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Microsoft announces it will be carbon negative by 2030 – Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 16, 2020 — Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove its carbon footprint. By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.

At an event at its Redmond campus, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, President Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa announced the company’s new goals and a detailed plan to become carbon negative.

“While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.”

The Official Microsoft Blog has more information about the company’s bold goal and detailed plan to remove its carbon footprint: https://blogs.microsoft.com/?p=52558785.

The company announced an aggressive program to cut carbon emissions by more than half by 2030, both for our direct emissions and for our entire supply and value chain. This includes driving down our own direct emissions and emissions related to the energy we use to near zero by the middle of this decade. It also announced a new initiative to use Microsoft technology to help our suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints and a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture and removal technologies. Beginning next year, the company will also make carbon reduction an explicit aspect of our procurement processes for our supply chain. A new annual Environmental Sustainability Report will detail Microsoft’s carbon impact and reduction journey. And lastly, the company will use its voice and advocacy to support public policy that will accelerate carbon reduction and removal opportunities.

More information can be found at the Microsoft microsite: https://news.microsoft.com/climate.

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, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

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 https://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Quantum F-Series line expands with entry-level NVMe flash

Quantum Corp. expanded its F-Series line of NVMe flash arrays this week with an entry-level option for businesses that maintain large media and entertainment files.

The F-1000 is the second array in the Quantum F-Series product family, following the 2019 launch of its F-2000 NAS. The F-Series servers run Quantum StorNext file system software in a scale-out file storage cluster for unstructured data.

For the F-1000, Quantum said it reworked commodity server hardware to create a lower-cost option, reducing the amount of memory needed to compute RAID. The 1U server contains a single controller and supports up to 10 NVMe SSDs, with RAID 10. By comparison, the 2U F-2000 has two controllers and takes 24 dual-ported NVMe SSDs.

Quantum F-1000 is offered in two capacity models: 39 TB and 77 TB, with 32G Fibre Channel and 100 Gigabit Ethernet via iSCSI extensions for remote direct memory access

“This innovation stems directly from Quantum’s strategy of focusing on video data. They have tailored a cost-optimized offering for a specific solution, rather than trying to sell you a general-purpose NVMe storage server,” as other storage vendors have done, said Scott Sinclair, a storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

Quantum F-Series takes software-defined approach

Nonvolatile flash memory (NVMe) transmits data across PCI Express lanes instead hopping of between network components. NVMe provides faster data access and high parallelization, making it attractive for high-resolution video rendering and streaming media. NVMe flash media also comes with premium pricing, putting it beyond the reach of many organizations.

The Quantum F-Series marks the NAS vendor’s intention to adopt a software-defined storage approach, said Eric Bassier, a Quantum senior director of technical marketing. Quantum F-Series customers include major movie studios, government agencies and private corporations that need to capture, edit and store data for visual effects and computer-generated imagery.

This innovation stems directly from Quantum’s strategy of focusing on video data.
Scott SinclairStorage analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Quantum targets the F-1000 for IT teams that need NVMe flash performance, but with moderate density. “It’s pretty cool to be able to port the same [StorNext] software to bring F-1000 server to market so quickly” after its debut in April, Bassier said.

Storage for unstructured data still growing

Organizations are dealing with a surge in newly created data, much of it unstructured data. Media content, particularly image and video, is a prime contributor. According to an ESG report on storage trends, nearly one-quarter of organizations cite digital media as a top driver of projected on-premises storage growth over the next several years.

“The idea that the data center is dying because of the cloud is not the case,” Sinclair said.

Quantum bills the F-1000 as a lower-cost alternative for dense media. It did not disclose pricing, but Bassier said Quantum F-1000 NVMe storage will cost roughly the same as its hybrid SAS arrays.

“We believe SAS SSDs are going to become obsolete rather quickly,” Bassier said.

In addition to StorNext-powered storage, Quantum sells ActiveScale object storage, DXi backup appliances, R-Series storage for in-vehicle storage, VS-Series video surveillance systems and Scalar tape storage systems.

The F-1000 is Quantum’s first product launch since resolving a dispute with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Quantum in December agreed to a $1 million settlement related to a series of earnings misstatements dating to February 2018. The SEC found that former Quantum executives booked revenue from multiyear contracts, but failed to disclose the revenue in financial reports. Quantum had previously agreed to pay $8 million to settle shareholder lawsuits arising from the probe.

