Tag Archives: service

Microsoft advances Microsoft Software & Systems Academy expansion goals with Quantico ribbon-cutting ceremony – Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft set a vision to empower transitioning military service members and the veteran community with the opportunity to receive relevant training that could lead to meaningful careers. On Monday, the company held its ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) on Marine Corps Base Quantico. With the program’s growing availability, service members from coast to coast will be able to participate in technical training and career development. MSSA Quantico will focus specifically on meeting the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals.

The ceremony, which was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, started with welcoming remarks from Col. Joseph M. Murray, Commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman; Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU); Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft; and Brig. Gen. Kurt W. Stein, director of Marine and Family programs, Headquarters Marine Corps.

Barry Butler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University president, delivers remarks at Quantico
Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, delivers remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

“Your courage. Your dedication to others. Your ability to work together as a tight knit team. Your adaptability and accountability – these are qualities you have developed in the most challenging of environments,” said Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft, speaking to the first cohort of students for MSSA Quantico.

“MSSA Quantico Cohort A, we don’t just think you are ready to learn. We know you are ready.”

Rep. Wittman also spoke to the group about the importance of programs like MSSA to train our transitioning service members and veterans.

“What a great combination of innovation and creation from the private side to the public side, who are putting that together for the betterment of our nation… [MSSA] is the first step of many steps of developing this skill set that exists here in the Marine Corps.”

The Quantico campus is the first of four scheduled MSSA launches in early 2018 on the Eastern Seaboard, and will complete Microsoft’s 2015 goal of opening nine regions servicing 14 bases. In the months ahead, Microsoft will open MSSA programs at Camp Lejeune, Naval Station Norfolk, and the Jacksonville Community Campus (near Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport).

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, left, speaks with Rep. Rob Wittman following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Since launching MSSA in November 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington, Microsoft has worked with education partners ERAU and St. Martin’s University to create a successful and proven model for reskilling our nation’s heroes and preparing them for meaningful careers in technology. This cornerstone of the DoD Skillbridge program helps the industry overall, helps veterans and helps our country build a stronger workforce to compete on the world stage. In the past four years, the company has grown its hiring partner network to more than 240 companies, including Dell, Expedia, Accenture, Capgemeni and the Department of Defense, with an average starting salary of $70,000.

To learn more about MSSA at Quantico, visit military.microsoft.com/mssa.

Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors
The Marine Corps Base Quantico ceremonial platoon presents the colors during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for MSSA at Quantico on Jan. 8, 2018.

Tags: Education and Jobs, military, MSSA, veterans

AWS SSO puts Amazon at the center of IT access

AWS’ latest service is another step in the company’s goal to be the hub for corporations’ IT activity.

AWS Single Sign-On (AWS SSO), added with little fanfare after AWS re:Invent 2017, is a welcome addition for many users. The service centralizes the management of multiple AWS accounts, as well as additional third-party applications tethered to those accounts.

AWS SSO uses AWS Organizations and can be extended with a configuration wizard to Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) applications. It also comes with built-in integrations with popular services such as Box, Office 365, Salesforce and Slack.

Users of the service access AWS and outside applications through a single portal, within individually assigned access policies. Sign-in activities and administrative changes are tracked by AWS CloudTrail, and companies can audit employee use of those services themselves or use an outside service such as Splunk or Sumo Logic to analyze those logs.

Permissions to various Amazon cloud services and outside apps can be configured in AWS SSO for common IT job categories or by creating custom groupings. The service also connects to on-premises Microsoft Active Directory to identify credentials and manage which employees or groups of employees can access which AWS accounts.

The service has limitations. It’s currently confined to the U.S. East region in Virginia, and can’t be accessed through the AWS Command Line Interface or via an API. Also, any changes to permissions can only be made by a master account.

AWS has a reputation for going after segments of IT that it sees as vulnerable, and this could be a direct shot at some of the prominent SSO providers on the market. Okta in particular is popular among the enterprise market, so this free alternative from AWS could be attractive, said Adam Book, principal cloud engineer at Relus Technologies, an AWS consulting partner in Peachtree Corners, Ga.

For large organizations single sign-on is important. … Once you get into third-party apps your users don’t want to remember 50 different passwords.
Adam Bookprincipal cloud engineer, Relus Technologies

“You can manage all your apps in one place and not pay for a third party,” he said. “Amazon then becomes your one trusted source for everything.”

