One of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S. created headlines when it was revealed that it was sharing patient data with Google — under codename Project Nightingale.
Ascension, a Catholic health system based in St. Louis, partnered with Google to transition the health system’s infrastructure to the Google Cloud Platform, to use the Google G Suite productivity and collaboration tools, and to explore the tech giant’s artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. By doing so, it is giving Google access to patient data, which the search giant can use to inform its own products.
The partnership appears to be technically and legally sound, according to experts. After news broke, Ascension released a statement saying the partnership is HIPAA-compliant and a business associate agreement, a contract required by the federal government that spells out each party’s responsibility for protected health information, is in place. Yet reports from The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian about the possible improper transfer of 50 million patients’ data has resulted in an Office for Civil Rights inquiry into the Google-Ascension partnership.
Legality aside, the resounding reaction to the partnership speaks to a lack of transparency in healthcare. Organizations should see the response as both an example of what not to do, as well as a call to make patients more aware of how they’re using health data, especially as consumer companies known for collecting and using data for profit become their partners.
Partnership breeds legal, ethical concerns
Forrester Research senior analyst Jeff Becker said Google entered into a similar strategic partnership with Mayo Clinic in September, and the coverage was largely positive.
According to a Mayo Clinic news release, the nonprofit academic medical center based in Rochester, Minn., selected Google Cloud to be “the cornerstone of its digital transformation,” and the clinic would use “advanced cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence” to improve healthcare delivery.
But Ascension wasn’t as forthcoming with its Google partnership. It was Google that announced its work with Ascension during a quarterly earnings call in July, and Ascension didn’t issue a news release about the partnership until after the news broke.
“There should have been a public-facing announcement of the partnership,” Becker said. “This was a PR failure. Secrecy creates distrust.”
Matthew Fisher, partner at Mirick O’Connell Attorneys at Law and chairman of its health law group, said the outcry over the Google-Ascension partnership was surprising. For years, tech companies have been trying to get access to patient data to help healthcare organizations and, at the same time, develop or refine their existing products, he said.
“I get the sense that just because it was Google that was announced to have been a partner, that’s what drove a lot of the attention,” he said. “Everyone knows Google mostly for purposes outside of healthcare, which leads to the concern of does Google understand the regulatory obligations and restrictions that come to bear by entering the healthcare space?”
Ascension’s statement in response to the situation said the partnership with Google is covered by a business associate agreement — a distinction Fisher said is “absolutely required” before any protected health information can be shared with Google. Parties in a business associate agreement are obligated by federal regulation to comply with the applicable portions of HIPAA, such as its security and privacy rules.
A business associate relationship allows identifiable patient information to be shared and used by Google only under specified circumstances. It is the legal basis for keeping patient data segregated and restricting Google from freely using that data. According to Ascension, the health system’s clinical data is housed within an Ascension-owned virtual private space in Google Cloud, and Google isn’t allowed to use the data for marketing or research.
“Our data will always be separate from Google’s consumer data, and it will never be used by Google for purposes such as targeting consumers for advertising,” the statement said.
But health IT and information security expert Kate Borten believes business associate agreements and the HIPAA privacy rule they adhere to don’t go far enough to ensure patient privacy rights, especially when companies like Google get involved. The HIPAA privacy rule doesn’t require healthcare organizations to disclose to patients who they’re sharing patient data with.
“The privacy rule says as long as you have this business associate contract — and business associates are defined by HIPAA very broadly — then the healthcare provider organization or insurer doesn’t have to tell the plan members or the patients about all these business associates who now have access to your data,” she said.
Chilmark Research senior analyst Jody Ranck said much of the alarm over the Google-Ascension partnership may be misplaced, but it speaks to a growing concern about companies like Google entering healthcare.
Since the Office for Civil Rights is looking into the partnership, Ranck said there is still a question of whether the partnership fully complies with the law. But the bigger question has to do with privacy and security concerns around collecting and using patient data, as well as companies like Google using patient data to train AI algorithms and the potential biases it could create.
Jody RanckSenior analyst, Chilmark Research
Ranck believes consumer trust in tech companies is declining, especially as data privacy concerns get more play.
“Now that they know everything you purchase and they can listen in to that Alexa sitting beside your bed at night, and now they’re going to get access to health data … what’s a consumer to do? Where’s their power to control their destiny when algorithms are being used to assign you as a high-, medium-, or low-risk individual, as creditworthy?” Ranck said. “All of this starts to feel like a bit of an algorithmic iron cage.”
A call for more transparency
Healthcare organizations and big tech partnerships with the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are growing. Like other industries, healthcare organizations are looking to modernize their infrastructure and take advantage of state of the art storage, security, data analytics tools and emerging tech like artificial intelligence.
But for healthcare organizations, partnerships like these have an added complexity — truly sensitive data. Forrester’s Becker said the mistake in the Google-Ascension partnership was the lack of transparency. There was no press release early on announcing the partnership, laying out what information is being shared, how the information will be used, and what outcome improvements the healthcare organization hopes to achieve.
“There should also be assurance that the partnership falls within HIPAA and that data will not be used for advertising or other commercial activities unrelated to the healthcare ambitions stated,” he said.
Fisher believes the Google-Ascension partnership raises questions about what the legal, moral and ethical aspects of these relationships are. While Ascension and Google may have been legally in the right, Fisher believes it’s important to recognize that privacy expectations are shifting, which calls for better consumer education, as well as more transparency around where and how data is being used.
Although he believes it would be “unduly burdensome” to require a healthcare organization to name every organization it shares data with, Fisher said better education on how HIPAA operates and what it allows when it comes to data sharing, as well as explaining how patient data will be protected when shared with a company like Google, could go a long way in helping patients understand what’s happening with their data.
“If you’re going to be contracting with one of these big-name companies that everyone has generalized concerns about with how they utilize data, you need to be ahead of the game,” Fisher said. “Even if you’re doing everything right from a legal standpoint, there’s still going to be a PR side to it. That’s really the practical reality of doing business. You want to be taking as many measures as you can to avoid the public backlash and having to be on the defensive by having the relationship found out and reported upon or discussed without trying to drive that discussion.”
LAS VEGAS — Tableau revealed a host of additions and upgrades to the Tableau analytics platform in the days both before and during Tableau Conference 2019.
Less than a week before its annual user conference, the vendor released Tableau 2019.4, a scheduled update of the Tableau analytics platform. And during the conference, Tableau unveiled not onlynew products and updates to existing ones,but also an enhanced partnership with Amazon Web Services to help users move to the cloud and a new partner network.
Many of the additions to the Tableau analytics platform have to do withdata management, an area Tableau only recently began to explore. Among them are Tableau Catalog and Prep Conductor.
All of these enhancements to the Tableau analytics platform come in the wake of the news last June thatTableau was acquired by Salesforce, a deal that closed on Aug. 1 but was held up until just last week by a regulatory review in the United Kingdom looking at what effect the combination of the two companies would have on competition.