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With Time on its hands, Meredith drives storage consolidation

After Meredith Corp. closed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. in January 2018, it adopted the motto “Be Bold. Together.”

David Coffman, Meredith’s director of enterprise infrastructure, took that slogan literally. “I interpreted that as ‘Drive it like you stole it,'” said Coffman, who was given a mandate to overhaul the combined company’s data centers that held petabytes of data. He responded with an aggressive backup and primary storage consolidation.

The Meredith IT team found itself with a lot of Time data on its hands, and in need of storage consolidation because a variety of vendors were in use. Meredith was upgrading its own Des Moines, Iowa, data center at the time, and Coffman’s team standardized technology across legacy Time and Meredith. It dumped most of its traditional IT gear and added newer technology developed around virtualization, convergence and the cloud.

Although Meredith divested some of Time’s best-known publications, it now publishes People, Better Homes and Gardens, InStyle, Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living. The company also owns 17 local television stations and other properties.

The goal is to reduce its data centers to two major sites in New York and Des Moines with the same storage, server and data protection technologies. The sites can serve as DR sites for each other. Meredith’s storage consolidation resulted in implementing Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure for block storage and virtualization, Rubrik data protection and a combination of Nasuni and NetApp for file storage.

“I’ve been working to merge two separate enterprises into one,” Coffman said. “We decided we wanted to go with cutting-edge technologies.”

At the time of the merger, Meredith used NetApp-Cisco FlexPod converged infrastructure for primary storage and Time had Dell EMC and Hitachi Vantara in its New York and Weehawken, N.J. data centers. Both companies backed up with Veritas NetBackup software. Meredith had a mixture of tape and NetBackup appliances and Time used tape and Dell EMC Data Domain disk backup.

By coincidence, both companies were doing proofs of concept with Rubrik backup software on integrated appliances and were happy with the results.

Meredith installed Rubrik clusters in its Des Moines and New York data centers as well as a large Birmingham, Alabama office after the merger. They protect Nutanix clusters in all those sites.

“If we lost any of those sites, we could hook up our gear to another site and do restores,” Coffman said.

Meredith also looked at Cohesity and cloud backup vendor Druva while evaluating Rubrik Cloud Data Management. Coffman and Michael Kientoff, senior systems administrator of data protection at Meredith, said they thought Rubrik had the most features and they liked its instant restore capabilities.

Coffman said Cohesity was a close second, but he didn’t like that Cohesity includes its own file system and bills itself as secondary storage.

“We didn’t think a searchable file system would be that valuable to us,” Coffman said. “I didn’t want more storage. I thought, ‘These guys are data on-premises when I’m already getting yelled out for having too much data on premises.’ I didn’t want double the amount of storage.”

Coffman swept out most of the primary storage and servers from before the merger. Meredith still has some NetApp for file storage, and Nasuni cloud NAS for 2 PB of data that is shared among staff in different offices. Nasuni stores data on AWS.

Kientoff is responsible for protecting the data across Meredith’s storage systems.

“All of a sudden, my world expanded exponentially,” he said of the Time aftermath. “I had multiple NetBackup domains all across the world to manage. I was barely keeping up on the NetBackup domain we had at Meredith.”

Coffman and Kientoff said they were happy to be rid of tape, and found Rubrik’s instant restores and migration features valuable. Instead of archiving to tape, Rubrik moves data to AWS after its retention period expires.

Rubrik’s live mount feature can recover data from a virtual machine in seconds. This comes in handy when an application running in a VM dies, but also for migrating data.

However, that same feature is missing from Nutanix. Meredith is phasing out VMware in favor of Nutanix’s AHV hypervisor to save money on VMware licenses and to have, as Coffman put it, “One hand to shake, one throat to choke. Nutanix provided the opportunity to have consolidation between the hypervisor and the hardware.”

The Meredith IT team has petitioned for Nutanix to add a similar live mount capability for AHV. Even without it, though, Kientoff said backing up data from Nutanix with Rubrik beats using tapes.

“With a tape restore, calling backup tapes from off-site, it might be a day or two before they get their data back,” he said. “Now it might take a half an hour to an hour to restore a VM instead of doing a live mount [with VMware]. Getting out of the tape handling business was a big cost savings.”

The Meredith IT team is also dealing with closing smaller sites around the country to get down to the two major data centers. “That’s going to take a lot of coordinating with people, and a lot of migrations,” Coffman said.

