Tag Archives: evolving

Acronis CEO: ‘Backup is dead’

Backup provider Acronis is evolving into a vendor of what it calls “cyber protection.”

Acronis CEO Serguei Beloussov said backup alone is not enough to provide true data protection. In order to be fully protected, organizations need to guarantee their data is recoverable, accessible, private, authentic and secure. Later this year, Acronis will be launching security products with its backup capabilities included, alongside capabilities that handle the other aspects of protection Beloussov mentioned.

Beloussov said due to the automation, low cost and low risk of getting caught, ransomware and other cyberattacks have become more rampant. Backup and security need to be converged because full protection from these bad actors must involve being able to prevent attacks, respond to them and recover from them in case they succeed. He also saw digital transformation as opening up new vectors for criminals to attack from.

We spoke with Beloussov about these new risks, how Acronis plans to address them, its IPO and acquisition plans, and one of his new customers – the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox.

What are the most important things for people to know about backup and data protection right now?

Serguei Beloussov: Backup is dead. There is no “just backup” anymore. Data protection is about safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity and security. Backup is just the safety portion – ensuring nothing is lost.

It’s important that data isn’t just safe, but also accessible. And the process to access it has to be private, so you know who has access to the data. Next, you need to guarantee authenticity to know it’s not modified. And then there’s security, to prevent unauthorized access.

All of these things need to be done to get full protection, or cyber protection, as we call it. In my opinion, companies need to think about protection in a non-static way. You need to be able to prevent problems, respond to them and recover from them.

And so you need tools for recovery and forensics. If somebody somehow logged into your [Microsoft] Office 365, unless you have proper logs, proper information for you to analyze, you will not find out how they did it. And you cannot prevent it from happening again.

We’re currently in a state where mobile devices are being broken into, we’re losing privacy, we’re losing our authenticity. It’s happening with elections, it’s happening with businesses, it’s happening with NGOs. And so everybody has to think about how they protect their data, applications and systems.

Which kind of companies are most at risk right now from ransomware and cyberthreats?

Beloussov: Unfortunately, cyberattacks have become very automated and industrialized, as the cost of attack is very low. You don’t need to spend too much money, you can attack many people at once and it could be managed by AI.

Unfortunately, cyberattacks have become very automated and industrialized… And you don’t have to attack Citibank to make a disaster.
Serguei BeloussovCEO, Acronis

So everybody’s at risk, but in my opinion, the people at most risk are small and medium businesses and consumers because they just don’t have the money. They’re not like enterprises, which are equipped to deal with it.

The issue is current law enforcement and government policy is very much focused on government agencies and large businesses, and not really focused as much on SMBs. But I think more than half of the US economy is SMBs. And of course, everybody is a consumer.

And you don’t have to attack Citibank to make a disaster.

Another area which is making everything more vulnerable is digital transformation. In a lot of industries, you have to become more connected. But as soon as you get that smart TV or create an ecosystem, you will become vulnerable. You immediately have data applications and systems that, if you didn’t think about protection, are open to attack. Everything is connected now.

Is data management becoming synonymous with data backup?

Beloussov: We believe data management is kind of an extra market. Data management is not about protection; it’s about extracting value from data. It’s very close to an organization’s computing core, which is not where we’re focused. We’re focused outside of the core, at the organization’s endpoints. And on the edge, the data is less valuable, typically.

That said, we have data management as part of our products, but it’s focused on managing data which is outside of your core. There, the management problem is different. For example, we provide the ability to search for a file’s location across multiple servers and desktops, virtual or physical. We can do this because we have a central place where we store it.

This is different from the enterprise search tools and data management you see from our perceived competitors because we are moving away from data protection and data management to cyber protection.

Will you launch any new products this year?

Serguei Beloussov, CEO of AcronisSerguei Beloussov

Beloussov: We are shipping three products in October through November. The first is Total Protect, which is cyber protection. It’s a protected software-defined network designed specifically to be available as a secondary infrastructure to run your application systems and data when your primary is under attack or broken.

