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SAP Embrace gets new love from SAP-Microsoft partnership

SAP and Microsoft are making their cloud relationship almost exclusive with a new program.

SAP Embrace was announced in May as a program to help SAP customers move workloads to public cloud hyperscalers Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Earlier this month, SAP and Microsoft announced a new development in the program with a three-year agreement to use Microsoft Azure as the preferred hyperscaler infrastructure provider for SAP systems. The deal is intended to address SAP’s issues in moving customers both to the cloud and migration to S/4HANA by providing a simpler, more cost-effective and risk-mitigated path.

SAP Embrace is intended to provide SAP customers a path to the cloud on Microsoft Azure infrastructure, according to the companies. SAP and Microsoft, along with systems integrators, including Deloitte, Accenture and IBM, will offer SAP customers bundles of cloud services, including unified reference architectures, road maps and market-specific information to help mitigate costs and risks of moving to the cloud. Microsoft field sales teams will sell the SAP Embrace bundles directly to customers and Microsoft will also embed and resell components of SAP Cloud Platform in Azure.

SAP worked with Microsoft, AWS and Google to develop the initial phase of SAP Embrace, but subsequent development over the summer led to the partnership agreement with Microsoft to use Azure as its preferred public cloud provider, said David Robinson, SAP senior vice president and managing director of the cloud business group.

SAP customers are in large measure satisfied that any of the three public cloud providers can handle SAP HANA database workloads and run HANA-based applications, Robinson said, but they are looking for a clear and simple path to the cloud, which was the main goal of SAP Embrace.  

“[Customers] would like to understand that, as they migrate to S/4HANA in conjunction with the lift to the cloud, they can follow a path that leads to the intelligent enterprise and will give the most cost-effective and risk managed journey,” he said.

SAP customers lean toward Azure

David Robinson, senior vice president and managing director of cloud business group, SAPDavid Robinson

The SAP-Microsoft partnership came about mainly because the majority of customers that SAP worked with to validate the SAP Embrace model were already leaning toward Azure, Robinson said.

This was primarily because Microsoft had demonstrated that Azure provided a consistent enterprise degree of engagement and support beyond just the compute network and data store, such as support services and lifecycle management, according to Robinson.

“Microsoft understands the enterprise to speak the enterprise language, and has processes wrapped around their compute network and storage around Azure that are more aligned with what SAP customers need to be able to consume and drive their S/4HANA environment,” he said.

SAP and Microsoft relationship may get cozier

It’s unusual that SAP would go with something that’s relatively exclusive, said Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, but it may be a sign of more to come from SAP and Microsoft.

Joshua Greenbaum, principal, Enterprise Applications ConsultingJoshua Greenbaum

“We know that Microsoft’s SuccessFactors implementation runs on Azure and they’re moving their ERP to Azure, so we know Microsoft wants as many workloads as it can get on Azure and they’re willing to incent SAP to do it,” Greenbaum said. “But I think there’s more to this. There will be another component of this deal coming, because I’m pretty sure that the numbers don’t add up for just this much exclusivity.”

Although the Microsoft Azure deal is not exclusive, the other two hyperscalers were not pleased at the recent addendum to SAP Embrace, Greenbaum said.

He pointed out that Robert Enslin, Google president of cloud sales and former SAP executive, and Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud CEO, are likely tapping their considerable experience to develop enterprise applications.

“It’s pretty clear that they’re going for an apps play that can compete with SAP,” Greenbaum said.

For AWS, on the other hand, Amazon’s relentless expansion into virtually every business may give potential customers pause before they entrust their systems to AWS.

“On the Amazon side there’s a lot of customers — retail, logistics, you name it — where Amazon the mothership is encroaching into a lot of core business areas, so a lot of folks are getting nervous about putting their enterprise software on the Amazon cloud,” he said. “In a way, Amazon sort of backed itself into this position.”

Other public cloud options still available

SAP customers still have the option to deploy S/4HANA and SAP HANA-based applications in any public cloud provider they want, Robinson said.

AWS recently announced new memory upgrades to the EC2 cloud infrastructure designed to manage S/4HANA sized workloads. 

“If a customer still wants to run it on AWS or Google, they can still do it; the support is the same and we continue to certify these workloads on AWS on GCP,” Robinson said. “The difference now is not the support or the ability to run, certify and upgrade — we will always certify that these infrastructures perform on database workloads as we design. But with Microsoft, we’re adding an additional degree of abstraction on top of that around the harmonization of the cloud platform services.”

