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Helping customers shift to a modern desktop – Microsoft 365 Blog

IT is complex. And that means it can be difficult to keep up with the day-to-day demands of your organization, let alone deliver technological innovation that drives the business forward. In desktop management, this is especially true: the process of creating standard images, deploying devices, testing updates, and providing end user support hasn’t changed much in years. It can be tedious, manual, and time consuming. We’re determined to change that with our vision for a modern desktop powered by Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. A modern desktop not only offers end users the most productive, most secure computing experience—it also saves IT time and money so you can focus on driving business results.

Today, we’re pleased to make three announcements that help you make the shift to a modern desktop:

  • Cloud-based analytics tools to make modern desktop deployment even easier.
  • A program to ensure app compatibility for upgrades and updates of Windows and Office.
  • Servicing and support changes to give you additional deployment flexibility.

Analytics to make modern desktop deployment easier

Collectively, you’ve told us that one of your biggest upgrade and update challenges is application testing. A critical part of any desktop deployment plan is analysis of existing applications—and the process of testing apps and remediating issues has historically been very manual and very time consuming. Microsoft 365 offers incredible tools today to help customers shift to a modern desktop, including System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune, Windows Analytics, and Office Readiness Toolkit. But we’ve felt like there’s even more we could do.

Today, we’re announcing that Windows Analytics is being expanded to Desktop Analytics—a new cloud-based service integrated with ConfigMgr and designed to create an inventory of apps running in the organization, assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, and create pilot groups that represent the entire application and driver estate across a minimal set of devices.

The new Desktop Analytics service will provide insight and intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows and Office clients. You can then optimize pilot and production deployments with ConfigMgr. Combining data from your own organization with data aggregated from millions of devices connected to our cloud services, you can take the guess work out of testing and focus your attention on key blockers. We’ll share more information about Desktop Analytics and other modern desktop deployment tools at Ignite.

Standing behind our app compatibility promise

We’re also pleased to announce Desktop App Assure—a new service from Microsoft FastTrack designed to address issues with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus app compatibility. Windows 10 is the most compatible Windows operating system ever, and using millions of data points from customer diagnostic data and the Windows Insider validation process, we’ve found that 99 percent of apps are compatible with new Windows updates. So you should generally expect that apps that work on Windows 7 will continue to work on Windows 10 and subsequent feature updates. But if you find any app compatibility issues after a Windows 10 or Office 365 ProPlus update, Desktop App Assure is designed to help you get a fix. Simply let us know by filing a ticket through FastTrack, and a Microsoft engineer will follow up to work with you until the issue is resolved. In short, Desktop App Assure operationalizes our Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus compatibility promise: We’ve got your back on app compatibility and are committed to removing it entirely as a blocker.

Desktop App Assure will be offered at no additional cost to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education customers. We’ll share more details on this new service at Ignite and will begin to preview this service in North America on October 1, 2018, with worldwide availability by February 1, 2019.

Servicing and support flexibility

Longer Windows 10 servicing for enterprises and educational institutions
In April 2017, we aligned the Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus update cadence to a predictable semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March. While many customers—including Mars and Accenture—have shifted to a modern desktop and are using the semi-annual channel to take updates regularly with great success, we’ve also heard feedback from some of you that you need more time and flexibility in the Windows 10 update cycle.

Based on that feedback, we’re announcing four changes:

  • All currently supported feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions (versions 1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803) will be supported for 30 months from their original release date. This will give customers on those versions more time for change management as they move to a faster update cycle.
  • All future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions with a targeted release month of September (starting with 1809) will be supported for 30 months from their release date. This will give customers with longer deployment cycles the time they need to plan, test, and deploy.
  • All future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions with a targeted release month of March (starting with 1903) will continue to be supported for 18 months from their release date. This maintains the semi-annual update cadence as our north star and retains the option for customers that want to update twice a year.
  • All feature releases of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, and Office 365 ProPlus will continue to be supported for 18 months (this applies to feature updates targeting both March and September).

