Tag Archives: products

Kubernetes hybrid cloud emerges from Google-Cisco partnership

A forthcoming Kubernetes hybrid cloud option that joins products from Cisco and Google promises smoother portability and security, but at this point its distinguishing features remain theoretical.

Cisco plans to release the Cisco Container Platform (CCP) in the first quarter of 2018, with support for Kubernetes container orchestration on its HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure product. Sometime later this year, a second version of the container platform will link up with Google Kubernetes Engine to deliver a Kubernetes hybrid cloud offering based on the Cisco-Google partnership made public in October 2017.

“Cisco can bring a consistent hybrid cloud experience to our customers,” said Thomas Scherer, chief architect at Telindus Telecom, an IT service provider in Belgium and longtime Cisco partner that plans to offer hosted container services based on CCP. Many enterprises already use Cisco’s products, which should boost CCP’s appeal, he said.

CCP 2.0 will extend the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure software-defined network fabric into Google’s public cloud, and enable stretched Kubernetes clusters between on-premises data centers and public clouds, Cisco executives said. Stretched clusters would enable smooth container portability between multiple infrastructures, one of the most attractive promises of Kubernetes hybrid clouds for enterprise IT shops reluctant to move everything to the cloud. CCP also will support Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services public clouds, and eventually CCP will incorporate DevOps monitoring tools from AppDynamics, another Cisco property.

“Today, if I have a customer that is using containers, I put them on a dedicated hosting infrastructure, because I don’t have enough confidence that I can maintain customer segregation [in a container environment],” Scherer said. “I hope that Cisco will deliver in that domain.”

He also expects that the companies’ strengths in enterprise data center and public cloud infrastructure components will give the Kubernetes hybrid cloud a unified multi-cloud dashboard with container management.

“Is it going to be easy? No, and the components included in the product may change,” he said. “But my expectation is that it will happen.”

Google public cloud servers in Georgia
Version 2 of the Cisco Container Platform will connect enterprise data centers with Google’s public cloud infrastructure shown here.

Kubernetes hybrid cloud decisions require IT unity

Cisco customers have plenty of other Kubernetes hybrid cloud choices to consider, some of which are already available. Red Hat and AWS joined forces last year to integrate Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based OpenShift Container Platform with AWS services. Microsoft has its Azure public cloud and Azure Stack for on-premises environments, and late last year added Azure Container Service Engine to Azure Stack with support for Kubernetes container management templates.

What Cisco is trying to do, along with other firms, is to expand its appeal to infrastructure and operations teams with monitoring, security and analytics features not included in Kubernetes.
Stephen Elliotanalyst, IDC

However, many enterprises continue to kick the tires on container orchestration software and most do not run containers in production, which means the Cisco-Google partnership has a window to establish itself.

“Kubernetes support is table stakes at this point,” said Stephen Elliot, analyst at IDC. “Part of what Cisco is trying to do, along with other firms, is to expand its appeal to infrastructure and operations teams with monitoring, security and analytics features not included in Kubernetes.”

As Kubernetes hybrid cloud options proliferate, enterprise IT organizations must unite traditionally separate buyers in security, application development, IT management and IT operations to evaluate and select a product. Otherwise, each constituency will be swayed by its established vendor’s product and chaos could ensue, Elliot said.

“There are a lot of moving parts, and organizations are grappling with whom in their organization to turn to for leadership,” he said. “Different buyers can’t make decisions in a vacuum anymore, and there are a lot of politics involved.”

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget’s Cloud and DevOps Media Group. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

Juniper Junos Space Security Director gets automation boost

SAN FRANCISCO — Juniper Networks has made its security products more responsive to threats, thereby reducing the amount of manual labor required to fend off attacks.

On Tuesday at the Juniper NXTWORK conference, the company introduced “dynamic policy management” in the Junos Space Security Director. The central software console for Juniper network security manages the vendor’s firewalls and enforces security policies on Juniper’s EX and QFX switches.

The latest improvement to Junos Space Security Director lets security pros define variables that will trigger specific rules in Juniper SRX Series next-generation firewalls. For example, if a company is under a ransomware attack that has planted malware in employees’ PCs, then Director could activate rules restricting access to critical applications that handle sensitive data. The rules could also tell firewalls to cut off internet access for those applications.

The new Junos Space Security Director features can lower the response time to security threats from hours to minutes, said Mihir Maniar, vice president of security product management at Juniper, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. “It’s completely dynamic, completely user-intent-driven.”

