Tag Archives: digital

Microsoft to deliver intelligent cloud from Norway datacenters | Stories

Microsoft Cloud to accelerate digital transformation and innovation through a strategic partnership with Equinor and to the benefit of organizations across Norway

REDMOND, Wash., and OSLO, Norway — June 20, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to further expand its significant and growing investment in cloud computing in Europe by delivering the intelligent Microsoft Cloud from two new datacenter regions in Norway: one in the greater Stavanger region and the other in Oslo.

The Microsoft Cloud, comprising Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, will offer enterprise-grade reliability and performance with data residency from new datacenter locations. Initial availability of Azure is planned for late 2019 with Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to follow. Microsoft has deep expertise protecting data, championing privacy, and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements with Microsoft’s Trusted Cloud principles and the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

“Over a billion customers around the world trust the intelligent Microsoft Cloud to provide a platform to help transform their businesses,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft. “By delivering the Microsoft Cloud from new datacenter regions in Norway, organizations will be empowered through cloud-scale innovation while meeting their data residency, security and compliance needs.”

Equinor, an international energy company, has chosen the Microsoft Cloud in Norway to enable its digital transformation and drive cloud-enabled innovation. The strategic partnership is supporting Equinor’s digital journey through a seven-year consumption and development agreement valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars (USD). Leveraging the cloud is a prerequisite for the energy industry’s transformation toward a digital future, and secure, reliable and cost-efficient operations are a requirement for Equinor’s adaptation of the cloud.

“Equinor plays a central role in stimulating innovation and advancement of the Norwegian economy, and we are deeply honored to be partnering with them to help take their business into its next stage of growth through the intelligent Microsoft Cloud,” said Kimberly Lein-Mathisen, general manager, Microsoft Norway. “By bringing these new datacenters online in Norway, we are also very pleased to be able to pave the way for growth and transformation of many other businesses and organizations in Norway, whether they be large enterprises, government bodies, or any of the 200,000 small and medium-size businesses that create Norway’s thriving economy.”

Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Norwegian minister of Trade and Industry said, “The Norwegian government is deeply committed to helping Norway thrive as a hub for digital innovation. Norway needs new industries that create jobs and boost economic growth. In February 2018 the Norwegian government released its datacenter strategy ‘Powered by Nature,’ establishing that attracting datacenters and international investments is an important part of our industrial policy. Therefore, we are very pleased to see Microsoft’s commitment to our country with this new datacenter. We believe that datacenters and cloud services will help ensure the competitiveness and productivity of Norwegian businesses and government institutions, and have a positive impact on our responsibility to our citizens to create an inclusive working life, to the environment, and to our economic development and job growth.”

The delivery of cloud services from Norway expands on Microsoft’s existing investments having operated in the country since 1990 with nearly 600 people working in offices in Lysaker, Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø across sales, marketing and development, and a network of more than 1,700 partners. This new investment is the first time Microsoft will deliver the intelligent Microsoft Cloud from datacenters located in Norway and is expected to enable greater innovation for oil and gas and other industries, as well as the public sector.

Extending the value of the Microsoft Cloud regions for Norway, customers can also take advantage of hybrid cloud options with Microsoft Azure Stack. Available through service providers in the region, Azure Stack enables customers to develop solutions that harness the power of consistency between Azure and Azure Stack to cater to unique connectivity and compliance needs.

Microsoft has been rapidly expanding to meet an intensifying customer demand for cloud services. By investing in local infrastructure, Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services help companies innovate in their industries and move their businesses to the cloud while meeting data residency, security and compliance needs. Microsoft also has a long history of collaborating with customers to navigate evolving business needs and has developed strategies to help customers prepare for the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We have invested to make the Microsoft Cloud GDPR compliant, are delivering innovation that accelerates GDPR compliance, and have built a community of experts to help customers along their full GDPR journey.

Office 365 and Dynamics 365 continue to expand the data residency options for customers with 18 geographies announced. The two products are the only productivity and business application platforms that can offer in-geo data residency across such a broad set of locations. Each datacenter geography delivers a consistent experience, backed by robust policies, controls and systems to help keep data safe and help comply with local and regional regulations.

Over the past three years, the number of Azure regions available has more than doubled. Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider with 52 regions announced across the globe.

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, rrt@we-worldwide.com

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.

For Sale – 2 X WD RED 6TB HD for sale £125 each, out of warranty

Hi
I have surplus to requirements two 6tb Western Digital Red HDs. They were in my Synology Nas but that machine is hardly on. Drive has been replaced so am in a mix to get smart details for the drive.
It is out of warranty.
I will hook it up and run HDTune on it and post results.

Want £125 via bank transfer, and will post via courier insured.

Thanks for looking.

Price and currency: £
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: SHIPLEY
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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

For Sale – 2 X WD RED 6TB HD for sale £125 each, out of warranty

Hi
I have surplus to requirements two 6tb Western Digital Red HDs. They were in my Synology Nas but that machine is hardly on. Drive has been replaced so am in a mix to get smart details for the drive.
It is out of warranty.
I will hook it up and run HDTune on it and post results.

