A California-based managed service provider has deployed a new disaster-recovery-as-a-service offering that integrates JetStream Software’s DR product with Cloudian’s object storage technology.
Enterprise Networking Solutions Inc. (ENS-Inc), an MSP based in Rancho Cordova, Calif., said it is the first service provider to use the DRaaS product JetStream DR on Cloudian. The DRaaS offering, which targets customers using VMware vSphere, continuously replicates data from customers’ VMs to Cloudian’s object store, housed in an off-site recovery environment.
ENS-Inc has used JetStream DR as an MSP partner for about two years, having beta-tested the product in 2018. The MSP has also used Cloudian’s HyperStore platform as an archival storage tier for three years.
Paul Smitham, president at ENS-Inc, said combining the technologies for DRaaS can reduce costs by 60%. MSPs can pass the cost savings along to customers.
“DR sometimes is very expensive and, a lot of times, people don’t think they need it because it is so expensive,” Smitham said.
ENS-Inc has provided JetStream DR on Cloudian for about six months, originally on a beta basis. The offering is now in general use. “We have customers on it, and we are starting to get more and more,” Smitham said.
Paul SmithamPresident, ENS-Inc
Additional cost savings stem from the use of JetStream DR, which Smitham said costs much less than competitive products from vendors such as Veeam and Zerto. He noted those products don’t extend to object storage yet.
At the moment, ENS-Inc uses JetStream DR on Cloudian to replicate customers’ data to DR sites in Rancho Cordova and Las Vegas.
Rich Petersen, president and co-founder at JetStream, said feedback from partners such as ENS-Inc has helped prioritize the development of new features. “We have been getting a lot of great guidance,” he said.
Jon Toor, CMO at Cloudian, added that service providers have represented a major slice of the Cloudian’s target market since the company’s launch in 2011. He suggested object storage has found a home in the data protection world.
“Object storage has really emerged as the de facto target for backup software and continuous replication software,” he said. “[DRaaS] is the kind of use case Cloudian was designed for.”
Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure is a new trusted and secure cloud offering built to ease the transition to the cloud for large enterprises
REDMOND, Wash., and SAN FRANCISCO — Jan. 23, 2020 —Microsoft Corp. and Genesys have expanded their partnership to provide enterprises with a new cloud service for contact centers that enables them to deliver superior interactions for customers. With the omnichannel customer experience solution Genesys Engage™ running on Microsoft Azure, enterprises have the security and scalability they need to manage the complexities involved with connecting every touchpoint throughout the customer journey.
Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure will be available in late 2020. To accelerate adoption, the companies are providing Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure through a joint co-selling and go-to-market strategy. Customers will benefit from a streamlined buying process that puts them on a clear path to the cloud.
The power of Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure
With its multitenant architecture, Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure gives customers the ability to innovate faster and improve their business agility. In addition, by running the Genesys customer experience solution on this dependable cloud environment, enterprises will be able to maximize their investment in Microsoft Azure through simplified management and maintenance requirements, centralized IT expertise, reduced costs, and more. These solutions make it easier for enterprises to leverage cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies so they can gain deeper insights and provide tailor-made experiences for their customers.
Nemo Verbist, senior vice president of Intelligent Business and Intelligent Workplace at NTT Ltd., one of the top five global technology and services providers for the world’s largest enterprises and a partner of both Microsoft and Genesys, sees great value in the partnership. Verbist said, “Many of our customers have standardized on Microsoft solutions, and Genesys Engage on Microsoft Azure gives them an additional opportunity to take advantage of their investment. Together, these solutions provide enterprises a secure and powerful foundation to communicate with their customers in creative and meaningful ways.”
“Large contact centers receive an exceptionally high volume of inquiries across a growing list of channels and platforms. One of the biggest challenges is connecting the details of every interaction across all channels to ensure each customer has a seamless experience,” said Kate Johnson, president, Microsoft U.S. “By leveraging Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AI technologies, Genesys is helping enterprises create a seamless customer journey with Microsoft’s trusted, secure and scalable platform.”
