Tag Archives: Microsoft

Azure feature updates in 2017 play catch up to AWS

Microsoft Azure already solidified its position as the second most popular public cloud, and critical additions in 2017 brought the Azure feature set closer to parity with AWS.

In some cases, Azure leapfrogged its competition. But a bevy of similar products bolstered the platform as a viable alternative to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Some Microsoft initiatives broadened the company’s database portfolio. Others lowered the barrier to entry for Azure, and pushed further into IoT and AI. And the long-awaited, on-premises machine, Azure Stack, seeks to tap surging interest to make private data centers obsolete.

Like all the major public cloud providers, Microsoft Azure doubled down on next-generation applications that rely on serverless computing and machine learning. Among the new products are Machine Learning Workbench, intended to improve productivity in developing and deploying AI applications, and Azure Event Grid, which helps route and filter events built in serverless architectures. Some important upgrades to Azure IoT Suite included managed services for analytics on data collected through connected devices, and Azure IoT Edge, which extends Azure functionality to connected devices.

Many of those Azure features are too advanced for most corporations that lack a team of data scientists. However, companies have begun to explore other services that rely on these underlying technologies in areas such as vision, language and speech recognition.

AvePoint, an independent software vendor in Jersey City, N.J., took note of the continued investment by Microsoft this past year in its Azure Cognitive Services, a turnkey set of tools to get better results from its applications.

“If you talk about business value that’s going to drive people to use the platform, it’s hard to find a more business-related need than helping people do things smartly,” said John Peluso, Microsoft regional director at AvePoint.

Microsoft also joined forces with AWS on Gluon, an open source, deep learning interface intended to simplify the use of machine learning models for developers. And the company added new machine types that incorporate GPUs for AI modeling.

Azure compute and storage get some love, too

Microsoft’s focus wasn’t solely on higher-level Azure services. In fact, the areas in which it caught up the most with AWS were in its core compute and storage capabilities.

The B-Series are the cheapest machines available on Azure and are designed for workloads that don’t always need great CPU performance, such as test and development or web servers. But more importantly, they provide an on-ramp to the platform for those who want to sample Azure services.

Another Azure feature addition was the M-Series machines that can support SAP workloads with up to 20 TBs of memory, a new bare-metal VM and the incorporation of Kubernetes into Azure’s container service.

“I don’t think anybody believes they are on par [with AWS] today, but they have momentum at scale and that’s important,” said Deepak Mohan, an analyst at IDC.

In storage, Managed Disks is a new Azure feature that handles storage resource provisioning as applications scale. Archive Storage provides a cheap option to house data as an alternative to Amazon Glacier, as well as a standard access model to manage data across all the storage tiers.

Reserved VM Instances emulate AWS’ popular Reserved Instances to provide significant cost-savings for advanced purchases and deeper discounts for customers that link the machines to their Windows Server licenses. Azure also added low-priority VMs– the equivalent to AWS Spot Instances — that can provide even further savings but should be limited to batch-type projects due to the fact that they can be pre-empted.

It looks to me like Azure is very much openly and shamelessly following the roadmap of AWS.
Jason McKaysenior vice president and CTO, Logicworks

The addition of Azure Availability Zones was a crucial update for mission-critical workloads that need high availability. It brings greater fault tolerance to the platform through the ability to spread workloads across regions and achieve a guaranteed 99.99% uptime.

“It looks to me like Azure is very much openly and shamelessly following the roadmap of AWS,” said Jason McKay, senior vice president and CTO at Logicworks, a cloud managed service provider in New York.

And that’s not a bad thing, because Microsoft has always been good at being a fast follower, McKay said. There’s a fair amount of parity in the service catalogs for Azure and AWS, though Azure’s design philosophy is a bit more tightly coupled between its services. That means potentially slightly less creativity, but more functionality out of the box compared to AWS, McKay said.

Databases and private data centers

Azure Database Migration Service has helped customers transition from their private data centers to Azure. Microsoft also added full compatibility between SQL Server and the fully managed Azure SQL database service.

