Tag Archives: Environment

Compliance Manager tool aims to ease security audit process

underlying environment also means they are at Microsoft’s mercy for its answers on regulatory compliance audits. To address this situation and others, Microsoft developed a Compliance Manager tool that provides a real-time risk analysis of the different cloud workloads.

Over the last year, there has been an uptick in security measures in the enterprise. Two compliance regulations that come up frequently are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For HIPAA, introduced in 1996, the rise in hospital audits by the Office for Civil Rights and data breaches in recent years has many enterprises re-evaluating their security practices around patient data. GDPR is the compliance requirement that starts May 25, 2018, for organizations that handle the data of European Union citizens.

Most organizations that deal with HIPAA, GDPR or any other regulatory compliance know the difficulties associated with tracking results from audits, questionnaires, surveys and other standard operating procedures. The amount of information required to satisfy requests for compliance checklists and security assessments can overwhelm many Exchange administrators.

Regardless of the industry, the IT staff must address regulatory compliance audits; otherwise, the company can face financial and legal penalties. Microsoft released its Compliance Manager tool in November to assist IT in these efforts.

Compliance Manager tool offers compliance overview

Compliance Manager is a SaaS application located in the Service Trust Portal that features a dashboard summary of an organization’s data protection, compliance status and documentation details related to GDPR, HIPAA and other requirements.

The Compliance Manager tool provides an automated assessment of Microsoft workloads such as Office 365, Dynamics 365 and some in Azure. The utility suggests ways to boost compliance and data protection in the environment.

Compliance audits often require gathering the same information. Exchange administrators can save some time by using the Compliance Manager tool, which acts as a central repository of audit details and documentation. Admins can maintain this documentation over time and ensure they meet the compliance processes mandated by their teams.

The Compliance Manager tool is still in preview mode; Microsoft said it plans to have all the compliance templates set prior to May 2018, but anyone with an Office 365 subscription can sign up to test it.

For on-premises workloads, the Compliance Manager tool provides the requirements that need to be validated and evaluated by the administrators. Microsoft has not indicated if it will extend the automated assessment feature to any on-premises tools.

Compliance Manager assists administrators with compliance requirements across the different Microsoft workloads with full document management features and task management.

Compliance Manager assessments
The dashboard in the Compliance Manager tool gives a summary of the controls fulfilled by the customer and by Microsoft to meet a standard or regulation.

Compliance Manager breaks down compliance for a standard or regulation into assessments. Each assessment consists of controls mapped to a standard that are shared between Microsoft and the tenant. The dashboard shows which controls a customer and Microsoft have met to comply with a regulation or standard.

Administrators can use the Compliance Manager portal to manage control assignments for team members based on specific compliance requirements. Microsoft calls this task management feature action items, and it allocates different controls to individuals within the organization. This helps organize the tasks needed from each IT worker, such as data or email retention associated with GDPR, that Exchange administrators must complete. The platform enables administrators to set the priority and the individual responsible for it.

There are a few other features in the Compliance Manager tool worth noting:

  • A flexible platform that supports multiple regulations. In the initial preview release of the Compliance Manager tool, the application only supports GDPR, ISO 27001 and ISO 27018. Microsoft said it will add support for HIPAA and other regulatory standards, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-53. Having one tool that covers the range of regulatory compliance requirements makes it a very attractive option for IT and Exchange administrators.
  • Coverage on multiple platforms. After Microsoft introduced Office 365, a number of Exchange Online administrators began to manage more than just Exchange workloads. It’s the responsibility of the IT department to ensure the interdependent workloads associated with Exchange Online meet compliance requirements. Microsoft includes assessments of Dynamics 365, Azure and the full Office 365 suite in the Compliance Manager tool to give IT full visibility into all the workloads under one compliance platform.