“We are thrilled to give large enterprises the opportunity to run their mission-critical customer experience platform in the cloud environment they already know and trust — Microsoft Azure,” said Peter Graf, chief strategy officer of Genesys. “Together, we’re making it simpler for even the most complex organizations to transition to the cloud, enabling them to unlock efficiencies and accelerate innovation so they can build deeper connections with customers.”
The companies are also exploring and developing new integrations for Genesys and Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure Cognitive Services to streamline collaboration and communications for employees and customers. More information will be released about these upcoming integrations later this year.
Every year, Genesys® delivers more than 70 billion remarkable customer experiences for organizations in over 100 countries. Through the power of the cloud and AI, our technology connects every customer moment across marketing, sales and service on any channel, while also improving employee experiences. Genesys pioneered Experience as a ServiceSM so organizations of any size can provide true personalization at scale, interact with empathy, and foster customer trust and loyalty. This is enabled by Genesys CloudTM, an all-in-one solution and the world’s leading public cloud contact center platform, designed for rapid innovation, scalability and flexibility. Visit www.genesys.com.
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at https://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.
Microsoft on Thursday announced a new Office 365 benefit, offering enterprise-sized nonprofit customers free additional Office 365 F1 seats for their volunteers.
The new Office 365 benefit enables nonprofit customers who have Enterprise Agreements with Microsoft to receive 10 free Office 365 F1 seats for their volunteers per licensed Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 seat. Office 365 F1 includes applications for email, calendars, team collaboration, messaging, intranet, file storage and sharing. Nonprofits with 250 or more users in their organization are eligible for the Enterprise Agreement. The offer starts Jan. 1, according to the company.
Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers will be able to offer the Volunteer Use Benefit to customers directly via the Cloud Solution Provider Channel in spring 2020, according to the company.
This is not the first time Microsoft has donated or provided services for free. Some of their collaboration software programs, such as Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams, are available to qualified nonprofits. “But it does mark a significant expansion of access for nonprofits who already pay for Office 365. Keep in mind that Microsoft has long had steep discounts for students and educators, as well,” said Nicole France, principal analyst and vice president at Constellation Research.
The recent move is motivated by several factors, she said. “One is certainly ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or Salesforces, as the case may be, in terms of publicizing and extending support for the nonprofit sector,” France said.
Another factor has to do with the way Microsoft wants to be perceived by current and potential employees, especially millennials, France said. “We know that this demographic group in particular — an increasingly important one, in terms of recruiting and retention — is strongly motivated by an employer’s mission in the world, not just its commercial business. I suspect this is a significant part of the rationale for giving the nonprofit sector some additional love and attention.”
Lastly, she said, the offering addresses the pressing need for nonprofits to provide appropriate tools to their large numbers of volunteers.
HYCU enhanced its Google Cloud Platform backup with SAP HANA support, offering it as a managed service that eases the burden on IT.
The HYCU Backup as a Service for Google Cloud is purpose-built for GCP, similar to how HYCU’s first major product was purpose-built for Nutanix data protection. It’s fully integrated into Google Cloud Identity & Access Management.
“It was built with the Google administrator in mind,” so there’s no extra training needed, said Subbiah Sundaram, vice president of products at HYCU.
Offering it as a service is critical to protecting cloud workloads natively, according to Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Christophe Bertrand. The firm’s research shows that IT professionals want similar features in cloud-native data protection as in their on-premises environments, but there are gaps.
“Among the key areas are enterprise-class scalability, which HYCU is addressing in this release with enhancements to cloud-native incrementals, scalability, mission-critical application support with SAP HANA and performance optimizations,” Bertrand wrote in an email. “Cloud is about scale, and this means that data protection mechanisms have to adapt.”
Protection for a ‘mission-critical application’
HYCU backup for GCP is supporting SAP HANA for the first time with this release. The support requires a special understanding of the infrastructure being protected and a mechanism to coordinate with SAP HANA to get a consistent copy, according to Sundaram.
The HYCU Backup as a Service uses Google snapshots for database-consistent, impact-free backup and recovery. It includes support for single file recovery.
The use of native storage snapshots is a distinguished approach, according to Bertrand.
“I expect that we will see a number of HYCU customers scale their environments in time,” Bertrand wrote. “SAP HANA is a mission-critical application in many enterprises, and in combination with GCP, offers a lot of promise for scaling deployments up and out, and the ability to do analytics for business uses beyond just backup or BC/DR.”
