Tag Archives: opportunities

Major storage vendors map out 2020 plans

The largest enterprise storage vendors face a common set of challenges and opportunities heading into 2020. As global IT spending slows and storage gets faster and frequently handles data outside the core data center, primary storage vendors must turn to cloud, data management and newer flash technologies.

Each of the major storage vendors has its own plans for dealing with these developments. Here is a look at what the major primary storage vendors did in 2019 and what you can expect from them in 2020.

Dell EMC: Removing shadows from the clouds

2019 in review: Enterprise storage market leader Dell EMC spent most of 2019 bolstering its cloud capabilities, in many cases trying to play catch-up. New cloud products include VMware-orchestrated Dell EMC Cloud Platform arrays that integrate Unity and PowerMax storage, coupled with VxBlock converged and VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure.

The new Dell EMC Cloud gear allows customers to build and deploy on-premises private clouds with the agility and scale of the public cloud — a growing need as organizations dive deeper into AI and DevOps.

What’s on tap for 2020: Dell EMC officials have hinted at a new Power-branded midrange storage system for several years, and a formal unveiling of that product is expected in 2020. Then again, Dell initially said the next-generation system would arrive in 2019. Customers with existing Dell EMC midrange storage likely won’t be forced to upgrade, at least not for a while. The new storage platform will likely converge features from Dell EMC Unity and SC Series midrange arrays with an emphasis on containers and microservices.

Dell will enhance its tool set for containers to help companies deploy microservices, said Sudhir Srinivasan, the CTO of Dell EMC storage. He said containers are a prominent design featured in the new midrange storage. 

“Software stacks that were built decades ago are giant monolithic pieces of code, and they’re not going to survive that next decade, which we call the data decade,” Srinivasan said. 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s eventful year

2019 in review: In terms of product launches and partnerships, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) had a busy year in 2019. HPE Primera all-flash storage arrived in late 2019,  and HPE expects customers will slowly transition from its flagship 3PAR platform. Primera supports NVMe flash, embedding custom chips in the chassis to support massively parallel data transport on PCI Express lanes. The first Primera customer, BlueShore Financial, received its new array in October.

HPE bought supercomputing giant Cray to expand its presence in high-performance computing, and made several moves to broaden its hyper-converged infrastructure options. HPE ported InfoSight analytics to HPE SimpliVity HCI, as part of the move to bring the cloud-based predictive tools picked up from Nimble Storage across all HPE hardware. HPE launched a Nimble dHCI disaggregated HCI product and partnered with Nutanix to add Nutanix HCI technology to HPE GreenLake services while allowing Nutanix to sell its software stack on HPE servers.

It capped off the year with HPE Container Platform, a bare-metal system to make it easier to spin up Kubernetes-orchestrated containers on bare metal. The Container Platform uses technology from recent HPE acquisitions MapR and BlueData.

What’s on tap for 2020: HPE vice president of storage Sandeep Singh said more analytics are coming in response to customer calls for simpler storage. “An AI-driven experience to predict and prevent issues is a big game-changer for optimizing their infrastructure. Customers are placing a much higher priority on it in the buying motion,” helping to influence HPE’s roadmap, Singh said.

It will be worth tracking the progress of GreenLake as HPE moves towards its goal of making all of its technology available as a service by 2022.

Hitachi Vantara: Renewed focus on traditional enterprise storage

2019 in review: Hitachi Vantara renewed its focus on traditional data center storage, a segment it had largely conceded to other array vendors in recent years. Hitachi underwent a major refresh of the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) flash array in 2019. The VSP 5000 SAN arrays scale to 69 PB of raw storage, and capacity extends higher with hardware-based deduplication in its Flash Storage Modules. By virtualizing third-party storage behind a VSP 5000, customers can scale capacity to 278 PB.

What’s on tap for 2020: The VSP5000 integrates Hitachi Accelerated Fabric networking technology that enables storage to scale out and scale up. Hitachi this year plans to phase in the networking to other high-performance storage products, said Colin Gallagher, a Hitachi vice president of infrastructure products.

“We had been lagging in innovation, but with the VSP5000, we got our mojo back,” Gallagher said.

Hitachi arrays support containers, and Gallagher said the vendor is considering whether it needs to evolve its support beyond a Kubernetes plugin, as other vendors have done. Hitachi plans to expand data management features in Hitachi Pentaho analytics software to address AI and DevOps deployments. Gallagher said Hitachi’s data protection and storage as a service is another area of focus for the vendor in 2020.

IBM: hybrid cloud, with cyber-resilient storage

2019 in review: IBM brought out the IBM Elastic Storage Server 3000, an NVMe-based array packaged with IBM Spectrum Scale parallel file storage. Elastic Storage Server 3000 combines NVMe flash and containerized software modules to provide faster time to deployment for AI, said Eric Herzog, IBM’s vice president of world storage channels.

In addition, IBM added PCIe-enabled NVMe flash to Versastack converged infrastructure and midrange Storwize SAN arrays.

What to expect in 2020: Like other storage vendors, IBM is trying to navigate the unpredictable waters of cloud and services. Its product development revolves around storage that can run in any cloud. IBM Cloud Services enables end users to lease infrastructure, platforms and storage hardware as a service. The program has been around for two years, and will add IBM software-defined storage to the mix this year. Customers thus can opt to purchase hardware capacity or the IBM Spectrum suite in an OpEx model. Non-IBM customers can run Spectrum storage software on qualified third-party storage.