Part I focuses on data management and AI products in the Tableau analytics platform, while Part II centers on the relationship between Salesforce and Tableau.
Data management has been a theme of new products and upgrades to the Tableau analytics platform — what led Tableau in that direction?
Andrew Beers: We’ve been about self-service analysis for a long time. Early themes out of the Tableau product line were putting the right tools in the hands of the people that were in the business that had the data and had the questions, and didn’t need someone standing between them and getting the answers to those questions. As that started to become really successful, then you had what happens in every self-service culture — dealing with all of this content that’s out there, all of this data that’s out there. We helped by introducing a prep product. But then you had people that were generating dashboards, generating data sets, and then we said, ‘To stick to our belief in self-service we’ve got to do something in the data management space, so what would a user-facing prep solution look like, an operationalization solution look like, a catalog solution look like?’ And that’s what started our thinking about all these various capabilities.
Along those lines, what’s the roadmap for the next few years?
Beers: We always have things that are in the works. We are at the beginning of several efforts — Tableau Prep is a baby product that’s a year and a half old. Conductor is just a couple of releases old. You’re going to see a lot of upgrades to those products and along those themes — how do you make prep easier and more approachable, how do you give your business the insight into the data and how it is being used, and how do you manage it? That’s tooling we haven’t built out that far yet. Once you have all of this knowledge and you’ve given people insights, which is a key ingredient in governance along with how to manage it in a self-service way, you’ll start to see the Catalog product grow into ideas like that.
Are these products something customers asked for, or are they products Tableau decided to develop on its own?
Beers: It’s always a combination. From the beginning we’ve listened to what our customers are saying. Sometimes they’re saying, ‘I want something that looks like this,’ but often they’re telling us, ‘Here is the kind of problem we’re facing, and here are the challenges we’re facing in our organization,’ and when you start to hear similar stories enough you generalize that the customers really need something in this space. And this is really how all of our product invention happens. It’s by listening to the intent behind what the customer is saying and then inventing the products or the new capabilities that will take the customer in a direction we think they need to go.
Shifting from data management to augmented intelligence, that’s been a theme of another set of products. Where did the motivation come from to infuse more natural language processing and machine learning into the Tableau analytics platform?
Beers: It’s a similar story here, just listening to customers and hearing them wanting to take the insights that their more analyst-style users got from Tableau to a larger part of the organization, which always leads you down the path of trying to figure out how to add more intelligence into the product. That’s not new for Tableau. In the beginning we said, ‘We want to build this tool for everyone,’ but if I’m building it for everyone I can’t assume that you know SQL, that you know color design, that you know how to tell a good story, so we had to build all those in there and then let users depart from that. With these smart things, it’s how can I extend that to letting people get different kinds of value from their question. We have a researcher in the NLP space who was seeing these signals a while ago and she started prototyping some of these ideas about how to bring natural language questioning into an analytical workspace, and that really inspired us to look deeply at the space and led us to think about acquisitions..
What’s the roadmap for Tableau’s AI capabilities?
Andrew BeersChief technology officer, Tableau
Beers: You’re going to see these AI and machine learning-style capabilities really in every layer of the product stack we have. We showed two [at the conference] — Ask Data and Explain Data — that are very much targeted at the analyst, but you’ll see it integrated into the data prep products. We’ve got some smarts in there already. We’ve added Recommendations, which is how to take the wisdom of the crowd, of the people that are at your business, to help you find things that you wouldn’t normally find or help you do operations that you yourself haven’t done yet but that your community around have done. You’re going to see that all over the product in little ways to make it easier to use and to expand the kinds of people that can do those operations.
As a technology officer, how fun is this kind of stuff for you?
Beers: It’s really exciting. It’s all kinds of fun things that we can do. I’ve always loved the mission of the company, how people see and understand data, because we can do this for decades. There’s so much interesting work ahead of us. As someone who’s focused on the technology, the problems are just super interesting, and I think with the way tech has been developing around things like AI and machine learning, there are just all kinds of new techniques that are available to us that weren’t mainstream enough 10 years ago to be pulling into the product.
MSP software vendor Kaseya revealed it has invested $10 million into a newly formed business unit dedicated to managed compliance services.
The division focuses on Kaseya Compliance Manager, a platform the vendor developed after acquiring RapidFire Tools in 2018. Kaseya Compliance Manager lets MSPs assess and monitor customers’ compliance posture within a number of regulatory frameworks, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Payment Card Industry Security Standard, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The platform can also help MSPs and their customers demonstrate compliance with cyberinsurance policies. Kaseya recently appointed Max Pruger, formerly chief revenue officer at CloudJumper, to lead the unit as senior vice president and general manager of compliance.
“We as a company believe that compliance is the next big managed service. It is a close cousin to security … [and] a fantastic opportunity for MSPs to expand their business and monetize a very low-touch type of offering,” said Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya.
What Kaseya Compliance Manager does
According to Voccola, Kaseya’s compliance management platform scans a customer’s networks and infrastructure to gather about 70% to 90% of the data required by regulators. The remaining 10% to 30% of information can’t be obtained through automated processes, so the software generates a checklist to guide that information’s collection.
“What our product does is it automates everything that can be automated and then it lists the 50 to 100 items that have to be ‘manually’ proven,” Voccola said.
HIPAA, for example, states that a medical provider must physically store patient files in a room with secure locks on the doors. In this case, Kaseya Compliance Manager would direct the MSP and its customer to take photos of the door locks and load the photos into the software, he said.
Once the information is collected, MSPs can then generate documentation and reports to show the customer has met compliance requirements.
In addition, Voccola said the software lets MSPs continually monitor customers’ compliance status. MSPs can receive alerts if changes in a customer’s network or infrastructure cause a compliance issue.
Enabling managed compliance services
A portion of Kaseya’s $10 million investment will go into developing resources to help MSPs establish managed compliance practices. Resources include a content library to learn about how to price, sell and deliver the services. “MSPs don’t have to be an expert in the compliance framework with this offering. That’s the biggest part of it,” Voccola said.
Kaseya is also encouraging MSPs to use the platform internally. Under certain regulatory frameworks, such as HIPAA, MSPs must demonstrate internal compliance before they can touch customer data. Voccola said Kaseya gives MSPs the license for their own internal usage for free when they purchase Kaseya Compliance Manager.
Pruger added that MSPs can also benefit from using the software internally for showing continual compliance with cyberinsurance policies. “Every MSP out there should have cyberinsurance,” Pruger noted.
Voccola said that regulatory compliance will soon become a common part of doing business for all MSPs in the U.S., especially as states roll out localized privacy legislation. He cited the California Consumer Privacy Act introduced in 2018, as an example.
Pruger agreed. “I will say that in the next 24 months, every single MSP will have to have a compliance practice, because every single state in the United States is going to have specific compliance rules that they are going to have to follow,” Pruger said.