Compliance Manager tool shows promise

Microsoft has certainly delivered a good snapshot of what most compliance officers and administrators would like in its preview version of Compliance Manager. However, the tool only addresses three existing compliance requirements, when many in IT will want to see coverage extend to include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA, Food and Drug Administration 21 Code of Federal Regulations part 11 and others. 

While there are a number of mature compliance and auditing tools in the market that offer more certifications and regulatory compliance, Compliance Manager eliminates the daunting task for administrators to produce detailed assessments under each of the compliance requirements. Some of this manual work includes interviewing Microsoft technical resources, gathering legal and written statements with certain security configurations, and, in some cases, hiring third-party auditors to validate the findings.

Microsoft will need to cover the rest of the compliance spectrum to encourage administrators to embrace this platform. But the platform is easy to use and addresses many of the concerns organizations have with the upcoming GDPR.

Developers warily embrace AWS Cloud9 IDE

LAS VEGAS — Every great platform should have a solid application development environment — but developers at AWS re:Invent indicated AWS Cloud9 IDE has room for improvement before it wins them over in a crowded market.

Amazon Web Services filled a void in its portfolio with an integrated development environment, AWS Cloud9 IDE. AWS lacked an IDE for its platform so it acquired Cloud9 in 2016. Key features include the ability to edit and debug AWS Lambda Functions, code completion and code hinting suggestions, support for collaborative editing and chat, and support for the Go language, as well as dynamic languages such as JavaScript, Python, PHP, Ruby, Go, and C++. It can run online in a managed Amazon EC2 instance, or offline on any Linux server that supports SSH.

Overall, developers and industry experts at AWS re:Invent 2017 here last week welcomed AWS’ new IDE, the latest entry in a crowd of cloud-based development environments.

“For any IDE to be successful it has to be very comprehensive,” said Amit Khanna, senior vice president of technology at Virtusa, an IT services company based in Westborough, Mass. “This completes a story for AWS now that they have an IDE for the platform — especially because there are now so many data services that can be composed very quickly.”

The ability to work offline and online in AWS Cloud9, so developers can write, run, and debug code from any machine with just a browser, is a particular selling point to Justin Rupp, systems and cloud architect at GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding organization in Washington, D.C. He will evaluate AWS Cloud9 among other options as his company moves to a cloud-based IDE in the next year.

AWS Cloud9 IDE reduces a barrier to entry for cloud developers by being more accessible, and sweetens the pot with the addition of team functionality and the SageMaker machine learning tool, said Mark Nunnikhoven, an Ottawa-based vice president of cloud research at Trend Micro with U.S. headquarters in Irving, Texas.

Clare Liguori, senior software engineer at AWS, and Ankur Agarwal, product manager for AWS Cloud9 IDE
Clare Liguori, senior software engineer at AWS, and Ankur Agarwal, product manager for Cloud9, introduce AWS Cloud9 IDE at re:Invent 2017. Source: AWS. We have permission to use.

Devs hesitant to stray from home

Not everyone thinks AWS Cloud9 IDE will easily lure developers away from their preferred code editor or programming environment, however. Many companies let their developers use whatever IDE they want so they maintain a consistent code style. Cloud-based development environments do that, but may lose some customization that many developers want.

“Developers love their tools, so to get them to move can be monumental — and for AWS this means moving from [Microsoft’s] VS Code to Cloud9,” said Michael Facemire, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. “They’ll have some advantages being able to quickly ingest and offer up other AWS services in the tool, but if that’s enough to move developers is still to be seen.”

For some developers at AWS re:Invent, it’s still too soon to tell if they’ll make that switch.

[There’s no Java support.] That’s one of the most popular languages and they don’t even have it yet.
Justin Ruppsystems and cloud architect, GlobalGiving

“While products like this AWS one will make your code style consistent, you lose some of that customization that many developers seek,” GlobalGiving’s Rupp said.

J. Fudge, a software engineer at Raytheon in Dallas echoed those sentiments. “It’s a new IDE and developers are often attached to their IDEs. So I don’t see that as being anything we would adopt any time soon, if at all,” he said.