“We are going to start by making Spectrum Protect data protection available, and we expect to add other pieces of the Spectrum software family throughout 2020 and into 2021,” Herzog said.

Another IBM development to watch in 2020 is how its $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat affects either vendor’s storage products and services.

NetApp: Looking for a rebound

2019 in review: Although spending slowed for most storage vendors in 2019, NetApp saw the biggest decline. At the start of 2019, NetApp forecast annual sales at $6 billion, but poor sales forced NetApp to slash its guidance by around 10% by the end of the year.

NetApp CEO George Kurian blamed the revenue setbacks partly on poor sales execution, a failing he hopes will improve as NetApp institutes better training and sales incentives. The vendor also said goodbye to several top executives who retired, raising questions about how it will deliver on its roadmap going forward.

What to expect in 2020: In the face of the turbulence, Kurian kept NetApp focused on the cloud. NetApp plowed ahead with its Data Fabric strategy to enable OnTap file services to be consumed, via containers, in the three big public clouds.  NetApp Cloud Data Service, available first on NetApp HCI, allows customers to consume OnTap storage locally or in the cloud, and the vendor capped off the year with NetApp Keystone, a pay-as-you-go purchasing option similar to the offerings of other storage vendors.

Although NetApp plans hardware investments, storage software will account for more revenue as companies shift data to the cloud, said Octavian Tanase, senior vice president of the NetApp OnTap software and systems group.

“More data is being created outside the traditional data center, and Kubernetes has changed the way those applications are orchestrated. Customers want to be able to rapidly build a data pipeline, with data governance and mobility, and we want to try and monetize that,” Tanase said.

Pure Storage: Flash for backup, running natively in the cloud

2019 in review: The all-flash array specialist broadened its lineup with FlashArray//C SAN arrays and denser FlashBlade NAS models. FlashArray//C extends the Pure Storage flagship with a model that supports Intel Optane DC SSD-based MemoryFlash modules and quad-level cell NAND SSDs in the same system.

Pure also took a major step on its journey to convert FlashArray into a unified storage system by acquiring Swedish file storage software company Compuverde. It marked the second acquisition in as many years for Pure, which acquired deduplication software startup StorReduce in 2018.

What to expect in 2020: The gap between disk and flash prices has narrowed enough that it’s time for customers to consider flash for backup and secondary workloads, said Matt Kixmoeller, Pure Storage vice president of strategy.

“One of the biggest challenges — and biggest opportunities — is evangelizing to customers that, ‘Hey, it’s time to look at flash for tier two applications,'” Kixmoeller said.

Flexible cloud storage options and more storage in software are other items on Pure’s roadmap items. Cloud Block Store, which Pure introduced last year, is just getting started, Kixmoeller said, and is expected to generate lots of attention from customers. Most vendors support Amazon Elastic Block Storage by sticking their arrays in a colocation center and running their operating software on EBS, but Pure took a different approach. Pure reengineered the backend software layer to run natively on Amazon S3.

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3 healthcare CIOs on what they think 2020 will bring

Three healthcare CIOs believe 2020 will come with exciting opportunities as well as challenges — not unlike 2019.

They are heading into the new year with the goal of building a more digitally-focused healthcare system. They’re also focused on improving the patient experience through continuous patient monitoring and predictive analytics backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning programs, telehealth services and greater access to data.

That won’t be easy. Arthur Harvey, Boston Medical Center CIO, said one challenge he foresees is integrating data across the continuum of care.

Here are their biggest takeaways from 2019 and what’s on their agendas for the new year.

What is your biggest takeaway from 2019?

Craig RichardvilleCraig Richardville

Craig Richardville, CIO at SCL Health in Broomfield, Colo.: The biggest takeaway from 2019 is that the future of healthcare delivery and financing is as unknown as it’s ever been. What that means is that we have an opportunity to participate in its new definition and to start painting the vision of the future. 

Arthur Harvey, CIO at Boston Medical Center: To me, as a CIO, I’ve got to be focused on the business rather than just technologies and looking for technologies that solve my business problems. I think one of the biggest challenges we’re having is the acceleration of the need to share data across the continuum of care with people who are… my partners, but I don’t control them. We’ve got to come up with techniques and technologies to share data across the continuum of care that are doable by organizations of different sizes. I can’t expect a little community health center to do what I can do. If I look at what we spent a lot of time on this year, it’s that.

John Bosco, CIO at Northwell Health in Manhattan, N.Y.: In general, I would say things are changing rapidly in healthcare. We’ve got care model reform. For us it’s a lot of growth and expansion… it feels like controlled chaos.

What new trend or technology came onto the scene in 2019 that you’ll be paying attention to in 2020?

Richardville: There was not a new technology, from my perspective, that took us by storm, but rather a heightened interest and advancement in business use cases in several areas. First, digital transformation and assets. Secondly, voice services as both an input mechanism and natural language processing. Thirdly, artificial intelligence with providing self-service, assistance and the building of a digital workforce. All of these will be accelerated in 2020 with improved adoption and acceptance.

Arthur HarveyArthur Harvey

Harvey: Data democratization, or self-service. The idea of providing data and providing tools that could be used by people outside of IT to come to some business conclusions. This isn’t revolutionary, but I think we’re at a point right now where most places have something like Tableau… and I think extending that down to the provider level, I think we’re going to see that in 2020. That’s a good thing so people can use data to inform their decisions on how they provide care or manage their practice.