In summary, our new modern desktop support policies—starting in September 2018—are:

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates
As previously announced, Windows 7 extended support is ending January 14, 2020. While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process.

With that in mind, today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year. Windows 7 ESUs will be available to all Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing, with a discount to customers with Windows software assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education subscriptions. In addition, Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 ESU will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus.

Please reach out to your partner or Microsoft account team for further details.

Support for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2016
Office 365 ProPlus delivers cloud-connected and always up-to-date versions of the Office desktop apps. To support customers already on Office 365 ProPlus through their operating system transitions, we are updating the Windows system requirements for Office 365 ProPlus and revising some announcements that were made in February. We are pleased to announce the following updates to our Office 365 ProPlus system requirements:

  • Office 365 ProPlus will continue to be supported on Windows 8.1 through January 2023, which is the end of support date for Windows 8.1.
  • Office 365 ProPlus will also continue to be supported on Windows Server 2016 until October 2025.

Office 2016 connectivity support for Office 365 services
In addition, we are modifying the Office 365 services system requirements related to service connectivity. In February, we announced that starting October 13, 2020, customers will need Office 365 ProPlus or Office 2019 clients in mainstream support to connect to Office 365 services. To give you more time to transition fully to the cloud, we are now modifying that policy and will continue to support Office 2016 connections with the Office 365 services through October 2023.

Shift to a modern desktop

You’ve been talking, and we’ve been listening. Specifically, we’ve heard your feedback on desktop deployment, and we’re working hard to introduce new capabilities, services, and policies to help you on your way. The combination of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus delivers the most productive, most secure end user computing experience available. But we recognize that it takes time to both upgrade devices and operationalize new update processes. Today’s announcements are designed to respond to your feedback and make it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy a modern desktop. We know that there is still a lot of work to do. But we’re committed to working with you and systematically resolving any issues. We’d love to hear your thoughts and look forward to seeing you and discussing in more detail in the keynotes and sessions at Ignite in a few weeks!

Learn the tricks for using Microsoft Teams with Exchange

Using Microsoft Teams means Exchange administrators need to understand how this emerging collaboration service connects to the Exchange Online and Exchange on-premises systems.

At its 2017 Ignite conference, Microsoft unveiled its intelligent communications plan, which mapped out the movement of features from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, the Office 365 team collaboration service launched in March 2017. Since that September 2017 conference, Microsoft has added meetings and calling features to Teams, while also enhancing the product’s overall functionality.

Organizations that run Exchange need to understand how Microsoft Teams relies on Office 365 Groups, as well as the setup considerations Exchange administrators need to know.

How Microsoft Teams depends on Office 365 Groups

Each team in Microsoft Teams depends on the functionality provided by Office 365 Groups, such as shared mailboxes or SharePoint Online team sites. An organization can permit all users to create a team and Office 365 Group, or it can limit this ability by group membership. 

When creating a new team, it can be linked to an existing Office 365 Group; otherwise, a new group will be created.

Microsoft Teams layout
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s foray into the team collaboration space. Using Microsoft Teams with Exchange will require administrators to stay abreast of roadmap plans for proper configuration and utilization of the collaboration offering.

Microsoft adjusted settings recently so new Office 365 Groups created by Microsoft Teams do not appear in Outlook by default. If administrators want new groups to show in Outlook, they can use the Set-UnifiedGroup PowerShell command.

Microsoft Teams’ reliance on Office 365 Groups affects organizations that run an Exchange hybrid configuration. In this scenario, the Azure AD Connect group writeback feature can be enabled to synchronize Office 365 Groups to Exchange on premises as distribution groups. But this setting could lead to the creation of many Office 365 Groups created via Microsoft Teams that will appear in Exchange on premises. Administrators will need to watch this to see if the configuration will need to be adjusted.

Using Microsoft Teams with Exchange Online vs. Exchange on premises

As an Exchange Online customer, subscribers also get access to all the Microsoft Teams features. However, if the organization uses Exchange on premises, then certain functionality, such as the ability to modify user profile pictures and add connectors, is not available.