Vendors trending toward automated security threat response

Automating the response to security threats is a trend among vendors, including Juniper rival Cisco. Companies can configure products to take specific actions against threats, which removes the time security pros would have to spend deploying new firewall rules manually.

Automation means 10 different things to 10 different people.
Dan Condeanalyst at Enterprise Strategy Group

“You have to mitigate very quickly and not just inform somebody and hope for the best,” said Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass. “Manual procedures do not work very quickly.”

But the ultimate goal, which eludes vendors today, is to have products that detect and mitigate threats on their own and then continue to monitor the network to ensure the steps taken were successful.

Vendor marketing tends to play down the fact that the level of automation is rudimentary, which has led to confusion over the definition of automation across different products. “Automation means 10 different things to 10 different people,” Conde said.

Juniper network security stronger with new SRX4600 firewall

Juniper has integrated a new firewall with the latest iteration of Junos Space Security Director. The SRX4600 is designed to protect data flowing in multi-cloud environments found in an increasing number of companies. The SRX4600 is a 1RU appliance with a throughput of 80 Gbps.

Juniper also unveiled at NXTWORK an on-premises malware detection appliance that uses analytics and remediation technology built by Cyphort, which Juniper acquired this year. Cyphort has developed security analytics that spots malware based on its abnormal activity in the network.

The new Advanced Threat Prevention Appliance in Juniper’s network security portfolio is designed for companies with “strict data sovereignty requirements,” the company said. The on-premises hardware has been certified by ISCA Labs, which is an independent division of Verizon that conducts testing and certification of security and health IT products.

United Technologies chooses Microsoft Cloud to enhance customer experience and accelerate digital transformation – News Center

UTC is connecting data, people and products to empower employees to operate more efficiently, streamline critical processes, and use intelligent insights to drive positive customer outcomes

REDMOND, Wash., and FARMINGTON, Conn. — Nov. 1, 2017 — Microsoft Corp. and United Technologies Corp. (UTC) (NYSE: UTX) on Wednesday announced a strategic agreement that will create a differentiated customer and employee experience using intelligent technology innovation.

UTC builds and services millions of products in the field, from elevators in some of the world’s tallest buildings, to engines and aerospace equipment in the skies, to commercial products that power smart buildings. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Azure, UTC intends to empower employees globally with the digital tools and information needed to support customer interactions for faster, better and more personalized service.

“At UTC, we build products and services that are vital to business and impact lives everywhere. Through digital transformation, we are raising the bar on our capabilities to predict, prevent and respond to our customers’ needs. Collaborating with Microsoft, and leveraging its intelligent cloud, we are changing how we define the customer experience,” said Vince Campisi, chief digital officer and CIO at UTC.

“United Technologies is a global leader in the aerospace and building industries and has a deep commitment to innovation,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “The combination of UTC’s customer service expertise together with Microsoft’s intelligent cloud will provide a digital business model for UTC businesses across multiple industries.”

A core tenet of UTC’s transformation is giving employees the digital tools and capabilities to work in new and different ways at market speed. UTC is connecting data, people and products securely to optimize its sales, customer care and field service operations — from responding faster to sales opportunities through automation and intelligence, to predicting maintenance by operationalizing product data, and empowering thousands of service technicians in the field with mobile connectivity. Examples of these initiatives that would be enabled by UTC’s use of Microsoft technology include these:

  • Otis will use Dynamics 365 CRM to empower service technicians and sales teams with a holistic view of the customer relationship and real-time equipment health data to enable predictive maintenance, dynamic field dispatching and a more seamless customer experience.
  • Pratt & Whitney is using Azure and Dynamics for cloud-based field service, sales and marketing solutions to deliver a superior customer experience.
  • UTC Aerospace Systems is building solutions on Azure for predictive maintenance of aircraft systems, to better ensure the reliability, safety and cost-efficiency for customers.
  • UTC Climate, Controls & Security (CCS) will use Azure as the cloud platform for its connected facilities initiative, aimed at helping customers of Carrier heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, as well as other CCS products, optimize comfort, efficiency, fire safety, security and more.

About United Technologies Corp.