Azure Cosmos DB, a fully managed NoSQL cloud database, may not see a wave of adoption any time soon, but has the potential to be an exciting new technology to manage databases on a global scale. And in Microsoft’s continued evolution to embrace open source technologies, the company added MySQL and PostgreSQL support to the Azure database lineup as well.

The company also improved management and monitoring, which incorporates tools from Microsoft’s acquisition of Cloudyn, as well as added security. Azure confidential computing encrypts data while in use, in addition to encryption options at rest and in transit, while Azure Policy added new governance capabilities to enforce corporate rules at scale.

Other important security upgrades include Azure App Service Isolated, which made it easier to install dedicated virtual networks in the platform-as-a-service layer. The Azure DDoS Protection service aims to protect against DDoS attacks, new capabilities put firewalls around data in Azure Storage, and end points within the Azure virtual network limit the exposure of data to the public internet to access various multi-tenant Azure services.

Azure Stack’s late arrival

Perhaps Microsoft’s biggest cloud product isn’t part of its public cloud. After two years of fanfare, Azure Stack finally went on sale in late 2017. It transfers many of the tools found on the Azure public cloud within private facilities, for customers that have higher regulatory demands or simply aren’t ready to vacate their data center.

“That’s a huge area of differentiation for Microsoft,” Mohan said. “Everybody wants true compatibility between services on premises and services in the cloud.”

Rather than build products that live on premises, AWS joined with VMware to build a bridge for customers that want their full VMware stack on AWS either for disaster recovery or extension of their data centers. Which approach will succeed depends on how protracted the shift to public cloud becomes — and a longer delay in that shift favors Azure Stack, Mohan said.

Trevor Jones is a senior news writer with SearchCloudComputing and SearchAWS. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

How a custom Microsoft app is helping the Caribbean rebuild after hurricanes

Workers gather data using the Microsoft Building Damage Assessment app in Barbuda. The island was home to 1,600 people, all of whom were evacuated after Hurricane Irma. (United Nations Development Program Photo)

Travel for this story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

CODRINGTON, Barbuda — Last month at a United Nations donor conference, the international community pledged $1.3 billion to rebuild the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean. But how did they know how much the region, which was hit with back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes in September, needs to recover? In part thanks to a new app and software bundle from Microsoft, developed in collaboration with U.N. relief workers.

The prosaically named Building Damage Assessment app turned out to play a vital role in assessing the devastation of Barbuda and Dominica, two islands that faced the full force of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, respectively. Optimized for tablet, the Building Damage Assessment allows volunteers in the field with minimal training to quickly input data about structural damage through a series of drop-down questions, and collect photographs for visual evidence. The data is stored offline and then uploaded via the cloud when the tablet gets back in mobile data or wi-fi range. Professionals, meanwhile, can analyze the data using Microsoft Power BI to tabulate the total amount of damage and detect trends, like certain types of building materials that were more prone to collapse.

Data from the Building Damage Assessment App, shown in Microsoft Power BI.

The results have impressed even seasoned post-disaster professionals like Ugo Blanco of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “It’s going to change the way assessments have been done,” he said. “It can be deployed any time, anywhere. In a few days, we can have the teams in any country in the world.”

Microsoft developed a beta iteration of the Building Damage Assessment in 2015 as part of its humanitarian responses to the earthquakes in Nepal, but the software didn’t come into its own until this year’s double-whammy of hurricanes, when UNDP reached back out for technical assistance. The software giant allocated ten employees to the project and donated 70 Microsoft Surface tablets as well as keyboards and digital pens for use in the field, part of a $6.3-million post-hurricane philanthropic contribution.

Unlike a traditional software project, the client — the United Nations — needed the final product as soon as possible. “With people suffering, moving fast was really important, and we felt that the time that normal application development takes would not work in this situation,” Microsoft’s Humanitarian Response Manager Cameron Birge said via e-mail. “Given UNDP’s need to rapidly deploy, this meant the team had to respond and react more quickly, as challenges in information gathering and UX arose.”