Meredith will back up data from remote offices locally and move them across the WAN to New York or Des Moines.

Kientoff said Rubrik’s live restores is a “killer feature” for the office consolidation project. “That’s where Rubrik has really shone for us,” he said. “We recently shut down a sizeable office in Tampa. We migrated most of those VMs to New York and some to Des Moines. We backed up the cluster across the WAN, from Tampa to New York. We shut down the VM in Tampa, live mounted in New York, changed the IP address and put it on the network. There you go — we instantly moved VMs form one office to another.”

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The Week It Snowed Everywhere – New Zealand News Centre

NIWA and Microsoft Corp. are teaming up to make artificial intelligence handwriting recognition more accurate and efficient in a project that will support climate research.

The project aims to develop better training sets for handwriting recognition technology that will “read” old weather logs. The first step is to use weather information recorded during a week in July 1939 when it snowed all over New Zealand, including at Cape Reinga.

NIWA climate scientist Dr. Andrew Lorrey says the project has the potential to revolutionise how historic data can be used. Microsoft has awarded NIWA an AI for Earth grant for the artificial intelligence project, which will support advances in automating handwriting recognition. AI for Earth is a global programme that supports innovators using AI to support environmental initiatives related to water, climate change, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.

Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Officer, Lucas Joppa, sees a project that could quite literally be world-changing. “This project will bring inanimate weather data to life in a way everyone can understand, something that’s more vital than ever in an age of such climate uncertainty.

“I believe technology has a huge role to play in shining a light on these types of issues, and grantees such as NIWA are providing the solutions that we get really excited about.”

YouTube Video

Dr. Lorrey has been studying the weather in the last week of July 1939 when snow lay 5 cm deep on top of Auckland’s Mt. Eden, the hills of Northland turned white and snow flurries were seen at Cape Reinga. “Was 1939 the last gasp of conditions that were more common during the Little Ice Age, which ended in the 1800s? Or the first glimpse of the extremes of climate change thanks to the Industrial Revolution?”

Weather records at that time were meticulously kept in logbooks with entries made several times a day, recording information such as temperature, barometric pressure and wind direction. Comments often included cloud cover, snow drifts or rainfall.

“These logs are like time machines, and we’re now using their legacy to help ours,” Dr. Lorrey says.

“We’ve had snow in Northland in the recent past, but having more detail from further back in history helps us characterise these extreme weather events better within the long-term trends. Are they a one-in-80-year event, do they just occur at random, can we expect to see these happening with more frequency, and why, in a warming climate, did we get snow in Northland?”

Dr Drew Lorrey

Until now, however, computers haven’t caught up with humans when it comes to deciphering handwriting. More than a million photographed weather observations from old logbooks are currently being painstakingly entered by an army of volunteer “citizen scientists” and loaded by hand into the Southern Weather Discovery website. This is part of the global Atmospheric Circulation Reconstructions over the Earth (ACRE) initiative, which aims to produce better daily global weather animations and place historic weather events into a longer-term context.

“Automated handwriting recognition is not a solved problem,” says Dr. Lorrey. “The algorithms used to determine what a symbol is — is that a 7 or a 1? — need to be accurate, and of course for that there needs to be sufficient training data of a high standard.” The data captured through the AI for Earth grant will make the process of making deeper and more diverse training sets for AI handwriting recognition faster and easier.

“Old data is the new data,” says Patrick Quesnel, Senior Cloud and AI Business Group Lead at Microsoft New Zealand. “That’s what excites me about this. We’re finding better ways to preserve and digitise old data reaching back centuries, which in turn can help us with the future. This data is basically forgotten unless you can find a way to scan, store, sort and search it, which is exactly what Azure cloud technology enables us to do.”

Dr. Lorrey says the timing of the project is especially significant.
“This year is the 80th anniversary of The Week It Snowed Everywhere, so it’s especially fitting we’re doing this now. We’re hoping to have all the New Zealand climate data scanned by the end of the year, and quality control completed with usable data by the end of the next quarter.”

