Tag Archives: Microsoft

Introducing Education Resources, a source of Open Educational Resources within Office 365 |

Today we are launching the pilot between Open Up Resources and Microsoft Education. Open Up Resources is a nonprofit working to develop the highest quality full-course OER curricula, Common Core aligned, and provided for free to promote instructional equity. This curriculum was developed by Illustrative Mathematics, and currently covers 6th – 8th Grade Math. Any teacher can now easily sign up to use the Open Up Resources curriculum. With today’s announcement, Microsoft Education is offering this curriculum through OneNote , Forms and custom dashboards. This solution is free and can be used by teachers and students on any platform and device. 

The Office 365 Education solution takes the Open Up Resources curriculum and assessments and puts together a free solution that pulls together content, assessments and analytics.

  • Content: Organize all your class materials, including Open Up Resources, into one digital notebook with OneNote Class Notebooks. Then, create more compelling, interactive content that you can easily collaborate on with students and colleagues.  
  • Assessments: Quickly create basic surveys, quizzes, questionnaires, registrations and more with Microsoft Forms. Teachers can view results as they are submitted, and data can be easily exported to Excel for grading or be viewed in dashboards.
  • Dashboards: Monitor and analyze a broad range of live data from content engagement through easy-to-use dashboards, interactive reports, and compelling data visualizations with custom Dashboards provided by Microsoft Education.

To see how these three pieces tie together, we’ve put together a short video

Using the custom OneNote Class Notebook to access and deliver the Open Up Resources curriculum:

  • Teachers can distribute the Illustrative Mathematics course materials on any device via OneNote.
  • Students can write, draw, collaborate and save their work automatically in a personal digital notebook.
  • Real-time collaboration can occur around the materials: teacher-to-class, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student.
  • OneNote Class Notebooks integrate seamlessly with common LMS and SIS platforms.

          Open Up Resources content delivered in OneNote Class Notebooks

Last spring, both Buncombe County and Evergreen school districts engaged in a private pilot using the Open Up Resources materials in a OneNote Class Notebook. Here is what Stephanie Brucker, District Tech Coordinator from Buncombe County had to say:

 “The integration of the Open Up Mathematics resources into OneNote has allowed teachers in our district to truly integrate our one-to-one devices and mathematics in a powerful way to advance student learning. Utilizing OneNote and Illustrative Math together in the classroom has opened up a gateway to each student’s thoughts and ideas throughout the units. The collaboration of materials between OneNote and Open Up has actually increased the practice of mathematical discourse simultaneously with our digital initiative.”

Open Up Resources assessments have been integrated with Microsoft Forms. When a Class Notebook is created, the Forms are all automatically pre-installed into the Educators Forms library in Office 365 Education, ready to be distributed as assessments. Through assessments, delivered in Forms, benefits include:

  • Easy digital assessments
  • One-click assignment and efficient scoring
  • Support for differentiation through rapid, formative assessment insight.

Sample Open Up Resources assessments delivered in Microsoft Forms

For the pilot program, Microsoft Education has created custom dashboards that are tied to the Open Up Resources Class Notebooks and Forms data. =These dashboards will allow teachers to gain insights into the assessment data and trends.

  

Example analytics dashboard, pulling from the OneNote Class Notebook and Microsoft Forms assessment data

To help teachers and schools get up and running, we have put together Getting Started materials on the Microsoft Support site which includes instructions and support information.. 

If you or your district would like to participate in a pilot,

  • Go to the Open Up Resources site and sign up
  • Log in to the site
  • Request materials and check the box for “piloting Microsoft OneNote (see example below)

 “

We are excited for school districts to start piloting this new solution across Content (OneNote), Assessments (Forms) and Analytics.  Both OneNote and Forms are part of Office 365 for Education, which is free for teachers and students with a valid school email address.  