In the next quarter, Pruger said he aims to bring Kaseya Compliance Manager to market across GDPR, cyberinsurance, HIPAA and NIST frameworks. “As far as cyberinsurance, HIPAA and NIST go within the U.S., every single MSP has to be [compliant with] at least one of those,” he said. He noted that he will look to add more compliance standards on the platform.
Only about 400 MSPs are currently using Kaseya Compliance Manager, Voccola noted — a number the company hopes to greatly increase in the coming months.
SADA offers flat-rate GCP services
SADA, a business and technology consultancy based in Los Angeles, launched four flat-rate packaged offers for Google Cloud Platform adopters.
The packaged services include Anthos First Step, Anthos Flat-Rate, Database Migration Flat-Rate and VM Migration Flat-Rate. SADA delivers the services for a flat price and according to a fixed time. Miles Ward, CTO at SADA, said the GCP services address customers’ uncertainty and risk when moving to the cloud. An organization may balk at a cloud migration service if the service provider can’t cite a definitive delivery schedule or set a fixed price.
“The ability to have a flat-rate offer lets the conversation start,” Ward said. He noted customers are more likely to greenlight a project if the service is prescriptive, time-bound and available at a specific price point.
The Anthos First Step package provides the first phase of setting up and using Google Anthos. The offering includes x86 portable or rack-mounted infrastructure and Google Anthos, VMware vCenter 6.5 and F5 Big-IP Virtual Addition. SADA provides on-site hardware and software installation, a hands-on lab and a help desk trained on Anthos/Kubernetes.
Anthos Flat-Rate covers the second phase of an Anthos implementation. The package includes everything in the first-step package as well as additional items including a review of the initial implementation, identification of production goals and stakeholders for readiness reviews, and any additional equipment delivery and validation, according to SADA.
The Database Migration Flat-Rate package includes migration of a customer’s database to GCP, while VM Migration Flat-Rate migrates a customer’s virtual machines to GCP.
The managed cloud services company is based in Austin, Texas, and has vendor certifications with companies such as AWS, Microsoft and Oracle. Emil Sayegh, president and CEO at Ntirety, cited “strong synergy” between the companies’ offerings and no overlap between their customer bases. On the IT side, the companies had both been using ScienceLogic to run their businesses. The consolidation of those instances has generated cost savings, Sayegh noted.
No additional acquisitions are in the offing this year, but Sayegh noted the potential for merger and acquisition activity in 2020.
Nutanix has appointed Christian Alvarez as vice president, Americas Channel. Alvarez was previously worldwide head of channels and distribution at Juniper Networks. He has also held positions at Cyan, a Ciena company; Avaya; eLandia Group; Connexion Technologies and Terremark Worldwide, a Verizon company. Nutanix said its partners include value-added resellers, distributors, system integrators, OEM partners and technology alliances.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise launched HPE ML Ops, a container-based software product to support the machine-learning model lifecycle, according the company. An HPE spokesperson said the vendor believes the product presents an opportunity for partners. “Channel partners need to build a practice in this area and develop expertise in data science, AI [and machine learning], and advanced analytics. It’s an opportunity for them to … provide a strategic advisory role for their customers as they look to deliver game-changing business innovation with AI,” the spokesperson said.
NYI, a hybrid IT solutions provider based in New York, has acquired a data center in Chicago. The former Navisite facility is geared toward edge and IoT requirements, according to the company.
In distribution news, Ingram Micro inked a deal with CoreKinect to provide its IoT sensors to U.S. channel partners. Meanwhile, Tech Data signed an agreement with OPAQ to provide its network-security-as-a-service cloud platform to U.S. service providers.
Mission, an MSP based in Los Angeles, said it obtained AWS APN Premier Consulting Partner status.
Axcient, a business availability and cloud migration company, unveiled a lead generation program that it said is free for all Axcient partners.
Opengear, which specializes in enterprise automation, network resilience and security, will host its first channel partner conference Sept. 16-17 in Dallas.
Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.
While the movie remains in development, The Coalition didn’t want any more time to go by without giving Batista a chance to don the armor, which he wore for as part of an upcoming WWE Network promotion for Gears 5. According to those who were there, the armor which was created to match the specifications of the game, “fit him perfectly.”
Rod Fergusson, who has cast and directed every Gears title, directed Batista’s performance for Gears 5, including over seven hundred lines recorded for the game.
“Adding Batista to Gears 5, we started with the fantasy of ‘Batista as Marcus,’ putting Batista into Marcus’ armor, and starting with Marcus’ script. Then we added elements of “The Animal” Batista into his voice performance and onto his look by adding his signature Hollywood shades to his character. Batista was great in the booth and I can’t wait for Gears and Batista fans alike to stomp some Swarm as The Animal.”
Xbox has partnered together with WWE to create a special countdown to Batista’s availability in the game, including behind-the-scenes with Gears 5 and Batista on WWE’s UpUpDownDown gaming channel. This all leads up to WWE Network’s “Clash of Champions” event on Sunday, September 15, available through a 30-day free subscription on the Xbox app (new subscribers only).
To unlock Batista, simply play any version of Gears 5 (including with your Xbox Game Pass membership) beginning September 15. The promotion ends October 28.
Gears 5 launches on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC on September 6 for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members; September 10 for Xbox Game Pass members. Gears 5 is also available for pre-order today from the Microsoft Store. Click here for purchase details.
Following an investigation lasting nearly five months, Citrix revealed cybercriminals did not access any customer data but did steal business documents.
According to Citrix president and CEO, David Henshall, malicious actors accessed the company’s internal network via a password spraying attack that exploited weak passwords. Henshall asserted that the Citrix breach did not involve the exploitation of any vulnerabilities and did not impact the security of “any Citrix product or customer cloud service.”
“Once in our network, the cyber criminals intermittently accessed and, over a limited number of days between October 13, 2018, and March 8, 2019, principally stole business documents and files from a company shared network drive that has been used to store current and historical business documents, as well as a drive associated with a web-based tool used in our consulting practice,” Henshall wrote in a blog post. “The cyber criminals also may have accessed the individual virtual drives and company email accounts of a very limited number of compromised users and launched without further exploitation a limited number of internal applications.”
The FBI originally notified Citrix on March 6 that malicious actors may have accessed to company systems, meaning it took just two days for access to be shut down to the attackers.
Jake Williams, founder and president of Rendition Infosec in Augusta, Ga., said for an intrusion as significant as the Citrix breach, “the speed of the response is very unusual.”
“Honestly, I’m surprised they did it that quickly. I would have expected it would take longer,” Williams told SearchSecurity. “It’s very important that you identify all access methods the attackers are using before tipping your hand with the response.”
Usman Rahim, digital security and operations manager at The Media Trust, said it was “concerning” that attackers had access to Citrix systems for five months before the FBI alerted the company.