Want £125 via bank transfer, and will post via courier insured.

Thanks for looking.

Price and currency: £
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: SHIPLEY
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

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

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

For Sale – 2 X WD RED 6TB HD for sale £125 each, out of warranty

Hi
I have surplus to requirements two 6tb Western Digital Red HDs. They were in my Synology Nas but that machine is hardly on. Drive has been replaced so am in a mix to get smart details for the drive.
It is out of warranty.
I will hook it up and run HDTune on it and post results.

Want £125 via bank transfer, and will post via courier insured.

Thanks for looking.

Price and currency: £
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: SHIPLEY
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

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

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

For Sale – 2 X WD RED 6TB HD for sale £125 each, out of warranty

Hi
I have surplus to requirements two 6tb Western Digital Red HDs. They were in my Synology Nas but that machine is hardly on. Drive has been replaced so am in a mix to get smart details for the drive.
It is out of warranty.
I will hook it up and run HDTune on it and post results.

Want £125 via bank transfer, and will post via courier insured.

Thanks for looking.

Price and currency: £
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: SHIPLEY
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

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

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

Microsoft to deliver intelligent cloud from Norway datacenters | Stories

Microsoft Cloud to accelerate digital transformation and innovation through a strategic partnership with Equinor and to the benefit of organizations across Norway

REDMOND, Wash., and OSLO, Norway — June 20, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to further expand its significant and growing investment in cloud computing in Europe by delivering the intelligent Microsoft Cloud from two new datacenter regions in Norway: one in the greater Stavanger region and the other in Oslo.

The Microsoft Cloud, comprising Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, will offer enterprise-grade reliability and performance with data residency from new datacenter locations. Initial availability of Azure is planned for late 2019 with Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to follow. Microsoft has deep expertise protecting data, championing privacy, and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements with Microsoft’s Trusted Cloud principles and the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

“Over a billion customers around the world trust the intelligent Microsoft Cloud to provide a platform to help transform their businesses,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft. “By delivering the Microsoft Cloud from new datacenter regions in Norway, organizations will be empowered through cloud-scale innovation while meeting their data residency, security and compliance needs.”

Equinor, an international energy company, has chosen the Microsoft Cloud in Norway to enable its digital transformation and drive cloud-enabled innovation. The strategic partnership is supporting Equinor’s digital journey through a seven-year consumption and development agreement valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars (USD). Leveraging the cloud is a prerequisite for the energy industry’s transformation toward a digital future, and secure, reliable and cost-efficient operations are a requirement for Equinor’s adaptation of the cloud.

“Equinor plays a central role in stimulating innovation and advancement of the Norwegian economy, and we are deeply honored to be partnering with them to help take their business into its next stage of growth through the intelligent Microsoft Cloud,” said Kimberly Lein-Mathisen, general manager, Microsoft Norway. “By bringing these new datacenters online in Norway, we are also very pleased to be able to pave the way for growth and transformation of many other businesses and organizations in Norway, whether they be large enterprises, government bodies, or any of the 200,000 small and medium-size businesses that create Norway’s thriving economy.”

Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, Norwegian minister of Trade and Industry said, “The Norwegian government is deeply committed to helping Norway thrive as a hub for digital innovation. Norway needs new industries that create jobs and boost economic growth. In February 2018 the Norwegian government released its datacenter strategy ‘Powered by Nature,’ establishing that attracting datacenters and international investments is an important part of our industrial policy. Therefore, we are very pleased to see Microsoft’s commitment to our country with this new datacenter. We believe that datacenters and cloud services will help ensure the competitiveness and productivity of Norwegian businesses and government institutions, and have a positive impact on our responsibility to our citizens to create an inclusive working life, to the environment, and to our economic development and job growth.”

The delivery of cloud services from Norway expands on Microsoft’s existing investments having operated in the country since 1990 with nearly 600 people working in offices in Lysaker, Oslo, Trondheim and Tromsø across sales, marketing and development, and a network of more than 1,700 partners. This new investment is the first time Microsoft will deliver the intelligent Microsoft Cloud from datacenters located in Norway and is expected to enable greater innovation for oil and gas and other industries, as well as the public sector.

Extending the value of the Microsoft Cloud regions for Norway, customers can also take advantage of hybrid cloud options with Microsoft Azure Stack. Available through service providers in the region, Azure Stack enables customers to develop solutions that harness the power of consistency between Azure and Azure Stack to cater to unique connectivity and compliance needs.

Microsoft has been rapidly expanding to meet an intensifying customer demand for cloud services. By investing in local infrastructure, Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services help companies innovate in their industries and move their businesses to the cloud while meeting data residency, security and compliance needs. Microsoft also has a long history of collaborating with customers to navigate evolving business needs and has developed strategies to help customers prepare for the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We have invested to make the Microsoft Cloud GDPR compliant, are delivering innovation that accelerates GDPR compliance, and have built a community of experts to help customers along their full GDPR journey.