Sundaram said Google sellers and partners asked for the SAP HANA support — they want more customers adding SAP HANA on GCP. SAP HANA, an in-memory database for processing high volumes of data in real time, is popular with large retailers.
Dive deeper into HYCU’s strategy
HYCU’s GCP backup product originally launched in July 2018. Because it is a service, HYCU takes care of the installation, management and upgrades. HYCU claims one-click backups.
Subbiah SundaramVice president of products, HYCU
Users back up to Google Cloud Storage buckets. Starting with this update, HYCU backup uses changed block tracking to enable optimized bucket storage consumption.
HYCU can keep costs down because the customer doesn’t pay for compute, Sundaram said. The product’s incremental backups and auto-tiering also save money.
The product does not require caching storage, according to HYCU, which means cheaper data transfer for backup and better use of cloud storage.
HYCU, which is based in Boston, Mass., has built its strategy on offering specialized services that go deep in specific environments, according to Bertrand.
“It gives them this best of breed advantage over generalists, and our research shows that IT professionals have no problem using the best cloud backup solutions for the job at hand — meaning using a new solution or an additional vendor,” Bertrand wrote. “I believe that they are well-positioned to deliver additional services beyond backup and BC/DR, such as intelligent data management based on data reuse.”
HYCU Backup as a Service for Google Cloud is available on the GCP Marketplace and through authorized partners. Cost depends on the amount of data under protection and frequency of backup.
HYCU backup automatically updated for current customers in October.
In the coming weeks, HYCU expects to launch its Protégé product for multi-cloud disaster recovery and migration. It’s also planning a major update in early 2020 that will add another supported cloud platform.
SAP is taking a new tact to grow its public cloud offering and development resources: It’s giving them away for free.
As of July 1, qualified SAP PartnerEdge members can now test and demonstrate systems built on SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP C/4HANA free of charge. Partners need to have a valid SAP PartnerEdge status and employ three consultants who are certified in “operations capabilities for SAP applications running on S/4HANA Cloud” to get free access to test and demo systems, according to the company. Partners who have at least three consultants certified for SAP C/4HANA applications also qualify for the initiative.
SAP PartnerEdge is designed to provide SAP partners the resources they can use to develop, sell, service and manage SAP systems and applications. The program currently has more than 19,800 partners worldwide, according to SAP.
The new SAP PartnerEdge initiative appears to have positive reviews from partners, but one analyst believes the effort is a long-overdue strategic move to build out SAP applications and keep pace with other cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft.
Seeding the cloud applications
The SAP PartnerEdge initiative is an attempt to open up SAP Cloud Platform and S/4HANA to a broader range of developers and seed the market with applications built on SAP technology, according to analyst Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, based in Berkeley, Calif. This is similar to the approach long favored by the likes of Microsoft and AWS.
“They want the developers of future great products — whether they’re internal development teams, startups or professional teams — to think about SAP as their development platform,” Greenbaum said. “That’s their fundamental strategy for growing the uptake of SAP Cloud Platform and S/4HANA.”
It’s being met with enthusiasm. Alain Dubois, chief marketing and business development officer at Beyond Technologies, called the program a “great initiative.”
Beyond Technologies, a Montreal-based SAP partner that specializes in development and integration of a range of SAP products, including S/4HANA and C/4HANA. It plans to take advantage of the free cloud access the new SAP PartnerEdge program offers.
“We will use it for demos and [proofs of concept] as well as for enablement, which is crucial for us as a value-added reseller because it will help [keep down] customer acquisition costs,” he said.
Shaun Syvertsen, CEO of ConvergentIS, is also looking forward to using the program’s resources. ConvergentIS is an SAP partner based in Calgary, Alberta, that provides SAP technology development and consulting services.
The SAP PartnerEdge program will drive the long-term success of SAP technology with partners, Syvertsen said. It’s particularly valuable for partners to get a deeper understanding of public cloud SAP versions.
“In particular, you have to understand that 20 years of on-premises experience is potentially dangerous in the cloud environment, as the setup and range of flexibility is quite different from on-premises,” Syvertsen said. “So, a new cloud-centric mindset and cloud-specific experience is critical.”