Josh Stella, CEO of Fugue, a Frederick, Md., DevOps infrastructure software provider, said he lets his developers use whatever IDE or editor they want as long as their code complies with company policies. His team also will evaluate AWS Cloud9 among IDE options.

“AWS has turned the world into distributed application developers,” Fugue’s Stella said. “This tool will bring portability of the developer experience.”

Developers at AWS re:Invent 2017 had other concerns about AWS Cloud9 IDE as well. GlobalGiving’s Rupp bristled a lack of direct support for Java — the JDK is not installed, but you can do Java with some tricks. “That’s one of the most popular languages and they don’t even have it yet,” he said.

And one senior software developer at a large government agency, who asked for anonymity because he did not have clearance to speak for the organization, criticized AWS Cloud9 support for pair programming.

“I like that they have included a way to do pair programming, but their implementation of it sucks,” he said. “If you’re in a very secure environment like me, to use their implementation opens you up to potential vulnerabilities, from what I have seen in playing with it.”

Test your knowledge of Hyper-V Generation 2 VMs

With the introduction of Hyper-V Generation 2 VMs, you have more options for your virtual environment, but taking advantage of those options also means managing a more complex infrastructure. For example, the two generation types support different devices and features, and you can only run certain guest OS versions on Generation 2 VMs. Before you start using this new VM generation, take our quiz to make sure you know your stuff.

A great way to collect logs for troubleshooting

Did you ever have to troubleshoot issues within a Hyper-V cluster or standalone environment and found yourself switching between different event logs? Or did you repro something just to find out not all of the important Windows event channels had been activated?

To make it easier to collect the right set of event logs into a single evtx file to help with troubleshooting we have published a HyperVLogs PowerShell module on GitHub.

In this blog post I am sharing with you how to get the module and how to gather event logs using the functions provided.

Step 1: Download and import the PowerShell module

First of all you need to download the PowerShell module and import it.

Step 2: Reproduce the issue and capture logs

Now, you can use the functions provided as part of the module to collect logs for different situations.
For example, to investigate an issue on a single node, you can collect events with the following steps:

Using this module and its functions made it a lot easier for me to collect the right event data to help with investigations. Any feedback or suggestions are highly welcome.


Azure DevTest Labs offers substitute for on-premises testing

Azure DevTest Labs brings a consistent development and test environment to cost-conscious enterprises. The service…


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also gives admins the chance to explore Azure’s capabilities and determine other ways the cloud can assist the business.

A DevTest Lab in Azure puts a virtual machine in the cloud to verify developer code before it moves to the organization’s test environment. This practice unveils initial bugs before operations starts an assessment. DevTest Labs gives organizations a way to investigate the Microsoft cloud platform and its compute services, without incurring a large monthly cost. Look at Azure DevTest Labs as a way to augment internal tests — not replace them.

Part one of this two-part series explains Azure DevTest Labs and how to configure a VM for lab use. In part two, we examine the benefits of a testing cloud-based environment.

DevTest Labs offers a preliminary look at code behavior

After we create a lab with a server VM, connect to it using the same tools as you would in an on-premises environment — Visual Studio or Remote Desktop for Windows VMs and Secure Socket Shell for Linux VMs. Development teams can push the code to an internal repository connected to the Azure environment and then deploy it to the DevTest Lab VM.

Use the DevTest Lab VM to check what happens to the code:

  • when no modifications have been made to infrastructure; and
  • if the application runs on different versions of an OS.

Windows Server VMs in Azure provide uniformity

An organization’s test environment often has stipulations, such as a requirement to mirror the production Windows Servers through the last patch cycle, which can hinder the development process. Azure DevTest Labs uncovers how applications behave on the latest Windows Server version. This prepares IT for any issues before the internal testing environment moves to that server OS version. IT also can use DevTest Labs to check new features of an OS before they roll it out to production.