“Time is very sensitive in attacks like these, and in this case, the attackers had plenty,” Rahim told SearchSecurity. “We expect better security measures from tech companies like Citrix around their assets and infrastructure. However, the information Citrix provided paints a picture of adequate security that allowed attackers access to their systems.”
In light of the findings of the Citrix breach investigation, Henshall said the company has “taken significant actions to safeguard our systems and improve protocols,” including deploying FireEye’s endpoint security technology.
“We performed a global password reset, improved our internal password management, and strengthened password protocols,” Henshall wrote. “Further, we improved our logging at the firewall, increased our data exfiltration monitoring capabilities, and eliminated internal access to non-essential web-based services along with disabling non-essential data transfer pathways.”
It is unclear if these improvements include implementing two-factor authentication (2FA); Citrix declined to provide comments beyond what was in the public disclosure.
Williams noted that stronger passwords should help mitigate password spraying attacks.
“Password spraying is always successful if you don’t have lockout policies, which unfortunately impact the user experience significantly. It’s not an easy thing to shut down,” Williams said. “Most orgs don’t use 2FA internally because it absolutely impacts productivity. If it didn’t have a business cost, everyone would use it for everything.”
Richard Ford, CTO at threat intelligence vendor Cyren LLC, said he is shocked when corporate accounts don’t use 2FA.
“With the adoption of mobile phones, companies such as Duo or RSA provide an easy way to supply a ‘soft’ second factor that significantly complicates life for the attacker,” Ford wrote via email. “I keep hoping that this is the year we move away from simple username/password combinations, but adoption remains slow. It’s something that we, as an industry, just need to embrace.”
Rahim added that “basic multi-factor authentication could have prevented” the Citrix breach.
“They have not mentioned some of the measures they are planning to do, but MFA, password expiration, password hardening and policies for system access should be the starting points,” Rahim said. “Companies need to think about these measures before the damage is done.”
Lucidworks, a vendor of search and discovery applications, has revealed a channel program designed to make partners central to its business growth.
The program, launched this week, offers channel staples such as deal registration, a partner portal, and training and certification. The program also features engagement models to support various channel partner types, including technology vendors, systems integrators, value-added resellers, managed services providers (MSPs) and SaaS providers, Lucidworks said.
“The design philosophy around this was to formalize the way that partners engage with us,” said Simon Taylor, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at Lucidworks, based in San Francisco. The vendor, which developed the Lucidworks Fusion platform, currently has about 60 to 80 core partners, he noted.
The company launched the program on the heels of a $50 million funding round and an alliance struck with storage vendor Commvault in June. Looking to expand, Lucidworks identified the channel as the means for transforming “our scale and growth as a company,” Taylor said.
“What we decided to do … is to really change the way the organization operates and make it as much as possible 100% channel-centric,” he added.
The tracks for different channel partner types within the Lucidworks program are intended to develop the vendor’s relationships “so that we could focus on partners that were meaningful to our business,” he said.
Simon Taylorvice president of worldwide channels and alliances, Lucidworks
The reseller program is structured with three partner tiers — Authorized, Gold and Platinum — with incremental requirements and benefits. Benefits include market development funds, qualified sales leads and technical assistance.
Other partner tracks within the program include the following:
an OEM and SaaS partner program, providing tools for embedding Lucidworks Fusion technology into solutions or using the Fusion software development kit and App Studio platforms to build apps and connectors.
a Certified Partner Consultant program for partners qualified to design and deploy offerings using the Lucidworks Fusion platform and applications, according to the vendor.
Taylor noted the company has invested significantly — and will continue to invest — in hiring channel management staff.
“It is a core part of our overall business plan: to embrace partners and grow this way,” he said.
Informatica ramps up partner training
Informatica, an enterprise cloud data management vendor, plans to train thousands of partner employees over the next year, as it seeks digital transformation resources.
Richard Ganley, senior vice president of digital transformation solutions and global partners at Informatica, based in Redwood City, Calif., said the company aims to cultivate partners that can help its customers navigate digital transformation projects.
“As good as we think our technology is … we really need partners to help us,” he added, noting the complexity of transformative IT initiatives.
Informatica’s training push includes a series of Elevate enablement events, which will conclude next week in Denver. The Denver event, scheduled for Aug. 20 to 23, follows training events held earlier this year in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Bangkok. The events include presales, sales and implementation tracks.
Over the course of the three events, Informatica will have trained some 750 people, Ganley estimated.
In another training effort, Informatica plans to send a training team to visit the campuses of eight of the largest systems integrators in India. Ganley said the company aims to train several thousand people over the course of the next year. Not all of the integrator personnel will be trained to the deepest level, but some will, he added.
Informatica’s goal is to provide a “much bigger pool of trained resources in the market,” he said.
“We are trying to train our partners on our technology on an industrial scale,” Ganley said.
Accenture focuses on digital twin tech
Accenture’s Industry X.0 practice, which focuses on the smart connected products market, is concentrating on digital twin technology.
Craig McNeil, managing director at Accenture and North American lead for Industry X.0, said digital twin is “one of the bigger areas of focus in our current fiscal year and definitely will be in the next fiscal year.” Accenture’s fiscal year begins Sept. 1.
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a product that can be used in design and simulation.
In other news, Accenture has entered an alliance with Malong Technologies, an AI startup based in Shenzhen, China. Accenture also made a minority investment in the company. Malong and Accenture’s Applied Intelligence practice will provide “computer vision and product recognition capabilities” to customers.
Cloudreach, a cloud services provider based in London, has inked a letter of intent to purchase Relus Cloud, an Amazon Web Services partner in Peachtree Corners, Ga. Relus Cloud, founded in 2013, is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network, focusing on the North American market.
Qualys, a cloud-based security and compliance vendor, revealed it will release a version of its cloud platform for consultants, consulting firms and MSPs. Qualys Consulting Edition provides vulnerability assessments capabilities, as well as features such as customizable reporting and trending reports and dashboards, Qualys said. The vendor said Qualys Consulting Edition will be available by the end of this month.
Beachhead Solutions reported 72% year-over-year revenue growth for the first half of 2018 on the strength of managed service provider partnerships. The company said about 250 MSPs now work with the company, which provides cloud-managed PC and mobile device encryption, security and data access control offerings.
OPAQ, a network security cloud vendor, is teaming with Palo Alto Networks’ MSSP Partner Program in an alliance that lets MSPs and managed security services providers deliver Palo Alto’s security-as-a-service offering to midsize companies.
Cask LLC has joined Unified Compliance’s partner network as a value-added reseller.
ERGOS, an MSP based in Houston, has tapped Liongard’s Roar platform, which automates system discovery and documentation.
Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.