Office 365 and Dynamics 365 continue to expand the data residency options for customers with 18 geographies announced. The two products are the only productivity and business application platforms that can offer in-geo data residency across such a broad set of locations. Each datacenter geography delivers a consistent experience, backed by robust policies, controls and systems to help keep data safe and help comply with local and regional regulations.

Over the past three years, the number of Azure regions available has more than doubled. Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider with 52 regions announced across the globe.

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, rrt@we-worldwide.com

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.

Believe it or not, CIOs need a digital customer experience strategy

Whether or not a company is born digital, delivering a quality digital customer experience has emerged as a key performance indicator for technology leaders.

So say the CTO at Kayak, the CIO at DBS Bank, and the CIO at Adobe Systems Inc., who expounded on this idea during a panel discussion at the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium. Simply put: Customer satisfaction equates to company success, and technology such as artificial intelligence is the link between the two.

The three technology leaders are aggressively helping build a digital customer experience strategy that benefits both customers and the company. Doing this requires collecting data on how customers interact with the company and then finding ways to make those interactions more efficient — and more intelligent. Here is what each had to say about using advanced technology to monitor, enhance and capitalize on customer experience.

The error budget

One of the most practical pieces of advice on creating an effective digital customer experience strategy came from David Gledhill, group CIO and head of group technology and operations at DBS Bank in Singapore. He encouraged the audience to follow his lead and steal Google’s concept of an “error budget,” which can help companies strike a balance between moving fast and keeping customer service top of mind.

DBS Bank, AI, MIT CIO SymposiumDavid Gledhill

The error budget, a concept that’s evolving at DBS Bank, is a joint key performance indicator between technology and operations “to gauge and monitor customer experience” on digital platforms, according to Gledhill. “Every time a customer gets a performance degradation or [experiences] a struggle, it counts against the platform,” he said. Whatever those strikes are — be they performance issues or incomplete transactions — the company should determine a threshold and “round everything up to a single number,” Gledhill said.

Once the strikes against the digital platform hit the error threshold, developers have to stop and “refocus their efforts on solving those customer pain point interactions,” Gledhill said. He pointed audience members to Google’s book Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems for more information.

Mapping the ‘customer journey’

Cynthia Stoddard, senior vice president and CIO at Adobe, said AI and machine learning have always been a part of the software company’s products. “We refer to it as the Adobe magic,” she said.

But what the company is attempting to do now is to use those tools to improve the customer’s experience with Adobe products — especially with its Creative Cloud. “What we want to be able to do with it is really unleash the power and let our customer have access to it so that we can remove the mundane and let people focus on the creativity,” Stoddard said.

Our view of the world with AI, from a product perspective, is more of a Harry Potter view of the world. We want to do good things and help people do their tasks quicker.
Cynthia StoddardSVP and CIO, Adobe

Part of Adobe’s digital customer experience strategy is to map a customer’s “journey” across its product set, which can help illuminate both customer friction points as well as repetitive activity that might be ripe for automation. “Our view of the world with AI, from a product perspective, is more of a Harry Potter view of the world,” she said. “We want to do good things and help people do their tasks quicker.”

Stoddard said she uses an “outside-in” approach to understand the customer’s perspective by “looking at their journey points and ensuring that we remove all friction points,” she said. But she also said it’s important to look at the world from an inside-out perspective, which focuses on designing for enterprise scale and efficiency.

When the two perspectives conflict, “the customer comes first,” she said.

A hybrid approach

Giorgos Zacharia, CTO and chief scientist at Kayak, demystified AI and machine learning as computational statistics with more computational power. “To me, there is nothing magic about it,” he said.

At Kayak, the digital customer experience strategy is the strategy for the company, according to Zacharia. “The dominant metric is completion of transaction — has the user found what they’re looking for?” he said.

Kayak, data science, AI, MIT CIO SymposiumGiorgos Zacharia

But as Kayak’s developers experiment with how to better serve their users, their ideas can sometimes produce an undesirable result. “If you change the user experience way too much, the users might be taken aback,” Zacharia said. “And it takes time to retrain them.”

This happened recently when Kayak developers implemented a machine learning algorithm for sorting flights. Rather than sorting by price, the algorithm sorted by likelihood that a customer would complete a transaction. “For some users, the snackers, we call them, those who run a search to see what the current prices are, they were taken aback that they didn’t see the cheapest price on top,” he said.

Zacharia and his team addressed the issue with a hybrid approach — the cheapest fare is on top and the rest of the results are sorted by likelihood of conversion. “It works for the user — for now,” he said.

2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in photos: A SearchCIO snapshot

It’s time to turn your digital vision into reality — and fast. That was the message at the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. The annual event attracted more than 900 senior-level IT decision-makers from around the country and the globe for what organizers billed as a day of learning, networking and spirited discussion.