Then we’re shipping Acronis Cyber Protection, which covers vulnerability assessment, patch management, malware prevention, backup, remote management, authenticity management and privacy management in one package. It is a single agent, single policy, single UI, all integrated, for you to install on your PC or your server.

And then we’re releasing Acronis Cyber Platform, an underlying platform on top of which we will build all of our products. And products can actually be built by third parties. We will open our platform to third parties so that they can support workloads that we don’t.

How are the Red Sox using Acronis software?

Beloussov: It’s very simple; they have data and applications, and we provide protection. For recovery, we set up file sync and share to send applications and files around, it’s protected and you can always know where it is. And you can control the rights – you can have very fine-grained permissions and audit logs and so on.

Nowadays, data is very important for baseball. All sorts of data is being recorded – data about players’ behavioral plans, about the stadium and, of course, about the game. This is important for training, playing, making decisions about changing players, buying new players and so on.

And it’s important to have data about fans, because you need to know what fans like and don’t like, where they do and don’t engage. You can really fine-tune the way the stadium operates and the way the game is played so that fans are more engaged.

Are you pursuing an IPO?

Beloussov: Not right now, as we’re still doing some major launches. In five years, it’s highly likely. I mean, we can go public at any point. We have almost $250 million in revenue, we are around one thousand employees and we’re making money. And we’re growing.

So technically, it’s totally doable, but it’s not a strategy to go public – it’s just a sort of side effect of having a successful company.

Are acquisitions on the table?

Beloussov: We are considering multiple companies, but nothing major. We’re not going to change our strategies from cyber protection, cyberinfrastructure and a cyber platform.

The thing about cyber protection is what workloads do you protect. There’s Salesforce, NetSuite and a bunch of other applications you can protect. And it’s also about which data destinations. We have our own cyberinfrastructure, but we can also send data to Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Wasabi and a bunch of others. And there will be more.

We always have two to three companies with which we’re talking to about acquisition, and we will definitely do at least three acquisitions this year. We’re looking at $10- or $15-million companies – nothing major. We’re not going to acquire Veritas.

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Matt Wood talks AWS’ AI platform, ethical use

NEW YORK — AWS spotlighted its evolving AI offerings at AWS Summit this week, with a variety of features and upgrades.

The company incorporated one emerging technology, Amazon Rekognition, into the event’s registration process as it scanned consenting attendees’ faces and compared them against photos submitted previously during registration.

But despite outlines for customers’ use, the AWS AI platform is not immune to growing concerns over potentially unethical usage of these advanced systems. Civil rights advocacy groups worry that technology providers’ breakneck pace to provide AI capabilities, such as Rekognition, could lead to abuses of power in the public sector and law enforcement, among others.

Matt Wood, AWS general manager of deep learning and AI, discussed advancements to the AWS AI platform, adoption trends, customer demands and ethical concerns in this interview.

AWS has added a batch transform feature to its SageMaker machine learning platform to process data sets for non-real-time inferencing. How does that capability apply to customers trying to process larger data files?

Matt Wood: We support the two major ways you’d want to run predictions. You want to run predictions against fresh data as it arrives in real time; you can do that with SageMaker-hosted endpoints. But there are tons of cases in which you want to be able to apply predictions to large amounts of data, either that just arrives or gets exported from a data warehouse, or that is just too large in terms of the raw data size to process one by one. These two things are highly complementary.

We see a lot of customers that want to run billing reports or forecasting. They want to look at product sales at the end of a quarter or the end of a month [and] predict the demand going forward. Another really good example is [to] build a machine learning model and test it out on a data set you understand really well, which is really common in oil and gas, medicine and medical imaging.

In the keynote, you cited 100 new machine learning features or services [AWS has developed] since re:Invent last year. What feedback do you get from customers for your current slate [of AI services]?

