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Nextlink Internet and Microsoft closing broadband gap in central US – Stories

The agreement could bring broadband access to benefit more than 9 million people, including approximately 1 million in unserved rural areas

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 18, 2019 — On Wednesday, Nextlink Internet and Microsoft Corp. announced a partnership that will help close the broadband gap in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, bringing high-speed internet to hundreds of rural communities. The agreement will further enable Nextlink to substantially expand their coverage areas and is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which is focused on addressing this national crisis, with the goal of extending broadband access to over 3 million unserved people in rural America by July 2022.

Lack of broadband connectivity is a pervasive national issue, and particularly acute in rural areas of the country. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that more than 21 million Americans lack broadband access, the vast majority of whom live in rural areas that continue to lag the national rate of broadband usage. The problem is almost certainly larger than that, though, as other studies and data sources, including Microsoft data, have found that 162 million people across the United States are not using the internet at broadband speeds, including approximately 29 million people across Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

“It’s time to deliver on the connectivity promises that have been made to people across the country, and this partnership will help do that for many who have been left behind and unserved in the heartland of America,” said Shelley McKinley, vice president, Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft. “In the past two years with our Airband Initiative, we’ve seen that progress is possible — particularly when the public and private sectors come together. Partnerships with regional ISPs like Nextlink that have the desire and wherewithal to provide internet connectivity are a critical part of closing the broadband gap and helping families, children, farmers, businesses and whole communities to not only survive, but thrive in the 21st century.”

Nextlink will deploy a variety of broadband connectivity technologies to bring these areas under coverage, including wireless technologies leveraging TV white spaces (e.g., unused TV frequencies) in select markets. Nextlink will continue its deployments in Texas and Oklahoma and immediately begin deployment efforts in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois, with rollouts planned through 2024.

Nextlink CEO Bill Baker noted, “Nextlink is tremendously excited about the opportunity to join forces with Microsoft. This agreement will accelerate the rollout of high-speed broadband access to underserved areas that are desperate for this critical service. This in turn will make those areas more attractive for employers who require high-speed broadband to operate. By itself, this project is going to generate hundreds of full-time, long-term jobs in rural communities as Nextlink builds out and services the required networks. The overall impact to rural communities in terms of job creation and increased viability for all employers is tremendous.”

“This partnership will enable the coming of precision agriculture, IoT, digital healthcare, access to higher education and overall economic growth,” said Ted Osborn, Nextlink SVP of Strategy & Regulatory Affairs. “Our experience tells us that advanced broadband access and community support can make these promises a reality in relatively short order.”

Improved connectivity will bolster economic, educational and telehealth opportunities for everyone in the region, and could be particularly impactful for farmers. Together, the states covered in part by this deal — Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas — account for more than $120 billion in annual agricultural value, or 29% of the agricultural output of the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With broadband access, farmers can gain better access to markets and take advantage of advancements in precision agriculture, enabling them to better monitor crops and increase their yields, which can translate into significant economic returns. The USDA estimates widespread use of connected technologies for agricultural production has the potential to unlock over $47 billion in annual gross benefit for the United States.

The partnership builds on Microsoft and Nextlink’s efforts to close the digital divide. Nextlink is familiar with the needs of rural communities and was awarded federal Connect America Fund funding to expand broadband access to unserved rural communities. The companies will also work together to ensure that, once connectivity is available in these regions, people will receive the digital skills training to help them take advantage of the economic and social benefits that come with broadband access.

About Nextlink Internet  

Nextlink Internet, LLC is a residential and commercial internet access and phone services provider based in Hudson Oaks, Texas. The company is a leading provider of broadband services to rural school districts and municipalities. Since 2013, the company has organically attracted over 36,000 broadband subscribers using solely private capital and has managed industry-leading operating metrics. Nextlink optimizes its IP-based optical-fiber and fixed wireless network with an unrelenting commitment to customer service to achieve high customer satisfaction.

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 for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Dale Curtis for Nextlink Internet, [email protected], (202) 246-5659

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.