Bosco: We’re only at the very beginning of transformation when it comes to continuous patient monitoring. Being able to put sensors on patients when they come in the door is really huge. I think we’re all at the very beginning of that. We’ve got about four, five or six pilots going on of different sensors for different purposes in our hospitals. Sensors backed up by AI and machine learning programs, we think, are going to have an incredible impact on healthcare and we’re only at the very beginning of that.

What challenge presented itself in 2019 that you will be dealing with in 2020?

Richardville: The continued challenge with each and all of our progressions will be the culture and its ability to transform through change management and change realization. We need to create a culture of continuous change, improvement, and the courage to transform and advance ourselves and our industry.

Harvey: Data integration across different organizations. It was hard enough to do data integration inside of an organization for years, that’s why HL7 was invented. But now, when we’re trying to do it across organizations it gets hard. Part of it is we need standards. I would describe current standards for a lot of this data as evolving.

John BoscoJohn Bosco

Bosco: Patient experience is No. 1 — it tends to be No. 1 in a lot of places. That’s been a big challenge and will continue to be. From the IT side, patient experience is broad. It’s thinking about access to finding care, scheduling care and the administrative aspect of coming here. How easy do we make all of that? We’re also doing a lot with trying to stay in contact with patients after they leave and help them get well and stay well.

What are you most excited for in 2020?

Richardville: I think you need to keep your head on a swivel and your eyes completely open. The speed in which solutions will be available both inside and outside of the industry will grow exponentially. So your ability to take advantage of the current, be prepared for the future and be flexible for the unknown will be characteristics of success.

Harvey: Most of the things that have me jazzed are things that have been around a while but now are getting to the point where adoption actually improves healthcare. As an example, I’m very excited about telehealth. I think it’s now become much more mainstream, and that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for patients for providers, for everybody … being able to extend [healthcare] services for convenience purposes to get patients where they need to be seen for minor stuff. I think we’re going to see some real advantages there.

Bosco: The cutting-edge stuff is always the most fun, so I’m very excited to continue testing and piloting innovations. I think AI is going to rule the world in healthcare and in our personal lives, so I would have to label that as most exciting. I think it’s going to get to the point where everything is so much smarter, so much more sophisticated because it’s being driven by AI behind the scenes. Every part of our lives is going to become more sophisticated because of this and this is going to have a profound impact on everyone.

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Join us live or virtually at Bett as we bring you the latest updates on ed tech tools that can drive innovation and success in the classroom | | Microsoft EDU

A new year brings new opportunities to learn about all the latest and greatest from Microsoft Education. Join Microsoft at Bett 2020 in London on January 22-25, either online or right there with us at the event, being held at London’s ExCeL venue.

Bett is an annual event that explores how technology can empower educators and students to reach their full potential. Microsoft, as a worldwide partner of Bett, will be hosting a wide array of sessions and hands-on demonstrations on the show floor, along with inspirational talks to support educators looking for new ways to engage and empower their students.

To kick off a whole week of Bett, we’re releasing a special episode of What’s New in EDU, our show that gets you caught up on the new tools and updates coming from Microsoft Education this year. This Bett episode will be available on January 22 – watch it to learn more about all the new and exciting Microsoft classroom technology that will be available. And don’t forget to stay tuned to the Education Blog for more as it comes in!

We’ll also have special edition What’s New in EDU live events streaming daily from Bett in London. You can register to catch the livestream events each day with the following links:

Whether you’re looking for the latest in mixed reality for education, some grounded advice on how to transform your classroom digitally, or want a peek at what’s next for Minecraft: Education Edition, the schedule below is a good place to start, learn and participate. Make sure to stop by Booth NF40 to see all the new experiences we have relating to STEM, Virtual Reality and new tools for the classroom.

If you’re joining us at Bett in person, we hope to see you at one of the following highlights:

Microsoft keynote | Bett Arena | Wednesday, 22 January, 13:35 – 14:15

Hybrid Intelligences: Amplifying Human Potential

Young people are leveraging emerging technologies such as AI to raise their voices and build solutions to the most pressing issues they face. Emotional intelligence is converging with artificial intelligence as researchers merge psychology and computer science. And educators are adapting and innovating in a profession that will look significantly different by 2030.

Join Microsoft’s Anthony Salcito and Barbara Holzapfel,  Affective Computing researcher Dr. Daniel McDuff, and NetHope Emerging Technologies Initiative Lead Leila Toplic as we explore the technology that will empower educators to navigate the changing needs of the staffroom and the classroom, and enable students to accelerate their impact and transform the world.

Microsoft Sessions
In addition to joining for our keynote in the Bett Arena, be sure to visit us across the Bett show at our own Learn Live Theatre, Microsoft Training Academy, the Bett PD Theatre, Bett Schools Theatre and the Bett Higher and Further Education Theatre!

Learn Live Theatre

This is the perfect place to go if you are looking to see and hear about the latest product releases, see demonstrations, and discover ways you can unlock learning in your students. Each session is held on Microsoft stand NF40 and lasts 25 minutes.