Sessions at the event featured leading IT practitioners and academics, all doling out practical advice for planning and executing a digital transformation strategy. Of course, that meant discussing the building blocks of digital transformation: AI, internet of things, cloud computing, Agile, DevOps, organizational leadership, digital culture and more.

The SearchCIO team was there to cover — and capture — it.

Scroll through our Instagram roundup of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and relive a few of the many illuminating and interesting moments from this year’s event.

8:35 a.m.: Before the opening panel session, Kresge Auditorium

Let the Symposium begin.

Prior to the opening panel session, attendees perused the vendor showcase in Kresge and reviewed the day’s schedule, with complimentary totes in hand.

8:45 a.m.: “Creating a Digital Culture,” Kresge Auditorium

MIT’s George Westerman moderated the opening panel on how to best create a digital culture. As Westerman and the panel emphasized, digital transformation is, above all, a leadership challenge. “Technology changes quickly; organizations change much more slowly,” Westerman said at the start of the panel.

One of many interesting tidbits: Panelists said organizations need to change their outlook on talent. “The right people often look wrong,” said Melissa Swift, global leader for digital solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group. The traits that might seem jarring to corporate executives may well be the ones the company needs to build a digital culture. Iconoclasts, not clones, should get a second look.

12:00 p.m.: “Insights from the Leadership Award Finalists,” Sala De Puerto Rico

As attendees munched on their salads, MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award finalists doled out sage advice on how they’ve transformed their organizations. Some sound bites from the session:

“Our job as CIOs is really more of psychologists or priests,” said Atefeh Riazi, assistant secretary-general and chief information technology officer at the United Nations. She emphasized it’s not technology that’s the biggest challenge; it’s change management.

“Innovation is about doing the same thing differently,” said Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of digital at Bharti Airtel Ltd.

“Understand the context many senior executives are under,” said Mike Macrie, senior vice president and CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc. Older executives aren’t as familiar with technology, so CIOs need to have patience.

1:15 p.m.: “Implementing AI,” Kresge Little Theater

What two words best describe your AI implementation efforts at this time? The blue screen shows how audience members sitting in the “Implementation AI” session responded. Hype and slow were two of the top words, followed by ethically challenged and limited. Panelists, pictured here, are moderator Michael Schrage, Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard, Kayak CTO Giorgos Zacharia and DBS Bank CIO David Gledhill.

1:45 p.m.: Lights, camera, action! Outside Kresge Auditorium

SearchCIO’s Mekhala Roy interviewed Harmeen Mehta, global CIO at Indian telecom giant Airtel and this year’s Leadership Award winner, outside Kresge — one of our many video interviews. During the interview, Mehta said everything she does in her organization has to create new value for the company, create a new business model, solve an existing problem or drastically reduce costs.

2:45 p.m.: “Building the Intelligent Enterprise using AI, ML, Mobility and Cloud Services,” Kresge Auditorium

During this session, panelists shared the hard-won lessons they learned from transforming their organizations into so-called intelligent enterprises. One lesson from Alston Ghafourifar, CEO and co-founder of Entefy Inc.: “An intelligent enterprise is too big of a transformation to actually do alone and to do entirely internal … you have to partner.” They also discussed best practices for managing large data sets, which include taking advantage of edge computing and Lambda architecture.

4:00 p.m.: “Articulating your Digital Vision,” Kresge Auditorium

During her presentation, Jeanne Ross, director and principal research scientist at MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research, said IT needs to shift from enabling business strategy to inspiring it. Enabling is no longer enough anymore; IT needs to inspire new sources of revenue and new value propositions. The sources of that inspiration include ubiquitous data, unlimited connectivity and massive processing power.

For more photos from the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and other conference coverage, visit our Instagram page and give us a follow.

Offering the largest scale and broadest choice for SAP HANA in the cloud

Microsoft at SAPPHIRE NOW 2018

Enterprises have been embarking on a journey of digital transformation for many years. For many enterprises this journey cannot start or gain momentum until core SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) landscapes are transformed. The last year has seen an acceleration of this transformation with SAP customers of all sizes like Penti, Malaysia Airlines, Guyana Goldfields , Rio Tinto, Co-op, and Coats migrating to the cloud on Microsoft Azure. This cloud migration, which is central to digital transformation, helps to increase business agility, lower costs, and enable new business processes to fuel growth. In addition, it has allowed them to take advantage of advancements in technology such as big data analytics, self-service business intelligence (BI), and Internet of Things (IOT).

As leaders in enterprise software, SAP and Microsoft provide the preferred foundation for enabling the safe and trusted path to digital transformation. Together we enable the inevitable move to SAP S/4HANA which will help accelerate digital transformation for customers of all sizes.