United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries. By combining a passion for science with precision engineering, the company is creating smart, sustainable solutions that move the world forward. To learn more about UTC, visit the website or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

United Technologies Digital: Text 100, Renatta.Siewert@text100.com or Brad Drazen, UTC, (860) 728-6210, Bradford.Drazen@utc.com

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 http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

NSA cyberweapons report follows Kaspersky transparency plan

Kaspersky Lab launched a transparency initiative for its popular security products in order to ease fears of inappropriate ties to Russia and also released a statement explaining how the company came into possession of NSA cyberweapons.

A new statement from Kaspersky provided details regarding a recently uncovered incident where an NSA contractor reportedly put agency cyberweapons on a personal computer and that NSA malware was transmitted to Kaspersky servers.

Though others have claimed Kaspersky products could be used for spying, Kaspersky Lab has continually asserted incident occurred because NSA cyberweapons are malware and its products are designed to find and quarantine malware.

In the latest statement on the matter, Kaspersky explained that that after a user’s  device was flagged for having the Equation Group malware on it, the device was also found to have pirated Microsoft Office software containing malware. At some point, the individual disabled the Kaspersky product in order to run a keygen for the pirated software and was infected with malware.

“Executing the keygen would not have been possible with the antivirus enabled,” the team wrote in the Kaspersky report. “The user was infected with this malware for an unspecified period, while the product was inactive. The malware dropped from the trojanized keygen was a full blown backdoor which may have allowed third parties access to the user’s machine.”

The Kaspersky statement also noted that after an analyst processed the data gathered from the device and determined samples to be Equation Group NSA cyberweapons, the incident was reported to Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky, who ordered all archives of the data be deleted from company’s systems.

Jake Williams, founder of consulting firm Rendition InfoSec LLC in Augusta, Ga., said on Twitter he understood the rationale behind the decision to delete all traces of the NSA cyberweapons.

Kaspersky transparency plan

Prior to detailing the NSA cyberweapons incident, the company introduced a new Kaspersky transparency initiative includes a number of components to help restore trust in the company, including three new transparency centers to be located in the U.S., Asia and Europe and all open by 2020, increased bug bounty rewards and independent reviews of product source code and internal processes.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently banned Kaspersky products from use on government systems, and a number of stories based on unnamed sources claimed connections between Kaspersky and the Russian government as well as Kaspersky products potentially searching out classified data on customer devices.

Eugene Kaspersky said in a public statement that the move was intended to prove the company has nothing to hide and “to overcome mistrust and support our commitment to protecting people in any country on our planet.”

It’s hard (or impossible) to come back from allegations from the U.S. government.
Matt Suichefounder, Comae Technologies

“Internet balkanization benefits no one except cybercriminals. Reduced cooperation among countries helps the bad guys in their operations, and public-private partnerships don’t work like they should. The internet was created to unite people and share knowledge,” Kaspersky said. “Cybersecurity has no borders, but attempts to introduce national boundaries in cyberspace [are] counterproductive and must be stopped. We need to reestablish trust in relationships between companies, governments and citizens.”

However, the early expert reaction to the announcement noted the Kaspersky transparency plan may not go far enough. Security professionals noted that any potential evidence of spying may not be visible in Kaspersky product source code reviews and it would be necessary to review server-side code or the rulesets that govern what data is pulled from client systems to the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN).

When asked about this issue, Kaspersky Lab told SearchSecurity the initial code review would focus on products with the “biggest user base — like Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business,” but said the KSN might be included.

“Our proposal for source code and software updates analysis suggests the access to review how our products interact with Kaspersky Security Network,” Kaspersky Lab said. “Kaspersky Lab wants to work with highly-reputable and credible independent experts who have the expertise, capability, and capacity to account for the company’s extensive code base and technology infrastructure underpinning its products and solutions, as well as the diverse sets of controls and processes that govern the company’s data processing practices.”

Matt Suiche, founder of managed threat detection company Comae Technologies, told SearchSecurity that the Kaspersky transparency “initiative is good in general,” but said it might not be enough to prove they are innocent. “It’s hard (or impossible) to come back from allegations from the U.S. government.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM takes center stage at Ignite 2017

ORLANDO — Microsoft unveiled some far-reaching future products on Monday, while also updating Microsoft Ignite 2017 attendees on its progress in bundling together existing products. The announcements will affect the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM platform in numerous ways.

Much like how AI was on display at last year’s Microsoft Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella previewed new Microsoft products, including the company’s building of a scalable quantum computing system.

“You’ll be able to solve what are now unsolvable problems,” Nadella told the audience of thousands packed into the Orange County Convention Center. “Building a quantum computer requires more than just simple intuition … we’re started on a journey to put a system that will be a scalable, general-purpose quantum computer.”

