Tag Archives: changes

Commvault storage story expands with Hedvig for primary data

Of all the changes data protection vendor Commvault made in the last year, perhaps the most striking was its acquisition of primary storage software startup Hedvig.

The $225 million deal in October 2019 — eight months into Sanjay Mirchandani’s tenure as CEO — marked Commvault’s first major acquisition. It also brought the backup specialist into primary storage as it tries to adapt to meet demand for analytics on data everywhere.

Hedvig gives Commvault a distributed storage platform that spans traditional and cloud-hosted workloads. The Hedvig software runs primary storage on commodity hardware and is already been integrated in the Commvault storage software stack, including the new Commvault Metallic SaaS-based backup.

Don Foster, a vice president of storage solutions at Commvault, said data centers want to centralize all their data, from creation to retention, without adding third-party endpoints.

“We envision Hedvig as a way to ensure that your storage and backup will work in a symbiotic fashion,” Foster said.

Hedvig provides unified storage that allows Commvault to tackle new cloud-application use cases. The storage software run on clustered commodity nodes as distributed architecture for cloud and scale-out file and object storage across multiple hypervisors.

Commvault plans to use Hedvig to converge storage and data management and enhance Commvault HyperScale purpose-built backup appliances. Revenue from Commvault HyperScale appliances was up 10% year over year last quarter, and the vendor said six of its top 10 customers have deployed HyperScale appliances.

Commvault has expanded Hedvig into more primary workloads with the addition of support for the Container Storage Interface and erasure coding. In the near term, Hedvig will also remain available for purchase as primary storage and existing Hedvig customers with in-force contracts will be supported. The larger plan is to integrate Hedvig as a feature in the Commvault Complete suite of backup and data management tools, Foster said.

Integrating technology and integrating culture

Mirchandani replaced retired CEO Bob Hammer, who led Commvault for 20 years. The change at the top also brought about a raft of executive changes and the launch of the Metallic SaaS offering under a brand outside of Commvault. But the Hedvig deal was most significant in moving the Commvault storage strategy from data protection to data management — a shift backup vendors have talked about for years.

Because Hedvig didn’t have a large installed base, the key for Commvault was gaining access to Hedvig’s engineering IP, said Steven Hill, a senior analyst of applied infrastructure and storage technologies at 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Hedvig gives Commvault a software-defined storage platform that combines block, file and object storage services, along with cloud-level automation and support for containers.
Steven HillSenior analyst of applied infrastructure and storage technologies, 451 Research

“Growing adoption of hybrid cloud infrastructure and scale-out secondary storage has changed the business model for backup vendors. Hedvig gives Commvault a software-defined storage platform that combines block, file and object storage services, along with cloud-level automation and support for containers. It checks a lot of boxes for the next generation of storage buyers,” Hill said.

“The future of hybrid secondary storage lies in the management of data based on the business value of its content, and makes the need for broader, cloud-optimized information management a major factor in future storage buying decisions,” Hill added. He said Cohesity and Rubrik “discovered this [idea] a while ago” and other backup vendors now are keying in on secondary storage to support AI and analytics.

A research note by IDC said the Hedvig deal signals “orthogonal and expansionary thinking” by Commvault that paves a path to primary storage and multi-cloud data management. Commvault is a top five backup vendor in revenue; its revenue has declined year over year for each of the last four quarters. Commvault reported $176.3 million in revenue last quarter, down 4.3% from the same period a year ago.

IDC researchers note the difference between traditional Commvault storage and the Hedvig product. Namely, that Commvault is a 20-year-old public company in an entrenched market, while Hedvig launched in 2018. The companies share only a few mutual business partners and resellers.

“Market motion matters here, as each company is selling into different buyer bases.  … Melding a unified company and finding synergies between different buying centers may be more difficult than the technical integration,” IDC analysts wrote in a report on the Commvault-Hedvig acquisition.

‘Belts and suspenders’ approach

Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Kansas has deployed Hedvig primary storage and Commvault backup for several years. Tim Pearson, the university’s assistant director of IT infrastructure and security, said he was not surprised to hear about the Hedvig deal.

“I knew Hedvig was looking for a way to grow the company,” Pearson said, adding that he spoke with Commvault representatives in the run-up to the transaction.

PSU runs Hedvig storage software on Hewlett Packard Enterprise ProLiant servers as frontline storage for its VMware farm and protects data with Commvault backup. Pearson said the “belts and suspenders” approach designed by Hedvig engineers enables Commvault to bridge production storage and secondary use cases.