Microsoft has collaborated with SAP for 20+ years to enable enterprise SAP deployments with Windows Server and SQL Server. In 2016 we partnered to offer SAP certified, purpose-built, SAP HANA on Azure Large Instances supporting up to 4 TB of memory. Last year at SAPPHIRENOW, we announced the largest scale for SAP HANA in the public-cloud with support up to 20 TB on a single node and our M-series VM sizes up to 4 TB. With the success of M-series VMs and our SAP HANA on Azure Large instances, customers have asked us for even more choices to address a wider variety of SAP HANA workloads.

Microsoft is committed to offering the most scale and performance for SAP HANA in the public cloud, and yesterday announced additional SAP HANA offerings on Azure which include:

  • Largest SAP HANA optimized VM size in the cloud: We are happy to announce that the Azure M-series will support large memory virtual machines with sizes up to 12 TB. These new sizes will  be launching soon, pushing the limits of virtualization in the cloud for SAP HANA. These new sizes are based on Intel Xeon Scalable (Skylake) processors and will offer the most memory available of any VM in the public cloud.
  • Wide range of SAP HANA certified VMs: For customers needing smaller instances we have expanded our offering with smaller M-series VM sizes, extending Azure’s SAP HANA certified M-series VM range from 192 GB – 4 TB with 10 different VM sizes. These sizes offer on-demand and SAP certified instances with flexibility to spin-up or scale-up in minutes and to spin-down to save costs all in a pay-as-you-go model available worldwide. This flexibility and agility is something that is not possible with a private cloud or on-premises SAP HANA deployment.
  • 24 TB bare metal instance and optimized price per TB: For customers that need a higher performance dedicated offering for SAP HANA, we are increasing our investments in our purpose-built bare metal SAP HANA infrastructure. We now offer additional SAP HANA TDIv5 options of 6 TB, 12 TB, 18 TB, and 24 TB configurations in addition to our current configurations from 0.7TB to 20 TB. This enables customers who need more memory but the same number of cores to get a better price per TB deployed.
  • Most choice for SAP HANA in the cloud: With 26 distinct SAP HANA offerings from 192 GB to 24 TB, scale-up certification up to 20 TB and scale-out certification up to 60 TB, global availability in 12 regions with plans to increase to 22 regions in the next 6 months, Azure now offers the most choice for SAP HANA workloads of any public cloud.

Microsoft Azure also enables customers to derive insights and analytics from SAP data with services such as Azure Data Factory SAP HANA connector to automate data pipelines, Azure Data Lake Store for hyper scale data storage and Power BI, an industry leading self-service visualization tool, to create rich dashboards and reports from SAP ERP data.

Our unique partnership with SAP to enable customer success

Last November, Microsoft and SAP announced an expanded partnership to help customers accelerate their business transformation with S/4HANA on Azure. Microsoft has been a long time SAP customer for many of our core business processes such as financials and supply chain. As part of this renewed partnership, Microsoft announced it will use S/4HANA for Central Finance, and SAP announced it will use Azure to host 17 internal business critical systems.

I am very pleased to share an update on SAP’s migration to Azure from Thomas Saueressig, CIO of SAP:

“In 2017 we started to leverage Azure as IaaS Platform. By the end of 2018 we will have moved 17 systems including an S/4HANA system for our Concur Business Unit. We are expecting significant operational efficiencies and increased agility which will be a foundational element for our digital transformation.”

Correspondingly here’s an update on Microsoft’s migration to S/4HANA on Azure from Mike Taylor, GM Partner; Enterprise Applications Services at Microsoft.

“In 2017 we started the internal migration of our SAP system that we have been running for over 25 years, to S/4HANA. As part of that journey we felt it was necessary to first move our SAP environment completely onto Azure, which we completed in February 2018. With the agility that Azure offers we have already stood up multiple sandbox environments to help our business realize the powerful new capabilities of S/4HANA.”

As large enterprises, we are going through our business transformation with SAP S/4HANA on Azure and we will jointly share lessons from our journey and reference architectures at several SAPPHIRE NOW sessions.

Last November, we announced availability of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud (HEC) with Azure, to offer customers an accelerated path to SAP HANA. We see several customers, such as Avianca and Aker embark on their business transformation by leveraging the best of both worlds, SAP’s managed services, and the most robust cloud infrastructure for SAP HANA on Azure.

“In Avianca, we are committed on providing the best customer experience through the use of digital technologies. We have the customer as the center of our strategy, and to do that, we are in a digital transformation of our customer experience and of our enterprise to provide our employees with the best tools to increase their productivity. Our new implementation of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud on Microsoft Azure is a significant step forward in our enterprise digital transformation,” said Mr. Santiago Aldana Sanin, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Digital Officer at Avianca. “The SAP and Microsoft partnership continues to create powerful solutions that combine application management and product expertise from SAP with a global, trusted and intelligent cloud from Microsoft Azure. At Avianca, we are leveraging the strengths of both companies to further our journey to the cloud.”

Learn more about HEC with Azure.