Ends.
About NIWA
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is New Zealand’s leading provider of climate, freshwater and ocean science. It delivers the science that supports economic growth, enhances human well-being and safety and enables good stewardship of our natural environment.
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 contact:

Dr. Andrew Lorrey
NIWA climate scientist
Ph 09 375-2055
Mob 021 313-404
Andrea Jutson
On behalf of Microsoft New Zealand
Ph: (09) 354 0562 or 021 0843 0782
[email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft announces new capabilities for a seamless, smart and secure IoT world – Stories

New solutions deliver IoT innovations from cloud to edge

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 28, 2019 — Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced new capabilities that further simplify the customer journey and deliver highly secured IoT solutions. These solutions help customers embrace IoT as a core strategy to drive better business outcomes, improve safety and address social issues by predicting and preventing equipment failures, optimizing smart buildings for space utilization and energy management, improving patient outcomes and worker safety, tracking assets across a supply chain, and more.

The proliferation of IoT devices is enabling companies to bring cloud intelligence to the edge, to create solutions that are adaptive and responsive to their environments. According to IDC,1 41.6 billion devices — including smartphones, smart home assistants and smart appliances — will be connected to the internet by 2025. Even sooner, by 2021, 94% of businesses surveyed will be using IoT, according to a recent Microsoft IoT Signals research report and, in nearly every case (97%), those companies are concerned about potential security risks.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to building a trusted, easy-to-use platform that allows our customers and partners to build seamless, smart, secure solutions regardless of where they are in the IoT journey,” said Sam George, CVP of Azure IoT at Microsoft. “That’s why we are investing $5B in IoT and intelligent edge — technology that is accelerating ubiquitous computing and bringing unparalleled opportunity across industries.”

Delivering new IoT innovations from cloud to edge

Our core focus is addressing the challenge of securing connected devices at every layer while advancing IoT to create a seamless experience between the physical and digital worlds. In the past year, we launched more than 100 new services and features that make IoT solutions more secure and scalable, reduce complexity, and create opportunities in new market areas.

Making IoT seamless

IoT Central is a fully managed IoT app platform that provides solution builders with built-in security, scale and extensibility needed to develop enterprise-grade IoT solutions. New features to IoT Central simplify challenges of building and deploying scalable and affordable enterprise applications:

  • 11 new industry-focused application templates to accelerate solution builders across retail, healthcare, government and energy.
  • API support for extending IoT Central or integrating it with other solutions, including API support for device modelling, provisioning, lifecycle management, operations and data querying.
  • IoT Edge support, including management for edge devices and IoT Edge module deployments, which enable customers to deploy cloud workloads, including AI, directly to connected devices.
  • IoT Plug and Play support, for rapid device development and connectivity.
  • The ability to Save & Load applications to enable application reusability.
  • More Data Export options for continually exporting data to other Azure PaaS services, such as storage for rich analytics.
  • Multitenancy support for building and managing a single application with multiple tenants, each with their own isolated data, devices, users and roles. And updates to that single application are visible to all tenants for easy manageability.
  • Custom user roles for fine-grained access control to data, actions and configurations in the system.
  • New pricing model for early 2020, designed to help customers and partners have predictable pricing as usage scales.

Making IoT smarter

Azure IoT Hub helps enterprise developers reduce costs and optimize operations through IoT cloud applications. New capabilities with IoT Hub message enrichment add the ability to stamp messages coming from devices with rich information before they are sent to downstream cloud services, making integration easy. IoT Hub integrates with Azure Event Grid, making it easy to consume IoT Hub device messages from an even broader variety of downstream services.

Azure Maps customers can add geospatial weather intelligence into their applications to enable scenarios like weather-based routing, weather-based targeted marketing and weather-based operations optimization, in partnership with AccuWeather. Azure Maps will now be available on Gov Cloud, simplifying the onboarding process for customers.

Azure Time Series Insights is announcing new preview capabilities including:

  • Multilayered storage provides the best of both worlds: lightning fast access to frequently used data (“warm data”) and fast access to infrequently used historical data (“cold data”).
  • Flexible cold storage: Historical data is stored in a customer’s own Azure Storage account, giving customers complete control of their IoT data. Data is stored in open source Apache Parquet format, enabling predictive analytics, machine learning and other custom computations using familiar technologies including Spark, Databricks and Jupyter.
  • Rich analytics: Rich query APIs and user experience support interpolation, new scalar and aggregate functions, categorical variables, scatter plots, and time shifting between time series signals for in-depth analysis.
  • Enterprise-grade scale: Scale and performance improvements at all layers, including ingestion, storage, query and metadata/model.
  • Extensibility and integration: New Time Series Insights Power BI connector allows customers to take queries from Time Series Insights into Power BI to get a unified view in a single pane of glass.