 Time Title
Wed – Sat
10:15-10:30
What’s new in EDU?
Wed – Fri
10:30-11:00
Meet the New Microsoft Edge & Learn How to Deploy it Today
Sat
10:30-11:00
Immersive Reader is Everywhere and other Apps to support your inclusive classroom including: Translator, Presenter Coach, and Seeing AI
Wed – Fri
11:00-11:30
Engage and amplify every scholar with Flipgrid
Sat
11:00-11:30
Unleash Creativity with Windows 10
Wed – Fri
11:30-12:00
Make your classroom more inclusive with built-in, free, and non-stigmatizing learning tools
Sat
11:30-12:00
Intelligent Forms features to transform your data collection and analysis
Wed – Sat
12:00-12:30
Greenwood Academies: Empowering students with Dell Affordable Devices and M365
Wed – Fri
12:30-13:00
Immersive Reader is Everywhere and other Apps to support your inclusive classroom including: Translator, Presenter Coach, and Seeing AI
Sat
12:30-13:00
Build confidence and improve your communication skills with Presenter Coach in PowerPoint
Wed – Sat
13:00-13:30
Empower individual teachers and your entire school system with Microsoft’s free and adaptable professional development resources
Wed – Fri
13:30-14:00
How Office can help your students develop into great writers
Wed – Fri
14:00-14:30
Going for full 1:1 with Surface Pro – journey of infrastructure, CPD and teacher involvement
Wed – Fri
14:30-15:00
Using Microsoft Teams to enable effective professional development
Wed – Fri
15:00-15:30
Develop a Teaching and Learning Video Culture with Teams and Stream | Connect with meetings and live events, teach with web-based screen recording and create on mobile using the Flipgrid Camera
Wed – Fri
15:30-16:00
How Microsoft Sparks Learning: Classroom stories
Wed – Fri
16:00-16:30
Make your Own Arcade Games with MakeCode
Wed – Fri
16:30-17:00
Create inclusive live presentations with PowerPoint
Wed – Fri
17:00-17:30
Deliver Student Centered Learning with Education Devices
Wed – Fri
17:30-18:00
Drive greater faculty engagement and professional development with your faculty using Teams


Microsoft Training Academy

If you are looking for a hands-on opportunity to try, test and experiment with Microsoft products and devices, this is the perfect stage for you. Get tips and tricks and learn about the best way to use a Microsoft solution in the classroom, from and with our own teachers, trainers, and Microsoft Learning Consultants. Each session is held in the Platinum Suite Level 2 foyer and lasts 25 minutes.

Time Title
Wed – Sat
10:30-11:00
How we empower teaching and learning by getting teachers to learn and students to teach
Wed – Sat
11:00-11:30
Grow your practice with free professional learning and resources with the Microsoft Educator Center
Wed – Sat
11:30-12:00
How you can build an Inclusive classroom with Microsoft Learning Tools
Wed – Sat
12:00- 12:30
Helping students grow and improve with Teams Assignments
Wed – Sat
12:30-13:00
The impact that OneNote Class Notebook is driving for teachers, students, and classrooms everywhere
Wed – Sat
13:00-13:30
Enabling your school with Office’s free and easy-to-use web apps!
Wed – Sat
13:30-14:00
Utilizing smart assistance and intelligence across Office apps
Wed – Sat
14:00-14:30
Transformative Teaching with Minecraft: Education Edition
Wed – Fri
14:30-15:00
 Build an app in 25 mins or less to free up teacher time
Wed – Fri
15:00-15:30
App Smashing in Teams
Wed – Fri
15:30-16:00
Maximizing Teams for your education institution
Wed – Fri
16:00-16:30
Foster an inclusive classroom with Flipgrid
Wed – Fri
16:30-17:00
Grow your practice with free professional learning and resources with the Microsoft Educator Center
Wed – Fri
17:00-17:30
The impact that OneNote Class Notebook is driving for teachers, students, and classrooms everywhere
Wed – Fri
17:30-18:00
How you can build an Inclusive classroom with Microsoft Learning Tools


Microsoft on the Stage (PD Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
13:00 – 13:30
(South Hall)
Empower students with the Immersive Reader in the inclusive classroom
Wed
15:00 – 15:30
(South Hall)
Whole school professional learning with the Microsoft Educator Center
Fri
15:00 – 15:30
(North Hall)
Saving time through authentic assessment using Microsoft Forms


Microsoft on the Stage (Schools Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
11:50 – 12:20
Digital transformation of teaching and learning to support all
Wed
15:10 – 15:40
Innovation Driven By Community
Thurs
11:45 – 12:15
Improving outcomes through the use of technology in the classroom
Thurs
14:45 – 15:10
Implementing digital transformation – Wimbledon High’s Journey
Fri
11:50 – 12:20
Enriching and engaging learning in a challenging environment
Fri
15:10 – 15:40
Learning Tool in Action:  Helping Students of all Abilities thrive at Louis Riel


Microsoft on the Stage (Higher and Further Education Theatre)

Time Title
Wed
11:50 – 12:20
DigiLearn: Empowering transformational change in education
Wed
15:30 – 16:00
Working better together: Using Microsoft Teams to embed digital skills at Newcastle University
Thurs
11:35 – 12:05
Strategic Digital Transformation: A blueprint for adoption
Thurs
15:00 – 15:30
A digital University by ethos and design – how the university of Bath is putting digital at its core
Fri
11:35 – 12:05
Establishing a digital learning platform that works for all
Fri
15:00 – 15:30
Transforming Teaching, Learning and Assessment using technology: empowering all learners to achieve more

Community Learning Center | Booth SM45 |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

jp.ik and Microsoft have been partnering together for the last decade and gathered the necessary expertise in this vertical by implementing several large-scale sustainable projects around the world and impacting over 16 million students and 1 million teachers in over 70 countries. Throughout our journey we have been facing the lack of basic structures (schools), the lack of basic utilities (electricity and sanitation) and the lack of telecommunication network. This is why jp.ik, Microsoft and their partners have come together to create a Community Learning Center to empower rural areas and connect them throughout the entire globe.

