

“I don’t see load and loads of people upgrading to 2019. They will string out 2015 until they are ready to go to Teams,” Arbuthnot said. “[Microsoft is] disincentivizing you from going to 2019.”

The 2019 server introduced new ways to integrate the on-premises product with cloud services, such as cloud voicemail and Azure Active Directory. It also uses more recent security protocols. But it offers virtually no new end-user features compared to what was added to the 2015 version.

Microsoft’s decision to stop investing in its on-premises unified communications product stands in contrast to Cisco. The rival vendor has continued to enhance the features of the messaging app Cisco Jabber even while building out a cloud portfolio based on the Webex suite.

Microsoft appears more focused on winning subscribers to Office 365, a cloud-based suite of productivity apps that includes Teams. In particular, the company has taken aim at the collaboration app Slack, a competitor to Teams.

Microsoft announced last month that Teams had gained 20 million daily active users, more than Slack’s 13 million. But those figures still represent only a fraction of Microsoft’s base of customers, which includes 200 million commercial users of Office 365.

Microsoft has not revealed how many organizations are still using Skype, but it likely remains one of the most-installed UC apps in the market. More than 100 million people used Microsoft Lync as of 2015 when the product was rebranded to Skype for Business.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced that it will shutter Skype for Business Online, a cloud-based product within Office 365, on July 31, 2021.

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For Sale – SOLD SOLD Desktop PC. Intel 7600k CPU, Asus Z270 Prime Motherboard, 24GB DDR4 RAM. 250GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro in Coolermaster HAF XB Case SOLD SOLD

Bought this here a while ago but never really used it. I added a 250gb NVME SSD and a better case. Runs very fast and quiet. For Sale – Intel 7600K, Z270 Full System £250 CPU 7600k I think the cooler is called deep Freeze or something like this Asus Prime Z270 Antec Modular 750w Power supply…

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For Sale – HP Z620 Workstation / Gaming PC 32Gb Ram, 256Gb SSD, Win10Pro, 2Tb HDD, Wifi & Bluetooth 5 Intel Xeon 6 Core CPU – £175

Bargain System

Ideal for use as a workstation, photo/video editing PC or Gaming PC (With Graphics card added by you)

HP Z620
900w 90% Efficient PSU

CPU : Intel Xeon 6 Core 12 Thread E5 2620 v2
RAM : 32Gb
SSD : 240Gb
HDD1 : 1Tb
HDD2 : 1Tb
Optical : DVD Rewriter
Multi Card Reader
Dual Gigabit Ethernet and Multi USB3
AC1300 Wifi and Bluetooth 5

OS Windows 10 Pro (Fully Licenced)

No Graphics card fitted user can fit whatever graphics card suits them, 2 8 Pin Power Ports and 2 Graphics Bays available. Can take multiple cards

BUYER COLLECTS – Not Prepared to Ship as too heavy

Located near M1 J28 North Derbyshire/Notts Between Nottigham / Derby/ Chesterfield

BARGAIN AT £175

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Dell EMC upgrades VxRail appliances for AI, SAP HANA

Dell EMC today added predictive analytics and network management to its VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure family while expanding NVMe support for SAP HANA and AI workloads.

Dell EMC VxRail appliances combine Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell-owned VMware’s vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software. The launch of Dell’s flagship HCI platform includes two new all-NVMe appliance configurations, plus VxRail Analytic Consulting Engine (ACE) and support for SmartFabric Services (SFS) across multi-rack configurations.

The new Dell EMC VxRail appliance models are the P580N and the E560N. The P580N is a four-socket system designed for SAP HANA in-memory database workloads. It is the first appliance in the VxRail P Series performance line to support NVMe. The 1u E560N is aimed at high performance computing and compute-heavy workloads such as AI and machine learning, along with virtual desktop infrastructure.

The new 1U E Series systems support Nvidia T4 GPUs for extra processing power. The E Series also supports 8 TB solid-state drives, doubling the total capacity of previous models. The VxRail storage-heavy S570 nodes also now support the 8 TB SSDs.

ACE is generally available following a six-month early access program. ACE, developed on Dell’s Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform, performs monitoring and performance analytics across VxRail clusters. ACE provides alerts for possible system problems, capacity analysis and can help orchestrate upgrades.

The addition of ACE to VxRail comes a week after Dell EMC rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise made its InfoSight predictive analytics available on its SimpliVity HCI platform.

Wikibon senior analyst Stuart Miniman said the analytics, SFS and new VxRail appliances make it easier to manage HCI while expanding its use cases.

“Hyperconverged infrastructure is supposed to be simple,” he said. “When you add in AI and automated operations, that will make it simpler. We’ve been talking about intelligence and automation of storage our whole careers, but there has been a Cambrian explosion in that over the last year. Now they’re building analytics and automation into this platform.”