Workers check data on the Building Damage Assessment app. (United Nations Development Program Photo)

A month after the storms, the Building Damage Assessment was ready to go. Barbuda is home to 1,600 people, all of whom were evacuated after Hurricane Irma. In early November, its 1,250 structures became the first complete assessment on a hurricane-hit island. Only a few United Nations relief workers were on the ground, so the U.N. staff recruited local volunteers and put them into 12 teams that fanned out across Codrington, Barbuda’s lone settlement.

Each team included a volunteer trained in the Building Damage Assessment app, an architect or building engineer who could assess damage, and a local who knew the neighborhood and its residents. In 10-15 minutes, the team would determine the state of the building and collect as much information as possible about the inhabitants – family size, gender, age, occupation – in a series of 46 questions.

Adradene Walker was one of the volunteers handling a tablet. After an hour-long orientation workshop, she was sent out into the field and said working with the brand-new app was a breeze.

(Google Earth Image)

“Everything was straightforward,” she told me. “It was even easier than some online forms.” Walker has some data-entry experience from her job as a secretary at the Barbuda secondary school. She owns a smartphone and an HP 3-in-1 laptop. With drop-down menus, the app is designed to be easy to use for anyone with mobile technology literacy.

In five days, the teams assessed all of the buildings on Barbuda in time for the donor conference at U.N Headquarters. While initial reports in the immediate aftermath of the storm indicated that 90% of buildings on Barbuda were damaged, the Building Damage Assessment determined that about half of the structures are ready to move back in or need relatively minor, handyman-level repairs. The other half need serious repairs or have to rebuilt from scratch. That kind of data helped the U.N. determine the rough cost of $79 million to repair and rebuild Barbuda’s housing stock, the kind of hard number necessary to make a pledging conference yield valuable results.

Using technology in post-disaster scenarios is not without pitfalls, of course, especially given power outages. Generators continue to govern life on Barbuda, and nearby Antigua, 39 miles away, offered a stable place to return at the end of the day with reliable electricity and Internet. (Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island country.) Dominica has proven a more daunting task. There are 25,000 structures to be assessed by 30 teams. UNDP estimates it will take two months to finish the job there. As power is slowly restored, police stations are the only reliable source of electricity in remote areas. Tablets also must weather difficult conditions – several overheated in the Barbuda sun – so cases are de rigueur.

A worker takes a picture of hurricane damage using the Microsoft app. (United Nations Development Program Photo)

Fortunately, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 can work offline and still collect GPS coordinates. With mobile roaming data, the app can upload 30 questionnaires in ten seconds to collect the most vital data, while photos can be held until there is a WiFi connection.

As the tool continues its work in Dominica, UNDP and Microsoft are already discussing future improvements to user experience, like further streamlining the questionnaire to minimize keyboard entries, which are prone to errors in the high-pressure field environment.

The tool’s desktop data analysis has also helped build local capacity in an underdeveloped region. “The Building Damage Assessment gave us information that the government has never had before,” Blanco said, citing detailed info among the million-plus data points on the location of damaged buildings, the type of debris, and what kinds of roofs were most prone to failure. He describes the user-friendly visual display as valuable for technicians at a housing ministry but also easy-to-understand for a prime minister or president.

“This information is critical evidence,” Blanco said. “You can make policy decisions on how to rebuild.”

Above all, the Building Damage Assessment has proven that a digital approach is the future of disaster relief. “I’ve been in many post-disaster situations. In the best case we’ve had info we can’t use – thousands of pages we did not have time to go through or input to Excel,” Blanco said. “We are dealing with millions of data points. You cannot do that with paper.”

New Microsoft Pix features let you take bigger, wider pictures and turns your videos into comics – Microsoft Research

Microsoft has released two new features with today’s update to Microsoft Pix for iOS, an app powered by a suite of intelligent algorithms developed by Microsoft researchers to take the guesswork out of getting beautiful photos and videos.

The first of these features, Photosynth, helps create photos that take in more of the perspective or scene you are standing in front of, whether it is wide, tall, or both. It does this by allowing you to freely pan and capture from side to side, up and down, back and forth, and even go back to the start to include any parts of the scene you may have missed.