Microsoft Teams’ reliance on Office 365 Groups affects organizations that run an Exchange hybrid configuration.

Without connectors, users cannot plug third-party systems into Microsoft Teams; certain add-ins, like the Twitter connector that delivers tweets into a Microsoft Teams channel, cannot be used. Additionally, organizations that use Microsoft Teams with Exchange on-premises mailboxes must run on Exchange 2016 cumulative update 3 or higher to create and view meetings in Microsoft Teams.

Message hygiene services and Microsoft Teams

Antispam technology might need to be adjusted due to some Microsoft Teams and Exchange integration issues.

When a new member joins a team, the email.teams.microsoft.com domain sends an email to the new member. Microsoft owns this domain name, which the tenant administrator cannot adjust.

Because the domain is considered an external email domain to the organization’s Exchange Online deployment, the organization’s antispam configuration in Exchange Online Protection may mark the notification email as spam. Consequently, the new member might not receive the email or may not see it if it goes into the junk email folder.

To prevent this situation, Microsoft recommends adding email.teams.microsoft.com to the allowed domains list in Exchange Online Protection.

Complications with security and compliance tools

Administrators need to understand the security and compliance functionality when using Microsoft Teams with Exchange Online or Exchange on premises. Office 365 copies team channel conversations in the Office 365 Groups shared mailbox in Exchange Online so its security and compliance tools, such as eDiscovery, can examine the content. However, Office 365 stores copies of chat conversations in the users’ Exchange Online mailboxes, not the shared mailbox in Office 365 Groups.

Historically, Office 365 security and compliance tools could not access conversation content in an Exchange on-premises mailbox in a hybrid environment. Microsoft made changes to support this scenario, but customers must request this feature via Microsoft support.

Configure Exchange to send email to Microsoft Teams

An organization might want its users to have the ability to send email messages from Exchange Online or Exchange on premises to channels in Microsoft Teams. To send an email message to a channel, users need the channel’s email address and permission from the administrator. A right-click on a channel reveals the Get email address option. All the channels have a unique email address.

Administrators can restrict the domains permitted to send email to a channel in the Teams administrator settings in the new Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business admin center.

Digital marketing partnerships key to vendors’ channel strategies

For some vendors, the key to a thriving channel ecosystem means engaging and supporting a variety of partner types, including digital marketing partnerships.

Digital marketing organizations were among the earliest firms to recognize the IT budgets for marketing shifting from the purview of customers’ IT departments to marketing executives. Vendors took note of the agencies’ influence and unique reach within customer organizations. While on the surface, digital marketing agencies didn’t appear to be direct competition for traditional channel partners, some industry watchers asserted the agencies did in fact pose a potential threat. For example, agencies working on digital initiatives with a client’s marketing department could hypothetically annex the client’s infrastructure decisions, cutting channel partners out from those deals.

Vendors, however, view their digital marketing partnerships as an important subgroup of their overall partner ecosystems that, if anything, is complementary to a traditional channel base.

Progress cites potential partner synergies

Progress Software, an application development and deployment software vendor, said it sees an opportunity for digital marketing agencies to partner up with traditional channel firms.

Progress began to pursue digital marketing partnerships following its acquisition of app development vendor Telerik in 2014, said Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales at Progress. The Telerik buyout brought with it Sitefinity, a content management system, as well as digital marketing agencies that had been working with the product.

Matthew Gharegozlou, vice president of sales, Progress SoftwareMatthew Gharegozlou

“The acquisition of Telerik and Sitefinity gave us the ability to go after these relationships,” Gharegozlou said.

He noted that about 65% of Progress’ content management business is now derived from channel partners. About 80% of those partners are digital marketing agencies.

Progress’ traditional partners typically share a few traits: They work in the app development space, deal with customers’ IT departments and lack skill sets related to digital experience and digital marketing. “So far, we haven’t had any conflict” between traditional and agency partners, he said, because “the bulk of the experience needed on the digital side, our traditional partners don’t have it.”