Twitter

Microsoft Education @MicrosoftEDU

Microsoft OneNote for Education @OneNoteEDU

Open Up Resources @OpenUpResources

Illustrative Mathematics @IllustrateMath

For Sale – Microsoft Surface Pro 3, 8GB Ram, 256gb SSD. Keyboard and pen included

Microsoft Surface Pro 3, 8GB Ram, 256gb SSD.
i5 Processor Intel Core i5-4300U
Type Cover Keyboard (Blue) and Surface Pen Included

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AI for Earth and Our Oceans – Microsoft Green Blog

Since Microsoft launched its new AI for Earth program in July, we’ve seen a tremendous response from the global conservation and environmental research community. The program was built on the premise that Microsoft’s AI infrastructure and applications can transform how the world monitors and responds to the ever-increasing scale and speed of changes we see in our natural world. Realizing this ambition, though, requires removing some key barriers to adoption that individuals and organizations working on these problems currently face.

Today, I’m pleased to announce two important milestones in addressing this issue of access.

20 applicants doing research in 10 countries have now received the first-ever AI for Earth grants. We’ve funded $235,000 in Azure compute resources across the four focus areas of our AI for Earth program—agriculture, water, biodiversity and climate change. These grantees include universities, non-profits and research arms of governments who will now be able to pursue their research, empowered by Microsoft cloud and AI tools.

We are constantly seeking new proposals, and the next grant application cycle closes on October 15. As these projects mature, we will be featuring in-depth stories of the researchers, their organizations, and the AI-empowered solutions they are building.

We are also announcing, today, a new AI for Earth EU Oceans Award, which is an extension of our grants program to a particularly important topic area – our oceans. Covering nearly 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, oceans play an outsized role in the health of our planet. They generate much of the oxygen we breathe, provide food and livelihoods for billions of people around the world, and support a vast and incredible array of species, many of which have not yet been discovered or described. Unfortunately, our oceans are changing, becoming increasingly acidic and polluted, with profound implications for societies around the world.

Producing solutions to these challenges is the topic of an international conversation happening this week at the Our Ocean conference in Malta. John Frank, Microsoft’s Vice President of European Union Government Affairs, is attending that conference and announced the new AI for Earth EU Oceans Award, dedicated to providing Azure compute resources and AI tools to European-based research organizations that work on ocean-related challenges. Applications open today, October 6, and close on December 15.

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With our Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, WA, and operations in coastal cities around the world, we have seen firsthand the large-scale impact of our changing oceans, as well as ways in which technology can help us address these issues. In the Puget Sound, for example, we worked with the University of Washington to create a cloud-based storage system to model the water in this region, and then used that information to make predictions about times of peak acidification. That system helped local oyster farmers at Taylor Shellfish improve their shellfish harvests by carefully monitoring ocean chemistry to prevent the sudden loss of “seed” crops that’s caused by ocean acidification. And in partnership with Microsoft Australia, ag-tech business The Yield is utilizing an IoT approach that uses sensors, cloud computing and machine learning to track salinity, temperature and weather that impact oyster harvests.

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Technology can have a dramatic, positive impact on local communities and economies by helping them better manage their natural resources. We are excited about our new AI for Earth grantees and our new EU Oceans Award, and look forward to expanding the success of the many projects we are supporting to better understand and manage Earth’s many ecosystems, both on land and in the water.

Tags: AI for Earth, Climate Change, environment, Environmental Sustainability, green tech, Microsoft, Ocean, Water

Scality Connect ports S3 apps to Azure Blob storage

Object storage vendor Scality is moving to connect Amazon S3 apps to Microsoft Azure Blob storage in multicloud setups.

Scality Connect software, which launched last week, can help customers overcome the hurdle of porting an application based on the Simple Storage Service (S3) API to Azure Blob storage.

Scality plans to announce in December advanced Amazon S3 API support, along with versioning and a bucket website, said Wally MacDermid, vice president of business development for cloud at Scality, based in San Francisco.

John Webster, a senior partner at Evaluator Group in Boulder, Colo., said the multicloud play will be of particular interest to the DevOps groups within organizations. Many developers spend a great deal of time doing API modifications to applications.