“What I hope to gain out of this is a unified pane of glass to manage not only my traditional Commvault backups, but also point-in-time recovery by scheduling Hedvig storage-level snapshots,” Pearson said.

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Istio service mesh revamp may ease use, or sow confusion

A new version of the Istio service mesh rolled out this week introduces significant changes to the project’s architecture but leaves key questions about the project’s future direction unanswered.

Istio service mesh version 1.5 introduces Istiod, a monolithic package that combines what had been four separate control plane microservices into one utility. These include a sidecar injector service; the Pilot service, which handled sidecar proxy configuration; Citadel, which provided security functions, including a certificate authority; and Galley, which performed validation.

A fifth set of modules and plugins provided by the Mixer telemetry collection service within the Istio control plane in previous versions will shift to a new set of plugins for the Envoy sidecar with version 1.5.

Istio, an open source project founded by Google, IBM and Lyft, has developed a popular approach to service mesh, a network architecture that collects monitoring data and enforces fine-grained policies in complex microservices environments. It boasts powerful backers that now also include Red Hat, but has yet to achieve the same dominance over the cloud-native software market as Kubernetes container orchestration. In fact, Istio rival Linkerd has been profiting from its competitor’s reputation for cumbersome management for at least a year, and steadily closing Istio’s early lead with support for features such as mutual TLS (mTLS).

Team leads at IBM want to see Istio enjoy the same ubiquity as Kubernetes, and this desire informed the significant changes in Istio 1.5. Removing the Mixer service, which had been associated with performance bottlenecks in earlier versions, is also intended to improve Istio’s control plane performance and boost its appeal to a wider audience.

“We want Istio to be like Kubernetes — ‘boring’ infrastructure for microservices,” said Lin Sun, IBM’s technical lead for Istio. “That’s our high-priority goal for 2020: To be able to move services to service mesh faster without [requiring] as many configuration changes to microservices.”

In the short term, the change is likely to cause tumult in the industry, which is still in the early stages of service mesh adoption, analysts said.

There is irony in [adding] a monolith for a service mesh whose purpose is to discover, connect and do traffic management for microservices.
Brad CasemoreAnalyst, IDC

“There is irony in [adding] a monolith for a service mesh whose purpose is to discover, connect and do traffic management for microservices,” said Brad Casemore, analyst at IDC. “It may cause some folks to say, ‘If they were off on their assumptions about a microservices-based architecture for the service mesh, can I be confident they’ll manage to get it right this time?'”

Brad CasemoreBrad Casemore

It will take until at least version 1.6 for all of Istiod’s features to reach feature parity with the previous microservices architecture, particularly in multi-cluster environments. The newly unified Istiod daemon doesn’t yet support Citadel’s certificate authority or the sidecar injection service. Users at KubeCon who intended to deploy Tiller-less Helm v3 with newer versions of Istio will also have to wait for future releases, as the finer details of Helm v3 support under Istiod have yet to be finalized.

IBM’s Sun said she doesn’t expect many technical hurdles to implementing these features by the next release, but Istio’s core audience is accustomed to the microservices architecture. These early adopters may chafe at the sweeping changes to the platform, particularly if they must wait too long for the new architecture to match the capabilities of earlier versions, Casemore warned.

“Simplified management will appeal to shops whose platform teams are not as adept [as early adopters], but I wonder if it sends a mixed message,” he said.

Another potential challenge for the next few versions of Istio service mesh lies in the transition to the new Envoy-based mechanism for integrating third-party extensions to the project. Documentation for the Mixer adapter conversion process to Envoy plugins is still being developed, Sun said. The success of this transition will dictate whether third-party makers of network infrastructure products such as application delivery and ingress controllers continue to support Istio service mesh or switch their loyalties to a competing alternative, another possible blow to Istio’s market momentum.  

The project also faces broader, longer-term questions about its governance — namely, whether it will be donated to a foundation such as the CNCF by Google, as Kubernetes was.

Istio contributors including IBM’s Sun have put forth a governance proposal to Google that would rework the project’s charter and widen the steering committee to include vendors and users beyond today’s members from Google, IBM and Red Hat. Sun declined to share any further specific details about the charter changes. Donating Istio to a foundation remains non-negotiable for now, she said.

“It’s something we don’t like, but we spent a lot of time within IBM on the new steering charter, and most of our proposals were accepted,” she added.

