Tag Archives: skills

Microsoft expands commitment to military spouse community – Microsoft Military Affairs

Today in San Francisco, Microsoft Military Affairs will join our partners from LinkedIn to each share new commitments to the military spouse community.

Military spouses are an integral supporting force for members of our military, but face staggering 18 percent unemployment and 53 percent underemployment due to moves every two to three years, according to a 2016 study from Blue Star Families on the social cost of unemployment and underemployment of military spouses.

As part of our commitment to the military spouse community, Microsoft will launch a pilot program to provide spouses with technology skills training beginning in September.

Microsoft has successfully opened a technology career pipeline for transitioning service members and veterans via the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) program, which has expanded coast-to-coast and has a graduation rate of over 90 percent. We are excited to explore how to expand and tailor these opportunities to military spouses, which represent a diverse talent pool that is adaptable, resilient and highly educated and ready to take on new and exciting opportunities to further their professional and personal goals.

The U.S. government estimates information technology occupations are projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Because there are 500,000 open technology jobs annually, we know that career programs are needed to help close the technology skills gap.

“Microsoft is excited to work with technology leaders and other organizations committed to supporting military spouses, and to find avenues that lead to meaningful career opportunities for active duty military spouses,” said U.S. Marine Corps Major General (Ret.) Chris Cortez, Vice President of Microsoft Military Affairs.

LinkedIn also announced today that it is expanding its military and veterans program to include military spouses through a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program. Beginning this July, LinkedIn will provide one year of LinkedIn Premium to every military spouse during each of their moves to new installations to facilitate their career transitions, and once again upon conclusion of military service. This will include free access to LinkedIn’s online library of more than 12,000 LinkedIn Learning courses, including its newly-launched learning path designed to help military spouses succeed in flexible, freelance or remote-work opportunities.

The Microsoft Military Affairs team is working closely with military spouses and nonprofit organizations to understand firsthand the unique challenges this community faces as we build out and learn from our pilot program.

We are thrilled to begin our pilot program in the fall and to continue our support of military spouses and their community by providing the skills they need to enter technology careers.

How can technology empower the Class of 2030? |

Our world is changing faster than ever. What skills will today’s kindergarteners need to be life-ready by the time they graduate as the class of 2030? How can technology support their educational journey?

To answer these critical questions, we launched a key piece of research: “The class of 2030 and life-ready learning: The technology imperative.” Today, I am super excited to share that the full report is now available.

To conduct our research, we listened to 70 thought leaders around the world, reviewed 150 pieces of existing research, and surveyed 2,000 teachers and 2,000 students across Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Most importantly, we focused on the needs and aspirations of our subjects: the young people who make up the class of 2030 and those closest to understanding their world.

Within that context, we found 2 core themes: social emotional skills and personalized learning. Whilst not new in education, these are newly important for more people. Employers are placing a premium on social skills and emotional literacy with up to 40% of future jobs requiring explicit social emotional skills. Academics are noting their impact on deep learning and the students themselves recognize these skills are critical for success. The research highlighted personalized learning as an approach which supports skill development — both cognitive and social and emotional by guiding students towards greater autonomy and control.

The students were clear: they want to develop these skills to navigate their own learning – to explore and make choices that unlock their curiosity and potential and they want teachers who know and understand them as individuals.

Three technologies were highlighted in the research as showing great promise to support social and emotional skill development and personalized learning approaches; collaborative platforms, mixed reality and analytics powered by AI.

Students across the four surveyed countries prioritized a range of social-emotional and higher-order skills; notably, students valued digital skills, creativity and problem solving higher than teachers.

The students were clear: they want to develop the skills to navigate their own learning – to explore and make choices that unlock their curiosity and potential. Click To Tweet

While not new in education, these skills are newly important to more people and are taking center stage alongside deeper cognitive skills and content knowledge in the classroom and in the workforce. By 2030, it is predicted that between 30 to 40 percent of jobs will require explicit social-emotional skills.

While the need for social-emotional skills is clear, our research highlighted differences between the specific skills that students and teachers prioritize and how well-equipped teachers feel to teach these skills. This variation was mirrored in how both groups described their experiences of social-emotional skills as part of the learning program.

Students already place a strong emphasis on social-emotional skills based on the results of our survey, which you can explore below.

Personalized learning, which is a student centered approach, emerged as one of the most promising ways to develop social-emotional and deeper cognitive skills.