Better late than never
SAP partners have been beating the drum for an initiative like this for years to help them keep pace with competitors like AWS, Microsoft and Salesforce, Enterprise Applications Consulting’s Greenbaum explained.
“The partners and would-be partners have been saying that SAP has to emulate the rest of the market for a while,” he said. “There are lots of open source tools and there’s a huge amount of love and support [for developers] from competitor platform providers, and the partners have always said that SAP has to do something similar or they’ll go somewhere else.”
SAP has to do some work to catch up to Salesforce or AWS, but it’s still a relatively new game as cloud uptake numbers are just beginning to gain momentum in the enterprise applications market, according to Greenbaum.
What could be a differentiator for SAP also is the totality of what it can offer compared to the other cloud companies.
“Underneath the hood, SAP provides access to business services — data and processes — that are potentially very valuable,” he said. “Salesforce can do that, but only within the domain of CRM, and AWS doesn’t really do that at all. So, this is a good time for SAP. It would have been a better time two years ago, but the story is hardly over at this point.”
Availability for the new SAP PartnerEdge program for qualified partners began July 1. Registration will remain open until Sept. 30, 2019, according to the company. Partners who have already bought the test and demonstration licenses will receive a migration offer from SAP Partner Licensing Services if they want to migrate their existing services to the free access, according to SAP.
Cisco has introduced pay-as-you-go pricing for the latest line card of the ASR 9000 router, offering service providers a more flexible licensing model as they evaluate 5G infrastructure suppliers.
Cisco’s new licensing model, unveiled this week, applies to the new line card and subsequent generations. The latest hardware has a maximum throughput of 3.2 Tbps, uses a half watt of power per gigabit and is available with 32, 16 or 8 ports of 100 GbE. The cards fit into existing ASR 9000 chassis.
The pricing change lets service providers buy a license for ASR 9000 capacity across sites, but only pay for what they use. The cost would increase as ports are activated, said Sumeet Arora, the head of engineering for service provider network systems at Cisco.
Previously, service providers had to buy an ASR 9000 license for each site based on expected demand. As a result, the customers would pay for capacity they weren’t using, Arora said.
The ASR 9000 router in 5G
Cisco is making its pricing more customer-friendly as service providers consider technology like the ASR 9000 to support future 5G business and consumer services. The fifth-generation cellular technology delivers speed, capacity and latency improvements that will enable new products for healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and the auto industry, proponents have said.
However, analysts do not expect the 5G services market to take off for several years. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins recently told financial analysts that he didn’t expect significant 5G sales until 2020.
Until the 5G market opens, Cisco is aiming the new ASR 9000 line cards at the network edge where service providers deliver virtual private networks and other business services. Other “big use cases” include internet peering, data center interconnects and the IP infrastructure for mobile services, Arora said.
The ASR 9000 router competes with products from Juniper Networks, Huawei and Nokia. The latter two vendors, along with Ericsson, comprise the top three suppliers to service providers.
Last week, Juniper Networks announced a partnership with Ericsson to sell a collection of products for moving 5G traffic. Cisco announced a wide-ranging partnership with Ericsson in 2015, but that deal has stalled, and many analysts believe it is nearly dead.
“The Ericsson-Cisco partnership was a nonstarter, and both parties did not follow up on the promise that they had articulated during the announcement,” said Rajesh Ghai, an analyst at IDC.
With the introduction of Azure DevOps today, we’re offering developers a new CI/CD service called Azure Pipelines that enables you to continuously build, test, and deploy to any platform or cloud. It has cloud-hosted agents for Linux, macOS, and Windows, powerful workflows with native container support, and flexible deployments to Kubernetes, VMs, and serverless environments.
Microsoft is committed to fueling open source software development. Our next step in this journey is to provide the best CI/CD experience for open source projects. Starting today, Azure Pipelines provides unlimited CI/CD minutes and 10 parallel jobs to every open source project for free. All open source projects run on the same infrastructure that our paying customers use. That means you’ll have the same fast performance and high quality of service. Many of the top open source projects are already using Azure Pipelines for CI/CD, such as Atom, CPython, Pipenv, Tox, Visual Studio Code, and TypeScript – and the list is growing every day.