“Anytime you can relieve the user of that burden is good. [Lack of interoperability] is a big issue. This is the last thing customers want,” Webster said of the need to modify APIs. “They just hate it. They have to modify APIs to work with other APIs.”

MacDermid said there is no hardware requirement for Scality Connect.  It is included as a stateless container inside an Azure subscription. Connect stores data in the Microsoft Azure Blob storage native format, and the container runs in a virtual machine within the customer’s subscription.

“We don’t hold any data. We just pass it to the Azure cloud,” MacDermid said. “An application that works on S3 can run in Azure without requiring any modification in the code.

“Once the data is up in Azure, you can use the Azure management services on top of it.”

Scality Connect makes it easier for developers to deploy applications within Microsoft Azure and use its advanced services. The software is available through the Azure Marketplace.

The Microsoft Azure and Google clouds do not support the Amazon S3 API, which has become the de facto cloud standard in the industry. That means the Azure Blob storage does not talk to the Amazon S3 API, which limits a customer’s ability to use multiple clouds.

“One side talks S3, and the other side talks the Azure API, and neither talks to each other,” MacDermid said. “This is a problem not only for customers, but for Azure, as well. [Microsoft] would admit that. The Scality Connect runs in the Azure Cloud. It gets your data up to the Azure Cloud and allows you to use the Azure services. We are the translation layer.”

Scality Connect is not the vendor’s first multicloud initiative. Scality in July unveiled its Zenko open source software controller for multicloud management to store data and applications under a single user interface no matter where they reside, including Scality Ring. It helps customers match specific workloads to the best cloud service. Zenko is based on the Scality S3 Server.

Azure Functions, Project Fn shine at JavaOne 2017

SAN FRANCISCO Not to be outdone, while Oracle is hosting its annual Java developer festival, Microsoft released a Java-based preview of its serverless computing offering, Azure Functions.

According to TechTarget’s definition, serverless computing does not eliminate servers, but instead seeks to emphasize the idea that computing resource considerations can be moved into the background during the design process. The term is often associated with the NoOps movement and the concept may also be referred to as function as a service (FaaS) or runtime as a service (RaaS).

Serverless computing provides a great model for accelerating app development, but developers want to do it using the programming languages and development tools of their choice, Microsoft said. And ever since the company first released Azure Functions, support for Java has been a top request.

Oracle Project Fn

Developers using Oracle Cloud Platform, their laptop, or any cloud, can now build and run applications by just writing code without provisioning, scaling or managing any servers — this is all taken care of transparently by the cloud.
Bob Quillinvice president of developer relations, Oracle

Oracle also introduced and open sourced its own serverless computing offering — known as Project Fn — at JavaOne 2017. With Fn, developers using Oracle Cloud Platform can build and run applications by just writing code, without provisioning, scaling or managing servers, allowing them to focus on delivering value and new services, the company said. Fn runs across multiple clouds, further reducing risk of vendor lock-in, Oracle noted.

“Oracle deserves kudos for its recent Java efforts,” said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, who also commended Microsoft for its Azure Functions Java support. “Microsoft’s new Azure Functions Java support and Oracle’s recent JavaOne/OpenWorld announcements reflect the continuing innovations around Java and the vitality of the Java community.”

Support for different programming languages

Likewise, with the ability to run Azure Functions runtime on cross-platform .NET Core, Microsoft has built its runtime to allow support for different programming languages. Java is the first new language being introduced. The new Java runtime will share all the differentiated features provided by Azure Functions, such as the wide range of triggering options and data bindings, serverless execution model with autoscale, as well as pay-per-execution pricing, Microsoft said.

And Java developers do not need to use any new tools to develop using Azure Functions. Microsoft has released a new plug-in for the Maven build automation tool so developers can create, build and deploy Azure Functions from their existing Maven-enabled projects. The new Azure Functions Core Tools enable developers to run and debug their Java Functions code locally on any platform.