“The idea came after some frustrations I had when trying to take a picture of Snoqualmie Falls. I didn’t want to have to choose which part of the scene to capture, and I wanted it all with detail. Photosynth means you no longer have to choose. I can now capture the whole scene in a way that feels natural. As with all Pix features, we have also worked to give the best image quality by introducing more intelligent ways to compute exposure and stitching,” said Josh Weisberg, principal program manager within Microsoft’s AI & Research organization in Redmond, Washington.

Photosynth, originally a popular platform for turning digital pictures into 3D panoramas, was launched by Microsoft in 2008 and decommissioned in 2017. Photosynth in Pix shares similarities with the original, leveraging some of the underlying technology, with more features inspired by the original to come. Photosynth in Pix allows for faster and smoother capture, while also making use of Pix’s auto-enhancement capabilities which improve white balance, tone correction and sharpness.

The second feature, Pix Comix, was developed during Microsoft’s OneWeek hackathon and makes use of the core Pix feature Moment Capture in an innovative new way: identifying the most interesting frames in a video to generate a comic strip. Pix uses its deep learning model to score and select three high-quality frames, searching specifically for non-blurry photos, faces with eyes open and interesting scenes.

Pix Comix performs this AI processing on device, selecting the best frames and formatting them into a comic strip. From there, you can add and edit speech bubbles that can be moved, rotated and resized to tell your own story.

Listening and responding to customer feedback on Pix remains a top priority as the app continues to improve and its AI capabilities are further developed. Today’s release marks another step forward in Pix’s commitment to turning that user feedback into new ways to make your pictures even better.

Related:

What are the key System Center DPM 2016 features?

There are many commercial data protection tools, but Microsoft updated System Center Data Protection Manager 2016…

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with a number of enterprise-grade features to aid IT pros in their backup and recovery efforts.

System Center DPM 2016 protects and restores data resources deployed in multiple ways — at the system, file, application and VM levels — across the organization to give IT enormous flexibility and granularity in data protection policies and practices.

At the system level, System Center DPM 2016 creates bare-metal backups for 32- and 64-bit client systems that run Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. System Center DPM 2016 protects 32- and 64-bit server systems on Windows Storage Server 2008, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 with SP1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016.

But backups are not an all-or-nothing proposition. DPM also protects at the file level to back up system volumes, folders and individual files on Windows systems.

At the application level, DPM provides native backup and restoration services for major enterprise applications. DPM covers SQL Server, including SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2012 with SP1, SQL Server 2012 with SP2, SQL Server 2014 and SQL Server 2016. DPM also protects Exchange Server, including Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010, Exchange 2013 and Exchange 2016. DPM supports backups for SharePoint, including SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016. DPM 2016 also protects System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), specifically VMM 2012 and VMM 2016 — along with the SP1 and R2 versions.

DPM 2016 supports backup and restoration of VMs in Windows environments. Administrators deploy DPM protection agents in Hyper-V host servers, Hyper-V clusters and individual VMs. DPM safeguards VMs that run Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. DPM also protects Linux that runs as a Hyper-V guest operating system.

DPM 2016 supports three principal backup targets: disk, cloud and tape. Disk is the most common and traditional backup target. The administrator can enlist pools of low-cost, high-volume disks — such as Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or Serial-Attached SCSI — for backup tasks. For additional security, the IT admin can set up replication of this disk storage to an off-site location, such as a secondary data center.

DPM 2016 hooks into the public cloud — specifically through the Azure Backup service — as a backup target. This feature gives the enterprise flexibility and satisfies the need for off-premises storage. While the traditional disadvantages of tape storage mean many organizations have moved on to other options, DPM 2016 works with local and remote tape storage.

A key feature of DPM 2016 is its restoration flexibility … DPM gives the option to rebuild data to alternate destinations.

A key feature of DPM 2016 is its restoration flexibility. Admins can restore data to its original location. However, if that is not possible or desirable, DPM gives the option to rebuild data to alternate destinations or targets.