In the following, you can see Atom running parallel jobs on Linux, macOS, and Windows for its CI.
Azure Pipelines app on GitHub Marketplace
Azure Pipelines has an app in the GitHub Marketplace so it’s easy to get started. After you install the app in your GitHub account, you can start running CI/CD for all your repositories.
Pull Request and CI Checks
When the GitHub app is setup, you’ll see CI/CD checks on each commit to your default branch and every pull request.
Our integration with the GitHub Checks API makes it easy to see build results in your pull request. If there’s a failure, the call stack is shown as well as the impacted files.
More than just open source
Azure Pipelines is also great for private repositories. It is the CI/CD solution for companies like Columbia, Shell, Accenture, and many others. It’s also used by Microsoft’s biggest projects like Azure, Office 365, and Bing. Our free offer for private projects includes a cloud-hosted job with 1,800 minutes of CI/CD a month or you can run unlimited minutes of CI/CD on your own hardware, hosted in the cloud or your on-premises hardware. You can purchase parallel jobs for private projects from Azure DevOps or the GitHub Marketplace.
In addition to CI, Azure Pipelines has flexible deployments to any platform and cloud, including Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform, as well as any of your on-premises server running Linux, macOS or Windows. There are built-in tasks for Kubernetes, serverless, and VM deployments. Also, there’s a rich ecosystem of extensions for the most popular languages and tools. The Azure Pipelines agent and tasks are open source and we’re always reviewing feedback and accepting pull requests on GitHub.
Join our upcoming live streams to learn more about Azure Pipelines and other Azure DevOps services.
Keynote: Watch our live Azure DevOps keynote on September 11, 2018 from 8:00 – 9:30 AM Pacific Time.
Live training: Join our live Mixer workshop with interactive Q&A on September 17, 2018 from 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM Pacific Time.
You can save-the-date and watch both live streams on our events page. There you’ll also find additional on-demand videos and other resources to help get you started.
I’m excited for you to try Azure Pipelines and tell us what you think. You can share your thoughts directly to the product team using @AzureDevOps, Developer Community, or comment on this post.
Meraki Go, a newly launched small-businesses Wi-Fi offering, will give channel partners an edge with customers who were previously out of reach.
That’s the expectation of Cisco Meraki, Cisco’s division that focuses on wireless LAN, cloud-managed switches and other products. Meraki Go offers indoor and outdoor wireless access points, a Meraki Go app for managing the wireless network, and a subscription for support and security updates.
Kevin Rezai, Meraki Go global sales lead at Cisco Meraki, said the Wi-Fi product is built for small-business organizations with fewer than 50 employees. He also noted a possible “sub-niche” of organizations with fewer than 20 employees.
Small-business owners are in a bit of bind when it comes to Wi-Fi, according to Cisco Meraki research. On the one hand, many small businesses tend to get by with consumer-grade Wi-Fi products. A Cisco Meraki survey of 1,000 small-business owners found 43% use the same Wi-Fi offering in their offices that they use in their homes.
But on the other hand, an enterprise-class Wi-Fi product may not prove viable because of the required IT support. More than 80% of the respondents said they lack a full-time IT resource.
Kevin RezaiMeraki Go global sales lead at Cisco Meraki
“The crux is a lot of the Wi-Fi solutions today don’t meet the needs of small businesses,” Rezai said.
Pricing is another consideration in the small-businesses Wi-Fi space. Meraki Go aims to lower the price point to make the technology more accessible. An indoor access point is priced at $129, compared with around $600 for the low end of Meraki’s enterprise Wi-Fi access point.
The more affordable price point enables partners to “address their customers in a way they haven’t been able to before,” Rezai said.
Kaseya committed to ‘one-stop-shop’ strategy
IT management vendor Kaseya shared plans to further expand its software platform for managed services providers (MSPs) through yet-to-be-announced acquisitions.
Kaseya’s platform, IT Complete, currently offers a broad suite of integrated MSP products, including remote monitoring and management, professional services automation, and security software.
This past year, Kaseya added backup and disaster recovery software to its portfolio through a buyout of Unitrends. And this week, the vendor purchased RapidFire Tools, a managed services software provider that will operate as independent business under Kaseya. The company provides assessment, internal threat detection and compliance products.