In addition, Microsoft said popular IDEs and editors such as Eclipse, IntelliJ and Visual Studio Code can be used to develop and debug Azure Functions locally.

Meanwhile, with fnproject.io, “Developers using Oracle Cloud Platform, their laptop, or any cloud, can now build and run applications by just writing code without provisioning, scaling or managing any servers — this is all taken care of transparently by the cloud,” said Bob Quillin, vice president of developer relations at Oracle, in a blog post.

Three parts to Fn

According to Quillin, Fn consists of three components: the Fn Platform; Fn Java FDK (Function Development Kit), which brings a first-class function development experience to Java developers, including a comprehensive JUnit test harness; and Fn Flow, for orchestrating functions directly in code. Fn Flow enables function orchestration for higher-level workflows for sequencing, chaining, fanin/fanout, but directly and natively in the developer’s code versus relying on a console.

The Oracle offering will have initial support for Java with additional language bindings coming soon, Quillin said. Project Fn will provide polyglot language support, including Java, Go, Ruby, Python, PHP, Rust, .NET Core, and Node.js with AWS Lambda compatibility. AWS Lambda is Amazon Web Services’ serverless computing offering.

Microsoft at Sibos: How AI can enhance the customer experience

At Sibos, Microsoft will demonstrate how it is empowering the industry to drive digital transformation with the financial services ready cloud. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will deliver the closing keynote on October 19, and we have an extensive suite of events planned and opportunities to meet Microsoft executives during the show.

Book a meeting with Microsoft at Sibos


Reimaging the customer experience

What makes a consumer choose one particular brand over another? Cost? Convenience? As customers get used to more personalised, engaging and seamless interactions and experiences in all aspect of their lives, so too have they come to expect a similar level of service from their financial services provider.

Chad Hamblin, worldwide financial services industry director at Microsoft, says that most banks understand this, and are exploring how they can improve their ability to better engage with their customers.

“Today, every customer is a digital customer, and this requires banks to not only digitise their services, but make their entire offering better aligned to customer needs,” he says. “They need to treat every interaction with the customer as more of a conversation – one that is natural, intuitive and personal.”

To achieve this, many banks are exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). “It’s high on their priority agenda and we’re starting to see more and more banks experimenting with this technology,” Hamblin says. “Applications range from using robo-advisors to help answer common customer queries, all the way through to running algorithms that anticipate customer issues before they arise.”

Monique Dahler, worldwide financial services director and AI lead at Microsoft, says that financial institutions see AI as a key enabler to accelerate their transformation to a digital business.

“Through AI, banks can provide innovative customer experiences at any point in time through any channel,” she says. “AI is a key driver to realise cost and operational efficiency, better risk management, and secure customer acquisition and growth.

“In its simplest form, it can automate manual tasks – such as generating reports or answering common enquiries, freeing up staff to carry out more value-added tasks. But it also has the potential to transform entire business models and revolutionise more strategic functions such as financial analysis, asset allocation and forecasting.”

To help banks on their journey towards adopting and harnessing the power of AI, Microsoft has developed the Microsoft Bot Framework, which provides everything needed to quickly build and connect a bot to whatever channel and integrate with popular tools such as Skype and Office 365.

“This is not just about providing a product, though,” Dahler explains. “At Microsoft, we believe that the value of AI is not about getting a quick chat bot in place. Where we make a difference is that we help banks take advantage of our entire AI value chain. We give them access to our entire product suite and connect them with industry experts, helping them to transform data into intelligent actions.”

For banks that are considering exploring the potential of AI but are put off by the time, effort and costs it could take – Microsoft also has a number of AI early adopter programmes. “For example, the Intelligent Bots EAP is a programme that delivers a customer or employee facing bot into pilot in a short timeframe” Dahler explains. “We help them to create a solution and pilot it with real end users. It’s a great way of getting AI developments off the ground quickly.”