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Kurt DelBene’s March 4 guidance to King County employees – Stories

Hi everyone,

I wanted to update you on the latest public guidance changes for King County, the region where the Redmond area campuses are located.  The specific recommendations from King County may be found here. We are adjusting our guidance in response to these new recommendations.

These updates will go into effect at the end of day today, Pacific Standard Time, and will remain in effect through March 25th, but we will be continuously monitoring the situation and adjusting guidance as appropriate.

As always, for full list of our guidance to employees, please visit the Global Security website.

Puget Sound and Bay Area work from home updates:

  • Consistent with King County guidance, we are recommending all employees who are in a job that can be done from home should do so through March 25th. Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite. Please let your manager know that you will be working from home, so all our teams remain well coordinated.
  • If in your role it is essential to be in the office or other work environments (e.g., data center, retail, etc.), plan to continue to go to your location. We will continue to implement the CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing the locations. If you are not sure whether you are in a role that requires you to be onsite, you should speak to your manager.
    • The exceptions to this new guidance are the following groups who are being advised by health authorities to avoid interaction in large groups or public settings:
      • If you are over 60
      • If you have an underlying health condition (heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
      • If you are immune system compromised
      • If you are pregnant
    • In these cases, you should work with your manager to determine leave options or other accommodations available to you.
    • If you are a caregiver of someone that is immune system compromised, please contact your health provider for input.
  • If you will be in the office or other work environments, we recommend limiting prolonged close interactions with people. Specific recommendations are below, but your manager can help implement plans that work well in your particular situation.
    • Limit prolonged interactions and try to stay more than 6 feet/1.8 meters away from others.
    • Keep in-person meetings as short as possible.
    • If you are in open office space and located 6 feet/1.8 meters away from others, you meet the current guidance for appropriate distance from others.
  • Most importantly do not come to work if you are sick. This will be clearly posted on all building entrances.

Updated Global Travel Guidance:

  • We recommend that people postpone travel to Puget Sound or Bay Area campuses unless essential for the continuity of Microsoft.
  • All non-essential business travel should be canceled in regions with active COVID-19
    • “Essential” is defined as work related to operations, sales, customer services (e.g., customer support and customer success).
    • You should discuss travel felt to be essential with your manager and get their approval.
  • You are not required to travel if you have concerns about doing so.

 If your region was not mentioned in this email or my email yesterday, it is because there are no additional updates to the current guidelines, but we will continue to keep you informed. Please look for updates from Global Security if the situation changes in your area.

If you have any questions on how the above guidance applies to your particular circumstances, please discuss with your manager.  You can also send questions to HR.

 What to do if you’re feeling symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed:

In King County, if you believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, contact the novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977 or your health care provider. For other locations, please contact your local health department hotline.

If you believe you may have symptoms, please contact your health care provider immediately.

Note for all employees globally:  If you are receiving testing or have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, please confidentially inform HR – we will assist in informing your manager and taking measures that protect others.

 As a reminder, we are following the below precautionary measures from the WHO:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you are sick (e.g., flu, cold), do not come to work.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.

We will continue to assess the situation and update you as our recommendations change. I really appreciate your patience.

Thanks,

Kurt

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Try 10 practice questions for the CCNP, CCIE ENCOR 350-401

In Cisco’s sweeping certification changes, the company eliminated prerequisite exams for the Cisco Certified Network Professional tracks, which means network engineers have a higher bar to meet when they take CCNP exams.

However, this higher bar doesn’t mean engineers must solely know advanced topics and technologies, such as software-defined WAN, automation and programmability — although those are on the exams. Instead, CCNP hopefuls on the Enterprise track — for ENCOR 350-401, in particular — should expect to know a solid amount of past CCNP material, such as IP routing essentials, in addition to new technologies. The same goes for Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) hopefuls, as well.

CCNP and CCIE hopefuls alike can explore old and new material in CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide, available now, by authors Ramiro Garza Rios, David Hucaby, Brad Edgeworth and Jason Gooley. This guidebook delves into topics that span from forwarding to wireless to software-defined networking best practices.

Below is the “Do I Know This Already?” quiz from Chapter 6, “IP Routing Essentials.” These 10 questions explore common routing protocols network engineers will likely recognize from their daily jobs and others that are also relevant to their positions. Edgeworth said the chapter covers fundamentals and helps readers understand how routers function and think.