While the use cases surrounding quantum computing for business users are few and far between, other news Microsoft unveiled Monday morning to kick off both its Microsoft Ignite 2017 and Envision conferences had a more tangible use for business applications — namely the bundling of Microsoft products under the moniker Microsoft 365.

Combining the LinkedIn, Microsoft graphs

Building off its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn last year, Microsoft is combining its data graph with LinkedIn’s graph, providing users of Microsoft products a baked-in integration with LinkedIn. Outlook users can see LinkedIn profiles of the people they’re emailing directly in Outlook.

“By having a deeper LinkedIn capability embedded into Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM for updating and finding social feeds, that will allow sales reps do a better job of social selling,” said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. “If I don’t need to log in to another system and I can perform and consolidate and augment my contact record and get a tracking of all the engagement I’ve had with this person, that’s incredibly powerful.”

A similar new Microsoft product that is currently in private preview is the Bing for Business search feature. It can search a company’s internal data and information to allow employees to quickly search for whatever document, contact or correspondence they need.

“It’s not about building individual tools, but creating that platform to drive digital transformation,” Nadella said. “When you create such a rich data asset, what you enable is AI-first workloads.”

Dynamics 365 gets intelligent

While AI was a topic of future innovation at last year’s conference, Nadella outlined potential use cases of adding intelligence to Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, which, while not a new Microsoft product, will bring some AI functionality to the existing CRM system.

“We’re delivering a platform for you to create systems of intelligence for sales, field and customer service and operations,” Nadella said. “We want to give you the modularity and flexibility to harness the next level of digitization and business automation. That’s what we’re doing with Dynamics 365.”

This coming together of various business operations under Dynamics 365 is a move in the right direction, according to analysts.

“From a productivity standpoint, there’s a lot of potential there that I thought was untapped in the past,” Zhou said. “Whether it be a better sales intelligence, more integrated approach to move from productivity into selling and service and marketing — that’s important.”

Dynamics 365 will include virtual agents for customers and virtual assistants for internal support, providing some intelligent insight to help users be more efficient.

“AI has a couple applications; it helps improve seller productivity and removes the repetitive tasks that suck up a lot of time,” Zhou said.

More news and new Microsoft products are expected to be unveiled throughout the week at Microsoft Ignite 2017.

Check back to SearchCRM.com for updates throughout the week.

How enterprises can take advantage of social media mapping

SAN FRANCISCO — Most companies grasp the value of evangelizing products and services on social media channels. Being able to tap into the emotion and sentiment customers display on social media isn’t as easy as it looks, however — but it is the golden ticket for marketers and advertisers.

Part of the challenge, especially for large organizations, is monitoring multiple Twitter handles and Facebook pages, with a bevy of social media channels and thousands of posts on top of that. Harvesting and analyzing all this sentiment — a practice called social media mapping — can be complicated.

“Social analytics tend to be a little bit of a black box,” said Alex Stein, director of marketing and social media analytics at Marriott International Inc., based in Bethesda, Md. “Thinking about Marriott, between our three loyalty brands and thousands of hotels, we’re quickly amassing more than 12,000 social media accounts to measure.”

Maura Tuohy Di Muro, head of global social strategy at Mozilla Corp., based in Mountain View, Calif., explained, “Social media is a behavior, not a channel. It allows us to get into the psyche, into why people share and what they share.”

Both Tuohy Di Muro and Stein were speaking at this week’s Digital Strategy Innovation Summit. In separate sessions, both speakers underlined the importance of social media and social media mapping.

Companies are investing, too. Salesforce recently released new image recognition technology that can be used to understand sentiment in images posted on Twitter. Companies have long sought ways to gauge consumer sentiment, and social media is becoming one of the main outlets for customers to express why they bought what they did.

“We can use social media channels to understand a lot about our consumers beyond just advertising or marketing,” Tuohy Di Muro said. “All of these networks have given us a new outlet for something that has already existed in our personalities.”

Where to look and what to look for on social media

It’s about what you want to measure in social media and what you want to learn about your customers.
Alex Steindirector of marketing and social media analytics at Marriott

Stein outlined three channels to look at when engaging in social media mapping: channels you own, such as your audience and content; social influencers and trending conversations; and what he called “social commerce,” including referral traffic.