Hamblin says that for those banks who are willing to explore the potential of AI now, the possibilities are endless. “We’re in conversations with customers who are developing everything from robo-advisor capabilities – using AI as a vehicle to do low cost trading without human intervention or as a first line of communication with the customer – through to using AI and social capabilities as the canary in the mine to identify problems and issues before they progress and cause problems. This is just the beginning of the transformation of our industry.”

As we shared in earlier blogs, at Sibos Microsoft will demonstrate how It is empowering financial institutions to drive digital transformation with solutions to reimagine the customer experience, empower employees with a secure and productive digital workplace, optimize operations through improved risk insight and regulatory compliance, and transform products with agile and interconnected business models and real-time predictive digital processes. We have an extensive suite of events planned and opportunities to meet Microsoft executives during the show.

Book a meeting with Microsoft at Sibos

Learn more about Microsoft at Sibos

Follow us @msftfinserv

Read more on the Microsoft Banking & Capital Markets and Insurance blogs.


This article was originally published in The Record

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Skype for Business users face Microsoft Teams migration questions

At Microsoft Ignite last week in Orlando, Fla., Microsoft used its annual customer conference to showcase its new and upgraded Teams product, which competes with Cisco Spark, Slack, Mitel MiTeam, Avaya Zang Spaces and many other similar products. At the conference, Microsoft Teams sessions were well-attended, which shows there’s significant interest in the product.

As Skype for Business users consider a Microsoft Teams migration, they’ll face several interesting questions. Some common questions include:

Is Microsoft Teams ready for prime time? I believe the product is. The new version includes several features that were added to compete with other similar products. New capabilities include voicemail, application sharing and coediting of documents. In addition, other notable features include:

  • guest access for business-to-business usage;
  • PSTN dialing, but the Microsoft PSTN service must be used;
  • importing contacts from Skype for Business;
  • sharing presence with Skype for Business; and 
  • pulling organizational information from Active Directory.

The product is now ready to stand on its own as a full-fledged team collaboration tool, and it’s worth Skype for Business users’ consideration.

Does the on-premises version of Skype for Business go away? No. On-premises Skype for Business is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Microsoft’s installed base of on-premises Skype for Business users is massive. If Microsoft suddenly pulled the plug on Skype for Business Server, it would leave many customers in the lurch.

Many large customers or companies with regulatory requirements want to keep the product on premises for greater control, archiving capabilities or security concerns. At Ignite, Microsoft announced another version of the Skype for Business on-premises server is coming near the end of 2018. Microsoft has to support that version through the normal lifecycle of five years or so.

If you’re a customer using the on-premises version, don’t worry; it’s here to stay, and Microsoft is still adding new features to it. However, some new capabilities, like Teams, are only available through cloud-based Office 365. So, if businesses want to use the team collaboration capabilities, they need to use the cloud.

If you’re a customer using the on-premises version, don’t worry; it’s here to stay, and Microsoft is still adding new features to it.

Can I run Teams and Skype for Business in hybrid mode? The answer is both yes and no. A hybrid model makes a lot of sense for many companies. Use Skype for Business for calls or chat and presence, and run Teams for application sharing or team messaging.

In a sense, the business will be running two unified communications (UC) clients, which is a bit of an oxymoron, since unified client implies a single product. But this two-client strategy is a viable, low-risk way of getting workers used to this new way of working. 

What you can’t do is use Skype for Business and then burst to the Teams cloud when capacity is maxed out. That would be ideal, but the products don’t interoperate that way — at least not yet.

What about all the third-party peripherals I bought for Skype for Business? Many Skype for Business users have made significant investments in third-party peripherals from vendors like Polycom, Crestron and Logitech that provide desktop handsets and conference room systems. Microsoft has said all existing phones and room systems will work with Teams. In fact, at Ignite, Microsoft announced Lenovo, Pexip and Blue Jeans now have certified room systems to work with Microsoft UC.

How do I migrate users from Skype for Business to Teams? Moving users from one product to another is never easy. Once a worker gets used to doing things a certain way, there’s always hesitation in doing things differently. To help get over these hurdles, Microsoft offers three models for migration.