The quiz offers readers a vendor-agnostic studying method, as routing protocols aren’t specific to Cisco or any other vendor. These universal fundamentals can help readers in their careers wherever they go and with whichever vendor products they may use.

These questions for the CCNP and CCIE ENCOR 350-401 help readers review enterprise networking essentials they need to know and test their expertise on key protocol differences and common routing concepts. The quiz covers a general overview of the protocols and dives deep into path selection, static routing, and virtual routing and forwarding.

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What should CIOs do with SAP ECC support ending in 2025?

SAP has promised the end of SAP ECC support in 2025, and that means big changes for most SAP users. 

Companies using SAP ERP Central Component are faced with some major decisions. The most obvious is whether to stay on ECC or migrate their systems to S4/HANA. This is not easy decision to make, as each has its own set of pros and cons. No matter which choice a company makes, it will face business consequences, and must prepare accordingly.

From the vendor perspective, support staff and developers should focus on a new product. As part of this, most software vendors push their clients to adopt the latest platform, partly by imposing an end-of-support deadline. And this strategy has some success. Most clients don’t want to be left with an unsupported system that might cause work delays. But moving to a new product can also be problematic.

For an SAP ECC customer, moving to S4/HANA comes with its own set of challenges and poses risks. Implementing the latest SAP platform does not always equate to better and faster systems, as seen in Revlon’s disastrous SAP S/4HANA implementation. Revlon experienced shipping delays and revenue losses as a result of system, operational and implementation challenges. It was also sued by shareholders.

Such failures can’t always be blamed only on the new software. Other factors that can contribute to ERP implementation failure — whether a new SAP system or another vendor’s system — include lack of operational maturity, poor leadership, lack of experienced resources and cultural challenges. These can turn a potentially successful ERP implementation into a complete disaster.

End of SAP ECC support must be balanced with the risks of moving to S/4HANA. Companies must consider performing the following activities in order to prepare for the upcoming deadline:

  • Talk to others in the same vertical about their experience with S/4HANA.
  • Determine the costs and changes associated with the change.
  • Evaluate the latest version of S/4HANA.
  • Identify which vendors might potentially continue to provide third-party ECC support after SAP stops it.
  • Determine any compliance concerns that could arise from not receiving updates on ECC software.
  • Reach out to other companies within the SAP user groups and discuss what some of their plans are.
  • Determine a plan for necessary patching and bug fixes.

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Cloud adoption a catalyst for IT modernization in many orgs

One of the biggest changes for administrators in recent years is the cloud. Its presence requires administrators to migrate from their on-premises way of thinking.

The problem isn’t the cloud. After all, there should be less work if someone else looks after the server for you. The arrival of the cloud has brought to light some of the industry’s outdated methodologies, which is prompting this IT modernization movement. Practices in many IT shops were not as rigid or regimented before the cloud came along because external access was limited.

Changing times and new technologies spur IT modernization efforts

When organizations were exclusively on premises, it was easy enough to add finely controlled firewall rules to only allow certain connections in and out. Internal web-based applications did not need HTTPS — just plain HTTP worked fine. You did not have to muck around with certificates, which seem to always be difficult to comprehend. Anyone on your network was authorized to be there, so it didn’t matter if data was unencrypted. The risk versus the effort wasn’t worthwhile — a lot of us told ourselves — to bother with and the users would have no idea anyway.

You would find different ways to limit the threats to the organization. You could implement 802.1X, which only allowed authorized devices on the network. This reduced the chances of a breach because the attacker would need both physical access to the network and an approved device. Active Directory could be messy; IT had a relaxed attitude about account management and cleanup, which was fine as long as everyone could do their job.

Now that there is increased risk with exposing the company’s systems to the world via cloud, it’s no longer an option to keep doing things the same way just to get by.

The pre-cloud era allowed for a lot of untidiness and shortcuts, because the risk of these things affecting the business in a drastic way was smaller. Administrators who stepped into a new job would routinely inherit a mess from the last IT team. There was little incentive to clean things up; just keep those existing workloads running. Now that there is increased risk with exposing the company’s systems to the world via cloud, it’s no longer an option to keep doing things the same way just to get by.