Traditional Progress partners also usually have expertise in vertical industries, he said, adding that most are based in markets such as financial services, government, healthcare and education. “Our traditional partners are extremely knowledgeable” and have strong relationships in their vertical spaces, he said.

Because of traditional partners’ strengths, Gharegozlou said Progress looks to pair them up with digital marketing agencies for certain leads. Combining the expertise in back-end work and vertical markets with agencies’ expertise in web development and related technologies can produce compelling offerings. 

But while optimistic about these synergies, he recognized that a “full-service” digital marketing agency, which can do both the front-end and back-end work for a customer, diminishes the value that traditional partners may offer. In this sense, full-service agencies may be preferable to customers “because they can do the entire project,” he said.

Salesforce supports acquisition trend

For Salesforce, digital marketing partnerships play a critical role in advancing its marketing platform.

Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at SalesforceStephane Viallet

Salesforce has signed numerous digital marketing agencies over the last six years, spurred by several acquisitions to build out its business-to-commercial and marketing portfolio, said Stephane Viallet, vice president of global alliances, agencies, at Salesforce. Salesforce’s acquisitions have included digital marketing software company ExactTarget in 2013, as well as e-commerce provider Demandware and data management platform Krux in 2016. Viallet also cited Salesforce’s alliance with Google as a driver behind the company’s growing digital marketing agency partnerships.

“Partners, including digital marketing agencies, are the lifeblood of Salesforce, extending our platform in new and exciting ways and fueling our growth,” Viallet said in an email. He said Salesforce and its partners are pursuing opportunities created by “our ability to merge media, adtech and martech to execute on a whole new way for brands to connect with customers.”

Digital marketing organizations use Salesforce’s products such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud to offer “transformative digital experience that enable clients to meet consumer expectations,” he noted.

I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today.
Adrianna Bustamantedirector of digital sales and alliances, Rackspace

In addition to having digital marketing and advertising skills, Viallet said Salesforce seeks partners that understand “the importance of merging data, technology and creativity” to deliver customer experience strategies.

Viallet also pointed to a trend among digital marketing organizations acquiring Salesforce practices, such as Publicis.Sapient’s 2016 buyout of Vertiba, a Gold-level Salesforce Consulting partner.

Other notable acquisitions have included the following:

  • Wunderman bought a majority stake in Salesforce consultancy Pierry Inc. in September 2017.
  • Dentsu Aegis purchased Swiss digital marketing company Blue-Infinity in January 2017.
  • MRM//McCann acquired e-commerce service provider Optaros in December 2014.

“Digital marketing agencies haven’t just built Salesforce practices around the globe organically — they’ve been acquiring them as well,” he said. “Salesforce supports these collaborations as we work to provide our partners with an edge that enables them to exceed customers’ expectations.”

Rackspace: Little overlap between the channels

Managed cloud provider Rackspace, meanwhile, looks at digital marketing partnerships differently: Traditional channel firms and digital marketing agencies can do business with the same customers without necessarily encroaching on each other’s turf.

Rackspace’s alliances with digital marketing agencies stem from its digital services practice. Launched in 2014, Rackspace Digital provides application and infrastructure hosting for web content management systems, e-commerce products, and mobile and critical application services. Adrianna Bustamante, Rackspace’s director of digital sales and alliances, noted that the company has formally developed strategic digital marketing partnerships since about 2010.

Adrianna Bustamante, director of digital sales and alliances, RackspaceAdrianna Bustamante

“I think often agencies can help us get into areas of the business or with clients that we may not thoroughly be in today,” Bustamante said.That’s partly because digital marketing organizations tend to target a customer’s marketing department — versus the IT department.

“Nowadays … your traditional agencies have to be more digitally focused. … But still their main focus is very much around the consulting, the service and the creative — potentially integration and development,” Bustamante said.

She noted that the line between digital marketing organizations and systems integrators are blurring. Digital marketing organizations now look a lot more like systems integrators, while systems integrators “look a lot more like agencies,” she said.

Rackspace works with its agency partners in reseller and referral models. The company offers enablement resources for creating “sticky engagements for their customers and successful projects,” she said, while Rackspace focuses on the back end to ensure their projects meet scale, security and compliance requirements.