Wood: What we heard very clearly was a couple things. No. 1, customers really value strong encryption and strong network isolation. A lot of that has to do with making sure customers have good encryption integrated with Key Management Service inside SageMaker. We also recently added PrivateLink support, which means you can connect up your notebooks and training environment directly to DynamoDB, Redshift or S3 without that data ever flowing out over the private internet. And you can put your endpoints over PrivateLink as well. [Another] big trend is around customers using multiple frameworks together. You’ll see a lot of focus on improving TensorFlow, improving Apache MXNet, adding Chainer support, adding PyTorch support and making sure ONNX [Open Neural Network Exchange] works really well across those engines so that customers can take models trained in one and run them in a different engine.

Matt Wood, AWS GM of Deep Learning and AIMatt Wood speaks during the AWS Summit keynote address (Source: AWS).

What do you hear from enterprises that are reluctant or slow to adopt AI technologies? And what do you feel that you have to prove to those customers?

Wood: It’s still early for a lot of enterprises, and particularly for regulated workloads, there’s a lot of due diligence to do — around HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], for example, getting HIPAA compliance in place. The question is: ‘How can I move more quickly?’ That’s what we hear all the time.

There’s two main pathways that we see [enterprises take] today. The first is: They try and look at the academic literature, [which] is very fast-moving, but also very abstract. It’s hard to apply it to real business problems. The other is: You look around on the web, find some tutorials and try to learn it that way. That often gives you something which is up and running that works, but again, it glosses over the fundamentals of how do you collect training data, how do you label that data, how do you build and define a neural network, how do you train that neural network.

To help developers learn, you want a very fast feedback loop. You want to be able to try something out, learn from it, what worked and what didn’t work, then make a change. It’s kick-starting that flywheel, which is very challenging with machine learning.

What are some usage patterns or trends you’ve seen from SageMaker adopters that are particularly interesting?

Wood: A really big one is sports analytics. Major League Baseball selected SageMaker and the AWS AI platform to power their production stats that they use in their broadcasts and on [their] app. They’ve got some amazing ideas about how to build more predictive and more engaging visuals and analytics for their users. [It’s the] same thing with Formula 1 [F1]. They’re taking 65 years’ worth of performance data from the cars — they have terabytes of the stuff — to model different performance of different cars but also to look at race prediction and build an entirely new category of visuals for F1 fans. The NFL [is] doing everything from computer vision to using player telemetry, using their position on the field to do route prediction and things like that. Sports analytics drives such an improvement in the experience for fans, and it’s a big area of investment for us.

Another is healthcare and medical imaging. We see a lot of medical use cases — things like disease prediction, such as how likely are you to have congestive heart failure in the next 12 months, do outpatient prediction, readmittance prediction, those sorts of things. We can actually look inside an X-ray and identify very early-stage lung cancer before the patient even knows that they’re sick. [And] you can run that test so cheaply. You can basically run it against any chest X-ray.

You partnered with Microsoft on Gluon, the deep learning library. What’s the status of that project? What other areas might you collaborate with Microsoft or another major vendor on an AI project?

Wood: Gluon is off to a great start. Celgene, a biotech that’s doing drug toxicity prediction, is trying to speed up clinical trials to get drugs to market more quickly. All of that runs in SageMaker, and they use Gluon to build models. That’s one example; we have more.

Other areas of collaboration we see is around other engines. For example, we were a launch partner for PyTorch 1.0 [a Python-based machine learning library, at Facebook’s F8 conference]. PyTorch has a ton of interest from research scientists, particularly in academia, [and we] bring that up to SageMaker and work with Facebook on the development.

Microsoft President Bradford Smith recently called on Congress to consider federal regulation for facial recognition services. What is Amazon’s stance on AI regulation? How much should customers determine ethical use of AI, facial recognition or other cloud services, and what is AWS’ responsibility?