Through our Express Logic acquisition, Azure RTOS continues to enable new intelligent capabilities. It unlocks access to billions of new connected endpoints and grows the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to Azure. Renesas is a top microcontroller unit (MCU) manufacturer that shares our vision of making IoT development as easy and seamless as possible, and we are excited to announce that Azure RTOS will be broadly available across Renesas’ products, including the Synergy and RA MCU families. It is already integrated into the Renesas Synergy Software Package and will be integrated out of box with the Renesas RA Flexible Software Package.

Making IoT more secure

We have added new features to Azure Security Center for IoT with the announcement of a Security Partner program and support for national clouds, and we are excited to announce the upcoming general availability of Azure Sphere in February 2020.

Enabling a future of intelligent and secure computing at the edge for organizations, enterprises and consumers will require advances in computer architecture all the way down to the chip level, with security built in from the beginning. Microsoft Azure Sphere is taking a holistic approach to securing the intelligent edge and IoT from the silicon to the cloud in a way that gives customers flexibility and control. For example, Qualcomm recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to develop mobile hardware for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere IoT operating system.

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.

1 IDC, Worldwide Global DataSphere IoT Device and Data Forecast, 2019–2023, Doc # US45066919, May 2019

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

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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Microsoft and ENGIE announce innovative renewable initiatives – Stories

CHICAGO – Sept. 24, 2019 – Microsoft Corp. and ENGIE today announced both an innovative, long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) that provides 24/7 supply in the United States and implementation of Darwin, an energy software developed by ENGIE using the intelligent cloud services of Microsoft Azure to optimize performance of ENGIE’s wind, solar, and hybrid (wind + solar) renewable assets worldwide.

The hybrid renewable deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two ENGIE projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW. Microsoft will purchase the majority of the output from the new 200 MW Las Lomas wind project, which will be located in Starr & Zapata Counties in south Texas. Microsoft will also purchase 85 MW from the 200 MW Anson Solar Center project, which will be built in in Jones County in central Texas. Both projects will be operated by ENGIE and are expected to come on-line in January 2021.

“ENGIE’s ambition is to work with our customers and communities to lead the transition to a zero-carbon world,” said Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE. “We are proud to support Microsoft in its plan to increasingly meet its energy needs with renewable power, and to do so in a highly customized way to meet 24/7 demand over many years.”

The relationship between ENGIE and Microsoft will not only produce more clean energy in the United States, it also creates an example for how customers can procure it. This PPA includes an innovative volume firming agreement (VFA) that will convert the intermittent renewable energy supply into a fixed 24/7 power solution aligned with Microsoft’s energy needs.

In addition, ENGIE and Microsoft are advancing the digital transformation of the renewable energy sector. ENGIE’s Darwin software, currently deployed on more than 15,000 MW of assets globally, enables real-time plant monitoring and control, reporting, forecasting, performance monitoring and predictive maintenance, among many other benefits. Darwin relies on the latest Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud technologies such as IoT and artificial intelligence, including machine learning and cognitive services. Darwin has already enabled ENGIE to increase plant availability and to enhance production performance of up to a few percent on some of its assets.

With renewable energy expected to be the largest single source of electricity growth in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), these kinds of data-driven solutions will become increasingly important. ENGIE alone has a program to build approximately 9,000 MW of new renewable energy projects from 2019–2021 globally, with 2,500 MW of new renewable capacity planned for North America. The company has an additional 10,000 MW of wind and solar projects in its broader development pipeline in the U.S. and Canada.

“Procuring more renewable energy helps transform our operations, but when we pair that with Microsoft’s leading cloud and AI tools, we can transform the world,” said Carlo Purassanta, area vice president, Microsoft France. “This agreement with ENGIE is an exciting step toward a low-carbon future, driven by capital investments and enabled by data.”

About ENGIE

We are a leading world group that provides low-carbon energy and services. To tackle the climate emergency facing us all, our aim is to become the world leader in the zero-carbon energy transition “as a service” for our customers. We use our expertise in our key business areas (renewables, gas, services) to provide competitive and bespoke solutions. With our 160,000 employees, our clients, our partners, and our stakeholders, together we form a community of imaginative builders, striving every day to bring about a more harmonious form of progress. www.engie.com The Group is listed on the Paris and Brussels stock exchanges (ENGI) and is represented in the main financial indices (CAC 40, DJ Euro Stoxx 50, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, MSCI Europe) and non-financial indices (DJSI World, DJSI Europe and Euronext Vigeo Eiris – World 120, Eurozone 120, Europe 120, France 20, CAC 40 Governance).