Why does the SamSam ransomware work so well? Why does the threat actor behind the campaign take a more manual approach to targeting and infecting victims? Will other cybercriminals take a page from SamSam’s increasingly sophisticated and effective playbook? SearchSecurity editors Rob Wright and Peter Loshin discuss those questions and more in this episode of the Risk & Repeat podcast.
New titles revealed during the Xbox briefing include exclusive games ‘Gears 5,’ ‘Halo Infinite’ and ‘Forza Horizon 4,’ all enhanced for Xbox One X
LOS ANGELES — June 10, 2018 — Sunday’s Xbox E3 Briefing was the largest in Microsoft Corp.’s history with more than 6,000 people, including more than 1,000 fans, invited to attend in the Microsoft Theater. Microsoft announced it is doubling its game development studios and showcased a record 52 games on stage including 18 console launch exclusives and 15 world premieres. The diverse lineup included games for every type of player, from exclusives like “Forza Horizon 4,” “Halo Infinite” and “Gears 5,” and independent titles like “Session,” “Below,” “Ashen” and “Tunic” to some of the biggest blockbuster games coming in the next year like “Fallout 76,” “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2,” “Kingdom Hearts 3,” “Devil May Cry 5,” “Battlefield V,” “Metro Exodus” and “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” many enhanced to take advantage of the power of Xbox One X.
“There has never been a more exciting time to be part of the gaming industry, with creators large and small showcasing incredible new games for the more than two billion players around the world,” said Phil Spencer, head of Gaming at Microsoft. “At Microsoft, we are committed to empowering gamers to play the games they want, with the people they want, where they want.”
INVESTING IN DEVELOPMENT OF ORIGINAL CONTENT
Microsoft announced it is doubling its game development studios by adding five new creative teams to the Microsoft Studios family. New investments include the formation of a brand-new studio, The Initiative, the acquisition of Playground Games, and letters of intent to acquire Ninja Theory, Undead Labs and Compulsion Games.
The Initiative. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., The Initiative is a brand-new Microsoft game development studio headed by industry veteran Darrell Gallagher that is working to create groundbreaking new worlds, characters and game experiences.
Playground Games. Microsoft has acquired U.K.-based Playground Games, a development partner since 2010 that has helped grow the “Forza” franchise to new heights. In addition to its work on this year’s “Forza Horizon 4,” Playground Games will have a team dedicated to bringing their open-world expertise to an entirely new project.
Ninja Theory. The relationship between Ninja Theory and Microsoft started in 2000 when “Kung Fu Chaos” was in development for the original Xbox and culminated in the release of “Hellblade” on Xbox One earlier this year. Microsoft’s intent to acquire Ninja Theory will help ensure the creative team has the resources and freedom to bring more ambitious games like “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice” to fans.
Undead Labs. Seattle-based Undead Labs is the creator of the popular “State of Decay” franchise, enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide. In the first two weeks since “State of Decay 2” launched, more than two million fans joined the fight to survive and took down more than two billion zombies. By entering into a letter of intent to acquire Undead Labs, Microsoft is signaling its commitment to growing the franchise and taking the zombie survival-fantasy genre to new heights.
Compulsion Games. As “We Happy Few” nears its full, multiplatform release on Aug. 10, Microsoft has entered into a letter of intent to acquire Montreal-based Compulsion Games. By joining the team at Microsoft Studios, Compulsion will have the resources, platform and freedom to take even bigger creative risks and create even more ambitious worlds with its future projects.
“The original games we create at Microsoft Studios are some of our biggest assets,” said Matt Booty, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “Our growth strategy is to continue to expand the worlds that players love, while developing all-new exclusive games that deepen their engagement with our platform. We are thrilled to welcome five new studios into the Microsoft family. We believe these teams have the collective creative power and operational excellence to deliver the next industry game changers.”
The addition of these creative teams reinforces Microsoft’s vision for gaming, which starts with a deep commitment to original content. The company is developing a portfolio of games on every device, including newly announced Microsoft Studios games. Revealed on stage today were three new Gears of War titles — “Gears 5,” “Gears Tactics,” “Gears Pop!” — along with “Battletoads,” “Forza Horizon 4” and “Halo Infinite,” a Master Chief story and the next major release in the franchise built from the ground up on the new Slipspace engine.
ACCESS TO YOUR FAVORITE GAMES FASTER AND BETTER THAN EVER
Microsoft announced several new titles joining the Xbox Game Pass catalog this year including “Forza Horizon 4,” “Fallout 4,” “Tom Clancy’s The Division” and “The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited,” as well as several new [email protected] games being added on their release date. Microsoft also introduced new innovations to push digital gaming forward, including FastStart, an innovation from Microsoft’s Machine Learning Team, and plans from Microsoft’s Gaming Cloud Team to develop a game streaming service to unlock console-quality gaming on any device.
“We’ve been thrilled to see the positive impact Xbox Game Pass is having on the gaming ecosystem, including increasing the number of titles gamers play nearly 40 percent and increasing gameplay hours by almost 20 percent,” said Mike Nichols, chief marketing officer for Gaming at Microsoft. “With the ultimate freedom to explore and play over 100 great games, Xbox Game Pass delivers our members an incredible value in gaming.”
Xbox Game Pass. The Xbox Game Pass catalog continues to expand, with exciting new blockbuster titles available to members starting today, including “Fallout 4,” “The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited” and “Tom Clancy’s The Division.” Microsoft also announced several notable titles launching through the [email protected] program that will be coming to Xbox Game Pass this year to coincide with their debut on Xbox One. These include “Warhammer: Vermintide 2,” “Ashen,” “Afterparty” and “Phoenix Point,” as well as blockbusters from some of our biggest first-party franchises such as “Forza Horizon 4,” “Crackdown 3,” “Gears 5” and “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” which will release later in 2018 and beyond.
FastStart(Xbox One). With FastStart, you can now jump into your game[i] twice as fast and play after downloading just a fraction of your title. FastStart identifies which files are needed to begin playing and prioritizes the download of those files first, enabling you to quickly jump into full-fidelity gameplay while the remainder of your title downloads in the background. Simply find the FastStart-enabled title you want to play, hit Download and your console will take care of the rest. It’s that simple.
Xbox Adaptive Controller (Xbox One, Windows 10). Beginning at 9 a.m. PT on June 11, preorders will begin in select markets for the first-of-its-kind Xbox Adaptive Controller, designed for gamers with limited mobility. Available exclusively through Microsoft Store for $99.99 USD, the newest addition to the Xbox family of controllers and devices is designed to be as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible and affordable.
Mixer. Mixer, Microsoft’s live streaming service, is seeing continued growth with viewership doubling in just six months to more than 20 million. The majority of this is growth from viewers on mobile
BEST PLACE TO PLAY ORIGINAL, BLOCKBUSTER AND INDEPENDENT GAMES
Xbox One continues to be the best place to play the biggest blockbuster games with over 220 titles enhanced for Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console, with new games leveraging the power of the platform from some of the world’s most talented creators like “Fallout 76” from Bethesda Game Studios, “Cyberpunk 2077” from CD Projekt Red, “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” from Ubisoft Massive and dozens more. Independent game creators also continue to innovate on Xbox One with games like “Session,” “Below,” “Ashen” and “Tunic” coming to Xbox One as console launch exclusives.