In System Center DPM 2016, Microsoft introduced what it calls Modern Backup Storage on machines that run Windows Server 2016. The company said the incremental backup feature — which uses Resilient File System block cloning and VHDX functionality — cuts storage needs by 50 percent and shortens backup times by three. Microsoft also added support for resilient change tracking, which eliminated consistency checks and backs up only changed blocks.

Last Chance holiday savings at Microsoft Store begin today – Windows Experience Blog

It’s not too late to save big on last-minute holiday deals from Microsoft Store.*

Words on a white background that read, last second gifts

Still scrambling to find those final few gifts? Microsoft Store has the perfect last-minute gifts with major savings on the season’s hottest products like Surface, Xbox, Windows Mixed Reality headsets and PC bundles, accessories and more to get you through the final shopping push. You can still get your gifts in time for the holidays by picking up your online purchase at your local Microsoft Store open through Dec. 24.

Keep reading for the final holiday deals of the season from Microsoft Store kicking off today!

Surface, Xbox one S and an Xbox controller pictured together

Last-minute deals at the best price for those left on your list:

  • Save up to $80 on select Xbox One S 500GB bundles, now starting at $199, plus a free select game (through Jan. 6, 2018) **
  • Get PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) for a limited time with an Xbox One X purchase (through Jan. 6, 2018)
  • Save up to $100 on select Xbox One S 1TB bundles, now for $299 (through Jan. 6, 2018)
  • Save $20 on select Xbox Wireless Controllers including the Minecraft Creeper and Minecraft Pig editions with purchase of the Minecraft Explorers Pack (through Dec. 30)
  • Get $10 off Super Lucky’s Tale, Disneyland Adventures, Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection or Pixar’s Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure
  • Get $20 off Halo Wars 2, Gears of War 4, Forza Motorsport 7 and Forza Horizon 3
  • Plus! Get a Limited-Edition Xbox Holiday Ornament with any purchase at your local Microsoft Store. For terms and conditions click here.
  • Save $200 on select Surface Pro and Laptop i5 devices, starting at $799 (through Dec. 31)
  • Buy a select Surface device and get the new Harman Kardon Invoke speaker, $199 value (through Dec. 24) ***
  • Save up to $650 on Windows Mixed Reality headsets and select gaming PC bundles (through Dec. 31)
  • Save up to $500 on select PCs, starting at $329 (through Jan. 2, 2018)
  • Save up to $50 on select Fitbit devices (through Dec. 24)
  • Save $10 on the Bose SoundLink Micro Speaker (through Dec. 30)
  • Save $60 on Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones (through Dec. 26)
  • Save $50 on select EERO home WiFi products (through Dec. 24)
  • Save $30 on select JBL Speakers (through Dec. 30)
  • Save $20 on Circle Media with Disney (through Dec. 24)

Countdown to 2018 sale kicks off Dec. 22

Words on a white background that read, countdown to 2018

Here’s a sneak peek into digital deals starting on Dec. 22 through Jan. 4, including this year’s hottest games, movies and TV. For those who are truly hard to shop for, let them choose their perfect gift with a digital gift card to Microsoft Store online, on Windows 10, and on Xbox. Limitations apply.

  • Xbox Digital Games: Save up to 65 percent on Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Forza Motorsport 7 and more. Plus, Xbox Live Gold members save up to 10 percent more.
  • PC Games: Save up to 50 percent on popular PC games, including Cuphead, World of Warships and others.
  • Books: Save up to 80 percent on Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Objective, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff, Etiquette and Espionage and others.
  • Movies & TV: Save up to 60 percent on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Spider-Man: Homecoming and others.
  • Apps: Save up to 75 percent on Affinity Photo, Dolby Access, djay Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018, Drawboard PDF and others.

Don’t forget to share your most inspiring wish through the Microsoft Wish Machine at any Microsoft Store across the U.S.Canada and Sydney, Australia. Wishes are already being granted so get yours in today through Dec. 31! For official rules, including prize descriptions, click here.

For more information on Xbox deals at Microsoft Store and other participating retailers head to Xbox Wire.

Happy shopping!

*Offer valid while supplies last. Promo period varies for each deal. Deal availability varies in select markets. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or coupon code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Other exclusions and limits may apply. 