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.

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Microsoft announces quarterly dividend increase and new share repurchase program – Stories

Annual shareholders meeting set for Dec. 4, 2019

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 18, 2019 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.51 per share, reflecting a 5 cent or 11% increase over the previous quarter’s dividend. The dividend is payable Dec. 12, 2019, to shareholders of record on Nov. 21, 2019. The ex-dividend date will be Nov. 20, 2019.

The board of directors also approved a new share repurchase program authorizing up to $40 billion in share repurchases. The new share repurchase program, which has no expiration date, may be terminated at any time.

In addition, the company announced the date for the 2019 Annual Shareholders Meeting, to be held on Dec. 4, 2019. Shareholders at the close of business on Oct. 8, 2019, the record date, will be entitled to vote their shares.

This year’s annual shareholders meeting will be held virtually and hosted by Satya Nadella, chief executive officer; Amy Hood, chief financial officer; Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer; and John W. Thompson, Microsoft independent board chair. A virtual meeting format provides a consistent experience to all shareholders regardless of location, as well as the opportunity for global, multilingual and interactive access to a dialogue with its senior executives and directors.

As with previous shareholders meetings, a business update from senior executives will be followed by a 30-minute question and answer session with shareholders. Microsoft’s board of directors will also attend the meeting to hear shareholders’ questions and feedback. More information about the virtual format can be found on the Microsoft On the Issues blog.

In addition to providing the live webcast of the annual meeting, shareholders will have the option to view the annual meeting through Microsoft Teams at www.microsoft.com/investor. As with previous meetings, the transcript with video and audio of the entire meeting will be available on the Microsoft Investor Relations website following the meeting.

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, financial analysts and investors only:

Investor Relations, Microsoft, (425) 706-4400

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Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers, and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Shareholder and financial information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.

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Nectar launches Customer Experience Assurance platform

Nectar Services Corp. recently launched Nectar Customer Experience Assurance, a customer experience testing and monitoring platform for contact center and interactive voice response team, promising to eliminate the need for legacy network monitoring platforms.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance offers a range of capabilities, including auto-discovery, voice recognition and simulation, dynamic call automation and load testing. These features enable contact center DevOps teams to test and discover network issues in a timely manner and to save time when launching new platforms or making configuration changes.

Nectar’s Customer Experience Assurance also offers perpetual monitoring that performs testing in regular intervals to monitor platforms for service availability and configuration changes, the company said. This enables contact center management teams to alert and carry out historical reporting based on factors affecting customer experience (CX) metrics such as service availability, functionality and call quality.

Nectar CX Assurance includes the following features:

  • Auto discovery enables reverse-engineering of calls flows that speed up interactive voice response (IVR) and provides accurate and timely customer experience monitoring. 
  • Real-time alerting notifies companies via email and/or text when issues are identified.
  • Voice automation provides text-to-speech and speech recognition that, in combination with call recording, enable a high level quality control and monitoring.  
  • Voice quality scoring identifies clicks and noises, artifacts, intermittent gaps and jitter due to packet loss in audio during playback.

Nectar said Customer Experience Assurance is the first product to apply its experience in unified communications (UC) monitoring, diagnostics and reporting to the contact center environment. It is built upon Nectar’s core products, network and endpoint operations for UC and provides cloud-based CX testing for enterprise contact center and IVR operations.

In the CX monitoring market, Nectar competes with Oracle, Clarabridge and Integrated Research, known as IR. Oracle CX Cloud Suite offers a full set of applications from marketing to sales, and commerce to service. Clarabridge’s product stresses AI technology that provides audio transcription of agent-customer interactions, along with sentiment, tone and voice analysis for customer service conversations. IR’s Prognosis for Contact Center offers complete contact center ecosystem from Cisco and Avaya, and the underlying UC systems with one platform.

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HiQ Labs vs LinkedIn case OKs robot monitoring of employees

HiQ Labs Inc. has built a business of scraping and analyzing public data on LinkedIn Corp., a business networking site owned by Microsoft. LinkedIn wanted HiQ to stop, and the two ended up in federal court.

