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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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New Features Added to Altaro Office 365 Backup for Businesses

Our developers have been hard at work again recently and I’m happy to be able to bring you some great product news once again!

SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business Data Protection Now Available in Altaro Office 365 Backup

It often comes as a surprise that Microsoft doesn’t provide point-in-time restoration capabilities long-term for SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business. Many businesses find themselves in a situation where they require longer point-in-time capabilities than what is provided by Microsoft directly. This is where our latest product offering comes in. Altaro Office 365 backs up Office 365 mailboxes as well as SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business files simply and quickly, so you can rest easy that your data is safe and recoverable when the need arises.

If you’re familiar with the Altaro suite of backup solutions, you have likely heard about the addition of support for both SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business in our recent Altaro Office 365 Backup Announcement for MSPs. Both services are key for the storage of next-generation workloads and this update has been well received as a result. The good news for you is that we’re now bringing that same SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business support to those privately held companies (non-MSPs) and IT departments! This means that even if you’re not an MSP, you’ll still get to take advantage of these great data protection features!

Altaro Office 365 Backup

Other Updates

We’ve made a few other improvements to the product as well! Some things that have been requested by popular demand, and we are happy to include them as well!

Tamper-Proof Audit Logs – This ensures that companies can meet their compliance requirements with respect to changes in content, such as user backup enablement or suspension, content restoration from a mailbox, OneDrive or SharePoint, and browsing user data. It is possible to export the audit.

Restricted User Account Access – Administrators now have the ability to prevent certain users in their team from browsing backups or performing restores. This will provide a bit more granular access and protection to your team and organization.

Free 30-day trial

Start your Altaro Office 365 Backup free trial with no commitment for 30 days.

Read more about this great product that is making waves in the industry!

Andy Syrewicze

I currently have the distinct pleasure of acting as a Technical Evangelist for Altaro Software, makers of Altaro VM Backup. I’m heavily involved in IT community, on Altaro’s behalf, in a number of different ways, including, podcasts, webinars, blogging and public speaking. Prior to that, I spent the last 12+ years providing technology solutions across several industry verticals working for MSPs and Internal IT Departments. My areas of focus include, Virtualization, Cloud Services, VMware and the Microsoft Server Stack, with an emphasis on Hyper-V and Clustering. Outside of my day job, I spend a great deal of time working with the IT community, I’m a published author, and I’ve had the great honor of being named a Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP by Microsoft. I have a passion for technology and always enjoy talking about tech with peers, customers and IT pros over a cup of coffee or a cold beer.

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Author: Andy Syrewicze

F5 Networks updates NGINX Application Platform, other tools

F5 Networks has added and tweaked a handful of tools in an effort to help DevOps, NetOps and SecOps teams work together to deliver applications.

F5 Networks has been working on the updates since acquiring NGINX and its NGINX Application Platform in May. The suite includes NGINX Plus for load balancing and application delivery, NGINX Web Application Firewall for security, NGINX Unit to run application code and NGINX Controller to monitor and manage the platform.

The F5 Networks updates include the following changes to NGINX Application Platform and other tools:

Open source projects: F5 Networks hopes to accelerate the development of NGINX open source technologies, including upcoming HTTP/3 capabilities in NGINX Open Source. It has also worked on improving proxying and network capabilities in the NGINX Unit application server.

NGINX Application Platform: There are four new versions of products that build on NGINX Open Source, which were designed to consolidate 13 tools into one software platform, according to F5 Networks. The new versions of products include improved security and observability features in NGINX Plus, a new developer portal and API importing in the NGINX Controller API Management Module, improved analytics and configuration management in the NGINX Controller Load Balancing Module and the addition of custom resource definitions in NGINX Kubernetes Ingress Controller.

Arm and NS1: Arm and NGINX created Arm Neoverse-based tools for a range application and runs on Amazon EC2 A1 instances in the AWS Cloud. NGINX also introduced a new certified module that integrates NS1 global server load balancing with NGINX Plus.

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