**Offer valid from 9:00 PM PST on November 16, 2017 to 11:59 PM PST on December 31, 2017, while supplies last. Available only in Microsoft retail and online store in the United States (including Puerto Rico). Offer valid only on select Xbox One S consoles. Excludes Xbox One X, refurbished and pre-order consoles. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or promo code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Limit of 3 offers per customer. Other exclusions and limits may apply.

***Offer valid from December 2, 2017 to December 24, 2017, while supplies last. Available only in Microsoft retail and online store in United States. Offer valid only on select Surface i7 laptop, Surface i7 Pro, Surface Studio, and Harmon Kardon Invoke when purchased together in same transaction. Not valid on prior orders or purchases; cannot be transferred or otherwise redeemed for cash or promo code(s). May not be combinable with other offers. Refunds will take into account the discount. Price discount does not include taxes, shipping or other fees. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Microsoft reserves the right to modify or discontinue offers at any time. Limit of 1 offer per customer. Other exclusions and limits may apply. 

Updated December 19, 2017 1:00 pm

Microsoft and Facebook disrupt ZINC malware attack to protect customers and the internet from ongoing cyberthreats – Microsoft on the Issues

Last week Microsoft, working together with Facebook and others in the security community, took strong steps to protect our customers and the internet from ongoing attacks by an advanced persistent threat actor known to us as ZINC, also known as the Lazarus Group. We concluded that this threat actor was responsible for WannaCry, a destructive attack in May that targeted Microsoft customers. Among other steps, last week we helped disrupt the malware this group relies on, cleaned customers’ infected computers, disabled accounts being used to pursue cyberattacks and strengthened Windows defenses to prevent reinfection. We took this action after consultation with several governments, but made the decision independently. We anticipate providing more information about our actions and their effect in the coming months once we have had the opportunity to analyze applicable data and information.

Today, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan have all announced that the government of North Korea is responsible for the activities of ZINC/Lazarus. We are pleased to see these governments making this strong statement of attribution. If the rising tide of nation-state attacks on civilians is to be stopped, governments must be prepared to call out the countries that launch them. Today’s announcement represents an important step in government and private sector action to make the internet safer.

Microsoft welcomed the opportunity to work with Facebook and others in recent weeks to address this issue. As we look to 2018, it’s essential that we act with shared responsibility to strengthen further the partnerships with the security community and governments to combat cyberattacks against civilians. There is much we can build on from our longstanding work with private industry partners, Interpol, Europol, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in our ongoing efforts to combat botnets and other cybercrime.

Tags: Brad Smith, cybersecurity, malware

Microsoft Intune and Jamf Pro: Better Together to Manage and Secure Macs

This post is co-authored by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft and Dean Hager, CEO, Jamf.

At the Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC) in October, we talked about how our partnership would provide an automated compliance-based solution for secure access to corporate data from Mac devices. This solution uses Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) conditional access and Jamf Pro Mac management capabilities to ensure that company data can only be accessed by trusted users, from trusted devices, using trusted apps.

Today, Microsoft and Jamf are proud to make this integration generally available to our shared customers. Jamf customers can upgrade to Jamf Pro 10.1 to get started today.  The EMS cloud services have already been updated with this functionality and are available globally.

Every organization wants to ensure that only trusted users, on trusted devices, using trusted apps get access to their data.  However, the perimeter-based security model that organizations have traditionally used is no longer effective in providing this level of security when the data is increasingly outside of the corporate firewall – in cloud services and on mobile devices.  To address this challenge, EMS has delivered a unique set of security controls for the modern world. Each time access to corporate data is requested, EMS is able to quickly determine if the request is in fact coming from a trusted user, on a trusted device, with a trusted app. Access is then “conditionally” granted to company data based on the policies IT has defined — and this action relies on the unique data and intelligence in the Microsoft Cloud. This identity-driven security model is what is needed in the modern world of cloud services and mobile devices.