“We are heavily focused on trying to … accelerate now in certain verticals and certain segments, now in midmarket and enterprise. We can form a strong partnership when the agency realizes and understands that we are that trusted partner for them,” she said.

Rackspace generally doesn’t see any tension between its traditional and digital marketing partnerships, according to Bustamante.

“There might be several partners that we might have within … a certain customer that we are working with, but they might be working on five different projects, 20 different workloads, across three different business units,” she said.

Versa SD-WAN counts progress in customer wins, not ‘dollars’

Success in the software-defined WAN market means more than revenue, at least according to one SD-WAN exec, who backs his claim by touting the number of licenses his firm has obtained since 2012.

“While others are talking about their progress in dollars, we’ve been quietly progressing in winning service providers and enterprises and getting them under contract,” said Kelly Ahuja, CEO and president of Versa Networks, based in San Jose, Calif.

Versa counts more than 150,000 global contract licenses since the firm was founded six years ago. Versa SD-WAN customers include enterprises, as well as more than 50 service providers, including Verizon, Comcast Business, CenturyLink and China Telecom.

Yet “progress in dollars” remains a key metric, according to market watcher IHS Markit, which reported 2018 second quarter SD-WAN revenues reaching $162 million, a 12% jump from over a year ago.

The IHS Markit report ranked VeloCloud — acquired by VMware in 2017 — as segment leader, with 19% market share. Aryaka and Silver Peak trailed, recording shares of 18% and 12%, respectively.

Kelly Ahuja, CEO of Versa NetworksKelly Ahuja

Versa SD-WAN wasn’t listed in the IHS report, which included appliances and control and management software as part of the revenue numbers. But Ahuja said revenue is just one dimension of market traction, as vendor products and offerings widely vary. Versa numbers and revenue, for example, don’t include hardware, as the company is subscription only, he added.

“Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market,” Ahuja said.

Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market.
Kelly Ahujapresident and CEO of Versa Networks

Versa Networks offers three types of license tiers: standard, advanced and secure SD-WAN. The secure SD-WAN service comes with a next-generation firewall and unified threat management and accounted for about 70% of the 150,000 licenses, Ahuja added. Further, customers can purchase Versa SD-WAN licenses based on throughput requirements, which ranges depending on customer type.

“A lot of our business is business to business — to service providers that then sell to enterprises,” he said. “Their customers are typically financial, transportation, retail, hospitality and healthcare.”

Ahuja said the majority of enterprises Versa serves consists of organizations with large internal IT teams that can deploy and manage the service themselves. These include global oil and gas companies, brand-name technology vendors, retailers, and banks and financial firms such as Capital One.

5G networks advance in U.S. with expanded trials

In recent telecom news, the subject is 5G networks almost all the time, whether that means fixed broadband 5G mobile services trials. Telecom operators and equipment vendors have almost daily updates about 5G trials and rollout plans. AT&T and Verizon 5G have recently announced more specifics about their paths to 5G services in the U.S.

Beyond next-generation wireless, public Wi-Fi networks will get shored-up security with the release of the new WPA3 standard later this year. And on the subject of security, Verizon recently acquired a threat detection startup that uses machine learning to detect compromised equipment within an organization.

Here’s a closer look at the details.

Operators move forward on 5G networks

Verizon plans to launch 5G fixed wireless service in three to five cities later this year, but the launch is only “one slice” of its broad 5G and overall network plans, Verizon CTO Hans Vestberg said at a recent investor relations event. 

The 5G networks economics of Verizon’s fixed broadband service are good because the company is planning to move from operating seven vertical networks to one horizontal network that will work with a unified core, transport and fiber transport. Vestberg said Verizon will deploy an intelligent edge network that will be able to serve a particular customer whether the customer is on Verizon’s FiOS fiber service or its wireless LTE network. That will make the economics of Verizon’s 5G fixed broadband services better because most of the 5G network assets will be shared, Vestberg said.