We look forward to welcoming you in Booth SM45, located next to the Bett arena in the South Hall to discover our solar-powered, digitally connected Community Learning Center.

Microsoft Certifications Testing Lab | Platinum Suite 5 |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

In partnership with Microsoft, Prodigy Learning is offering Bett 2020 attendees the opportunity to complete a Microsoft Certification Exam for FREE. We are delighted to announce the Microsoft Technical Certifications (MTC) in Azure Fundamentals, M365 Fundamentals & Dynamics Fundamentals. Learn more.

Microsoft Partner Adventure |Wednesday, 22 January – Saturday, 25 January

Take part in the Microsoft Partner Adventure and for a chance to WIN a Surface Pro, a Surface Go, or a 3rd party partner Windows device daily! Discover Microsoft’s unique off-campus partners and answer a question to reveal a code, scanned using the Bett app!  Participants will have to visit all 15 partner booths to answer all the questions, scan the QR codes.  Competition closes at 15:00 and winner drawn at 16:00 daily (Wed to Fri) and closes at 13:00 and winners drawn at 14:00 on Saturday in front of the Learn Live Theater on the Microsoft stand NF40. Winners must be present to collect their prizes.

Solutions Showcase | Platinum Suite 7 |Wednesday, 22 January & Thursday, 23 January, 10:30 – 16:15

Digital transformation is an indisputable force revolutionizing industries and reshaping the workplace. Education leaders around the globe are faced with the need to prepare students for this new world. These sessions are your opportunity to meet fellow practitioners and hear first-hand global experiences and trends and how these might help support you.  Learn more.

Microsoft Education Developer Platform and Data Solutions | Gallery Suite 8 |Wednesday, 22 January – Friday, 24 January

This free event features sessions in two tracks for technical audiences:

CIOs and IT Pros –

Come learn how Microsoft can integrate with your IT system and learning apps to save time and data management costs, protect student data privacy, and accelerate learning in the Classroom.

Application Developers and Microsoft Partners –

Come learn how Microsoft can help you create and deliver applications that empower learners and educators to achieve more.  Whether you are enhancing an existing application or building a new solution from scratch, Microsoft’s Education platform can help you facilitate deployment, maximize inclusion, increase engagement and improve outcomes.

Secure your seat and register for the sessions that you would like to attend. Learn more.

Transformation Leaders’ Summit | Platinum Suite 6 | Thursday, January 23, 10:30 – 13:00

Driving successful change is challenging whether in an individual school or system-wide. Across the world, leaders are discovering the most effective ways to improve student experience and outcomes, using technology to support learning, teaching and school administration. This Microsoft event aims to explore innovative, impactful journeys that leaders are taking to support their students, bringing together hands-on experience, networking opportunities and strategic insight for leaders at school and system-level. Learn more.

Privacy & Security Summit | Platinum Suite 6 | Friday, January 24, 10:30 – 14:00

Microsoft Worldwide EDU will be launching VIP invitation only CEO / CIO / CSO Privacy and Security Summit at the BETT conference. Subject matter experts from Microsoft product teams will be listening to customer feedback and discussing AI, Privacy and Security in K-12. Agenda will encompass discussions around student security on campus, trends for privacy in schools worldwide as well as how AI can drive positive impact. Learn more.

Become a Microsoft Global Training Partner | Platinum Suite 6 | Thursday, January 23, 13:30 – 15:30

Join this session to learn about the Microsoft Global Training Partner Program, explore how it fits your existing Professional Development training model and what are the partnership models possible with Microsoft. Learn more.

MakeCode Saturday | Platinum Suite 6 & 7 | Saturday, 25 January, 10:00 – 15:00

Microsoft MakeCode Saturday is a fun, hands-on workshop at BETT that is free and open to teachers, parents and students.  Microsoft MakeCode is an open source platform for creating engaging computer science learning experiences that support a progression path from Blocks into real-world programming. Learn more about MakeCode Saturday.

Explore tools for Future Ready SkillsExplore tools for Future Ready Skills

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Focus, scope and spotting opportunity are key to role of CDO

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In the age of big data, the opportunities to change organizations by using data are many. For a newly minted chief data officer, the opportunities may actually be too vast, making focus the most essential element in the role of CDO.

“It’s about scope,” said Charles Thomas, chief data and analytics officer at General Motors. “You struggle if you do too many things.”

As chief data officer at auto giant GM, Thomas is focusing on opportunities to repackage and monetize data. He called it “whale hunting,” meaning he is looking for the biggest opportunities.

Thomas spoke as part of a panel on the role of CDO this week at the MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium.

At GM, he said, the emphasis is on taking the trove of vehicle data available from today’s highly digitized, instrumented and connected cars. Thomas said he sees monetary opportunities in which GM can “anonymize data and sell it.”

The role of CDO is important, if not critical, Thomas emphasized in an interview at the event.