Given the increasing sophistication of the attacks and the speed at which these attacks are designed to spread, organizations require solutions that put the power of intelligent clouds working on their behalf 24×7 to assist them in protecting the organization. Conditional access gives IT the power to enforce policies that work in real-time based on the intelligence in the Microsoft Cloud. With this partnership, Jamf is continually feeding the rich data on Macs from Jamf Pro into the Microsoft Cloud – further strengthening the ability of the Microsoft Cloud to protect access to company data.

The reasoning behind this partnership is simple: Our mutual customers were looking for a way to enforce EMS conditional access policies across all the devices their users chose to use — PCs, mobile devices, and Macs. We combined the power of the unified endpoint management and conditional access in EMS with Jamf’s Mac device management capabilities to meet the needs of our mutual customers, focusing on three key functions:

  1. Jamf admins will now be able to sync their Mac inventory data with Intune and the Microsoft Cloud. With critical information about the security status of managed Macs, this inventory opens up the ability to do single-pane-of-glass reporting within Intune.
  2. This inventory data can then be analyzed by Intune’s compliance engine to generate a report and then, combined with intelligence about the user’s identity, enforce conditional access via EMS. If the Mac is compliant with the conditional access policies IT has set, it will be given access to the protected company resources.
  3. This integration also provides a user-friendly remediation experience for noncompliant devices. Users are seamlessly directed back to Jamf Self Service to fix any security issues causing the device to be non-compliant and preventing them from accessing company data.

Here’s an overview of the architecture for this integration:

Both of our teams are excited to continue working together to enable this functionality for our mutual customers. Because these solutions now work together, IT can enjoy the management power of each ecosystem with the simplicity of inventory reporting in a single pane of glass. We are looking forward to hearing your feedback and continuing to add new features in the coming year.

Since the announcement on this partnership, we have had the opportunity to personally talk with more than 100 joint customers.  The feedback has been universally positive.  This is a solution that is integrated, modern, and is loved by users and trusted by IT.

We are genuinely excited to make these capabilities generally available and can’t wait to see how our customers will use them.

To learn more about Jamf’s Microsoft Intune integration, please visit:

To learn more about Intune, please visit:

For Sale – Microsoft Surface Book – i7 – 16GB Ram – 1TB SSD – GFX Card – Accessories

Microsoft Surface Book.

13.5″ Screen (3000 x 2000)
Core i7 6600OU CPU.
16GB LPDDR3 ram.
1TB SSD drive.
Nvidia GeForce 940M.
USB 3.0.
Dual Band AC Wi-Fi.

Accessories:

Microsoft dock & all important ‘active’ mini display to HDMI cable.
Microsoft pen.
Microsoft pen tip pack.
Microsoft charger.
Bluetooth mouse.
Car charger.
Black leather case.

Very light use and everything is in spotless and unmarked condition, the surfacebook has absolutely zero marks anywhere. The touch screen has never been used. 14 Months old, may have receipt, not sure will have to root around.

Selling to move to a Dell XPS 13 which are slightly smaller and suit my needs more.

Any trial before purchase welcome.

Cheers.

Price and currency: 1250
Delivery: Delivery cost is not included
Payment method: BT or PPG
Location: Hartlepool
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

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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:

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

How Have the Seattle Seahawks Sold Out 127 Consecutive Games (and Counting)? A Relentless Focus on Customer Experience

Watch any NFL game and you’ll see player and coaches reviewing videos and images on light-blue Microsoft Surface tablets. But Microsoft’s involvement with the NFL goes much deeper than sideline branding.

Just ask the Seattle Seahawks, who use Microsoft technology on the field to improve player training, recover, and wellness, and off the field to innovate and execute for its rabid fan base — so well that the Seahawks have sold out 127 straight home games (and counting) and were ranked #1 in game day experience by the NFL’s ‘Voice of the Fan.’