“BATTLEFIELD V” (ELECTRONIC ARTS). Available worldwide Oct. 19, 2018, enter mankind’s greatest conflict with “Battlefield™ V” as the series goes back to its roots in a never-before-seen portrayal of World War 2. Take on all-out multiplayer across the world or witness human drama set against global combat in single player War Stories, including Nordlys — a first look shown in the Xbox E3 briefing — the story of a young Norwegian resistance fighter during the German occupation, you must pay an unthinkable price to save not only yourself, but also your family.
“BLACK DESERT” (PEARL ABYSS). “Black Desert” is a revolutionary MMORPG that delivers intense, fast-paced combat, profitable life skills and an expansive open world. Slay monsters, abominations and gods, or engage in relaxing life skills like crafting, fishing and cooking. Become your true self in this truly open world MMORPG
“CRACKDOWN 3” (XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE). “Crackdown 3” brings the boom next February, where players will stop crime as a super-powered Agent in a sandbox of mayhem and destruction. Developed by Microsoft Studios in collaboration with Sumo Digital and Elbow Rocket, “Crackdown 3” delivers cooperative mayhem, signature antics, explosive gameplay and an all-new multiplayer mode,[ii] Wrecking Zone, where destruction is your ultimate weapon powered by Microsoft Cloud. Available worldwide in February 2019.
“CUPHEAD: THE DELICIOUS LAST COURSE” (STUDIO MDHR).In “Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course,” Cuphead and Mugman are joined by Ms. Chalice for a DLC add-on adventure on a brand-new island! With new weapons, new charms and Ms. Chalice’s brand new abilities, take on a new cast of multifaceted, screen-filling bosses to assist Chef Saltbaker in Cuphead’s final challenging quest.
“CYBERPUNK 2077” (CD PROJEKT RED). “Cyberpunk 2077” is a narrative-driven, open world RPG set in the most vibrant and dangerous metropolis of the future — Night City. You play as V, a hired gun on the rise, who just got their first serious contract. In a world of cyber-enhanced street warriors, tech-savvy netrunners and corporate lifehackers, today is your first step to becoming an urban legend.
“DEVIL MAY CRY 5” (CAPCOM). A brand-new entry in the legendary over-the-top action series comes to Xbox One in spring 2019, complete with its signature blend of high-octane stylized action and otherworldly and original characters the series is known for. Years have passed since the legions of hell have set foot in this world, but now a new demonic invasion has begun, and humanity’s last hope will rest in the hands of three lone demon hunters, each offering a radically different play style. United by fate and a thirst for vengeance, these demon hunters will have to face their demons if they hope to survive. The devil you know returns in the most over the top, technically advanced, utterly insane action experience of this generation.
“DYING LIGHT 2” (TECHLAND). The bold sequel to the open-world phenomenon, “Dying Light 2” brings to life a unique post-apocalyptic vision of the Modern Dark Ages, where your parkour abilities and brutal combat skills are the only things that let you dive into darkness and emerge alive. Make morally grey decisions, shape the transformation of the City and ultimately decide its fate.
“FALLOUT 76” (BETHESDA GAME STUDIOS). The award-winning creators of “Skyrim” and “Fallout 4” welcome you to “Fallout 76” — a stunning prequel and the largest world ever created in the legendary Fallout universe. Set in the hills of West Virginia, you are one of the first to emerge, into a new and untamed wasteland.
“FORZA HORIZON 4” (XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE – WORLD PREMIERE). In “Forza Horizon 4,” seasons change everything. This highly anticipated follow-up to 2016’s breakout hit “Forza Horizon 3” brings players dynamic seasons in a shared open world that change every week. Experience beautiful, historic Britain in spectacular native 4K and HDR, collect over 450 cars, and become a Horizon Superstar. “Forza Horizon 4” will launch worldwide on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass on Oct. 2, 2018, as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.
“GEARS 5” (XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE – WORLD PREMIERE). As Kait, journey across the biggest, most beautiful Gears world ever created. Play solo or with a friend in local split-screen co-op, or online co-op[iii] and experience every mode in 4K Ultra HD resolution with stunning HDR at a smooth 60 frames per second. “Gears 5” will be released in 2019 on Xbox One and Windows 10 and will come to Xbox Game Pass on the same date as its global release.
“GEARS POP!” (IOS AND ANDROID EXCLUSIVE – WORLD PREMIERE). “Gears Pop!” brings together iconic Gears characters in a cute Funko Pop! style. The game is being developed in partnership with Funko (Nasdaq “FNKO”) and inspired by the “Gears of War” vinyl collectible figures. It’s the perfect slice of mobile mayhem, available on iOS and Android in 2019.
“GEARS TACTICS” (WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE – WORLD PREMIERE). “Gears Tactics” evolves turn-based tactics games combining signature fast-paced brutal action and character-driven storytelling with customizable squads, upgradable weapons, and, of course, massive boss battles. “Gears Tactics” is also the first Gears game to be specifically designed for PC gamers.
“HALO INFINITE” (XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE – WORLD PREMIERE). The Master Chief returns in the next chapter of the legendary franchise in “Halo Infinite.” Developed by 343 Industries and created with the studio’s new Slipspace Engine, “Halo Infinite” debuted at the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing with a thrilling engine demo that provides a glimpse into the future of Halo, leading the franchise into new and unexpected directions.
“JUMP FORCE” (BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA INC). The greatest heroes and villains from the 50-year history of Shueisha’s influential Japanese Weekly Jump manga will battle against each other across iconic locations across Earth in this anime fan’s dream come true! Featuring the world’s most popular and classic manga and anime franchises including DRAGON BALL Z, ONE PIECE, NARUTO, and many others, players will be able to compete in hyper-stylish arena brawls set against familiar backdrops of famous landmarks around the world, including New York City’s Times Square and the Matterhorn.
“JUST CAUSE 4” (SQUARE ENIX). Rogue agent Rico Rodriguez journeys to Solis, a huge South American world home of conflict, oppression and extreme weather conditions. Strap into your wingsuit, equip your fully customizable grappling hook, and get ready to bring the thunder!
“KINGDOM HEARTS III” (SQUARE ENIX). “KINGDOM HEARTS III” tells the story of the power of friendship as Sora and his friends embark on a perilous adventure and support each other through difficult times. Set in a vast array of Disney worlds, “KINGDOM HEARTS” follows the journey of Sora, a young boy and unknowing heir to a spectacular power. Sora is joined by Donald and Goofy to stop an evil force known as the Heartless from invading and overtaking the universe. Through the power of positivity and friendship, Sora, Donald and Goofy unite with iconic Disney-Pixar characters old and new to overcome tremendous challenges and persevere against the darkness threatening their worlds.