One example of how the cloud forces IT practices to change is the default configuration when you use Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory. This product syncs every Active Directory object to the cloud unless you apply filtering. The official documentation states that this is the recommended configuration. Think about that: Every single overlooked, basic password that got leaked several years ago during the LinkedIn breach is now in the cloud for use by anyone in the world. Those accounts went from a forgotten mess pushed under the rug years ago to a ticking time bomb waiting for attackers to hit a successful login as they spin through their lists of millions of username and password combos.

Back on the HTTP/HTTPS side, users now want to work from home or anywhere they might have an internet connection. They also want to do it from any device, such as their personal laptop, mobile phone or tablet. Exposing internal websites was once — and still is in many scenarios — a case of poking a hole in the firewall and hoping for the best. With an unencrypted HTTP site, all data it pushed in and out to that endpoint, from anything the user sees to anything they enter such as username and password is at risk. Your users could be working from a free McDonald’s Wi-Fi connection or at any airport in the world. It’s not hard for attackers to set up fake relay access points and listen to all the data and read anything that is not encrypted. Look up WiFi Pineapple for more information about the potential risks.

How to accommodate your users and tighten security

As you can see, it’s easy to end up in a high-risk situation if IT focuses on making users happy instead of company security. How do you make the transition to a safer environment? At the high level, there’s several immediate actions to take:

  • Clean up Active Directory. Audit accounts, disable ones not in use, organize your organizational units so they are clear and logical. Implement an account management process from beginning to end.
  • Review your password policy. If you have no other protection, cycle your passwords regularly and enforce some level of complexity. Look at other methods for added protection such as multifactor authentication (MFA), which Azure Active Directory provides, which can do away with password cycling. For more security, combine MFA with conditional access, so a user in your trusted network or using a trusted device doesn’t even need MFA. The choice is yours.
  • Review and report on account usage. When something is amiss with account usage, you should know as soon as possible to take corrective action. Technologies such as the identity protection feature Azure Active Directory issues alerts and remediates on suspicious activity, such a login from a location that is not typical for that account.
  • Implement HTTPS on all sites. You don’t have to buy a certificate for each individual site to enable HTTPS. Save money and generate them yourself if the site is only for trusted computers on which you can deploy the certificate chain. Another option is to buy a wildcard certificate to use everywhere. Once the certificate is deployed, you can expose the sites you want with Azure Active Directory Application Proxy rather than open ports in your firewall. This gives the added benefit of forcing an Azure Active Directory login to apply MFA and identity protection before the user gets to the internal site, regardless of the device and where they are physically located.

These are a few of the critical aspects to think about when changing your mindset from on-premises to cloud. This is a basic overview of the areas to give a closer look. There’s a lot more to consider, depending on the cloud services you plan to use.

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What people are saying about the new book ‘Tools and Weapons’ | Microsoft On The Issues

“When your technology changes the world,” he writes, “you bear a responsibility to help address the world that you have helped create.” And governments, he writes, “need to move faster and start to catch up with the pace of technology.” 

In a lengthy interview, Mr. Smith talked about the lessons he had learned from Microsoft’s past battles and what he saw as the future of tech policymaking – arguing for closer cooperation between the tech sector and the government. It’s a theme echoed in the book, “Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,” which he wrote with Carol Ann Browne, a member of Microsoft’s communications staff.

The New York Times, Sept. 8, 2019


In 2019, a book about tech’s present and future impact on humankind that was relentlessly upbeat would feel out of whack with reality. But Smith’s Microsoft experience allowed him to take a measured look at major issues and possible solutions, a task he says he relished.

“There are some people that are steeped in technology, but they may not be steeped in the world of politics or policy,” Smith told me in a recent conversation. “There are some people who are steeped in the world of politics and policy, but they may not be steeped in technology. And most people are not actually steeped in either. But these issues impact them. And increasingly they matter to them.”

Fast Company, Sept. 8, 2019


In ‘Tools & Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age,’ the longtime Microsoft executive and his co-author Carol Ann Browne tell the inside story of some of the biggest developments in tech and the world over the past decade – including Microsoft’s reaction to the Snowden revelations, its battle with Russian hackers in the lead up to the 2016 elections and its role in the ongoing debate over privacy and facial recognition technology.

The book goes behind-the-scenes at the Obama and Trump White Houses; explores the implications of the coming wave of artificial intelligence; and calls on tech giants and governments to step up and prepare for the ethical, legal and societal challenges of powerful new forms of technology yet to come.