 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Introducing Altaro Physical Server Backup

Hello again everyone! I’m delighted to bring you news about a hugely requested and great new addition to the Altaro Backup family, Altaro Physical Server Backup!

Altaro Physical Server Backup

If you’ve been a user of Altaro products in the past you will know that we focused our attention over the years towards creating the best virtual machine backup application on the market. However, one piece of feedback that we’ve encountered by many users is the request for a physical server backup solution. Most organizations have that one server that for whatever reason cannot be virtualized. This usually comes down to a supportability issue with a very old operating system or a 3rd party vendor concern. Additionally, from the managed services provider perspective, it is advantageous to be able to onboard a new customer knowing you’ll be able to protect physical servers should you run into one. Altaro Physical Server Backup is designed to address this gap and means you can now use Altaro to secure both your virtual and physical environments!

The initial release of Altaro Physical Server Backup will be offered as freeware, with a community support forum available for assistance. This initial release allows users to back up physical servers and recover them to a virtual machine or a VHD(X) if recovery is needed. Not only does this provide backup services, but it also provides the means to convert a physical machine into a virtual machine running on Hyper-V. Support for vSphere will follow at a later date.

Altaro Physical Server Backup

Altaro Physical Server Backup Roadmap

Future releases will include commercial features that will provide additional functionality and official support from the lightning-fast Altaro support team!

Future features expected currently are:

  • Integration with Altaro VM Backup for MSPs
  • Central Management with the Altaro Cloud Management Console

How to Download Altaro Physical Server Backup

Those wishing to download this solution for free can do so by completing the download form. After completing the form you’ll be sent a freeware license key for the product via email.

System requirements can be found here. Also, a getting started guide can be found here for more information on how to configure your first backup.

Wrap-Up

We hope you’ll enjoy using Altaro Physical Server Backup as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. We’re looking forward to your feedback and also looking forward to developing new features and products to make your lives as system administrators easier!

Let us know what you think of this offering in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

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

Accelerating innovation with Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform – Dynamics 365 Blog

Every year, we bring together thousands of Microsoft partners from around the world to celebrate, connect, and learn about what’s coming in the next year. Just last week, I had the chance to join this year’s Microsoft Inspire with 13,000 of our partners in Las Vegas, and it was an amazing week full of energy and excitement.

I had the opportunity to share how we’re accelerating innovation with Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in two featured sessions. Hayden Stafford joined me to talk about the business opportunity in FY20 for Business Applications, and Charles Lamanna and Arun Ulagaratchagan showed off the innovation and partner investments across the Power Platform. In both sessions, partners from Hitachi Solutions, VeriPark, WorkSpan, and EY joined me on stage to talk about the opportunities they’re seeing in the market. Check out the session recordings to see more.

We also shared a few major announcements with the partner community throughout the week that will deepen our partnership, align with how our business is growing, and help customers realize the potential of digital transformation. Take a look at a few highlights below.

Launching the new Microsoft Business Applications ISV Connect Program

ISVs that build on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and PowerApps can offer their customers innovative apps they couldn’t build elsewhere using connections to industry-leading cloud services on Azure and developer tools built just for them.

After previewing elements of the program in the spring, we officially launched the Business Applications ISV Connect Program on July 15th. This program brings together platform and program benefits created specifically for ISVs to support their success. We’re laying a path for a stronger partnership with our ISVs through ongoing platform investments, development tooling enhancements, and go-to-market support for mutual success. Read Steven Guggenheimer’s blog for more information about the program’s requirements and benefits.

Expanding our Dynamics 365 Industry Accelerators

We know our partners want to go to market fast. Our industry accelerators help them do just that.

At Inspire, we introduced two new industry accelerators: the Dynamics 365 Automotive Accelerator and Dynamics 365 Banking Accelerator. We also announced significant updates to the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator.

Each of these accelerators was developed in deep partnership with industry experts to provide pre-built dashboards, sample data, and workflows that align with common industry scenarios. Steven Guggenheimer’s blog has more on this update as well.