“METRO EXODUS” (DEEP SILVER). “Metro Exodus” is an epic, story-driven first person shooter from 4A Games that blends deadly combat and stealth with exploration and survival horror in one of the most immersive game worlds ever created. Explore the Russian wilderness across vast, nonlinear levels and follow a thrilling storyline that spans an entire year through spring, summer and autumn to the depths of nuclear winter. Inspired by the novels of Dmitry Glukhovsky, “Metro Exodus” continues Artyom’s story in the greatest Metro adventure yet.
“NIER: AUTOMATA” BECOME AS GODS EDITION (SQUARE ENIX). “NieR: Automata” is a revolutionary action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by machine lifeforms and abandoned by mankind. As part of an android army created by humans to reclaim the planet, players will fight their way through the mechanical horde using a collective of close-combat weapons and ranged attacks.
“ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS” (XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE). The highly anticipated sequel “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” made its worldwide gameplay debut, showcasing Ori’s immersive world, dynamic combat mechanics, gripping enemy encounters and challenging puzzles in this story-driven adventure. “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” releases on Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2019.
“PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS” (CONSOLE LAUNCH EXCLUSIVE). PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG), the tactical, high-octane battle royale phenomenon, debuted footage from two new maps: Sanhok, a smaller-scale, action-packed map inspired by the islands that dot the Southeast Pacific Ocean, and a snow-covered map currently in development. New footage also debuted of War Mode, a deathmatch-style battle royale gaming experience and the world premiere debut of the Ballistic Shield, a new tool for setting up quick cover for explosive and close-distance attacks. Sanhok and War Mode will debut on Xbox in late summer 2018.
“SEA OF THIEVES” (XBOX ONE[iv] AND WINDOWS 10 EXCLUSIVE). “Sea of Thieves,” the shared-world multiplayer game that provides the quintessential pirate experience, returns with additional content that continues to grow and evolve the game. Releasing in July, Cursed Sails will bring a new threat to the seas in the form of terrifying skeleton ships. In September, Forsaken Shores will reveal a perilous new part of the world, filled with dangers that will test the skill and nerve of even the most hardened crews. Each update will be accompanied by a time-limited campaign that introduces content in a fun, engaging and memorable way. “Sea of Thieves” is now available on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.
“SEKIRO™: SHADOWS DIE TWICE” (ACTIVISION). A fantastical, dark and twisted new gameplay experience developed by the renowned team at FromSoftware and published by Activision. Directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is a third-person, action-adventure game with RPG elements. The single-player game puts gamers in the protagonist role of a hard-hearted warrior whose mission is to rescue his master, a young lord, and exact revenge on his arch nemesis. “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” is scheduled for release in early 2019 for the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X. Preorders are available now at select retailers for the suggested retail price of $59.99.
“SESSION” (CREA-TURE STUDIOS). Inspired by the golden era of skateboarding, the early 90s and early 2000, “Session’s” primary goal is to make you experience what skateboarding really is: an incredible sport where there are no other goals other than expressing your creativity and achieving success through hard work, perseverance and bits of madness for no one else other than yourself.
“SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER” (SQUARE ENIX). Experience Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider. In “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” Lara must master a deadly jungle, overcome terrifying tombs, and persevere through her darkest hour. As she races to save the world from a Maya apocalypse, Lara will ultimately be forged into the Tomb Raider she is destined to be.
“TALES OF VESPERIA: DEFINITIVE EDITION” (BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA INC). Available this winter, “Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition” celebrates the 10th anniversary of this cherished RPG with new fully playable characters, events and other additional content never released outside of Japan. Follow Yuri Lowell, a former Imperial Knight, as he befriends a colorful cast of characters throughout the world of Terca Lumireis and finds himself in the middle of a nefarious plot that threatens the destruction of the entire planet.
“THE AWESOME ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN SPIRIT” (SQUARE ENIX).Have you ever dreamt of being a superhero? Meet Chris, a creative and imaginative 10-year-old boy who escapes reality with fantastical adventures as his alter ego, the Awesome Captain Spirit! Return to your childhood and play a touching and heart-warming one-of-a-kind narrative experience from the directors and development team behind the BAFTA award-winning game “Life is Strange.” “The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit” is an original story set in the Life is Strange Universe that contains links to the brand new story an characters of “Life is Strange 2.”
“TOM CLANCY’S THE DIVISION 2” (UBISOFT). Developed by Ubisoft Massive and the same teams that brought you “Tom Clancy’s The Division®,” “Tom Clancy’s The Division® 2” is an online open-world, action-shooter RPG experience set in a collapsing and fractured Washington, D.C. This rich new setting combines a wide variety of beautiful, iconic and realistic environments where the player will experience the series’ trademark for authenticity in world- building, rich RPG systems, and fast-paced action like never before. Play solo or co-op with a team of up to four players to complete a wide range of activities, from the main campaign and adversarial PvP matches to the Dark Zone — where anything can happen.
“TUNIC” (FINJI). “TUNIC” is an isometric action adventure about a tiny fox in a big world. Embark on an adventuresome questabout set in that place just beyond the farthest you’ve ever been! Explore ancient ruins, fight monsters and uncover mysterious secrets. The world is big and scary — so be brave, little one!
“WE HAPPY FEW” (COMPULSION GAMES, GEARBOX PUBLISHING). After debuting as an Xbox Game Preview title at the 2016 Xbox E3 Briefing, “We Happy Few” 1.0, which includes an all-new narrative and community-driven improvements, will launch on Xbox One and Xbox One X (with 4K and HDR support) on Aug. 10, 2018. “We Happy Few” is a narrative-driven action adventure game set in a drug-fueled, retrofuturistic 1960s England. Uncover the mystery of Wellington Wells as you play through the interwoven narratives of three moderately terrible citizens trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial.
BIGGEST XBOX SALE OF THE YEAR HAPPENING NOW
Microsoft also announced its Biggest Xbox Sale of the Year where gamers can find discounts on hundreds of games, accessories, Xbox Game Pass and Live Gold subscriptions, plus $50 off ANY Xbox One. For more information, visit Xbox Wire.
Be sure to preorder now at your Microsoft Store or local retailer. With retail locations across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Australia, and through Microsoft.com, fans can begin preordering their favorite games and select accessories and hardware from this year’s Xbox E3 2018 Briefing right now. For a list of Microsoft Store locations, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/locations/find-a-store.
WATCH E3 LIVE STREAMING ON MIXER
For additional news, highlights, exclusive reveals and a behind-the-scenes look at some of your favorite games throughout the week of E3, watch Inside Xbox: Live @ E3 on Monday, June 11 at 3 p.m. PDT and tune in to live streaming on Mixer Tuesday, June 12 and Wednesday, June 13.
