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Deal will help power Microsoft’s Bangalore office with solar energy; marks progress for both the company and India toward respective renewable energy goals
BANGALORE, India — March 6, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. has announced the completion of its first renewable energy deal within the Karnataka state of India. The agreement will see Microsoft purchase 3 megawatts of solar-powered electricity from Atria Power to help power its new office building in Bangalore. This will meet 80 percent of the projected electricity needs at the new facility. This deal is part of a state government of Karnataka program to encourage investments in local solar energy operations, in line with the larger Indian government goal to ramp up solar power generation to 100 gigawatts by 2022, as part of India’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“Investing in local solar energy to help power our new Bangalore office building is good for Microsoft, good for India and good for the environment,” said Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India. “We are proud to be deepening our long history of partnership and investment in India with this agreement. This deal will help us grow sustainably and supports the growth of the Indian solar energy industry, so that the entire country can more easily and reliably access clean electricity.”
“Microsoft, like India, has ambitious commitments to use more renewable energy,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist, Microsoft. “By purchasing local solar power to meet some of our local electricity needs, we’re not only meeting our goals but also supporting the growth of local clean energy industries. This growth leads to more clean electricity capacity, which will help India meet its targets for the Paris Agreement, reduce carbon emissions and provide clean electricity to its growing population. We’re proud to play a small role in this Indian energy transformation.”
This is Microsoft’s first solar energy agreement in India, and one of the first in Asia — the company completed a new solar agreement in Singapore last week. Once completed, this project will bring Microsoft’s total global direct procurement in renewable energy projects to nearly 900 megawatts. The deals in Asia follow wind projects in Europe and a substantial portfolio in the United States, and mark continued momentum toward the corporate clean energy commitments set by the company in 2016. Microsoft’s goal is to rely on wind, solar and hydropower electricity for at least 50 percent of its energy usage worldwide by the end of 2018.
About Microsoft India
Microsoft set up its India operations in 1990. Today, Microsoft entities in India have over 8,000 employees, engaged in sales and marketing, research, development, and customer services and support, across 11 Indian cities: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. Microsoft offers its global cloud services from local datacenters to accelerate digital transformation across Indian startups, businesses and government organizations. In 2016, Microsoft opened one of its eight Cybersecurity Engagement Centers in the country to address security needs of both public and private sectors.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
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I have a 3 day old Gigabyte 1070 ITX. Now surplus to requirements. Will be happy to help out with warranty.
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SAP recently launched a program that offers services and tools to help with an HR cloud migration. The intent is to help HR managers make a business case and to ease some of the initial integration steps.
SAP has seen rapid growth of its SuccessFactors cloud human capital management platform. But the firm has some 14,000 users of its older on-premises HCM suite, mostly in Europe, who have not fully migrated. Some are in a hybrid model and have been using parts of SuccessFactors.
Customers may feel “a lot of trepidation” over the initial HR cloud migration steps, said Stephen Spears, chief revenue officer at SAP. He said SAP is trying to prove with its new Upgrade2Success program “that it’s not difficult to go from their existing HR, on-premises environment to the cloud.”
The problems that stand in the way of an HR cloud migration may be complicated, especially in Europe.
HR investment remains strong
The time may be right for SAP to accelerate its cloud adoption efforts. HR spending remains strong, said analysts, and users are shifting work to HR cloud platforms.
David Wagnervice president of research, Computer Economics
IDC said HCM applications are forecast to generate just over $15 billion in revenues globally this year, up 8% over 2017. This does not include payroll, just HCM applications, which address core HR functions such as personnel records, benefits administration and workforce management.
The estimated 2018 growth rate is a bit below prior year-over-year growth, which was 9% to 10%, “but still quite strong versus other back office application areas,” said Lisa Rowan, an IDC analyst. Growth is being driven in part by strong interest in replacing older on-premises core HR systems with SaaS-based systems, she said.
Cloud adoption for HR is strong in U.S.