AWS solved some of the complexity around managing accounts when it enabled administrators to establish roles for users, but this simplifies things further with a single point to track work across development, QA and production accounts, Book said. It also helps to manage onboarding and removal of employees’ credentials based on their employment status.

“For large organizations single sign-on is important,” he said. “I don’t think it’s as much for the Amazon accounts, but once you get into third-party apps your users don’t want to remember 50 different passwords.”

Joe Emison, founder and CTO, BuildFaxJoe Emison

Others see AWS SSO as not just a way to unseat Okta, but to go after Active Directory as well. SSO can be used with or without the Microsoft directory service, which isn’t ideal for cloud environments despite an updated version in Microsoft Azure, said Joe Emison, founder and CTO of BuildFax, an AWS customer in Austin, Texas.

“Active Directory, at its core, is really based around the idea that everyone is going to be connected to a local network to start up their computer and connect to a master server and get rules and policies from there,” he said. “That’s nice if everyone goes into the office, but this is not the world we live in.”

Compared to AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), Active Directory lacks fine-grained access control to assign permissions and can be difficult to integrate with SAML-based applications, Emison said. By incorporating IAM tools within SSO and extending that level of control to outside applications, AWS could eventually supplant Active Directory as organizations’ preferred means to manage employee access.

Trevor Jones is a senior news writer with SearchCloudComputing and SearchAWS. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service is generally available

The Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning Service is now available with the same great support you’ve come to know and expect from Azure IoT services. The Device Provisioning Service enables customers to configure zero-touch device provisioning to Azure IoT Hub, and it brings the scalability of the cloud to what was once a laborious one-at-a-time process. The Device Provisioning Process was designed with the challenges of the supply chain in mind, providing the infrastructure needed to provision millions of devices in a secure and scalable manner.

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With general availability support comes expanded protocol support. Automatic device provisioning with the Device Provisioning Service now supports all protocols that IoT Hub supports including HTTP, AMQP, MQTT, AMQP over websockets, and MQTT over websockets. This release also corresponds to expanded SDK language support for both the device and client side. We now support SDKs in the following languages including C, C#, Java, Node (service for now, device coming soon), and Python (device for now, service coming soon). Get started with the Device Provisioning Service with the quick start tutorials.

The Device Provisioning Service works in a wide variety of scenarios:

  • Zero-touch provisioning to a single IoT solution without requiring hardcoded IoT Hub connection information in the factory (initial setup).
  • Automatically configuring devices based on solution-specific needs.
  • Load balancing devices across multiple hubs.
  • Connecting devices to their owner’s IoT solution based on sales transaction data (multitenancy).
  • Connecting devices to a specific IoT solution depending on use-case (solution isolation).
  • Connecting a device to the IoT hub with the nearest geo-location.
  • Re-provisioning based on a change in the device, such as a change in ownership or location.

The Device Provisioning Service is flexible enough to support all those scenarios using the same basic flow:

image

We’ve made it easier than ever to use hardware-based security with the Device Provisioning Service device SDKs. We offer in-box support for different kinds of hardware security modules (HSMs), and we have partnerships with several hardware manufacturers to help our customers be as secure as possible. You can learn more about the hardware partnerships by reading the blog post Provisioning for true zero-touch secure identity management for IoT, and you can learn more about HSMs by reading the blog post Azure IoT supports new security hardware to strengthen IoT security. The SDKs are extensible to support other HSMs, and you can learn more about how to use your own custom HSM with the device SDKs. While using an HSM is not required to use the Device Provisioning Service, we strongly recommend using one in your devices. The SDKs provide a TPM simulator and a DICE simulator (for X.509 certs) for development and testing purposes. Learn more about all the technical concepts involved in device provisioning.

Azure IoT is committed to offering you services which take the pain out of deploying and managing an IoT solution in a secure, reliable way. To learn more please watch the videos What is the Device Provisioning Service and Provisioning a real device. You can create your own Device Provisioning Service on the Azure portal, and you can check out the device SDKs on GitHub. Learn all about the Device Provisioning Service and how to use it in the documentation center. We would love to get your feedback on secure device registration, so please continue to submit your suggestions through the Azure IoT User Voice forum.