-GeekWire, September 7, 2019


Tensions between the U.S. and China feature prominently in Smith’s new book, ‘Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age.’ While Huawei is its own case, Smith worries that broader and tighter strictures could soon follow. The Commerce Department is considering new restrictions on the export of emerging technologies on which Microsoft has placed big bets, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. “You can’t be a global technology leader if you can’t bring your technology to the globe,” he says.

-Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 7, 2019


Tell us what you think about the book @MSFTIssues. You can buy the book here or at bookstores around the world.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft PowerApps pricing proposal puts users on edge

BOSTON — Microsoft’s proposed licensing changes for PowerApps, the cloud-based development tools for Office 365 and Dynamics 365, have confused users and made them fearful the software will become prohibitively expensive.

Last week, at Microsoft’s SPTechCon user conference, some organizations said the pricing changes, scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, were convoluted. Others said the new pricing — if it remains as previewed by Microsoft earlier this summer — would force them to limit the use of the mobile app development tools.

“We were at the point where we were going to be expanding our usage, instead of using it for small things, using it for larger things,” Katherine Prouty, a developer at the nonprofit Greater Lynn Senior Services, based in Lynn, Mass., said. “This is what our IT folks are always petrified of; [the proposed pricing change] is confirmation of their worst nightmares.”

This is what our IT folks are always petrified of; this is confirmation of their worst nightmares.
Katherine ProutyDeveloper, Greater Lynn Senior Services

Planned apps the nonprofit group might have to scrap if the pricing changes take effect include those for managing health and safety risks for its employees and clients in a regulatory-compliant way, and protecting the privacy of employees as they post to social media on behalf of the organization, Prouty said.

Developers weigh in

The latest pricing proposal primarily affects organizations building PowerApps that tap data sources outside of Office 365 and Dynamics 365. People connecting to Salesforce, for example, would pay $10 per user, per month, unless they opt to pay $40 per user, per month for unlimited use of data connectors to third-party apps.

The new pricing would take effect even if customers were only connecting Office 365 to Dynamics 365 or vice versa. That additional cost for using apps they’re already paying for does not sit well with some customers, while others find the pricing scheme perplexing. 

“It’s all very convoluted right now,” said David Drever, senior manager at IT consultancy Protiviti, based in Menlo Park, Calif.

Manufacturing and service companies that create apps using multiple data sources are among the businesses likely to pay a lot more in PowerApps licensing fees, said IT consultant Daniel Christian of PowerApps911, based in Maineville, Ohio.

Annual PowerApps pricing changes

However, pricing isn’t the only problem, Christian said. Microsoft’s yearly overhaul of PowerApps fees also contributes to customer handwringing over costs.

“Select [a pricing model] and stick with it,” he said. “I’m OK with change; we’ll manage it and figure it out. It’s the repetitive changes that bug me.”

Microsoft began restricting PowerApps access to outside data sources earlier this year, putting into effect changes announced last fall. The new policy required users to purchase a special PowerApps plan to connect to popular business applications such as Salesforce Chatter, GotoMeeting and Oracle Database. The coming changes as presented earlier this summer would take that one step further by introducing per-app fees and closing loopholes that were available on a plan that previously cost $7 per user per month.

Matt Wade, VP of client services at H3 Solutions Inc., based in Manassas, Va., said customers should watch Microsoft’s official PowerApps blog for future information that might clarify costs and influence possible tweaks to the final pricing model. H3 Solutions is the maker of AtBot, a platform for developing bots for Microsoft’s cloud-based applications.

“People who are in charge of administering Office 365 and the Power Platform need to be hyper-aware of what’s going on,” Wade said. “Follow the blog, comment, provide feedback — and do it respectfully.”

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Learn how to get started with your networking career

As the networking industry rapidly changes, so could your networking career. Maybe you’re just starting out, or you want to take your career to the next level. Or maybe you want to hit the reset button and start over in your career. Regardless of experience, knowledge and career trajectory, everybody can use advice along the way.

Network engineer role requirements vary depending on a candidate’s experience, education and certifications, but one requirement is constant: Network engineers should have the skills to build, implement and maintain a computer network that supports an organization’s required services.

This compilation of expert advice brings together helpful insights for network engineers at any point in their networking careers in any area of networking. It includes information about telecommunications and Wi-Fi careers and discusses how 5G may affect job responsibilities.

The following expert advice can help budding, transforming and still-learning network engineers in their networking career paths.

What roles are included in a network engineer job description?