The nurturing CDO

“Companies generate more data than they use, so someone has to approach it from an innovative perspective — not just for internal innovation, but also to be externally driving new income,” he said. “Someone has to [be] accountable for that. It has to be their only job.”

“A lot of industries are interested in how people move around cities. It’s an opportunity to sell [data] to B2B clients,” Thomas added.

Focus is also important in Christina Clark’s view of the role of CDO. But nurturing data capabilities across the organization is the initial prime area for attention, said Clark, who is CDO at industrial conglomerate General Electric’s GE Power subsidiary and was also on hand as an MIT symposium panelist.

Every company should get good at aggregating, analyzing and monetizing data, Clark said.

“You then look at where you want to focus,” she said. The role of CDO, she added, is likely to evolve according to the data maturity of any given organization.

Focusing on data areas in which an organization needs rounding out was also important to symposium panelist Jeff McMillan, chief analytics and data officer at Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit, based in New York.

The chief data officer role evolution
As the role of CDO changes, it’s becoming more strategic.

It’s about the analytics

“Organizations say, ‘We need a CDO,’ and then bring them in, but they don’t provide the resources they need to be successful,” he said. “A lot of people define the CDO role before they define the problem.”

It’s unwise to suggest a CDO can fix all the data problems of an organization, McMillan said. The way to succeed with data is to drive an understanding of data’s value as deeply into the organization as possible.

“That is really hard, by the way,” he added. At Morgan Stanley, McMillan said, his focus in the role of chief data officer has been around enabling wider use of analytics in advising clients on portfolio moves.

All things data and CDO

Tom Davenport, BabsonTom Davenport

Since widely materializing in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the role of CDO has been seen largely as seeking consensus.

Compliance and regulation tasks have often blended in a broad job description that has come to include big data innovation initiatives. But individual executives’ refinements to chief data officer approaches may be the next step for the role of CDO, longtime industry observer and Babson College business professor Tom Davenport said in an interview.

“Having someone responsible for all things data is not a workable task. So, you really need to focus,” Davenport said. “If you want to focus on monetization, that’s fine. If you want to focus on internal enablement or analytics, that’s fine.”

The advice to the would-be CDO is not unlike that for most any other position. “What you do must be focused; you can’t be all things to all people,” Davenport said.

Cloud computing technology for 2018: Transform or die

Cloud computing technology is creating business opportunities so radically new and different that they can be built only if we junk much of what we know, how we operate and even how we think — everywhere in the enterprise, not just within IT. In other words, transform or die.

That was the emphatic, no-nonsense message delivered by Ashish Mohindroo, vice president of Oracle Cloud, and Bill Taylor, co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company magazine. They spoke at the Boston stop of the 2017-2018 Oracle Cloud Day roadshow in November.

Legacy data centers won’t help, said Mohindroo. Neither will recreating on-premises complexity in the cloud. It’s time to think in new ways, as is typified by Uber and Lyft redefining transportation and Airbnb transforming the hospitality industry.

Bill Taylor at Oracle Cloud Day

During a time of disruption, don’t let what you know limit what you can imagine, warned Taylor, giving a combination of scared-straight and do-it-now-or-else advice to an audience of about 400 IT professionals.

Generational shift

IT is currently in the midst of a once-every-20-years tectonic shift, according to Mohindroo. The most recent, the 1990s shift from client/server computing to the internet, is now being supplanted by the transition to cloud computing. The upheaval is far-reaching and impossible to avoid.

“No industry is immune,” Mohindroo said, citing key cloud computing technology drivers that include artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, autonomous software, the internet of things and advances in human interface design.

A potentially debilitating problem that businesses face today is that existing legacy IT infrastructures and strategies were not built to leverage new technologies, support new business models, offer adequate control and do it all quickly. Traditional data centers, Mohindroo said, were constructed in a siloed manner, built for maximum capacity and peak loads, but not designed to be elastic, integrated or flexible.

Complicating matters is that each siloed service doesn’t talk to others and may have been built to differing standards. Integrating them can be difficult when incompatible standards, including authentication, database design or communications protocols, get in the way.

Though Mohindroo’s presentation eventually led into a sales pitch for Oracle’s cloud computing technology platforms, the underlying message was vendor neutral and clear: For businesses to exist, they must undergo a cloud transformation consisting of essential foundational services: data as a service (DaaS), software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Those services, he said, need to be based on open technologies and standards, including SQL and NoSQL databases.

Six journey paths

Oracle defines six distinct pathways into the cloud. Each offers differing appeal depending on the age of the company, its compute workload and compliance mandates, among other factors. The six options include the following:

  • Optimize an existing on-premises data center with plans to migrate later.
  • Install a complete cloud infrastructure on premises behind the corporate firewall. The advantages of this are behind-the-firewall security and a pay-as-you-go model for usage.
  • Move existing workloads into a cloud infrastructure with minimal optimization, often referred to as lift and shift. Mohindroo said the key challenge with this popular scenario is dealing with less-than-optimal I/O bottlenecks.
  • Create all new, cloud-resident applications, developed using PaaS and IaaS technology, to fully replace outmoded legacy applications. DaaS replaces the legacy on-premises database. Advantages of this model include the availability of a wide variety of open source languages and services for application development, data management, analytics and integration, along with support for virtual machines, containerization for portability and Kubernetes for orchestration.

    “The whole concept behind this is to make it easy for you to run your business,” Mohindroo said.