To sum things up with a limerick:

Come join us in our celebration
Of IoT auto-registration
It’s generally available
Full-featured and capable
For your devices’ automation

Microsoft launches public preview of Azure Location Based Services with TomTom | ZDNet

Microsoft is launching a public preview of a location-based Azure cloud service that’s designed to integrate well with Internet of things deployments and asset tracking.

Azure Location Based Services will be powered by TomTom’s Online APIs, but can leverage other location technologies in the future. Azure LBS will use the same billion, account and APIs as other Azure services.

Microsoft’s aim is to give cloud developers geospatial data that can be integrated with smart city and Internet of things deployments. Target industries include manufacturing, automotive, logistics, smart cities and retail. A year ago, Microsoft laid out plans to integrate geographic data with Azure.

Sam George, partner director of Microsoft Azure IoT, said Microsoft LBS is aimed at providing one dashboard to manage services and templates enterprises can use to track assets. “As cloud and IoT transform businesses, geospatial data capabilities are needed for connected devices and assets,” said George. “Many of these assets move and monitoring and viewing them in a location is important. It’s part of a broader IoT digital feedback loop.”

The capabilities in Azure LBS–mapping, search, routing, traffic and time zones–are designed to be used for everything from asset tracking for transportation fleets as well as autonomous driving.

Cubic Telecom, an Irish telecommunications company for the automotive industry, built a proof of concept that uses Azure LBS to visualize existing locations of electric vehicle charging stations. Here’s a look at Cubic Telecom’s charging station finder.

cubic-telecom-azure.png

Fathym, an IoT company, is using Azure LBS to visualize road conditions for Alaska’s department of transportation. Fathym’s road and route weather forecasting will be introduced at the LA Auto Show.

Azure LBS can be used as part of a broader suite or as a standalone service. Azure LBS will have consumption based pricing and George noted that enterprise location data is private. For the public preview, Azure Location Based Services will offer a two tiered pricing model – a set of free transactions per account and then 1,000 transactions for $0.50.

General availability will be in calendar 2018.

Singtel taps Versa for software-defined branch service

Singtel this week introduced a managed software-defined branch service as part of a broader network functions virtualization initiative. 

The Singapore-based service provider underpins its software-defined branch service with Versa Networks’ Cloud IP Platform, a software-defined platform that targets branch networks and enables integration with virtual network functions (VNFs).

Singtel software-defined branch service supports multiple VNFs at existing or new branch offices and can be hosted on white boxes, according to a company statement.

“Enterprises can also add new functions, such as unified threat management, to the same hardware without incurring additional installation charges,” the statement said.

Singtel released its SD-WAN services in 2015, following up with cloud-based NFV in 2016.

MegaPath secures its managed SD-WAN with Fortinet

MegaPath boosted its managed SD-WAN portfolio with security from Fortinet. The integration, announced last week, adds Fortinet Security Fabric to MegaPath’s enterprise SD-WAN services. The Fortinet software segments the network, allows for centralized management and orchestration and automates threat responses.

MegaPath underpins its SD-WAN portfolio with SD-WAN technologies from a pool of different SD-WAN vendors, including VeloCloud. The service provider, based in Pleasanton, Calif., uses a multivendor approach to anchor its customized packages.

FatPipe joins the VNF game

FatPipe Networks earlier this month expanded its SD-WAN portfolio with VNF software supporting a variety of enterprise functions. The VNF platform includes SD-WAN functionality that can be integrated with routing, firewall, security, quality of service and WAN optimization, among other services.

The VNF software can be hosted on FatPipe’s own hardware and on NFV hypervisors, including OpenStack, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, according to a company statement. The VNF software is pre-installed on FatPipe’s hardware; customers can also roll out third-party VNFs, if desired, the company said.

FatPipe said its features will let enterprises access and deploy more NFV and VNF options, without the complexity that comes with using multiple vendors.

Lanner and 128 Technology move to universal CPE

White box switch vendor Lanner and routing software developer 128 Technology debuted a universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) platform that supports a variety of VNFs and SD-WAN deployments.

The companies made the announcement at the SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands, earlier this month.

Most SD-WAN services run on proprietary boxes installed at a customer’s site; Lanner’s white box appliance will run 128 Technology’s secure vector routing software, which uses session-oriented routing to send IP traffic over predetermined paths. Lanner struck a similar alliance with Versa Networks in 2016, offering customers a white box CPE running Versa’s SD-WAN software.

Owens-Illinois sees clear advantage in driving collaborative agenda with Office 365

Logo of Owen-Illinois.