Updating our Dynamics 365 packaging model

In October, Microsoft will be moving from “one-size-fits-all” Microsoft Dynamics 365 licensing plans to focus on providing customers with the specific Dynamics 365 applications that meet the unique needs of their organization. Customers need software that aligns to their functional roles and scenarios, and they require the ability to add or remove applications as their company grows and changes over time. The new licensing model will allow customers to purchase the applications they need, when they need them. Each application is extensible and applications can be easily mixed and matched to configure integrated solutions that align to a customer’s unique business requirements.

To learn more about these new options for your customers, check out the Inspire sessions “Customer Engagement Licensing Updates” and “Unified Operations Licensing Updates.”

Introducing new licensing options for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow

Over the past few months, we’ve announced a set of continued investments in the Power Platform and vision for one connected platform that enables everyone, regardless of their skill set or background, to innovate.

In addition to the general availability of innovations like AI Builder and PowerApps Portals, we will be introducing new licensing options in October 2019 shaped by the feedback we’ve received from our customers and the community of makers and creators who have been with us on the Power Platform journey. At Inspire we previewed new licensing options for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow that:

  • Make it easier to get started with a single use case before rolling out the full platform for all users.
  • Make licensing easier to understand by simplifying the complex feature-level differences between P1 and P2 plans.

To learn more about these new options for your customers, check out the Inspire session Microsoft Power Platform business model and licensing updates or read the PowerApps community blog post with additional details.

Customers realizing the potential of digital transformation

Throughout the event, we heard inspiring stories from customers and partners around the world.

One highlight came in Monday’s Corenote with Judson Althoff. We saw how Unilever is transforming its business with Microsoft technology, including Power BI and PowerApps. With connected data at the core, Unilever is able to increase productivity with more accessible insights and empower individuals to solve problems on their own, without a developer.

On Wednesday, Satya Nadella talked about Crane Worldwide Logistics, a Dynamics 365 customer who grew from a startup to a major player in the global logistics industry over the past 10 years. With Dynamics 365 for Sales and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Crane can seamlessly combine customer engagement data with data about customer and seller activities from Office 365, as well as from LinkedIn – even when these interactions take place outside their CRM. And with Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, sellers are able to focus on the right customers, thanks to AI-driven insights that flag existing accounts that need extra attention, as well as leads that offer the most potential.

These are just two of the stories we shared at Microsoft Inspire this year. If you missed any part of this year’s event, take some time to check out the content on-demand to learn how you can build success in the coming year.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

What are the steps for an Exchange certificate renewal?

An expired Exchange certificate can bring your messaging platform to a halt, but it’s easy enough to check and replace the expired certificate.

When mail stops flowing, Outlook access breaks and the Exchange Management Console/Shell gives errors, then it might be time to see if an Exchange certificate renewal is in order.

Exchange adds a certificate by default with your protocols during its installation, including Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Internet Information Services (IIS). Many companies do not allow access to Outlook on the web, so mail is only accessible internally. This limits the Exchange Server capabilities as Microsoft designed it to be accessible from anywhere on any device.

For companies that choose to limit Exchange’s functionality, the IT staff often opts to use the default certificate, which has a five-year life span. In five years, IT might forget about the Exchange certificate renewal until they receive countdown emails warning that it will expire. If nobody sees these emails and the certificate expires, then problems will start, as Exchange services that require a valid certificate might not work.

To check a certificate’s status, run the following PowerShell command:

Get-ExchangeCertificate | fl

Assign a new certificate for Exchange 2010

If Exchange breaks due to an expired certificate, then you might want to push for a quick fix by issuing a certificate to an internal certificate authority. This won’t work because the certificate authority will not sign the certificate.

If you start to panic as help desk tickets start to flood in, this is when trouble typically happens. You might try to adjust the settings in IIS, but this can break Exchange. However, the fix is simple.

Run the New-ExchangeCertificate command to initiate the Exchange certificate renewal process. This PowerShell cmdlet will create a new self-signed certificate for Exchange 2010. The command prompts you to replace the existing certificate. Click Yes to proceed.