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Countdown to Microsoft Global Learning Connection 2019: Two weeks to go—join us on Nov 5-6 to celebrate global learning and open students’ hearts and minds | | Microsoft EDU

The Microsoft Global Learning Connection (formerly Skype-a-Thon) event is almost here. Thousands of educators from more than 110 countries are preparing to connect their students with experts and classrooms around the world to share stories and cultural traditions, play games, and collaborate on projects. The goal is to empower young people to become more engaged global citizens and expand their horizons.

Our global community will count the virtual miles traveled after each connection. Ultimately, these will all contribute to our global goal of traveling 17 million virtual miles and connecting nearly a half-million students via Skype, Teams and Flipgrid.

This 48-hour annual event is a true celebration of the power of global learning and an opportunity to shift perspectives and foster greater empathy and compassion for our planet and each other. If you have arranged a connection, make sure to share your plans with us on social @SkypeClassroom with #MSFTGlobalConnect and #MicrosoftEDU.

And if you haven’t arranged a connection for the two days of the event, there is still time to join us.

Head to msftglobalclassroom.com to learn more about the event. We hope you will join us to connect and inspire your students on November 5 and 6.

To help you get started and plan your participation, we have gathered below all the necessary resources:

  • Download a step-by-step activity plan to help you organize your connections for the two-day
  • Access the teacher toolkit, which is full of resources for you and your students. This includes maps, stickers, digital passports, activity sheets, a letter to parents and more.
  • Are you interested in making the Global Learning Connection the starting point for an event at your school or getting ideas on how to tie the event with a global cause? Check out educators’ tips here.
  • Find out how to schedule connections via Skype, Teams and Flipgrid here.
  • Explore the event’s social toolkit and download ready-made templates to share your participation on social channels with our global community @SkypeClassroom with #MSFTGlobalConnect #MicrosoftEDU.

Happy Traveling!

Explore tools for Future Ready SkillsExplore tools for Future Ready Skills

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Sale – iMac Retina 4K 21.5 inch i5 £425

Boxed and in very new, almost as new condition. Bought in 2016 for over £1200.

Includes BT keyboard and mouse.

3.1 Intel i5, 8GB ram, 1TB HD, Intel Iris Pro graphics.

Selling as we’ve moved away from Apple products and back to Windows.

Would prefer pick up to avoid postage, I work at Heathrow so can always meet someone near there if that suits.

Price and currency: £650
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: Paypal, COD, BT
Location: Frimley, Surrey
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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Adobe Experience Platform adds features for data scientists

After almost a year in beta, Adobe has introduced Query Service and Data Science Workspace to the Adobe Experience Platform to enable brands to deliver tailored digital experiences to their customers, with real-time data analytics and understanding of customer behavior.

Powered by Adobe Sensei, the vendor’s AI and machine learning technology, Query Service and Data Science Workspace intend to automate tedious, manual processes and enable real-time data personalization for large organizations.

The Adobe Experience Platform — previously the Adobe Cloud Platform — is an open platform for customer experience management that synthesizes and breaks down silos for customer data in one unified customer profile.

According to Adobe, the volume of data organizations must manage has exploded. IDC predicted the Global DataSphere will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes by 2025. And while more data is better, it makes it difficult for businesses and analysts to sort, digest and analyze all of it to find answers. Query Service intends to simplify this process, according to the vendor.

Query Service enables analysts and data scientists to perform queries across all data sets in the platform instead of manually combing through siloed data sets to find answers for data-related questions. Query Service supports cross-channel and cross-platform queries, including behavioral, point-of-sale and customer relationship management data. Query Service enables users to do the following:

  • run queries manually with interactive jobs or automatically with batch jobs;
  • subgroup records based on time and generate session numbers and page numbers;
  • use tools that support complex joins, nested queries, window functions and time-partitioned queries;
  • break down data to evaluate key customer events; and
  • view and understand how customers flow across all channels.

While Query Service simplifies the data identification process, Data Science Workspace helps to digest data and enables data scientists to draw insights and take action. Using Adobe Sensei’s AI technology, Data Science Workspace automates repetitive tasks and understands and predicts customer data to provide real-time intelligence.

Also within Data Science Workspace, users can take advantage of tools to develop, train and tune machine learning models to solve business challenges, such as calculating customer predisposition to buy certain products. Data scientists can also develop custom models to pull particular insights and predictions to personalize customer experiences across all touchpoints.

Additional capabilities of Data Science Workstation enable users to perform the following tasks:

  • explore all data stored in Adobe Experience Platform, as well as deep learning libraries like Spark ML and TensorFlow;
  • use prebuilt or custom machine learning recipes for common business needs;
  • experiment with recipes to create and train tracked unlimited instances;
  • publish intelligent services recipes without IT to Adobe I/O; and
  • continuously evaluate intelligent service accuracy and retrain recipes as needed.