The first model is to run Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams side by side, as outlined above, which could go on for an indefinite period of time. Another option is called “side by side with notify,” in which there’s a date set to flip users from Skype for Business to Teams, and a banner appears in Skype for Business to warn the user when the cutover date is. The third option is to go to Teams only where workers are put on the new product immediately. 

Microsoft provides an administrator portal where these three models can be mixed, so a handful of Skype for Business users can be set to flip immediately, others set to side by side with notify and others left to run both clients until the policy changes.

A training bot has been set up to help users with usage. But a couple users at Ignite told me they tried the bot and it often had problems understanding the questions and giving answers. This is an area Microsoft needs to beef up if the product is to go mainstream.

Opportunities abound in the creative and collaborative culture of STEM

Jennifer Chayes, Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England & New York City

By Jennifer Chayes, Technical Fellow and Managing Director, Microsoft Research New England & New York City 

The explosion of data available today everywhere from biomedicine to the arts is opening new opportunities for researchers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math to pursue creative and collaborative endeavors that have deep societal impact.

My research has always been interdisciplinary, which by nature is collaborative and creative. You need experts from different fields and you must make scientific leaps to bring the perspectives, results and methodology from one discipline to another. I encourage the scientists who work with me to trust their scientific intuition and make those leaps. Of course, we must also do the hard work to fill in the gaps after we leap. The work is deeply satisfying and delivers genuine societal impact.

The explosion of biomedical data, for example, is generating opportunities for researchers in STEM fields to make tremendous contributions to goals such as increasing the longevity and quality of life.

For example, a researcher in one of my labs worked in collaboration with physicians to develop a reinforcement-learning algorithm for a tool that provides personalized exercise incentives for diabetics. Different patients react differently to specific incentives at specific times. A text message saying that you are exercising less than 90 percent of other patients might cause one patient to exercise more and another to give up exercise altogether. The reinforcement learning algorithm produces the right messages for the right patients at the right time. These personalized messages significantly improve most patients’ exercise regimes and, in some cases, decrease the need for diabetes medication. This reinforcement learning algorithm is now being applied more widely.

My labs are also involved in a project that aims to predict which cancer patients are good candidates for specific cancer immunotherapy drugs. These drugs enhance the ability of our immune systems to go after cancer cells. The approach is more targeted than chemotherapy or radiation, more effective at eliminating cancer cells and less damaging to non-cancerous tissue. Cancer immunotherapy is a new field with more questions than answers. The organization Stand Up to Cancer is sponsoring about ten researchers from my labs to work on a host of projects with biologists and oncologists from many top biomedical institutions to answer these questions.

For example, individuals differ not only in their genomes, but also in the makeup of their immune cells. Two people who are genetically quite similar can develop vastly different repertoires of T-cells, which are white blood cells that scan for abnormalities and infections. An interplay of our genomes, our environments and our T-cell repertoires determines how well we might react to a specific cancer immunotherapy drug. This interplay leads to a high-dimensional sparse-statistics problem that new techniques in machine learning and statistics can help solve.

A new field forming at the boundary of AI and ethics is another area where STEM researchers are working collaboratively and creatively to generate substantial societal impact. Researchers are developing machine-learning models, for example, to de-bias data sets and make decisions that are fairer than those made by humans. Computer scientists, ethicists, lawyers and social scientists are collaborating to formulate notions of fairness, accountability and transparency. This work will improve the fairness of search engine outputs as well as job placement, school admission and legal decisions, for example.

Biomedicine and ethical data-driven decision-making are just two fields where the explosion of data is opening opportunities for STEM researchers to generate impact. Opportunities for impact are everywhere, from the social sciences to the arts. The keys to success are to follow your passion, develop the confidence to let your scientific intuition lead the way and then do the work to realize your vision.

Related:

A pair of big companies explain why they jumped on board the Microsoft cloud


microsoft julia white
Microsoft Corporate VP of
Azure Julia White

Microsoft

In the cloud service market, Microsoft finds itself
firmly in second place. 