Network engineers have a variety of responsibilities that fall within multiple categories and require varying skills. All potential network engineers, however, should have a general understanding of the multiple layers of network communication protocols, like IP and TCP. Engineers that know how these protocols work can better develop fundamental networking wisdom, according to Terry Slattery, principal architect at NetCraftsmen.

The role of a network engineer is complex, which is why it’s often divided into subcategories. Potential responsibilities include the following:

Each of these paths has different responsibilities, requirements and training. For most networking careers, certifications and job experience are comparable to advanced degrees, Slattery said. Engineers should renew their certifications every few years to ensure they maintain updated industry knowledge, he added. As of mid-2019, network engineer salaries ranged from $60,000 to $180,000 a year. However, these salaries vary by location, market, experience and certifications of the candidate.

Learn more about network engineer job requirements.

What steps should I take to improve my networking career path?

As the networking industry transforms, network engineers eager to advance their networking careers have to keep up. One way to ensure engineers maintain relevant networking skills is for those engineers to get and retain essential certifications, said Amy Larsen DeCarlo, principal analyst at Current Analysis. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification, in particular, provides foundational knowledge about how to build and maintain network infrastructures.

Network engineers should renew their certifications every few years, which requires a test to complete the renewal. Certifications don’t replace experience, DeCarlo said, but they assure employers that candidates have the essential, basic networking knowledge. Continuing education or specializing in a certain expertise area can also help engineers advance their networking careers, as can a maintained awareness of emerging technologies, such as cloud services.

Read more about how to advance your networking career.

network engineer skills
Learn more about the various paths you can take in your networking career.

What are the top telecom certifications?

Different types of certifications can benefit different aspects of networking. For a telecom networking career, the three main certification categories are vendor-based, technology-based or role-based, said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. Vendor-based certifications are valuable for candidates that mostly use equipment from a single vendor. However, these certifications can be time-consuming and typically require prior training or experience.

Technology-based certifications usually encompass different categories of devices, such as wireless or security services. These include certifications from the International Association for Radio, Telecommunications and Electromagnetics and the Telecommunications Certification Organization. These certifications are best for entry-level engineers or those who want to specialize in a specific area of networking. They are also equivalent to an advanced degree, Nolle said.

Role-based certifications are more general and ideal for candidates without degrees or those who want a field technician job. Certifications can make candidates more attractive to employers, as these credentials prove the candidate has the skills and experience the employer requires. One example of this type of certification is the NCTI Master Technician, which specializes in field and craft work for the cable industry.

Dive deeper into the specifics of telecom certifications.

Why should I stay up to date with Wi-Fi training?

One of the most complicated areas of networking is wireless LAN (WLAN) — Wi-Fi, in particular. Yet, Wi-Fi is essential in today’s networking environment. Like other networking career paths, WLAN engineers should refresh their Wi-Fi training every so often to remain credible, according to network engineer Lee Badman.

The history of Wi-Fi has been complicated, and the future can be daunting. But Wi-Fi training is a helpful way to understand common issues. In the past, many issues stemmed from the lack of an identical, holistic understanding of Wi-Fi among organizations and network teams, Badman said. Without a consistent Wi-Fi education plan, Wi-Fi training was a point of both success and failure.

While some training inconsistencies still linger now, Badman recommended the Certified Wireless Specialist course from Certified Wireless Network Professionals as a starting point for those interested in WLANs. A variety of vendor-agnostic courses are also available for other wireless roles, he said.

Discover more about Wi-Fi training in networking careers.

Will 5G networks require new network engineer skills?

Mobile network generations seem to change as rapidly as Wi-Fi does, causing many professionals to wonder what 5G will mean for networking careers in the future. In data centers, job requirements won’t change much, according to John Fruehe, an independent analyst. But 5G could launch a new era for cloud-based and mobile applications and drive security changes as well.

Network engineers should watch out for gaps in network security due to this new combination of enterprise networks, cloud services and 5G, Fruehe said. However, employees working in carrier networks may already see changes in how their organizations construct and provision communication services as a result of current 5G deployments. For example, 5G may require engineers to adhere to a new, fine-grained programmability to manage the increased volume of services organizations plan to run on 5G.

Networking areas where network engineer skills will be crucial are software-defined networking, software-defined radio access networks, network functions virtualization, automation and orchestration. This transformation is because manual command-line interfaces will no longer suffice when engineers program devices, as virtualization and automation are better suited to program devices.

Explore more about 5G’s potential effect on networking careers.

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