Wood: Our approach is that Rekognition, like all of our services, falls under our Acceptable Use Policy, [which] is very clear with what it allows and what it does not allow. One of the things that it does not allow is anything unconstitutional; mass surveillance, for example, is ruled out. We’re very clear that customers need to take that responsibility, and if they fall outside our Acceptable Use [Policy}, just like anyone else on AWS, they will lose access to those services, because we won’t support them. They need to be responsible with how they test, validate and communicate their use of these technologies because they can be hugely impactful.

AWS Summit Rekognition kiosksAmazon Rekognition kiosks scan the faces of attendees and print identification badges (Source: David Carty).

The American Civil Liberties Union, among others, has asked AWS to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies. Will you comply with that request? If not, under what circumstances might that decision change?

Wood: Again, that’s covered under our Acceptable Use Policy. If any customer in any domain is using any of our services in a way which falls outside of acceptable use, then they will lose access to that service.

Certainly, the Acceptable Use Policy covers lawful use, but do you think that also covers ethical use? That’s a thornier question.

Wood: It is a thornier question. I think it’s part of a broader dialogue that we need to have, just as we’ve had with motor cars and any large-scale technology which provides a lot of opportunity, but which also needs a public and open discussion.

Microsoft announces new intelligent security innovations to help businesses manage threats from cloud to edge

Amid evolving digital threats, an innovative IoT security solution, integrated threat intelligence and advanced protection in Microsoft 365 help simplify cybersecurity for businesses

SAN FRANCISCO — April 16, 2018 At a news conference on Monday, Microsoft Corp. announced several new intelligent security tools and technologies to help enterprises more easily secure their data and networks against today’s biggest threats as well as address emerging threats aimed at IoT and edge devices. These new solutions build on Microsoft’s longstanding approach to delivering innovation that customers and partners can build upon to strengthen the broader ecosystem against cyberattacks from the cloud to the edge.

“As last year’s devastating cyberattacks demonstrated, security threats are evolving and becoming even more serious,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “The tech sector’s innovations need to accelerate to outpace security threats. Today’s steps bring important security advances not just to the cloud, but to the billions of new devices that are working on the edge of the world’s computer networks.”

Securing a new generation of connected devices: announcing Azure Sphere

Microsoft is harnessing the power of the intelligent cloud to address emerging threats against a new class of connected devices, those relying on a chip the size of a thumbnail called a microcontroller unit (MCU). MCU-powered devices are already the most populous area of computing with roughly 9 billion new devices every year. They are found in everything from toys and household appliances to industrial equipment — and attackers are starting to target them. To bring security to this next generation of connected devices, Microsoft is introducing Azure Sphere, the industry’s first holistic platform for creating highly secured, connected MCU devices on the intelligent edge. Featuring an entirely new class of MCUs with more than five times the power of legacy MCUs, an OS custom built for IoT security, and a turnkey cloud security service that guards every Azure Sphere device. With Azure Sphere, Microsoft extends the boundaries of the intelligent edge, to power and secure an entirely new category of devices.

“As our homes become more connected, we place significant value on the security of connected devices, so we can focus on continuing to deliver an exceptional customer experience,” said Brian Jones, director of Product Strategy and Marketing at Sub-Zero Group Inc. “Microsoft’s approach with Azure Sphere is unique in that it addresses security holistically at every layer.”

Microsoft 365 Intelligent Security Solutions: Simplifying Security

As security threats become more complex, companies are increasingly finding that the intelligence and threat protection tools they need to remain a step ahead of attackers are in the cloud. Today, Microsoft introduced several new intelligent security features for its Microsoft 365 commercial cloud offering designed to help IT and security professionals simplify how they manage security across their enterprises:

Advanced tools that make it easier to prevent threats before they happen

  • To help teams stay prepared and ahead of threats, Microsoft today released Microsoft Secure Score and Attack Simulator. Secure Score makes it easier for organizations to determine which controls to enable to help protect users, data and devices by quickly assessing readiness and providing an overall security benchmark score. It will also let organizations compare their results to those with similar profiles using built-in machine learning. Attack Simulator, a part of Office 365 Threat Intelligence, lets security teams run simulated attacks — including mock ransomware and phishing campaigns — to event-test their employees’ responses and tune configurations accordingly.