In a recent podcast by market research firm The 2112 Group, Kaseya CEO Fred Voccola revealed more acquisitions to augment the IT Complete platform are on the way.
“I think two of the three announcements that we are going to make are really going to send positive shock waves through the MSP community,” Voccola said in The 2112 Group’s podcast about the upcoming acquisitions.
Voccola said Kaseya is committed to its strategy of becoming a one-stop shop for MSPs — versus a provider of a point product that MSPs can stitch together with other vendors’ products — because the approach meets the needs of how MSPs operates today.
In MSP organizations, a technician typically has multiple functions, which may range from configuration and network management to backup and even service desk work, he said. As result, technicians want a comprehensible “product, one that is deep enough to do what they need to do in the time they need to do it.”
Point products, meanwhile, are more suitable for enterprise IT departments, which usually dedicate entire teams to single functions, Voccola noted. For example, an enterprise IT department might have 500 people focused only on network management, while another 200 do only backup and disaster recovery, he said.
“So much of the tooling and the infrastructure management products [enterprise IT departments] use are frameworks that they have customized substantially with their own internal development teams to augment [and] add company-specific functionality,” he said.
“What is more important [for MSPs] is they accomplish their objective and their task in the quickest, most efficient way possible, and they can move in and out of five or six different functional groups at a fraction of the cost, because that’s what their customers are demanding from them,” Voccola said.
SUSE schools SAP Business One resellers in Linux
SUSE, an open source software provider based in Nuremberg, Germany, has trained 500 SAP partners in an effort to push SAP HANA to more midmarket customers.
The joint SAP-SUSE program focuses on SAP Business One resellers. Business One is an ERP system for small and midsize businesses that grew up in the Windows environment, but now it also runs on SAP HANA and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Dirk Oppenkowski, global alliance director for SAP at SUSE, said SAP aims to gradually move its customer base to Linux and HANA.
As part of the SAP-SUSE program, about 2,500 individuals from the 500 partners went through SUSE’s training academy to become familiar with Linux, Oppenkowski said.
In addition to training, the program also provides profit sharing via deal registration rebates and access to the SUSE Installation Wizard. That tool lets partners deploy SAP Business One running on SAP HANA with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, according to SUSE.
The vast majority of the 500 Business One resellers participating in the program are net-new partners for SUSE. Oppenkowski said, in the past, Business One resellers have been mainly Windows and SQL Server partners. The result is little overlap with SUSE’s reseller channel, he added.
The midmarket program is an offshoot of an ongoing relationship between SUSE and SAP that goes back about seven years.
Security vendor Netwrix Corp. unveiled a technical certification program for its Netwrix Auditor software platform. The Partner Technical Certification Program is designed for technical teams at MSPs, value-added resellers and distributor partners, Netwrix said. By completing online training, partner engineers can achieve two levels of Netwrix Engineer certification: Certified and Pro.
ConnectWise is taking applications for a business-expansion idea contest and a merger-and-acquisition matchmaking event. The business-expansion contest, dubbed Pitch IT, offers the first-place winner up to $100,000 to execute its business plan. Runners-up will receive $50,000 and $25,000. ConnectWise’s M&A Deal Crawl event, meanwhile, will bring a number of qualified buyers and sellers together for an in-person meeting Nov. 8 at the IT Nation Connect conference in Orlando, Fla.
Broadvoice, a provider of hosted voice, unified communications and SIP trunking services, introduced its Public Sector Program. Through the program, partners can receive help for targeting government, education and nonprofit markets. Partner resources include training, marketing collateral, lead sharing, request-for-proposal tools and technical response assistance, Broadvoice said.
Unified Office Inc., an MSP focusing on communications services and business analytics, has launched an offering for the dental industry. The company’s Total Connect Now Dental Management Suite is a voice communications system that integrates with dental practice management software platforms, such as Dentrix, Open Dental and Eaglesoft.
Cloud distributor Pax8 has named Ken Patterson as its director of community. Patterson joins Pax8 from Techevolution, a Boston-based MSP, where he served as executive vice president. In his new role, Patterson will oversee Pax8’s community outreach program, partner relationships, and MSPs’ access to education, tools and support, the distributor said.