Adobe data analytics features Query Service and Data Science Workspace were first introduced as part of the Adobe Experience Platform in beta in September 2018. Adobe intends these tools to improve how data scientists handle data on the Adobe Experience Platform and create meaningful models off of which developers can work. 

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For Sale – iMac Retina 4K 21.5 inch i5 £425

Boxed and in very new, almost as new condition. Bought in 2016 for over £1200.

Includes BT keyboard and mouse.

3.1 Intel i5, 8GB ram, 1TB HD, Intel Iris Pro graphics.

Selling as we’ve moved away from Apple products and back to Windows.

Would prefer pick up to avoid postage, I work at Heathrow so can always meet someone near there if that suits.

Price and currency: £650
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: Paypal, COD, BT
Location: Frimley, Surrey
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

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For Sale – iMac Retina 4K 21.5 inch i5 £450 today only

Boxed and in very new, almost as new condition. Bought in 2016 for over £1200.

Includes BT keyboard and mouse.

3.1 Intel i5, 8GB ram, 1TB HD, Intel Iris Pro graphics.

Selling as we’ve moved away from Apple products and back to Windows.

Would prefer pick up to avoid postage, I work at Heathrow so can always meet someone near there if that suits.

Price and currency: £650
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: Paypal, COD, BT
Location: Frimley, Surrey
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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For Sale – iMac Retina 4K 21.5 inch i5 price drop

Boxed and in very new, almost as new condition. Bought in 2016 for over £1200.

Includes BT keyboard and mouse.

3.1 Intel i5, 8GB ram, 1TB HD, Intel Iris Pro graphics.

Selling as we’ve moved away from Apple products and back to Windows.

Would prefer pick up to avoid postage, I work at Heathrow so can always meet someone near there if that suits.

Price and currency: £650
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: Paypal, COD, BT
Location: Frimley, Surrey
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

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WannaMine cryptojacker targets unpatched EternalBlue flaw

New research detailed successful cryptojacking attacks by WannaMine malware after almost one year of warnings about this specific cryptominer and more than a year and a half  of warnings about the EternalBlue exploit.

The Cybereason Nocturnus research team and Amit Serper, head of security research for the Boston-based cybersecurity company, discovered a new outbreak of the WannaMine cryptojacker, which the researchers said gains access to computer systems “through an unpatched [Server Message Block, or SMB] service and gains code execution with high privileges” to spread to more systems.

Serper noted in a blog post that neither WannaMine nor the EternalBlue exploit are new, but they are still taking advantage of those unpatched SMB services, even though Microsoft patched against EternalBlue in March 2017.

“Until organizations patch and update their computers, they’ll continue to see attackers use these exploits for a simple reason: they lead to successful campaigns,” Serper wrote in the blog post. “Part of giving the defenders an advantage means making the attacker’s job more difficult by taking steps to boost an organization’s security. Patching vulnerabilities, especially the ones associated with EternalBlue, falls into this category.”

It is fair to say that any unpatched system with SMB exposed to the internet has been compromised repeatedly and is definitely infected with one or more forms of malware.
Jake Williamsfounder and CEO, Rendition Infosec

The EternalBlue exploit was famously part of the Shadow Brokers dump of National Security Agency cyberweapons in April 2017; less than one month later, the WannaCry ransomware was sweeping the globe and infecting unpatched systems. However, that was only the beginning for EternalBlue.

EternalBlue was added into other ransomware, like GandCrab, to help it spread faster. It was morphed into Petya. And there were constant warnings for IT to patch vulnerable systems.

WannaMine was first spotted in October 2017 by Panda Security. And in January 2018, Sophos warned users that WannaMine was still active and preying on unpatched systems. According to researchers at ESET, the EternalBlue exploit saw a spike in use in April 2018.

Jake Williams, founder and CEO of Rendition Infosec, based in Augusta, Ga., said there are many ways threat actors may use EternalBlue in attacks.

“It is fair to say that any unpatched system with SMB exposed to the internet has been compromised repeatedly and is definitely infected with one or more forms of malware,” Williams wrote via Twitter direct message. “Cryptojackers are certainly one risk for these systems. These systems don’t have much power for crypto-mining (most lack dedicated GPUs), but when compromised en-masse they can generate some profit for the attacker. More concerning in some cases are the use of these systems for malware command and control servers and launching points for other attacks.”

For Sale – AMD FX8350, 16GB DDR3 and Coolermaster Evo212

CPU working like a dream, and has an EVO212 on it for almost silent use. 212 comes with all the bits I have with it.
No box but will be securely packaged. Buy it all and I’ll throw in a mobo for free that Im currently using.
The RAM is 4 matched sticks, I’ll get exact stats later tonight when Im home.