Bringing network management into HCI

Part of that simplicity includes making it easier to manage networking in HCI. Expanded capabilities for SFS on VxRail include the ability for HCI admins to manage networking switches across VxRail clusters without requiring dedicated networking expertise. SFS now applies across multi-rack VxRail clusters, automating switch configuration for up to six racks in one site. SFS supports from six switches in a two-rack configuration to 14 switches in a six-rack deployment.

Support for Mellanox 100 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe cards help accelerate streaming media and live broadcast functions.

“We believe that automation across the data center is key to fostering operational freedom,” Gil Shneorson, Dell EMC vice president and general manager for VxRail, wrote in a blog with details of today’s upgrades. “As customers expand VxRail clusters across multiple racks, their networking needs expand as well.”

Dell EMC VxRail vs. Nutanix: All about the hypervisor?

IDC lists Dell as the leader in the hyperconverged appliance market, which IDC said hit $1.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Dell had 29.2% of the market, well ahead of second-place Nutanix with 14.2%. Cisco was a distant third with 6.2.%

According to Miniman, the difference between Dell EMC and Nutanix often comes down to the hypervisor deployed by the user. VxRail closely supports market leader VMware, but VxRail appliances do not support other hypervisors. Nutanix supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and the Nutanix AHV hypervisors. The Nutanix software stack competes with vSAN.

“Dell and Nutanix are close on feature parity,” Miniman said. “If you’re using VMware, then VxRail is the leading choice because it’s 100% VMware. VxRail is in lockstep with VMware, while Nutanix is obviously not in lockstep with VMware.”

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For Sale – HP Z620 Workstation / Gaming PC 32Gb Ram, 256Gb SSD, Win10Pro, 2Tb HDD, Wifi & Bluetooth 5 Intel Xeon 6 Core CPU – £175

Bargain System

Ideal for use as a workstation, photo/video editing PC or Gaming PC (With Graphics card added by you)

HP Z620
900w 90% Efficient PSU

CPU : Intel Xeon 6 Core 12 Thread E5 2620 v2
RAM : 32Gb
SSD : 256Gb
HDD1 : 1Tb
HDD2 : 1Tb
Optical : DVD Rewriter
Multi Card Reader
Dual Gigabit Ethernet and Multi USB3
AC1300 Wifi and Bluetooth 5

OS Windows 10 Pro (Fully Licenced)

No Graphics card fitted user can fit whatever graphics card suits them, 2 8 Pin Power Ports and 2 Graphics Bays available. Can take multiple cards

BUYER COLLECTS – Not Prepared to Ship as too heavy

Located near M1 J28 North Derbyshire/Notts Between Nottigham / Derby/ Chesterfield

BARGAIN AT £!75 OVNO

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UCaaS vendor Intermedia adds Telax CCaaS to portfolio

Unified communications vendor Intermedia has added contact center software to its cloud portfolio. The move is the latest example of how the markets for UC and contact center technologies are converging.

Intermedia follows the lead of other cloud UC vendors, including RingCentral, Vonage and 8×8, in building or acquiring a contact center as a service (CCaaS) platform. Intermedia’s CCaaS software stems from the acquisition of Toronto-based Telax in August.

The Intermedia Contact Center will be available as a stand-alone offering or bundled with Intermedia Unite, a cloud-based suite of calling, messaging and video conferencing applications. Intermedia will sell the offering in three tiers: Express, Pro and Elite.

Express — sold only as an add-on to Intermedia Unite — is a basic call routing platform for small businesses. Pro includes more advanced call routing, analytics, and support for additional contact channels, such as chat.

Elite, the most expensive tier, integrates with CRM platforms and includes support for self-service voice bots, outbound notification campaigns and quality assurance monitoring. 

Intermedia has already integrated Express with its UC platform. It’s planning to do the same for Pro and Elite early next year.

Integrating UC and contact center platforms can save money by letting customer service agents transfer calls outside of the contact center without going through the public telephone network. Plus, communication between agents and others in the organization is more effective when everyone uses the same chat and video apps.

Based in Sunnyvale, Calif., Intermedia sells its technology to small and midsize businesses through 6,600 channel partners. Most of them are managed service providers that brand Intermedia’s service as their own.

In addition to UC and contact center, Intermedia offers email archiving and encryption, file backup and sharing systems, and hosted Microsoft email services.

Roughly 1.4 million people across 125,000 businesses use Intermedia’s technology. The company, founded in 1995 and now owned by private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, said its acquisition of Telax brought annual revenue to around $250 million. 

Founded in 1997, Telax sold its CCaaS platform exclusively through service providers, which rebranded it mostly for small and midsize businesses.

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