Commvault, a backup and recovery vendor based in Tinton Falls, N.J., has appointed Wenceslao Lada as vice president of worldwide alliances.
Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.
Here at Team Xbox, we’ve had a long history in offering voice controls as a way to interact with your Xbox console through Kinect and headsets. Today, starting with select Xbox U.S. Insiders, we’re expanding voice support by introducing the Xbox Skill, which enables you to navigate and interact with Xbox One using voice commands through your Cortana and Alexa-enabled devices.
With the Xbox Skill, you can use voice commands to power your Xbox One console, adjust volume, launch games and apps, start and stop broadcasts on Mixer, capture screenshots, and more. It’s the fastest way to get into your games and one of the easiest ways to interact with your console for everyday tasks. For example, if you have the skill enabled on your Echo and you’re a part of the Insider preview, just say “Alexa, start Rocket League.” and this command will automatically turn on your console, sign you in, and launch your game.
The Xbox Skill integrates with your Cortana and Alexa-enabled device such as a Windows 10 PC, Amazon Echo, Harman Kardon Invoke, Sonos One, or Cortana and Alexa apps on iOS and Android, enabling voice commands to control your Xbox One console.
For Xbox Insiders* in the U.S. who want to try the Xbox Skill with Cortana or Alexa, here’s how to get started:
If you use Cortana:
Sign into the Xbox you want to control.
On your Windows 10 PC, click here and sign in with your Microsoft account to link the skill.
Try your first command! “Hey Cortana, tell Xbox to open Netflix.”
If you use Alexa:
Sign into the Xbox you want to control.
Click here, sign in with your Amazon Account, and click Enable.
Sign in with your Microsoft account to link the skill.
Let Alexa discover your console, then follow the instructions to pair your console with Alexa.
Try your first command! “Alexa, start Rocket League.”
Wondering what else the Xbox Skill can do? Just say “Ask Xbox what can I say?” to discover more commands for your console. For a full list of commands, troubleshooting assistance, and to give the team feedback and ideas, you can visit the Xbox Insider Subreddit.
As always, your feedback is important to us and our partners as we continue to evolve this experience and grow our voice integration across devices, digital assistants and voice services.
*Note to Xbox Insiders: We will be rolling the Xbox Skill out to Xbox Insider rings gradually. If the Digital Assistant setting is visible on your console in Settings -> Devices, then you are currently eligible to test the Xbox Skill. If it doesn’t appear, then please be patient as we are working quickly to add more Insider rings to the beta.
Microsoft is offering new security tools to political campaigns — some measures with a level of technology usually reserved for government and big corporate customers — as it expands its efforts to stifle hacking attempts from foreign entities.
The Redmond company announced late Monday a new set of tools, called AccountGuard, that will closely watch hacking attacks and attempts made against campaigns, and notify their staff when threats occur. Microsoft will also offer training for staffers on how to make accounts more secure, and let them test new security tools “on a par” with the features Microsoft sells to government and corporate clients.
The AccountGuard services will be included for free to campaigns, candidates, think tanks and other political groups that are Office 365 customers. The service is the newest part of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program announced this spring, which aims to make elections secure.
Microsoft pointed to the need to expand security efforts, saying it seized six website domains last week, with the help of a court order, that belonged to hacking group Fancy Bear. The group is believed to have ties to the Russian government and was behind the 2016 hack against the Democratic Party.
That group and others like it use domains such as senate.group and office365-onedrive.com to give the appearance of a trusted organization when they send out phishing emails. The emails could be used to obtain passwords and infiltrate political organizations.
So far, Microsoft has shut down 84 of these fake domains set up by Fancy Bear in the past two years. The company also revealed last month that it thwarted two attempts last fall by hackers trying to get inside two Senate candidate campaigns, including Missouri Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill’s.
The number of hacking attempts has ticked up as midterm election campaigns get underway, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Monday. It’s widely believed the threats aren’t as numerous as they were during the 2016 elections, but cybersecurity executives say they are still serious.
“We can only keep our democratic societies secure if candidates can run campaigns and voters can go to the polls untainted by foreign cyberattacks,” Smith wrote.