Announcing SAP Cloud Platform general availability on Azure

The SAP Cloud Platform offers developers a choice to build their SAP applications and extensions using a PaaS development platform with integrated services. Today, I’m excited to announce that SAP Cloud Platform is now generally available on Azure. Developers can now deploy Cloud Foundry based SAP Cloud Platform on Azure in the West Europe region. We’re working with SAP to enable more regions in the months ahead.

“We are excited to announce general availability for SAP Cloud Platform on Azure. With our expanded partnership last November, we have been working on a number of co-engineering initiatives for the benefit of our mutual customers. SAP Cloud Platform offers the best of PaaS services for developers building apps around SAP and Azure offers world-class infrastructure for SAP solutions with cloud services for application development. With this choice, developers can spin up infrastructure on-demand in a global cloud co-located with other business apps, scale up as necessary in minutes boosting developer productivity and accelerating time to market for innovative applications with SAP solutions,” said Björn Goerke, CTO of SAP and President of SAP Cloud Platform.

Microsoft has a long history of working with developers with our .NET, Visual Studio, and Windows community. With our focus on open source support on Azure for Java, Node.js, Red Hat, SUSE, Docker, Kubernetes, Redis, and PostgreSQL to name a few, Azure offers the most developer friendly cloud according to the latest development-only public cloud platforms report from Forrester. We recently published an ABAP SDK for Azure on GitHub, to enable SAP developers to seamlessly connect into Azure services from SAP applications.

SAP application developers can now use a single cloud platform to co-locate application development next to SAP ERP data and boost development productivity with Azure’s Platform services such as Azure Event Hubs for event data processing and Azure Storage for unlimited inexpensive storage, while accessing SAP ERP data at low latencies for faster application performance. To get started with SAP Cloud Platform on Azure, sign up for a free trial account.

Today, we are also excited to announce another milestone in our partnership. SAP’s Hybris Commerce Cloud now runs on Azure as a “Software as a service” offering.

Customers embarking on digital transformation with SAP on Azure

With our broadest scale global offerings for SAP on Azure, we are seeing increased momentum with customers moving to the cloud. Here are some digital transformation stories from recent customer deployments.

  • Daimler AG: One of the world’s most successful automotive companies, Daimler AG is modernizing its purchasing system with a new SAP S/4HANA on Azure solution. The Azure-based approach is a foundational step in an overall digital transformation initiative to ensure agility and flexibility for the contracting and sourcing of its passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and International Procurement Services on a global basis.
  • Devon Energy: Fully committed to its digital transformation, Devon Energy is pioneering efforts to deploy SAP applications on Azure across all its systems. The Oklahoma City-based independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company is strategically partnering with Microsoft on multiple fronts such as AI, IT modernization, and SAP on Azure. Learn more about Devon’s digital transformation at their SAPPHIRE NOW session.
  • MMG: MMG, a global mining company, recognized that existing SAP infrastructure was approaching end-of-life, and that moving to the cloud would deliver the lowest long-term cost whilst providing flexibility to grow and enable new capabilities. Immediate benefits have been realized in relation to the overall performance of SAP, in particular, data loads into Business Warehouse.

For more on how you can accelerate your digital transformation with SAP on Azure, please check out our website.

In closing, at Microsoft, we are committed to ensuring Azure offers the best enterprise-grade option for all your SAP workload needs, whether you are ready to move to HANA now or later. I will be at SAPPHIRE NOW 2018 and encourage you to check our SAPPHIRE NOW event website for details on 40+ sessions and several demos that we’ll be showcasing at the event. Stop by and see us at the Microsoft booth #358 to learn more.

Emerging AI Patterns

One of the top conversations that we have with businesses all over the world is how digital transformation is impacting every part of their operations. This wave of “Digital Transformation” impacts every business and every industry; from media to sports, from finance to healthcare, and from Fortune 1000 organizations to small businesses. This wave of transformation is being driven by the ongoing advances in computing building blocks of the last few decades: compute, storage, and networks. At the same time as companies are continuing down the path of digital transformation, there is a new generation of software building blocks that will drive even greater transformation for businesses in the future of which AI is one of the core drivers. AI will help to transform all industries, including transportation, manufacturing, retail, agriculture, and more and create opportunities we have yet to consider.

In this post I will talk about how Microsoft is helping businesses transform with AI. This moves beyond creating the AI platform, or using AI to enhance an existing application or service and into how people are starting to think about using AI to change core business processes. If you have been following along, this is the third and final part in a 3-part series on AI. If you want to revisit the other two posts before continuing, Part 1 provides some context on why this time is different for AI. It is followed up by Part 2 which looks at how Microsoft thinks about AI and the tools and services that we make available for you to create your own AI solutions and in turn how we use it to enhance our own products and services. 

In this blog we’ll dive more into the patterns we see emerging for the use of AI across industries and experiences. As we talk about AI with business and industry leaders, we see 4 patterns emerging on how to apply AI to businesses and business scenarios that provide a useful frame for the conversation.