Price and currency: £55 for CPU, £65 for RAM, £5 for Coolermaster if sold with CPU
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT/PP F&F
Location: Barnsley
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Where the IBM Project Debater AI system may be headed

Last month, in almost real time and in front of a live audience in San Francisco, two humans debated facts and ethics with an AI system, IBM Project Debater.

The AI platform offered points and rebuttals during its first public debate, going first against Noa Ovadia, the 2016 Israeli national debate champion, on the issue of subsidizing space exploration, and then against Israeli professional debater Dan Zafrir on the topic of telemedicine. Debaters, human and machine, were not made aware of the subjects ahead of time.

According to a snap poll of the audience after each session, audiences felt that Project Debater, at least on the topic of space exploration, enriched their knowledge more than its human counterpart.

The humans, however, were largely found to be better, more persuasive speakers. Indeed, despite its digital prowess, some debate experts have noted that the AI debating system lacks a certain ability to deploy tonal effects, such as irony and sarcasm.

The debating system isn’t IBM’s first foray into machine-human jousting. In 2011, IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat trivia stars in a game of Jeopardy, and in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer bested world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

[embedded content]

IBM Research teaser for Project Debater

The Project Debater engineers appear to be taking a more nuanced approach this time.

Ranit Aharonov, manager of the IBM Project Debater team, said members of the project team didn’t think of the system simply as something that could win a debate.

“When we look at a debate, we don’t only look at who swayed the audience more. There’s a lot more to it,” Aharonov said.

Building a debating machine

Developed over the past six years at the IBM Research lab in Haifa, Israel, IBM Project Debater uses sophisticated machine learning algorithms and millions of newspapers and articles to identify and organize facts relevant to a debate topic.

The AI is able to cluster that information into themes based on the topic of debate, and, using what IBM calls data-driven speech writing, delivers the information in a coherent sentence.

IBM Project Debater is essentially trained in the art of debate — to have a general idea of when and how to use factual and ethical arguments to support or dispute a point. To be able to debate in real time, the system employs natural language processing to identify the main components of an opponent’s speech and then give a rebuttal.

While pursuing this researching project, during the process, we are actually finding ourselves facing new problems we haven’t faced before.
Noam SlonimIBM

According to Noam Slonim, principal investigator for IBM Project Debater, the technology could have a number of applications. The most immediate one, he said, is advancing the field of science.

“While pursuing this researching project, during the process, we are actually finding ourselves facing new problems we haven’t faced before,” Slonim said

Real-life applications

Beyond advancing the field, Slonim said he sees “the underlying technology with the Debater being very, very aligned with technologies that help people make a better-informed decision,” noting that it could eventually have uses in the fields of politics or business.

“Just imagine giving Debater a topic and asking it to find everything of relevance to that topic and what that could mean,” he said.

Also, Slonim said he sees the technology being useful in the education field. Having a debating AI system “can help kids learn how to build better arguments and become more informed in a topic.”

Dan Zafrir and IBM Project Debater, San Francisco
Israeli debater Dan Zafrir poses with IBM’s Project Debater before a public debate in San Francisco last month

“IBM Project Debater, while still in development, could be brought into specific use cases, and is slated to be released in some form next year,” Slonim said. He declined to say what incarnation the technology might take.

As for bringing some of the technology behind IBM Project Debater to IBM’s well-publicized AI system, Watson, Slonim said: “The implication is that these will be incorporated into Watson and enhance its capabilities.”

Mixed review from an analyst

Adrian Bowles, vice president of research and lead analyst for artificial intelligence at Aragon Research, was at last month’s live debate in San Francisco.

Bowles, who said he first spoke with an IBM representative about the IBM Project Debater four years ago, said he was struck more by how IBM Project Debater identified arguments than how it expressed them.

“The natural language generational software is not nearly as impressive to me as what they’ve done with natural language understanding,” he said, adding that the AI system presented arguments more on a high school or college level than a professional one.

“Finding and representing the logical position and being able to identify the opposite of that is where the magic happens, if you will,” Bowles continued.

Bowles agreed that the technology could be useful when applied in a classroom setting, but noted that he would also like to see it used to help extract provable facts from bodies of text, like multiple sources of news.

Specifically, Bowles cited fake news and the political bias reflected by news sources. Technology in IBM Project Debater could be used to analyze multiple news sources on the same topic and help separate facts from bias or misreporting.

“What I would like to see is it being able to identify practical arguments and being able to map those out,” he said.

Due to the vast number of documents Debater has access to, Slonim said he would expect technology to be separated out before the system is commercialized, partitioning it out to get to the basic underlying technology and allowing users to input their own data to be analyzed.

“I think that would get people using it and experimenting in novel ways,” he said.