    One way to utilize this option is through Oracle’s advanced AI and machine learning cloud technology. For example, Oracle offers an autonomous database that Mohindroo claims is self-running — managed, patched and tuned in real time without human intervention.

  • Replace the core legacy application base with subscription-based, third-party SaaS counterparts. Similar to option four, this model offers application development tools for customization, along with the same AI and machine learning technology.
  • Choose a born-in-the-cloud model, which would be the logical choice for new companies that have no legacy IT operation or applications, Mohindroo said.

Change the way you think

Mohindroo’s presentation was crafted to deliver a purely cloud computing technology message.

Taylor’s talk, which largely avoided tech speak, still targeted IT managers, application developers and operations personnel, saying their collective efforts can benefit from understanding the human side of the user experience. To do that, he said, requires becoming fully immersed in every nuance of what it means to be a customer.

Taylor suggested that IT employees expand their view beyond the technology.

Are you … learning as fast as the world is changing?
Bill Taylorcofounder and founding editor, Fast Company magazine

“Are you determined to make sure that what you know doesn’t limit what you can imagine going forward?” he said. “Are you … learning as fast as the world is changing?”

Taylor’s message can be taken two ways: Gain insight into the people who use the cloud applications you build or learn about each new cloud computing technology and programming language or risk being left behind.

Taylor cited San Antonio-based USAA, the financial services company that serves military families, as an example of a leader in technology-driven disruption that immerses every employee — even highly skilled application developers — in understanding the customer experience. USAA gives new employees a packet called a virtual overseas deployment. The idea is to spend a day role-playing as a member of the Army Reserve or National Guard suddenly called up to active duty.

“You’ve got four weeks to get your financial affairs together,” Taylor said.

The exercise forces the role-player to go through credit card statements, bank statements, life insurance and car payments — all to help USAA employees understand what their customers need.

“They’re not early adopters of technology because they love technology per se; it’s because they’re so committed to their identity in the sense of impacting customers in their marketplace,” Taylor said. 

Join educators from around the world as we Hack the Classroom – Saturday, Oct. 14th |

Educators face an entirely new set of challenges and opportunities in today’s constantly evolving technological landscape. Digital transformation can have a profound impact on the education experience, but it’s becoming harder than ever to keep up with, identify, and incorporate the best strategies and solutions for your classroom.

Enter Hack the Classroom: It’s a live, online event designed to inspire educators, ignite new ideas, and showcase what’s possible in today‘s schools and classrooms. Broadcasting live on October 14th, Hack the Classroom will bring together the latest teaching methods, tools, and technologies to spark creativity and curiosity in students and educators alike. We’ll also share tips, tricks, and inspiring stories from educators all across the globe, unlocking new ways to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Tune in live to the event on October 14, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PDT.

Our theme for this Hack the Classroom event is all about:

Sparking creativity and curiosity to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Hack the Classroom will feature classroom hacks from educators, discussions from inspiring thought leaders, and resources to help you get started. The key is to start with just a few small steps.

By attending our live, online Hack the Classroom event, you can:

  • Hear from Alan November, live from Boston, MA. Alan’s approach is to support students in becoming “problem designers” as a critical step in tapping their imagination and curiosity.  Providing a framework for lines of inquiry and “messy” problems to be developed can be a stepping stone to helping students learn how to think through increasingly complex and creative conundrums.
  • Look into Tammy Dunbar’s tech-infused classroom in Manteca Unified School District to see how technology is engaging her students and empowering them to meet high standards.  Tammy will share the top five tools to support creativity and curiosity.
  • Learn how courses on the Microsoft Educator Community can prepare you to incorporate rich STEM lessons into your classroom, whether you are an elementary or a secondary teacher, and see the results in action with a school in the UK.
  • See how students at Renton Prep are using the new video features in the Photo App to share their learning creatively.
  • See innovative class hacks from MIE Experts around the world.
  • Participate in the live studio Q&A – come with questions!
  • Receive an HTC participant badge and receive 500 points on our Educator Community. Once you’ve earned 1,000 points, you become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator.

Click here to register and save your spot.

Be sure to share the event with fellow teachers, connect with us on Twitter @MicrosoftEDU and tweet out your thoughts using #MicrosoftEDU and #HackTheClassroom.

For daily ideas on how to infuse technology into your classroom, check out our Educator Community and learn how to become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator. Our Educator Community is the place to collaborate with educators around the world and the best location for resources on using technology in the classroom. Our content is designed by educators for educators, up-to-date and ever-growing to meet your teaching needs.

We look forward to seeing you at Hack the Classroom!

Learn the basics of PowerShell for Azure Functions

just for developers; several scripting languages open up new opportunities for admins and systems analysts as well.

Scripting options for Azure Functions

Azure Functions is a collection of event-driven application components that can interact with other Azure services. It’s useful for asynchronous tasks, such as data ingestion and processing, extract, transform and load processes or other data pipelines, as well as microservices or cloud service integration.

In general, functions are well-suited as integration and scripting tools for legacy enterprise applications due to their event-driven, lightweight and infrastructure-free nature. The ability to use familiar languages, such as PowerShell, Python and Node.js, makes that case even stronger. Since PowerShell is popular with Windows IT shops and Azure users, the best practices below focus on that particular scripting language but apply to others as well.