But in trying to catch up with market leader Amazon, the
tech giant argues it has a distinct advantage — its
long history in the business software game and its
long-established relationships with companies of all sizes.
Microsoft knows how to meet companies’ needs, it argues.

That’s not just an idle boast, if my conversations with Geico and
Dun & Bradstreet are any indication. Both companies recently
turned to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. And in both cases, the
companies saw distinct benefits to using Azure over rival
services. 

“You can tell Microsoft is hungry,” said Pat McDevitt, the chief
technology officer of Dun & Bradstreet, which recently
started experimenting with Azure. “They are doing exactly what
they need to do.”

Azure is in the spotlight this week thanks to Ignite, Microsoft’s
annual developer conference. The company typically uses Ignite to
promote its massive cloud computing platform. At this year’s
event,
Microsoft announced several tools to make it easier for large
companies in particular to use Azure. 

‘Essentially evacuating the data center’


fikri larguet geico
Fikri Larguet, Director of
IT

Geico

One big company that’s already embraced Azure is Geico. The
insurance giant began shifting over to Microsoft’s cloud
service about three years ago, said Fikri Larguet, the
company’s director of information technology. Geico’s rationale:
Owning and operating data centers and servers is both expensive
and outside its core area of expertise.

The company, which has more than 38,000 employees, is
“essentially evacuating the data center,” Larguet
said. Geico, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berkshire
Hathaway, has been moving a little bit at a time. But over 50% of
the company’s core business services are already in the cloud and
its goal is to be “full cloud” by 2020, he said.

Larguet said his team has a mandate to “get out of the data
center business as quickly as possible.” 

Geico bet on Azure because Microsoft had already built into its
cloud service the ability to interact with lots of different
applications. That made it a smooth process for Geico
to bring over its existing software, Larguet said. Similar
support for newer tools and technologies also made it easier
for Geico to add on things like software containers, a trendy new
Silicon Valley technology for building large-scale apps. 

 The biggest challenge Geico’s faced hasn’t been technical,
Larguet said. As the team tries to adjust to a post-data center
era, Larguet is trying to teach the team to “fail fast” and
be unafraid of trying new things. For him, this is a chance for a
fresh start in the software organization. 

“We don’t want to carry over our bad habits,” he said.

‘We don’t need to be bleeding edge’


dun bradstreet cto pat mcdevitt
Dun & Bradstreet CTO
Pat McDevitt

Dun &
Bradstreet


Dun & Bradstreet, a firm that’s provided data and analytics
to businesses since 1841, is taking its cloud migration a little
more slowly. 

The firm “doesn’t need to be a pioneer, doesn’t need to be
bleeding edge,” McDevitt, its CTO, said. Dun & Bradstreet
has been around the better part of two centuries; it can
afford to experiment with the cloud rather than rushing to push
everything over to it right away. And the firm has been
experimenting; it moved over some key applications to Amazon
Web Services a few years ago.

About three months ago, though, the firm started
experimenting with Azure. What appealed to Dun & Bradstreet
were Microsoft’s tools for managing data. Those tools make it
easy for companies to build cloud-based applications that
read and write from their existing databases. With them, the
firm could more quickly build mobile apps and other new-wave
tools.

McDevitt asked one of the firm’s development teams in Austin
to test Azure by using it to build a new mobile app for Dun &
Bradstreet’s clients. Although these developers’ past experience
was primarily with Amazon’s cloud service, they found it so easy
to work with Azure that they finished ahead of schedule. 

And Azure offered the firm an another benefit.
Because Microsoft has embraced technology like Docker
software containers and the Linux operating system, Azure
integrated better with Dun & Bradstreet’s existing
systems than McDevitt had first thought. Originally, the
firm was going to use Azure just for new apps. Now the firm
is considering using it for older apps also, he said. 

Microsoft worked really hard to win his business, McDevitt
said. 

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.