Computer Economics, a research and consulting firm, said that in terms of organizational spending priorities HR is “right down the middle” of the 14 technologies it tracks, said David Wagner, vice president of research at the firm. It surveyed 220 companies ranging from $50 million to multibillion-dollar firms.
“Investment is higher in everything this year,” Wagner said, but IT operational budgets are not going up very fast and the reason is the cloud transition. Organizations are converting legacy systems to cloud systems and investing the savings back into the IT budget. “They’re converting to the cloud as fast as is reasonable in organizations right now,” he said.
“If I were a cloud HR systems provider, I would be very excited for the future, at least in North America,” Wagner said.
Cloud adoption different story in Europe
But Europe, where SAP has about 80% of its on-premises users, may be a different story.
Wagner, speaking generally and not specific to SAP, said the problem with cloud adoption in Europe is that there are much more stringent compliance rules around data in the cloud. There’s a lot of concern about data crossing borders and where it’s stored, and how it’s stored and encrypted. “Cloud adoption in general in Europe is behind North America because of those rules,” he said.
SAP’s new cloud adoption program brings together some services and updated tools that help customers make a business case, demonstrate the ROI and help with data integration. It takes on some of the work that a systems integrator might do.
Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT, said SAP is aiming to reduce the risk and uncertainties involved in a sizable project.
“That’s a wise move since cost, risk and uncertainty is the unholy trinity of bugaboos that plague organizations contemplating such substantial changes,” King said.
Onboarding software may help reduce turnover, but many firms are neglecting this technology, according to a new study. A bad onboarding experience may prompt a new employee to quit.
Most firms today have invested in recruiting management systems. They want to speed hiring and find the best candidates. IDC said it expects spending in 2018 on applicant tracking systems to reach double digits.
Like recruiting, onboarding software is a pillar of talent management systems. But it’s “neglected,” said Jenna Filipkowski, the head of research at the Human Capital Institute (HCI), based in Cincinnati. That’s a mistake, she argued.
HCI and workforce management software vendor Kronos Inc., in a survey of 350 firms, found 36% have “insufficient technology” to automate or organize the onboarding process. Overall, this research found 75% reported “that onboarding practices are underutilized.” In a tight labor market, this may be a mistake.
Bad onboarding experience may hurt retention
Howard Kleinprofessor of management of human resources at Ohio State University
Getting a job seeker excited about taking a job may be undercut by underused onboarding tech. Disorganized, incomplete, paper-based and inefficient onboarding can sour a new hire. It also hurts productivity if it takes longer to become proficient. The new employee may well believe they “were sold a bill of goods,” Filipkowski said.
“When they do have a more positive [onboarding] experience, studies have shown that they tend to want to stay longer,” Filipkowski said.
Other studies support this, according to management professors who have examined this issue.
“A good onboarding program can make a difference in whether people leave work on that first day wondering what they have gotten themselves into and whether they made a huge mistake,” said Howard Klein, a professor of management of human resources at Ohio State University and editor in chief of the Human Resource Management Review, a professional journal.
First impressions really do matter
“First impressions matter,” Klein said in an email. “If you ask people about their worst job, chances are you’ll hear about a horrible first day or week in which they were not made to feel welcome, appreciated or important,” he said.
New employees are impressionable, and an organization “does not want to miss that opportunity to instill values, vision and desired behaviors,” Klein said.
Onboarding software systems are intended to make onboarding more efficient. These platforms include online training, electronic paperwork processing, incorporating audio and video onboarding materials, automatic updates of employee records, set reminders and appointments.
Onboarding software use is inconsistent
The HCI and Kronos survey suggests adoption of onboarding software will increase. About 60% of the firms surveyed were using some type of onboarding technology, either web-based or developed in-house. Of the balance, 24% said they didn’t use it, but plan on doing so in the next three years. The remaining 15% said they had no plan to use onboarding technology in the next three years.