PowerShell for Azure Functions

The initial implementation of PowerShell for Azure Functions uses PowerShell version 4 and only supports scripts (PS1 files), not modules (PSM1 files), which makes it best for simpler tasks and rapid development. To use PowerShell modules in Azure Functions, users can update the PSModulepath environment variable to point to a folder that contains custom modules and connect to it through FTP.

When you use scripts, pass data to PowerShell functions through files or environment variables, because a function won’t store or cache the runtime environment. Incoming data to a function, via an event trigger or input binding, is passed using files that are accessed in PowerShell through environment variables. The same scheme works for data output. Since the input data is just a raw file, users must know what to expect and parse accordingly. Functions itself won’t format data but will support most formats, including:

  • string;
  • int;
  • bool;
  • object/JavaScript Object Notation;
  • binary/buffer;
  • stream; and
  • HTTP

PowerShell functions can be triggered by HTTP requests, an Azure service queue, such as when a message is added to a specified storage queue, or a timer (see Figure 1). Developers can create Azure Functions with the Azure portal, Visual Studio — C# functions only — or a local code editor and integrated development environment, although the portal is the easiest option.

Triggers for PowerShell functions
Figure 1. PowerShell functions triggers

Recommendations

Azure Functions works the same whether the code is in C#, PowerShell or Python, which enables teams to use a language with which they have expertise or can easily master. The power of Functions stems from its integration with other Azure services and built-in runtime environments. Writing as a function is more efficient than creating a standalone app for simple tasks, such as triggering a webhook from an HTTP request.

While PowerShell is an attractive option for Windows teams, they need to proceed with caution since support for Azure Functions is still a work in progress. The implementation details will likely change, however, for the better.

You Asked, We Listened: Fans Can Now Opt into the Xbox Insider Program

The Xbox Insider Program is growing, and with that growth comes exciting new opportunities. Alongside our continual efforts to hear all feedback shared by the Xbox Insider community, we’re now simplifying entry into the Xbox One Update Preview rings and partnering with 1st and 3rd party studios to provide Xbox Insiders with early access to Alpha and closed Beta playtests of Xbox Live-enabled games on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. This means Xbox gamers will now be able to easily opt into the Xbox Insider program and gain earlier access to the latest system updates and flighted games!

Xbox One Update Preview Flights

As the Xbox Insider Program has evolved to enable new and better experiences, so have the Xbox One Update Preview rings. We previously increased the number of rings and changed the names of the rings that provide Xbox Insider community members with a preview of updates. These changes help the development team by providing more in-depth, critical testing data, which they use to then update and refine features based on fan feedback, ensuring optimal user experiences when system updates reach general availability.

One of our key goals since creating the Xbox Insider Program has been ensuring interested Xbox users can provide valuable feedback on system updates before they are broadly released. We’ve enjoyed seeing that you, our community, share that same goal. Many of you – especially in Ring 3 and Ring 4 – have expressed interest in the opportunity to share feedback earlier in the preview process. As a result of this feedback, starting today we’re better recognizing your participation and dedication by activating user-selected ring shifts – available for those who have reached certain Xbox Insider XP and tenure milestones – for fans to enroll in previously “closed” rings.

To clarify these changes, we’re renaming preview Ring 3 and Ring 4. Here’s more information on these Insider ring changes:

Xbox Insiders Image

With these updates, many new Xbox Insiders – previously limited to Ring 3 or Ring 4 – will be able to join the Xbox One Update Preview Beta and Delta groups, thereby expanding the types of updates and features they’ll be able to test right away.

One important note for users who select enrollment in the Delta group to be aware of: a portion of Delta Insiders will receive preview builds earlier than others, based on a random lottery process. This means that while all users in the Delta ring will receive new console updates prior to their official release, some Delta Insiders will receive updates before others. This process gives developers a better understanding of how different sets of users experience new features, when introduced.

In addition to changing how Xbox One Preview Update rings function, we’re also providing Xbox Insiders with more flexibility in how they receive updates. As you gain access to deeper Insider rings, you’ll still retain access to lower rings, too. This means if you’re concerned with bandwidth usage or the frequency of updates, you can simply move to a lower ring whenever you’d like. What’s more, those who own multiple consoles can enroll those consoles individually into any of the Insider rings for which they’re eligible using the same gamertag across each.

Here’s some detail on the average number of monthly updates per ring, combined with the rough average monthly bandwidth usage per ring:

Xbox Insiders Image

Game & App Flights

As we said earlier, the Xbox Insider Team is working closely with multiple 1st party and 3rd party game studios to bring you playtests of unreleased games. Recently we partnered with our friends at Rare and already thousands of gamers are sailing the Sea of Thieves across both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.  This spring, Paladins was initially available to Xbox Insiders with an XP level of 10 or higher, then Xbox Insiders with XP > level 5, before being released to all Xbox Insiders a few weeks before the game was generally available.

Along with games, Xbox Insiders can also get early access to unreleased Xbox console apps and updates, so keep checking the Xbox Insider Hub to see if new content opportunities are available to you!

Thank You

In closing, we simply want to say thank you to our Xbox Insiders for working closely with Team Xbox to build and improve not only the gaming experience on Xbox One but also multiple games and apps across PC and console. Not yet an Xbox Insider and interested in joining the program? It’s easy to get started!  Simply navigate to the Store on Xbox One,  search for the “Xbox Insider Hub,” download the app and get started testing new console updates, games and apps.

-The Xbox Insider Team