To find out more about the Seahawk’s digital transformation, I talked with Amy Sprangers, VP of Corporate Sponsorship 

Any technologies you adopt have to serve multiple goals. You’re not just in the football business; you’re in the entertainment business, the hospitality business…

Our objective is to be on the frontline of embracing technology on the field, to identify the right investments to make sure our franchise succeeds. The detailed data we gather helps improve recovery time, reduces time off the field, maximizes our players’ impact when it comes to game time…

But you’re right. Off the field obviously matters, too. We want to connect closely with our fans to give them the best experience when they come to the stadium — and when they go to an opposing team’s stadium on the road. We constantly want to improve how we connect with fans. We’re proud we are ranked #1 in game day experience, but we want that experience to get even better.

So how do you turn all that data into actionable insights?

It starts with clearly defining your objectives. For us, that means making sure our fans have an incredible experience.

We have data to support that. We’ve sold out 127 consecutive home games. Over 99% of our season tickets holders renew. Our fans in this community and across the country are passionate about the Seahawks.

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That, as a front office, is our most cherished responsibility. Our goal is to be the best stewards we can be to our players, to our fan base, to our partners across the country… at every level our goal is to be a championship-caliber team.

Like any business, sports are obviously cyclical, but when you make customer experience a top priority, you can smooth out some of those cycles.

But you don’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s use technology to help us build our business.”

That’s definitely been an evolution. It took time to reach a state of maturity to really capture insights from the rich set of data we have.

But, really, that’s the Microsoft partnership paying off. The various applications in Dynamics 365 (a suite of ERP and CRM applications) helped us evolve. That’s how we manage our ticket holder database. We capture information that comes from our fans to invest in the right areas of our building: Improve sound, food and beverage, safety and security of fans and guests… we can do that because we can analyze and make sense of all the data we receive.

It can be hard to sift through a massive data set and decide what to work on, so we keep it simple: We look for ways to make the most impact. If we hear that a fan can’t hear a call from a referee’s mic on the field, we look at ways to improve that. If we hear there is a certain section where food and beverage lines are longer, we work to improve that. We analyze points of purchase to help lines move more quickly so guests can get back to their seats.

Speaking of food and beverage, you brought that in-house. Why?

That’s a great example of listening to our fans. We know how important it is for fans to feel safe and secure… and to be served great food. So last march we decided to launch our own hospitality company, First and Goal Hospitality.

We wanted to control that. That’s all a part of constant renewal, of making investments to be sure we’re first in class.

It starts with data, but you have to act on your data. You can’t wait. 

Keep in mind that at CenturyLink Field we also have the Sounders (soccer), we host major concerts… next year Taylor Swift will perform here. Over 2.3 million people a year come to our facility. 

So we have to be proactive, because ultimately we’re in the experience business, and customer expectations constantly evolve.  

Speaking of being proactive…

What’s next for us? Continuing to explore ways to improve customer experience. Continuing to leverage insights. Expanding our use of mobile technologies.

Customization of data will help us moving forward. Whether it’s football, soccer, concerts… we’re pushing to provide a customized experienced for everyone who visits the building. 

From our perspective, if our fans aren’t constantly expecting us to deploy new things, better things… then we’re not doing our jobs.

Every business wants ‘raving fans.’ How has the Seahawks organization built such a devoted fan base?

For the Seahawks specifically, when fans come in the building, it’s all about ritual. You wear all your gear. You paint your face. You dye your hair.

More than that, though, our fans believe — with good reason — that they make an impact. We lead the league in opposing team false starts. Our defense will speak to the power of our fan base. Our fans are so loud they actually impact game play.

So we looked at how can we celebrate and honor our 12s. The 12 flag raising tradition came directly from feedback from fans; it’s one way to pay tribute to them. When our team takes the field, it’s a special moment.

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Our fan share ownership when they come into the building. That feeling is true and authentic, because it comes from the fans themselves.

We also have a fan council, a great representation of season ticket holders who meet to share positive and negative feedback, describe improvements they would like to see… that’s another great set of information that helps us improve our fan experience. Whether it’s sound improvement, concession improvement, more choices or grab-and-go locations where a fan can access healthy options and be in and out very quickly… 

We really feel like we have a great responsibility to our fans. It’s not lip service. They integral to everything we want to accomplish on the field, off the field, in the community… our fans aren’t “just” fans. They really are a part of the team.