Today’s post was written by Rodney Masney, vice president of Technology Service Delivery at Owens-Illinois.

Image of Rodney Masney, vice president of Technology Service Delivery at Owens-Illinois.My job as the vice president of Technology Service Delivery means that I look at our IT solutions with the same eye to longevity and serviceability that Owens-Illinois (O-I) craftspeople use when they create the 10,000 different glass containers in our portfolio. With Office 365, we found a suite of cloud-based services and apps that are as sustainable and functional as our products.

O-I is a global company, with 79 factories in 23 countries. We were using an on-premises Lotus Notes platform, but it was a struggle to keep the regionally autonomous locations of our large company in sync. To boost efficiency, we needed to perform better as one interconnected organization. The wide range of integrated capabilities for communication and collaboration within Office 365 aligns better with the goals of this workplace transformation. And we are driven by a desire to connect our workforce, standardize manufacturing processes, and collaborate better with customers.

The importance of collaborating and sharing best practices across the company comes back to our passion for creating superior products. When our employees use Office 365 to work together, they are empowered to enact that passion. In a simple, streamlined way, mobile employees can stay productive with anytime, anywhere access to the data they need, and dispersed teams can collaborate in real time.

Today, we use SharePoint Online and Yammer to fuel our Manufacturing Fundamentals initiative. Employees can upload and collect best practices for a range of manufacturing processes into SharePoint team sites. Here the information is made available across the company. Employees add comments to the documents, connect directly to engineers, and turn to Yammer to post their findings back to the company at large. From the beginning, we knew collective insights had to involve the shop floor to include our Firstline Workforce, so we added Office 365 Enterprise F1 to empower our shop floor workers with a highly secure digital platform to offer their unique perspectives and expertise to enrich our enterprise.

Thankfully, cloud-based computing doesn’t make us feel that our security profile is any less robust. It makes sense to let a technology company do what they do best, so we can focus on our 115 years of expertise making great glass products for our customers. For instance, we’ve used Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection to address concerns over phishing emails that were targeting certain accounts within the company, with positive results.

Surface Hubs make a great addition to our boardrooms and meeting rooms at several key locations. Engineers, designers, and developers use Surface Hubs to facilitate global, collaborative design work. It’s incredible to think that in the past, engineers would have to mail physical copies of designs to colleagues and wait for their response.

As important as it is to provide our internal workforce with the right tools to communicate and collaborate, we also wanted to facilitate conversations with external stakeholders. Using Skype for Business to gather feedback from partners and customers, we’re creating more impactful products to sustain our competitive advantage. As we evolve into a more global, connective organization, it’s clear the real value of a rich, integrated set of applications like Office 365 is that it’s collaborative and it standardizes manufacturing operations. Innovative products produced more efficiently means we can expand our business and continue to satisfy our customers and shareholders. It’s a great formula for success.

—Rodney Masney

Read the case study for more on the Owens-Illinois digital transformation.

Don’t get hung up on Office 365 Cloud PBX pitfalls

For IT administrators, the value of Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud PBX service is that it consolidates telephony…

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services with email messages and cloud storage in one consumable portal. But make no mistake, this is not plug-and-play.

Admins must be sure their in-house business technology is compatible with the service to get all of its features. Office 365 Cloud PBX with public switched telephone network (PSTN) dialing capabilities enables workers to use Skype for Business Online to:

  • place, receive, transfer and mute calls;
  • click a name in the address book and call the contact; and
  • use mobile devices, a headset with a laptop or PC or an IP phone that works with Skype for Business.

However, the real benefit is that Cloud PBX integrates those features into the Office 365 portal. Admins manage all the Office 365 services, which include mailboxes and licenses, in one place and need only contact one vendor should a problem arise. But like any move to a cloud service, it requires planning and preparation.

Here are some benefits of Office 365 Cloud PBX and tips on how to easily transition to the cloud service.

Office 365 now fully replicates on premises

Many IT admins use the administrative console to handle some of the major applications within Office 365, such as Exchange, SharePoint, licensing and Skype for Business.

But Office 365 didn’t fully replace on-premises servers until Microsoft included a PBX service in the E5 subscription plan. Office 365 Cloud PBX includes critical features, such as call queues and an automated attendant, to make the service more comparable — and, therefore, a full-blown replacement — to Exchange Server for businesses.