So far, LinkedIn is losing. The U.S. Court of Appeals in the Northern District of California ruled this week that San Francisco-based HiQ can keep using its software bots to collect that data. But even if LinkedIn drops its court effort, the issue is far from settled

LinkedIn data is public, and anyone can view it. The lawsuit raises concerns about the use of software bots to automate social media monitoring. HiQ can watch for profile changes through the bots, which have gained interest from the HR community. One of its tools, Keeper, can identify employees who are a potential flight risk. HR users of the service learn of flight risk through individual risk scores.

The appeals court reaffirmed that public data on LinkedIn is not private. “There is little evidence that LinkedIn users who choose to make their profiles public actually maintain an expectation of privacy,” the court said. 

In a statement, LinkedIn said it is “disappointed in the court’s decision, and we are evaluating our options following this appeal.” It also said that it “will continue to fight to protect our members and the information they entrust to LinkedIn.” HiQ declined to comment.

What’s wholly public — and what isn’t

LinkedIn told the court that the data scraping is done without the consent of its members and is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), an anti-hacking law. HiQ argued the information was “wholly public” and accessible to anyone.

What authority and authorization powers should be left to the owners of the data?
Shain KhoshbinAttorney, Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP

Shain Khoshbin, an attorney at Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP in Dallas, described the court’s decision as troubling. He used a physical locker as an analogy to explain why. A person could look through a locker’s vents “take pictures of its contents, and analyze and sell some version of that information to others — arguably whether or not the locker has a padlock, and even if the locker’s owner sends a cease and desist letter saying stop it.”

The owner of the contents of this locker “has no serious privacy expectation as to the contents of the locker,” Khoshbin said.

What seems lost in all the court decisions, “is what authority and authorization powers should be left to the owners of the data?” Khoshbin said.

It’s privacy vs freedom 

The case has split the opinion of Internet advocacy groups. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a brief arguing that the lower court erred. “Regrettably, the lower court discounted the privacy interests of users and required LinkedIn to make the personal data of LinkedIn users available to data aggregators for whatever purpose they wish. That cannot be correct.”

But the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which also filed a brief, is pleased with the outcome. It said the CFAA law was designed to target people who hack into a computer. Allowing the LinkedIn position to prevail would give precedent for any website to bar any software bot, a move that would hurt journalists, researchers and others.

LinkedIn has the technology to stop automated software bots from collecting its member data. It has instructions in its “robots.txt” file to prohibit access to its servers via automated bots, except for the ones it wants, such as the Google search engine, which has permission from LinkedIn. Robots.txt is used to determine what bots can crawl a site. LinkedIn also had security tools to stop software bots. HiQ was fighting to keep LinkedIn from blocking access of its bots to LinkedIn’s public information.

Protecting an information monopoly

Bryan Harper, manager of Schellman & Company, LLC, a global independent security and privacy compliance assessor in Tampa, Fla., said the ruling doesn’t change the ability of firms to protect themselves.

“In practical terms, companies basically continue business as usual,” Harper said. “If there is a malicious actor or a threat event that is captured by a monitoring tool, then a company should and has a duty to respond with their standard incident response procedures.” 

But “companies should not selectively target those scraping efforts simply to protect an information monopoly,” Harper said. It’s also impractical to block all bots, he said.

The takeaway is “you can’t target competitors” if the services rely on public data that isn’t considered private by its users, Harper said.

Still, the issues may be flushed out with other lawsuits, “since this appeal involved an interim ruling on a preliminary injunction,” Khoshbin said.

The appeals court made it clear that even if the CFAA does not apply, entities that view themselves as victims may still be able to raise claims under state laws, copyright infringement, misappropriation, unjust enrichment or breach of privacy, among other avenues, according to Khoshbin.

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Microsoft announces quarterly dividend increase – Stories

Annual shareholders meeting set for Nov. 28, 2018

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 18, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.46 per share, reflecting a 4 cent or 9.5 percent increase over the previous quarter’s dividend. The dividend is payable Dec. 13, 2018, to shareholders of record on Nov. 15, 2018. The ex-dividend date will be Nov. 14, 2018.

In addition, the company announced the date for the 2018 Annual Shareholders Meeting, to be held Nov. 28, 2018. Shareholders at the close of business on Sept. 26, 2018, the record date, will be entitled to vote at the Annual Shareholders Meeting.

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, financial analysts and investors only:

Investor Relations, Microsoft, (425) 706-4400

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers, and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Shareholder and financial information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/investor.