Automated threat detection and remediation to free up security operations teams

  • With the latest Windows 10 update, now in preview, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) works across other parts of Microsoft 365 to include threat protection and remediation spanning Office 365, Windows and Azure. Also available today in preview, and with the upcoming Windows 10 update, are new automated investigation and remediation capabilities in Windows Defender ATP, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly detect and respond to threats on endpoints, within seconds, at scale.
  • Conditional Access provides real-time risk assessments to help ensure that access to sensitive data is appropriately controlled, without getting in the way of users’ productivity. Microsoft 365 is now adding the device risk level set by Windows Defender ATP to Conditional Access in preview to help ensure that compromised devices can’t access sensitive business data.

Stronger partnerships to give customers more integrated solutions

  • The intelligence data used to quickly detect and respond to threats improves as more relevant signals are added. Machine learning tools are only as good as the data they receive. Microsoft’s security products are informed by the trillions of diverse signals feeding into the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. Today, Microsoft announced a preview of a new security API for connecting Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph-enabled products as well as intelligence from solutions built by customers and technology partners to greatly enhance the fidelity of intelligence.

Most security tools report an attack from a single limited perspective, offering insight into one piece of a potentially larger threat. By connecting individual tools to the Intelligent Security Graph, security teams get new perspectives and more meaningful patterns of data to speed up threat investigation and remediation. The new API is in early testing with a select group of cybersecurity industry leaders that are collaborating with Microsoft to shape its development. The group, which includes Anomali, Palo Alto Networks and PwC, joined Microsoft today to share their own early exploration of the API and how it may improve each company’s ability to protect their mutual customers.

  • Microsoft also is announcing a new Microsoft Intelligent Security Association for security technology partners so they can benefit from, and contribute to, the Intelligent Security Graph and Microsoft security products. Members of the association will be able to create more integrated solutions for customers that provide greater protection and detect attacks more quickly. Palo Alto Networks and Anomali join PwC and other existing partners as founding members of the new association.

Microsoft is partnering with customers through their digital transformation by making it easier for them to help keep assets secure from the cloud to the edge.

More information on Microsoft’s security announcements can be found at the Microsoft Security News site.

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

 

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SD-WAN-only devices disappearing as market matures

SD-WAN is evolving from stand-alone technology to just another feature within WAN edge appliances that deliver multiple application-centric services to remote and branch offices.

The trend is due to an alignment between the interests of SD-WAN vendors and enterprises. The former sees revenue potential in SD-WAN’s rising popularity while the latter wants consolidation of network infrastructure for the branch.

In a survey scheduled for release next month, the Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass., found that 60% of IT organizations in medium to large companies preferred SD-WAN as a feature within a broader package of branch network services. Only 36% of the 300 respondents thought of the technology as a stand-alone product.

SD-WAN vendors that deliver the traffic-routing software the way customers want will have access to a fast-growing market. IDC estimates revenue from SD-WAN infrastructure and services will increase nearly 70% annually to more than $8 billion in 2021.

SD-WAN’s attraction

Enterprises are turning to SD-WAN-only appliances to lower the cost of connecting branch offices to cloud-based business applications. Rather than backhaul all traffic to the corporate data center, companies can separate packets marked for the cloud and send them directly to the internet — a faster and less expensive option.

Startups selling SD-WAN appliances that plug into an enterprise’s network infrastructure have dominated the market for the last few years. Today, companies are looking for more versatile hardware that incorporates SD-WAN, WAN optimization, firewalls and IP services such as voice over IP.

“With time, you’ll see SD-WAN products shift from dedicated single-function hardware to software loads on multifunction appliances,” said Andrew Lerner, an analyst at Gartner.