  1. Virtual Agents – The first pattern is the use of virtual agents to interact with employees, customers, and partners on behalf of a company. These agents can help answer questions, provide support and over time become a proactive representative of your company and your brand. Today Microsoft uses a virtual agent in customer support that will engage in close to 50 million conversations this year.
  2. Ambient Intelligence – The second pattern is anchored on tracking people and objects in a physical space. In many ways this is using AI to both map a physical space and activity to a digital space, and then allowing actions on top of the digital graph. Many people will think about “pickup and go” retail shopping experience as a prime example, but this pattern is also applicable to safety, manufacturing, construction scenarios and more. Think about a warehouse that can detect a person walking in one aisle and a forklift driving in another that are on a collision course, the AI can prevent the pending accident. We also showed this pattern applied to an office/meeting scenario at BUILD.
  3. AI-Assisting Professionals – AI can be used to help almost any professional be more effective. For example, we can help people in finance with forecasting. Large companies manage forecasts by having their front-line sellers predict what they are going to do, then having many layers of reviewers to help judge the forecast. Using historical data and global insights from Bing, LinkedIn, and custom data sources, an AI system can reliably forecast how a subsidiary will do while removing all of the middle layers of judgement and the time consumed doing that. We also see AI starting to assist doctors in areas like genomics and public health. There are great examples in sales, marketing, legal and practically every other profession.  
  4. Autonomous Systems – The fourth pattern that we see is for autonomous systems. You might think of self-driving cars when you think about autonomous systems, but it also extends to robotic process automation and network protection. Threats to a network can be hard to identify when they are happening and the lag before responding can result in a lot of damage. Having the network automatically respond as a threat is happening can minimize the risk and free the team to focus on other tasks.

In this post I will cover these 4 patterns along with how Microsoft is helping businesses achieve their goals.

Virtual Agents

At Ignite 2017 we discussed how AI will be used to help large businesses with customer support. Since that time, the Microsoft AI Solution for Customer Service, which is being used by Microsoft, HP, Macy’s, Australian Government Department of Human Services, and others has shown tremendous success in using AI to transform customer engagement. Looking at the initial results from the early adopters we have seen great improvements for their businesses.

  • Microsoft – where possible we are testing AI Solutions within our own business processes before releasing software for others to use (e.g. forecasting and customer care). We built this solution to solve our own problems first and it is trusted to handle one of the largest enterprise support organizations in the world. With the addition of a virtual agent, it has created some impressive results. Over a 6-month period we saw a 2x increase in users successfully being able to help themselves with a 3x decrease in transfers to agents. Users dislike having to repeat themselves as they get transferred between agents, but with this solution the state transfers with the call creating a better experience for customers and our call center employees, at scale with over 100,000 virtual agent sessions per day.
  • HP – one of the early users of this solution has scaled up to handle 70% of support cases with AI and maintains a greater than 85% accurate dialog rate. To achieve this level of accuracy the service was initially trained on over 1 million chat logs and 50 KB of support articles to create a sophisticated dialog.
  • Macy’s – gives an example of how an AI solution for customer support can evolve to become a brand ambassador for the company. The virtual agent is integrated into both the web and mobile web experiences for shopping, so users can use the agents where they are. Macy’s integrated their backend APIs for promotions, alerts, and more into the agent so that the agent could go beyond the corpus of data that it was trained on to pull up account details, shipping updates, and more providing broad and personalized information.

Last year at Ignite when we discussed the Microsoft AI Solution for Customer Service it was framed in the context of helping users get the support they need while also improving the experience for agents who would get to focus on more value-added support cases. Since then there has been an expansion into more personalized experiences as demonstrated by what Macy’s is doing. Looking forward, business agents will be moving towards conversational commerce and blending proactive conversation capability with the current reactive capability.

Today online commerce is primarily a self-help experience with the user either having to know exactly what they are looking for or spending a lot of time researching. With a virtual agent there is the opportunity to have a virtual personal shopper by your side who can help you with your online experience. As you search for products the agent can intelligently recommend relevant intents based on what you have been looking at. As you select options that are intelligently designed to guide you through the purchase experience, the information that you need is presented to you in adaptive cards that contains rich yet focused information so that the user can make better decisions without information overload. Since the agent can maintain historical information, a conversation could be resumed later, and transactions could be completed all with the use of the agent. This pattern is by far one of the furthest along and an area we see a lot of activity in today. Companies can choose from a set of tools in the platform today to get started with initial agents before moving up to a full customer care solution.

Ambient Intelligence

Computing is often thought of in the context of devices but with the use of sensors a physical space can be digitized which creates an environment where people, objects and activities can be detected and tracked. When AI is added to the digitized environment you then make it possible to reimagine how a room interacts with the people and objects in it. For example, using facial recognition to know when a person has entered a room is valuable not just for personalization but also for safety. If the fire alarm goes off, knowing who was in the building and has left, or if anyone is still inside can be quite useful. The next level beyond just tracking people is to track people’s interaction with objects around them. This capability makes it possible to create several interesting retail experiences including; grab and go shopping, personalized offers, immediate and on the spot assistance when needed, and more. In manufacturing we can use this type of capability for health and safety scenarios that can include keeping a person safe by flagging when they are going to pick up something that might too heavy, or to make the problem of losing things less burdensome by flagging where a lost item might be with instructions on how to find it and more. There are many interesting scenarios enabled by the ambient pattern that are just starting to be explored.