Talya Bauer, a professor of management at Portland State University, said organizations have come a long way in terms of thinking of onboarding as a yearlong process and not just new employee orientation, “but there’s great variance in how much time and attention onboarding gets across organizations.”
Keeping new hires will be important if a just-released survey by staffing firm Accountemps, a Robert Half company, proves to be accurate. It found 29% of professionals intend to look for a new position in the next year. The highest percentage of workers considering leaving their present employers is in Los Angeles, at 40%, followed closely by Austin and Dallas, Texas.
Container infrastructure can help IT pros deploy updates as they fortify their systems against Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.
Sys admins everywhere must patch operating systems to reduce the effects of the recently discovered Intel CPU flaws, which hackers could exploit to access speculative execution data in virtual memory and, potentially, to other VMs that share the same host or root access.
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However, those who run container infrastructures estimate a milder impact of this additional work than the undertaking for those who must patch VM-based infrastructures, especially manually, to combat Meltdown and Spectre.
“Most of the fixes out so far are kernel patches, and since containers share the kernel, there are fewer kernels to patch,” said Nuno Pereira, CTO of IJet International, a risk management company in Annapolis, Md.
VMware has pledged to issue fixes at the hypervisor level, and cloud providers such as Google and Amazon say they’ve patched their VMs, but it’s wise to patch the kernels, as well, Pereira said.
Security best practices dictate containers run with least-privilege access to the underlying operating system and host. That could limit the blast radius should a hacker use the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities to gain access to a container. But experts emphasize that container infrastructure isn’t guaranteed immunity to the vulnerabilities, as container-level segmentation alone doesn’t fully defend against attacks.
“No one should expect that just a container layer will mitigate the issue,” said Fernando Montenegro, an analyst with 451 Research. “This issue highlights that security assumptions we’ve made in the past have to be revisited.”
Ultimately, Intel and other chipmakers, such as AMD, will have to issue hardware- or firmware-level fixes to eliminate the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. It’s not clear what those will be yet, but enterprises with container orchestration in place will have a leg up, as they accommodate those widespread changes.
“Most folks running containers have something like [Apache] Mesos or Kubernetes, and that makes it easy to do rolling upgrades on the infrastructure underneath,” said Andy Domeier, director of technology operations at SPS Commerce, a communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses based in Minneapolis. SPS uses Mesos for container orchestration, but it is evaluating Kubernetes, as well.
Containers are often used with immutable infrastructures, which can be stood up and torn down at will and present an ideal means to handle the infrastructure changes on the way, due to these specific Intel CPU flaws or unforeseen future events.
“It really hammers home the case for immutability,” said Carmen DeArdo, technology director responsible for the software delivery pipeline at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in Columbus, Ohio.
DevOps performance concerns
Fernando Montenegroanalyst, 451 Research
Infrastructure automation will help, but these vulnerabilities arose from CPU technology that drastically improved performance, with more efficient memory caching and pre-fetching. This means patches and infrastructure updates to mitigate security risks can slow down system performance.
PostgreSQL benchmark tests in worst-case-scenario situations show OS patches alone may degrade performance by 17% to 23%. Red Hat put out an advisory to customers stating its patches to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux kernel may reduce performance by 8% to 19% on highly cached random memory.
“For Spectre, my understanding is that you need code changes and/or recompilation of userspace programs themselves to [fully] resolve it, so it is likely to be a long slog,” said Michael Bishop, CTO at Alpha Vertex, a New York-based fintech startup.
No one knows how future hardware fixes will affect CPU performance, which raises concerns for large enterprises that have grown accustomed to quick system builds in a DevOps continuous integration and delivery process. Reports have started to emerge that the performance change will affect the time it takes to compile programs, which is of particular concern to developers who want to make quick, frequent updates to apps.
“I remember when build jobs would run for hours, and we could go back to a developer mindset of, ‘Get things perfect,’ if feedback loops start to take too long,” Nationwide’s DeArdo said. “Eventually, that would impact lead time and productivity.”
Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.