Microsoft catches up on needed features

Businesses expect modern unified communications (UC)  platforms to offer advanced features, such as collaboration tools, mobility, call routing, hunt groups, instant messaging, presence technology, voicemail on the go and portability to take an extension or direct inward dialing anywhere users want. Businesses wish to use these platforms as a service and don’t expect to purchase hardware other than the clients’ handsets.

However, many admins found that Office 365 E5’s early release fell short. The main complaint was that it lacked two essential features: automated attendant functionality and call queues.

Office 365 didn’t fully replace on-premises servers until Microsoft included a PBX service in the E5 subscription plan.

Microsoft finally released those capabilities for general Office 365 tenants in April 2017. The company offered Skype for Business Online as a complete, hosted option with enterprise features and functions that are comparable to its on-premises counterpart. This means IT administrators don’t deal with the complexities and challenges of an on-premises voice over IP (VoIP) and keep the crucial features that the enterprise needs.

Microsoft will replace Skype for Business Online with Microsoft Teams likely by 2020, a problematic development for companies that rely on the former for telephony services.

IT considerations before a move

The introduction of a cloud-based UC system requires planning and preparation. Consider the following checklist before you bring Office 365 Cloud PBX into the business.

Avoid points of failure: Like an email server, a phone is a critical communication component. Before you install Office 365 Cloud PBX, make sure your system has multiple reliable network connections. For example, a manufacturing firm located in a rural area can’t switch its phone system to the cloud without this redundancy.

Look into new handsets: Before an organization replaces its existing VoIP with Skype for Business, IT needs to determine if the legacy handsets work with Office 365 Cloud PBX. Microsoft supports several hardware vendors, but Skype for Business with PSTN might not be compatible with some handsets. Check your firmware requirements.

Consider compliance requirements: Security is always a concern when an enterprise moves data into the cloud. Office 365 provides functionality, such as specific rules and policies, to help enterprises meet compliance obligations in email messages, archives and e-discovery. Skype for Business includes similar capabilities to archive and search for messages and interactions. In addition, admins can access detailed audit trails on communications for security reviews.

Monitor usage to manage costs: IT admins that oversee corporate mobile devices should know how to monitor data usage; it helps them stay on budget, and it identifies which resources each user consumes. Similarly, Skype for Business offers domestic and international plans with a set number of minutes. IT admins should examine several reports to monitor those plans and manage costs.

Next Steps

Survey the entire landscape before an Office 365 move

Vendors struggle with mobile unified communications

Steps to use Skype for Business in your business

Microsoft Azure taps NetApp Ontap for native NFS storage

LAS VEGAS — NetApp this week previewed NFS storage as a consumable service available within the Microsoft Azure cloud stack. The move comes after a recent series of partnerships with Microsoft, and it forms a key piece of NetApp’s cloud storage strategy.

The Azure Enterprise NFS Service is based on the NetApp Ontap operating system. Microsoft will sell NetApp file-storage services to enterprise users, and the vendors will share the revenue.

The Azure Enterprise NFS Service is separate from the NetApp Cloud Ontap virtual storage appliance. Microsoft Windows Server already supports NFS. Adding NetApp Ontap allows users to implement the vendor’s Data Fabric data migration and protection tools.

NetApp Ontap for Azure Enterprise NFS is designed to make it easier to move NFS workloads across multiple cloud environments, said Jennifer Meyer, a NetApp senior director of cloud product marketing.

“This is not NetApp Ontap running on top of Azure. We are embedded in the Microsoft Azure stack. You would use it just like any other service in the Azure console, but it would be powered by NetApp storage,” Meyer said.

The Azure NFS service extends a string of recent partnerships for Microsoft and NetApp. It includes NetApp Fabric Pools to tier cold data to Microsoft Blob storage and NetApp Cloud Control data service SaaS-based compliance archiving of Microsoft Office 365 data.

NetApp declined to say if it plans to offer a similar Ontap integration in Amazon Web Services, but that seems like a logical next step. NetApp has been performing better than its counterparts in networked storage, but executives at its Insight user conference this week stressed that sustainable success will hinge on offering multiple cloud storage options.

“It’s not that we’re not talking to other cloud providers [about doing this], but Microsoft asked NetApp to build NFS in Azure. That’s why we’re starting with Microsoft,” said Brett Roscoe, a NetApp vice president of products, solutions and services marketing.