We see real-world examples of this today using mixed reality to keep mission critical systems up and running. Preserving perishable goods is a great example. Cows produce 6 gallons of milk daily, so it is important that the milk is packaged on time to avoid waste. However, when a milk packaging line fails because of a faulty part, it can take several days to get up and running resulting in a lot of spoiled milk. Tetra Pak uses cloud-connected predictive analytics to analyze packaging lines data to predict maintenance issues to reduce down time. This is done by using mixed reality headsets to cut down fixing time by having remote experts guide service engineers.

AI Assisting Professionals

AI presents a great opportunity to augment human ingenuity by providing proactive timely support to people so that they can focus their energy on their most important tasks. This shows up in a variety of ways including digital assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Siri, and Google Home that many of us use today to do tasks for us. In business settings we have seen many early uses of AI helping busy professionals including Bing for Business which will take your companies organizational chart, internal sites, and cloud documents, and then integrate them into your search experience so that you have the public and private data that you need. AI helps professionals in other ways more specific to different industries. Attorneys who need to assess the risk of an event will spend a lot of time going through contracts to find the impact of any exposure to a negative event. Machine reading techniques can be used to understand the details of all their contracts and then surface the problems. Journalists can use AI to serve as a virtual editor that will look beyond rules-based spell checking to make writing suggestions. Finance professionals can also use AI to do sales forecasts to make better forecasts or sellers can use AI to target sales prospects and how to close a deal. Marketers can use AI to predict new trends in customer interest before investing a lot of money to experiment. We are working on a variety of areas where we can apply AI to assist professionals and one of my favorite examples is the work we are doing to help medical professionals.

Microsoft Research is known for world class advances in computer science, but they also focus on medical, health, and genomics. Their approach is to apply novel computational tools and analytical techniques to make healthcare more impactful and to assist patients. One application of AI to healthcare is Project InnerEye.

Today expert medical practitioners spend a lot of time analyzing 3D images to identify tumors versus other healthy tissue. Using years of Microsoft AI research in computer vision including deep decision forests which are used in the Kinect and HoloLens, and machine learning, and then applying it to more medical images than the average medical practitioner could analyze on their own, Project InnerEye can assist in identifying the presence of a tumor. To ensure that the medical practitioner is in charge, the results can be adjusted by the experts until everyone is comfortable with the result. Since we are a platform company we are also making the technology available to third-party medical software companies so that medical practitioners can use the tools they are most comfortable with today.

Autonomous Systems

Most people when they think of autonomous systems, visions of self-driving cars come up but there are so many other ways to apply this technology as well. Networks when they are under attack can take a long time for someone to notice and even longer to determine the root cause and then address it. Machine learning does a great job of detecting patterns in a vast amount of data, so it can be used to quickly identify attacks in real-time and then AI can be used to find the most effective approach for addressing the problem. The Network Admin will be notified and can control the process if needed but speeding up this process will limit the amount of damage that an attacker could cause. At the RSA 2018 Conference, Mark Russinovich shared how Microsoft’s investment in AI has created new security capabilities for protecting all of our customers.

For security, autonomous systems can help create secure products by finding security flaws during development. Microsoft Security Risk Detection is our offering for customers to use AI to find security flaws.

DocuSign is a company that enables people to sign documents from any device which means that they take security very seriously. Like most software developers, DocuSign uses a variety of software components in their products including ones from third parties and the security of their product is only as strong as all of the components put together. Using Microsoft Security Risk Detection, DocuSign can automatically check the security of all their components across multiple virtual machines with no extra work.

“We were able to automatically run millions of test cases across multiple virtual machines, entirely automated, with no extra work …. We’re always looking for services that add value, and that scale of automation is a great added value.” —John Heasman, Senior Director, Software Security, DocuSign

It is an exciting time in the industry as artificial intelligence is not just a topic of conversation but becoming the starting point for thinking about what will become the next wave(s) of digital and/or AI based transformation. The examples presented here across the four patterns are just a few examples, but we see the patterns as an interesting point to start the conversation. Three weeks I ago I started this series discussing why this time is different for AI compared to other times of AI excitement in the New Generation of Software Building Blocks post. Last week we focused on Microsoft’s approach to AI and how we are making it available to others across the platform, our products, and solutions. Today we presented four patterns for the use of AI in businesses and industries that we hope provide a useful framing around the topic. As you think through your own use cases think about how these patterns can apply to your business. Thank you for taking the time to read the series and if there are any other topics that we should explore please let us know.

Cheers, Guggs