The network evolution at Verizon will take years to complete, but it will be a major part of how Verizon reaches its target of saving $10 billion over the next four years, Vestberg added.

Looking toward 5G mobile services, AT&T plans to launch what it describes as mobile 5G services this year in 12 U.S. cities by using small cells deployed closer to the ground than the radios that support LTE placed at the top of towers. According to RCRWireless, AT&T’s first round of mobile 5G will use millimeter wave spectrum (between 30 GHz and 300 GHz) that offers higher capacity rates than low-band spectrum doesn’t propagate over long distances, so the radios need to be closer together than in LTE deployments. AT&T’s VP of network architecture Hank Kafka said millimeter wave can be placed on telephone poles, building rooftops or on towers but at a lower height than a macrocell because of the propagation characteristics. Out of 23 cities slated to receive AT&T’s 5G Evolution infrastructure — described as a foundation to AT&T’s evolution to full 5G while 5G standards are being finalized — AT&T hasn’t specified which cities will roll out the mobile services this year. Kafka said the rollouts will require significant zoning and permit negotiations.

Wi-Fi security upgrade incoming in 2018

Wi-Fi security is getting a long-awaited upgrade in 2018 later this year. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced plans for WPA3, a new security standard that will replace WPA2, a security protocol almost two decades old that is built in to protect almost every wireless device.

According to ZDNet, the move to WPA3 will make open Wi-Fi networks found in places like airports and coffee shops safer by applying individualized data encryption that will scramble the connection between each device and the router. The security will also block an attacker after excessive failed password guesses.

Verizon acquires autonomous threat detection startup

Verizon recently acquired Niddel, an autonomous threat detection service company that uses machine-learning to detect compromised or infected devices inside an organization. The acquisition price of the company was not disclosed. Founded in 2014, the company’s primary product, Niddel Magnet, is a subscription-based automated service that reduces the need for organizations to hire qualified security analysts when dealing with compromised machines.

According to TechCrunch (a publication owned by Verizon), Niddel uses a variety of information from more than 50 internal and external sources to track security threats that could affect machines in customer organizations.

“Using machine learning to improve information accuracy significantly reduces false positives and significantly improves our detection and response capabilities,” Alexander Schlager, Verizon’s executive director of security services, said in a statement. Verizon has said it will look to incorporate this Niddel’s technology into Verizon products and services in the coming months.

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.

Football fans: NFL on Windows is your ultimate live game day companion – The Fire Hose

Fall means football, and football means the NFL. With the NFL on Windows app, you get the ultimate live game day companion for updates on the latest stories, scores and trending topics.

Throughout the season, track your favorite teams and fantasy players with personalized notifications as big plays happen on the field, and never miss a moment with in-game highlights from around the league.

Download NFL on Windows for free from the Windows Store.

Also, keep up with what’s hot, new and trending in the Windows Store on Twitter and Facebook.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Tags: Apps, NFL on Windows, Windows Store

For Sale – Alienware 17 R4 + Graphics Amplifier – £1100

Hi all,

For sale is my Alienware 17 R4 and Alienware Graphics Amplifier (means you can use desktop GPU with the laptop). Don’t use it much and recently bought some other toys so have to make some space.

Spec:
Intel i7 6700HQ
16GB RAM
2 * 250GB EVO 960’s in raid0 (stupidly quick)
GTX 1060
FHD IPS display

Condition is very good – there is one small mark on the edge of the case, but its not noticeable day-to-day. Otherwise there isn’t anything else of note.

It’s built like a tank and performs very well. Hasn’t missed a beat. Warranty is till March 2018 with Dell.

I’d like the buyer to collect as its a bit too heavy and pricey to ship, then he/she can also be happy with the condition etc…

Comes with box, charger, alienware graphics amplifier (and cable) and Alienware messenger bag (although its quite a tight fit in the bag). Current RRP for all this would be around the £3k mark!

I occasionally travel so may be able to facilitate a deal.

Price and currency: £1100
Delivery: Goods must be exchanged in person
Payment method: BT / Cash
Location: Sheffield
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
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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.