“It’s about what you want to measure in social media and what you want to learn about your customers,” Stein said. “Couple this with how brands are trying to interact with customers … it’s more about one-on-one personal marketing.”

But companies implementing social media mapping need to be aware that different departments may be monitoring different aspects of social media.

“One complicating factor could be the organization itself,” Stein said. “Social teams, PR, digital and marketing — they need to speak to each other, or at least get these data sources in the same place to get that 360[-degree] view of the customer.”

Tools to help with social media mapping

To better understand what customers were saying, Stein said he uses social media mapping to track awareness, consideration, conversion and loyalty aggregated across the various sites where mentions occur.

“We wanted to understand how customers were interacting with our brand, rather than where they were interacting,” Stein said.

To help measure awareness, Stein said he looks for reach and conversation trends using tools like NetBase, Brandwatch or IBM Watson. To track consideration, he said he looks for engagement and mentions using software like Sprinklr, Crimson Hexagon and Simply Measured. For conversion, Stein said he tracks social bookings with tools from Adobe and Google; and for loyalty, he said he looks at brand advocacy on social media with tools from Salesforce, Traackr and InfoTrellis.

“When it comes to social media and brand interactions, it’s not a matter of if [it matters], it’s when,” Stein said. “It impacts every part of the consumer decision journey.”

Migrate to Exchange 2016 with all the facts

Even if your current Exchange setup works reliably, all Microsoft products drop off support eventually. When your messaging platform hits its expiration date, where will you go next?

Microsoft and security experts advise businesses on a legacy platform to shift to a supported platform. But it’s no simple process to migrate to Exchange 2016, even if you decide to stay on premises. For example, if you have Exchange 2007, you’ll need to perform a two-stage maneuver in the Exchange 2016 migration.

In years past, a company’s only option for Exchange was to upgrade to the next version. But with Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, where Exchange Online lifts the email server into the cloud, the decision is not that straightforward. Admins see the value in reduced maintenance, and access to security features such as Advanced Threat Protection. However, not everyone in IT welcomes the cadence of new feature arrivals and the reliance on PowerShell for some administrative tasks.

If you elect to make an Exchange 2016 migration, hardware choices will give the platform optimal performance. Also, be sure to test the platform thoroughly.

IT experts and consultants share these four tips on how to decide between on premises and cloud; what Exchange 2007 admins should do now that support has ended; the Microsoft requirements that can be ignored; and what to do after an installation is complete.

1. Weigh upgrade options: On premises or cloud?

There are more options than ever for a corporate email platform. A business that has used Exchange Server for years can move its messaging system to a low-cost — or free — service hosted by a provider, such as Google’s Gmail. But, in addition to features and price, legal and compliance issues need to be included in Exchange admins’ decision-making process — which can make Microsoft’s Office 365 a better fit. Office 365 ties a company’s calendar, conferencing and collaboration systems into its email — but shifting on-premises services to the cloud takes some effort.

2. Abandon the Exchange 2007 ship before it sinks

Once Microsoft ends product support, a business that remains on an outdated platform risks becoming vulnerable to attack. If a company still uses Exchange 2007, the IT org must decide if it will move to a supported on-premises platform — or go to Exchange Online. A switch from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016 requires an intermediate step — the administrator needs to move mailboxes to Exchange 2013 then migrate to Exchange 2016. Microsoft provides tools for an Office 365 migration — and possibly financial help if you qualify.

3. When you can ignore Microsoft’s advice on Exchange 2016

As with all its server products, Microsoft provides guidelines for Exchange 2016 operation. Some businesses have good reason to sidestep these recommendations and deploy Exchange another way. For example, Microsoft does not endorse running Exchange in a virtualized environment; however, many businesses have done this for years with little consequence. Still, admins should check that the hardware or hypervisor vendor does provide support before breaking with Microsoft’s safer model.

Also verify that there’s adequate storage to run Exchange 2016 — Microsoft says a 30 GB system partition will work, but admins should have at least 100 GB. Otherwise, the databases will need to move to a separate disk.

4. Trust, but verify after Exchange 2016 installation

After a business selects an Exchange 2016 migration, executes the deployment and moves over its mailboxes, everything is ready to go, right? Not so fast. Go through a post-install checklist and confirm the configuration will work as expected. Open the Exchange Management Shell and follow a couple quick steps to verify the install was clean. Check that the organization’s domain name is on the accepted domain list, and apply OS and Exchange Server patches before anything starts up in production.

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