DevTest Labs assists admins who want to study for a certification and need a home lab environment to practice and study. But building a home lab is expensive when you consider costs for storage, server hardware and software. Virtualized labs with VMware Workstation or Client Hyper-V reduce this cost, but it’s still expensive to buy a powerful laptop that can handle all the new technologies in a server OS.

Admins can stand up Windows Server 2016 in DevTest Labs to understand the capabilities of the OS and set up an automatic shutdown time. This gives employees access to capable systems for after-hours studying, and the business only pays for the time the lab runs.

Azure DevTest Labs doesn’t replace on-premises testing

Many organizations have replica environments that mirror production sites, which ensures any fixes and changes will function properly when they go live. Azure DevTest Labs should not replace an on-premises test environment.

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Steps to produce an Azure DevTest

Implement DevTest Labs to prevent testing delays; start work in DevTest Labs, which refine the items needed from operations. And because Azure is built to scale, users can add resources with a few clicks. An on-premises environment does not have the same flexibility to grow on demand, which can slow the code development process.

Production apps don’t have to stay in Azure

Azure DevTest Labs also checks applications or configurations, and then deploys them into the company’s data center. When the test phase of development passes, shut down the DevTest Lab until it is needed again.

In addition, IT teams can turn to DevTest Labs to showcase how the business can use Azure cloud. If the company wants to work with a German organization, for example, it must contend with heavy regulations about how data is handled and who owns it. Rather than build a data center in Germany, which could be cost-prohibitive, move some apps into an Azure region that covers the European Union or Germany. This is much less expensive because the business only pays for what it uses.

Still, regulatory issues override all the good reasons to use Azure. If you’re unsure of what regulatory items your organizations needs to know, use this link to get a list. You also can examine Microsoft’s audit reports to perform a risk assessment and see if Azure meets your company’s compliance needs.

Microsoft offers a 30-day free trial of DevTest Labs. It’s a great resource for development and testing, and provides an inexpensive learning environment for administrators who want to explore current and upcoming technologies.

Next Steps

Don’t let a test VM affect the production environment

Explore OpenStack’s capabilities with a virtual home lab

Use a Hyper-V lab for certification studies

How can IT put PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment to use?

PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment is a tool that can benefit all levels of users, which is why many developers and administrators use it almost exclusively when working with PowerShell — often skipping the original console altogether.

With PowerShell ISE, which provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for writing and fixing PowerShell scripts, IT administrators and developers can write, edit and run PowerShell scripts and commands. It provides a more user-friendly way to work with the wide range of features available for creating and testing PowerShell codes.

For example, PowerShell ISE includes IntelliSense for autocompleting commands and for matching cmdlets, variables, parameters and other language elements. The GUI also provides quick access to a variety of snippets that make it easier to construct command logic, such as looping structures. In addition, admins get multiple execution environments, selective code execution and the ability to run commands from either the PowerShell script or the console pane.

What else can PowerShell ISE do?

PowerShell script development

PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment provides many other features to support PowerShell script development, such as drag-and-drop editing, tab completion, block selection, syntax coloring, keyboard shortcuts and Unicode support. Plus, admins can open PowerShell script files by dragging them from Windows Explorer to the PowerShell ISE GUI. They can even extend the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment object model to customize the deployment and add functionality.


Admins can also use PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment to troubleshoot and debug PowerShell scripts. Although this goes hand in hand with script development, sometimes admins must fix an existing script and want to use PowerShell ISE’s debugging capabilities. Not only do they get features such as selective execution and multiple execution environments, but they can also set up breakpoints, step through code, check variable values and display call stacks. In addition, PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment displays parsing errors as admins type.

PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment is also useful as a learning tool.

Running complicated commands

Admins might also use PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment when they want to run complex ad hoc commands and prefer to avoid the inherent clunkiness of the PowerShell console. With PowerShell ISE, they can type all their code in the script pane and then, when they’re ready, run part or all of the code. This also makes it easier to tweak the script if admins need to run it multiple times, incorporating slight modifications with each execution.


PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment is also useful as a learning tool. Someone new to PowerShell can benefit a great deal from built-in features, such as IntelliSense, snippet access and parse error displays.

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Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition

From a huge effort to help kids realize their potential to a celebration of our dear old planet, this week brought plenty of interesting and inspiring news around Microsoft. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries as part of YouthSpark, a global initiative to increase access for young people to learn computer science. In turn, these nonprofit partners — such as Laboratoria, CoderDojo and City Year — will use the power of local schools, businesses and community organizations to empower students to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.

The nonprofits will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway through programs like Hour of Code with Code.org, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future,” Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today.”

WR Youthspark image

Wondering what the next wave of breakthrough technology will be? Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, calls it an “invisible revolution,” and it’s transforming farming, allowing people from different cultures to communicate, helping people breathe healthier air, preventing disease outbreaks and much more.

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we joined the invisible revolution to preview the latest, most cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. The possibilities are endless.

Invisible revolution GIF

Computer industry luminaries honored Dave Cutler, a Microsoft senior technical fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades, as a Computer History Museum Fellow. The 74-year-old has shaped entire eras. He worked to develop the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late 1970s, had a central role in the development of Windows NT — the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 — and helped develop the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.

“The Fellow awards recognize people who’ve had a tremendous impact on our lives, on our culture, on the way we work, exchange information and live,” said John Hollar, the museum’s president and CEO. “People like Dave Cutler, who probably influences the computing experiences of more than 2 billion people, yet isn’t known in a way he deserves to be, in proportion to the impact he’s had on the world.”

WR Engineer award

Microsoft Philanthropies sponsored the annual We Day, supporting exciting events Wednesday in Seattle and earlier this month in Los Angeles. Nearly 30,000 attended the shows, which celebrate young people who are making a difference.

In supporting We Day, Microsoft aims to help young people drive the change they would like to see in their neighborhoods, schools and communities. Our photo gallery captures the highlights, famous faces and young people who were involved in this year’s events.

WR_We day

In advance of Earth Day on Friday, Microsoft kicked off this week with inspiration and information about the company’s sustainability programs and initiatives, including ways you can take part in the efforts. The  brand new Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft website details how Microsoft’s company-wide carbon fee have financed significant investments in renewable energy to power its data centers, improved building efficiency and reached more than 6 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

Microsoft, which has been a carbon-neutral company since 2012, is continually finding ways to make its products and their lifecycles more earth-friendly. Learn more about how Microsoft is commemorating Earth Day on the Microsoft Green Blog.

WR_earth day

Microsoft is also constantly working to help students achieve more. Some all-new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update are specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. A “Set Up School PCs” app lets teachers set up a device themselves in mere minutes, and a new “Take a Test” provides simple and secure standardized testing for classrooms or entire schools.

Learning will also get a big boost with Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, a OneNote Class Notebook that now has Learning Management System (LMS) integration and — perhaps most exciting to students — the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Educators will be able to give it a test run in the summer months and provide feedback and suggestions.

In apps this week, the powerful mobile photo-editing app PicsArt is marking Earth Day by offering a series of green- and outdoorsy-themed photo frame and clip art packages. Several are exclusive to Windows customers. The PicsArt app is free in the Windows Store.

Need a little help juggling projects, priorities and other moving parts in your busy life? The Todoist Windows 10 app can help you stay organized, collaborate with colleagues and even empty your inbox by turning important emails into tasks.

Or for a little fun this weekend, go way beyond retro to prehistoric days in “Age of Cavemen.” In this multiplayer strategy game, you’re the village chief in a dangerous world, and you need to keep your people safe. Build an army, create alliances and destroy your opponents in a wild and wooly free-for-all.

WR apps image

And that’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you here next week for the latest roundup.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.