Exchange certificate replacement
Execute the PowerShell New-ExchangeCertificate cmdlet to build a new self-signed certificate for Exchange 2010.

Next, assign the services from the old certificate to the new one and perform an IISReset from an elevated command prompt to get Exchange services running again.

Finally, ensure the bindings in IIS are set to use the new certificate.

IT monitoring, org discipline polish Nasdaq DevOps incident response

Modern IT monitoring can bring together developers and IT ops pros for DevOps incident response, but tools can’t substitute for a disciplined team approach to problems.

Dev and ops teams at Nasdaq Corporate Solutions LLC adopted a common language for troubleshooting with AppDynamics’ App iQ platform. But effective DevOps incident response also demanded focus on the fundamentals of team building and a systematic process for following up on incidents to ensure they don’t recur.

“We had some notion of incident management, but there was no real disciplined way for following up,” said Heather Abbott, senior vice president of corporate solutions technology, who joined the New York-based subsidiary of Nasdaq Inc. in 2014. “AppDynamics has [affected] how teams work together to resolve incidents … but we’ve had other housekeeping to do.”

Shared IT monitoring tools renew focus on incident resolution

Heather Abbott, NasdaqHeather Abbott

Nasdaq Corporate Solutions manages SaaS offerings for customers as they shift from private to public operations. Its products include public relations, investor relations, and board and leadership software managed with a combination of Amazon Web Services and on-premises data center infrastructure, though the on-premises infrastructure will soon be phased out.

In the past, Nasdaq’s dev and ops teams used separate IT monitoring tools, and teams dedicated to different parts of the infrastructure also had individualized dashboard views. The company’s shift to cross-functional teams, focused on products and user experience as part of a DevOps transformation, required a unified view into system performance. Now, all stakeholders share the AppDynamics App iQ interface when they respond to an incident.

With a single source of information about infrastructure performance, there’s less finger-pointing among team members during DevOps incident response, which speeds up problem resolution.

“You can’t argue with the data, and people have a better ongoing understanding of the system,” Abbott said. “So, you’re not going in and hunting and pecking every time there’s a complaint or we’re trying to improve something.”

DevOps incident response requires team vigilance

Since Abbott joined Nasdaq, incidents are down more than 35%. She cited the IT monitoring tool in part, but also pointed to changes the company made to the DevOps incident response process. The company moved from an ad hoc process of incident response divided among different departments to a companywide, systematic cycle of regular incident review meetings. Her team conducts weekly incident review meetings and tracks action items from previous incident reviews to prevent incidents from recurring. Higher levels of the organization have a monthly incident review call to review quality issues, and some of these incidents are further reviewed by Nasdaq’s board of directors.

We always need to focus on blocking and tackling … but as we move toward more complex microservices-based architectures, we’ll be building things into the platform like Chaos Monkey.
Heather Abbottsenior vice president of corporate solutions technology, Nasdaq

And there’s still room to improve the DevOps incident response process, Abbott said.

“We always need to focus on blocking and tackling,” she said. “We don’t have the scale within my line of business of Amazon or Netflix, but as we move toward more complex microservices-based architectures, we’ll be building things into the platform like Chaos Monkey.”

Like many companies, Nasdaq plans to tie DevOps teams with business leaders, so the whole organization can work together to improve customer experiences. In the past, Nasdaq has generated application log reports with homegrown tools. But this year, it will roll out AppDynamics’ Business iQ software, first with its investor-relations SaaS products, to make that data more accessible to business leaders, Abbott said.

AppDynamics App iQ will also expand to monitor releases through test, development and production deployment phases. Abbott said Nasdaq has worked with AppDynamics to create intelligent release dashboards to provide better automation and performance trends. “That will make it easy to see how system performance is trending over time, as we introduce change,” he said.

While Nasdaq mainly uses AppDynamics App iQ, the exchange also uses Datadog, because it offers event correlation and automated root cause analysis. AppDynamics has previewed automated root cause analysis based on machine learning techniques. Abbott said she looks forward to the addition of that feature, perhaps this year.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget’s Cloud and DevOps Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.