Suppliers on that path include Cisco, CloudGenix, Nokia-owned Nuage Networks, Riverbed, Silver Peak, VeloCloud Networks Inc. and Versa Networks. The vendors, however, are not equal.

“They might architect their solutions differently, use different nomenclature, have different approaches to building a partner ecosystem, and be further or lesser along the path to bringing the vision to fruition,” said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC.

Choosing the right SD-WAN vendor

More than 40 companies sell WAN edge infrastructure, including SD-WAN, so trying to separate those with products that match an organization’s needs will take work. In a recent market report, Gartner had recommendations for making the right choice:

  • Everything should begin with the applications served by the network. Technologies that meet their requirements are the best candidates for the shortlist.
  • Choose an SD-WAN vendor with products that are in line with the organization’s long-term WAN and application architecture. Purchases shouldn’t operate in a silo.
  • Companies ready for an edge router refresh or replacement should consider SD-WAN alternatives.
  • Do not assume that a single set of WAN edge functionality will fit the needs of every business unit and branch office. Create a list of requirements for each location.
  • Finally, because SD-WAN favors the use of broadband for internet connectivity, do not assume legacy MPLS connections for applications are dead. Gartner expects a mixture of internet and MPLS connections to provide enterprises with the needed performance, reliability and security for the next three years.

Join educators from around the world as we Hack the Classroom – Saturday, Oct. 14th |

Educators face an entirely new set of challenges and opportunities in today’s constantly evolving technological landscape. Digital transformation can have a profound impact on the education experience, but it’s becoming harder than ever to keep up with, identify, and incorporate the best strategies and solutions for your classroom.

Enter Hack the Classroom: It’s a live, online event designed to inspire educators, ignite new ideas, and showcase what’s possible in today‘s schools and classrooms. Broadcasting live on October 14th, Hack the Classroom will bring together the latest teaching methods, tools, and technologies to spark creativity and curiosity in students and educators alike. We’ll also share tips, tricks, and inspiring stories from educators all across the globe, unlocking new ways to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Tune in live to the event on October 14, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PDT.

Our theme for this Hack the Classroom event is all about:

Sparking creativity and curiosity to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Hack the Classroom will feature classroom hacks from educators, discussions from inspiring thought leaders, and resources to help you get started. The key is to start with just a few small steps.

By attending our live, online Hack the Classroom event, you can:

  • Hear from Alan November, live from Boston, MA. Alan’s approach is to support students in becoming “problem designers” as a critical step in tapping their imagination and curiosity.  Providing a framework for lines of inquiry and “messy” problems to be developed can be a stepping stone to helping students learn how to think through increasingly complex and creative conundrums.
  • Look into Tammy Dunbar’s tech-infused classroom in Manteca Unified School District to see how technology is engaging her students and empowering them to meet high standards.  Tammy will share the top five tools to support creativity and curiosity.
  • Learn how courses on the Microsoft Educator Community can prepare you to incorporate rich STEM lessons into your classroom, whether you are an elementary or a secondary teacher, and see the results in action with a school in the UK.
  • See how students at Renton Prep are using the new video features in the Photo App to share their learning creatively.
  • See innovative class hacks from MIE Experts around the world.
  • Participate in the live studio Q&A – come with questions!
  • Receive an HTC participant badge and receive 500 points on our Educator Community. Once you’ve earned 1,000 points, you become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator.

Click here to register and save your spot.

Be sure to share the event with fellow teachers, connect with us on Twitter @MicrosoftEDU and tweet out your thoughts using #MicrosoftEDU and #HackTheClassroom.

For daily ideas on how to infuse technology into your classroom, check out our Educator Community and learn how to become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator. Our Educator Community is the place to collaborate with educators around the world and the best location for resources on using technology in the classroom. Our content is designed by educators for educators, up-to-date and ever-growing to meet your teaching needs.

We look forward to seeing you at Hack the Classroom!