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[i] Select titles only. Requires 20Mbps download speed. Average improvement across FastStart-enabled titles; performance varies by title and internet connection (aka.ms/FastStartGames).
[ii] Xbox Live Gold required to play online multiplayer on Xbox One (sold separately).
[iii] Xbox Live Gold required to play online multiplayer on Xbox One (sold separately).
[iv] Xbox Live Gold required to play game on Xbox One (sold separately).
ORLANDO — ConnectWise has revealed a vision for a broad and connected ecosystem of third-party technology vendors that will plug into its PSA software.
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At its IT Nation 2017 conference this week, the professional services automation (PSA) software provider discussed its push to bring a seemingly infinite variety of vendor integrations to ConnectWise partners through an upcoming Developer Kit. ConnectWise also highlighted its recent partnership with Cisco to make it easier for partners to use several Cisco technologies within its PSA software. ConnectWise currently integrates with about 200 vendors.
“The whole message [of IT Nation 2017] is really that of choices in the ecosystem, and then, ‘Let’s do more of that. Let’s connect the entire ecosystem,'” said Arnie Bellini, co-founder and CEO of ConnectWise.
At last week’s Cisco Partner Summit, ConnectWise unveiled the pilot program for ConnectWise Unite, a new offering that lets Cisco partners use Cisco Spark, Meraki, Umbrella and Stealthwatch through the ConnectWise management console. In addition to Amazon Web Services, ConnectWise previously integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Azure through its CloudConsole product, which Bellini said will be merged with Unite in the first quarter of 2018.
Cisco technologies available under Unite will eventually expand, according to Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions, architectures and engineering for the global partner organization at Cisco. “We definitely have some cloud-managed assets that we are also exploring to continue to evolve and have more offers enabled by the Unite platform,” he said.
Additionally, ConnectWise Unite will expand with other vendors, including Google, which Bellini said “is a perfect additional integration that we think will help drive more value for Cisco.” Google and Cisco announced a partnership around hybrid cloud at the Cisco Partner Summit.
The Cisco-ConnectWise partnership serves a means for Cisco to grow its market share in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space, Sheth said, noting that Cisco is trying to change the perception that it is a vendor focused solely on the enterprise segment. This means working more closely with ConnectWise partners such as managed services providers (MSPs) that generally target SMB customers.
Cisco and ConnectWise plan to roll out MSP University, an enablement program for Cisco value-added resellers to expand into managed services. “We have committed to working with Cisco to create an amazing university that helps get Cisco partners started down the path of managed services,” Bellini said. He added that all ConnectWise partners will have access to MSP University as well.
Integrations ahead: The Developer Kit
ConnectWise has several releases on the integration front slated for 2018, the company revealed. Among these is the Developer Kit, a tool for development teams to connect products to the ConnectWise platform. The Developer Kit has a tentative launch date for the second quarter of 2018.
“The idea on the ConnectWise Developer Kit is … [to] make every solution available to our partners and … put it in one pane of glass … so they can manage it and monitor it and bill it,” Bellini said.
Bellini noted the company has put together a $10 million fund to support the Developer Kit initiative. Using the fund, which is provided through ConnectWise Capital, ConnectWise will act as an “angel investor,” investing in ideas that further connect the ecosystem, Bellini said. ConnectWise is looking to increase that fund to $25 million, he said.
Another unique feature of the Devloper Kit is that it allows channel partners to build their own integrations and customize their own experience in the ConnectWise platform without the need of development expertise. “If you want to develop with SDKs and APIs, we still have that, but we are making it easier,” said Craig Fulton, chief product officer at ConnectWise.
Gavin Gamber, vice president of channel sales and alliances, said ecosystem expansion has become a major initiative for ConnectWise leadership, driven by partner demand. Partners “are our best gauges on where we should be heading. … That’s how a lot of these integration partners pop up.”
He added that there are virtually no limits on how large the ConnectWise ecosystem could grow. “The ecosystem is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. With a large ecosystem of integrated partners to balance, he said there are “certainly sensitivities” pertaining to ConnectWise’s competing vendor partners, but “it all boils down to who has got the best solutions for the partner and fits their needs the best at a price that they like and is affordable.”
ConnectWise software enhancements
At the IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, ConnectWise showcased upcoming features of the ConnectWise suite, often to the applause of conference attendees.
ConnectWise Automate, the company’s automating tool, is being moved to the web and more tightly integrated with ConnectWise Manage. New web-based functions will include a computer management function and network map feature, slated for availability in the first quarter of 2018.
ConnectWise Automate “has been a tool you need to install on a Windows machine. Now we’re taking it to the web so you can now use it from any browser,” Fulton said.
Adding to remote control functionality, ConnectWise Perspective will provide a smartphone video connection between customers and technicians, available in the second quarter of 2018. Using the feature, customers can send a live video feed from their smartphones to technicians, creating an additional layer to a partner’s service delivery capabilities. Perspective will contain features for auto-scanning barcodes, recording session time and adding workstation information into tickets, ConnectWise said.
After Fulton demonstrated Perspective onstage during his IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, he said he was surprised by the audience response to the upcoming feature. “I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but man, that was the biggest applause. A lot of people approached me and said … ‘Now I can see what [customers] are seeing.'”
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff revealed a massive cloud partnership with Google to expand globally and give the company’s customers access to Google Analytics and other tools.
SAN FRANCISCO — Salesforce has a new partner, and you may have heard of them: Google.
The massive Salesforce-Google partnership was the big news out of the opening day of Dreamforce 2017 this week. The two companies have been aligned for more than 10 years, but Google Cloud is now a preferred cloud provider for Salesforce’s international expansion, and several product integrations are in the works.
Google Analytics 360 will be embedded into Sales and Marketing Clouds as early as the first half of 2018 and will be available at no additional cost. The Salesforce-Google partnership also includes Salesforce Lightning for Gmail and Google Sheets, while Quip — Salesforce’s living document product — will integrate with Google Drive and Google Calendar as live apps, allowing users to work in those apps within a Quip document. This interoperability will be generally available in the first half of 2018 for Quip enterprise license holders.
Also coming out of Day One of Dreamforce were new features and rebranding for several Salesforce products, including myEinstein, myLightning and Salesforce’s mobile app, mySalesforce.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called the revamped products “a smarter, more personalized Salesforce” at the opening keynote before unveiling the Salesforce-Google partnership to the thousands watching in the keynote auditorium, as well as thousands more attendees in satellite rooms.
In addition to the Salesforce-Google partnership, Lightning was a main attraction for attendees, with two separate Lightning migration sessions at capacity Monday morning, as customers continue to try to learn how to successfully migrate from Salesforce Classic to the newer Lightning console.
SearchSalesforce also toured the Salesforce Tower, which is under construction. Get the details on that and more on the latest edition of The Pipeline podcast.