The students we surveyed said they want to have greater control over their learning and not just automation of content delivery. The students wanted personalization involving control over pacing, content and assessment. 70 percent of the students felt their mastery of content would be better with greater control. Quality feedback is critical for personalized learning. Only 40 percent of students we surveyed felt they receive feedback that was personalized; yet 60 percent of teachers felt they were providing personalized feedback.

Teachers have long endorsed personalized learning but have cited a lack of time and resources as obstacles. In our survey, nearly 70 percent of teachers cited time constraints as their biggest hurdle to providing more personalized content to their students. Our research revealed technology can help clear away those obstacles by freeing up as much as 30 percent of teachers’ time, so they can spend more time responding to individual and group needs.

Our research identified other important differences in perspectives between students and teachers about the extent of personalization in their current education.  Explore the data, below.

Three types of technology show especially strong promise for advancing socially embedded and personalized learning, and more immersive learning experiences: collaboration platforms, artificial intelligence, and mixed reality. You can find out more about the current and emerging opportunities in the full report and in the papers and case studies being published across 2018.

The class of 2030 and future generations will face social and global problems beyond what we can imagine. They will learn and engage with each other, with technology and with information in entirely new ways. And they will enter a workforce where job functions and roles will be dramatically different from today.

We hope our research will advance all of our efforts to help the class of 2030 be ready to succeed in work and life.

I encourage you to request our full report and share it widely with anyone interested in shaping the education system of the future.

I look forward to continuing to engage with you about these crucial topics in the weeks and months ahead.

Partnership with Microsoft will bring computer science to four El Paso schools

Microsoft TEALS partners with teachers to provide students with skills required for today and tomorrow’s careers

EL PASO, Texas — April 30, 2018 — El Paso students at four area schools will have the opportunity to learn to code this fall, thanks to a new partnership announced Monday with Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and technology industry volunteers, will launch this fall at Clint ISD Early College Academy, Eastlake High School, Eastwood High School and Loretto Academy.

“Our region is fortunate to have terrific schools, which will be even stronger with the addition of a program that teaches one of the key skills young people will need to be successful in our increasingly technology driven world,” said JJ Childress, El Paso manager of Microsoft’s TechSpark program to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation in six communities in the United States. “We know teachers want to teach computer science, but it can be challenging to find the time and resources to learn the subject. TEALS addresses this by putting trained technology volunteers into classrooms to teach students, while helping teachers prepare to teach the subject on their own.”

Since its formation in 2009, TEALS has paired volunteer computer science experts from over 500 companies with high school teachers in nearly 350 schools, in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Volunteers join classes in person, or through the internet when enough volunteers aren’t available locally.

John Mack, Prudential’s head of Technology in El Paso, is among those who signed up to volunteer through TEALS. “Technology is driving the world economy, and there are so many rewarding careers available to those who have learned to code,” Mack said. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with young people in our community this fall, and I hope that many others join me.”

Other El Paso-based businesses helping promote TEALS among their employees, and supporting their employees in their volunteer work, include El Paso Electric and Steele Consulting. The University of Texas at El Paso is also helping to promote TEALS among students interested in volunteering through the program. As a result of this support from the community, employees from these companies, and university students, have applied to volunteer.

Edmond Martinez, principal of Clint ISD Early College Academy, a school that has long embraced the need for strong science, technology, engineering and math programs, sees the teaching of computer science as a duty to the next generation, and encourages local technology experts to step up to volunteer.

“We have a responsibility to create pathways for our students from high school, through college, and to professional positions,” Martinez said. “Technical knowledge and skills prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow, to solve serious problems, and create new opportunities for humanity. It’s my hope that many of those in our community who have technology training will sign up to volunteer with TEALS this fall. What could be more rewarding than passing on your skills to the next generation of innovators?”

Anyone with a computer science degree or equivalent industry experience, who wants to give back to the community by teaching high school computer science, can apply. Volunteers receive training over the summer, and other support throughout the process. Applications are open now, through the end of May, and can be found at https://www.tealsk12.org/volunteers/.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

 

The post Partnership with Microsoft will bring computer science to four El Paso schools appeared first on Stories.

What are some considerations for a public folders migration?


A public folders migration from one version of Exchange to another can tax the skills of an experienced administrator…

“;
}
});

/**
* remove unnecessary class from ul
*/
$(“#inlineregform”).find( “ul” ).removeClass(“default-list”);

/**
* Replace “errorMessageInput” class with “sign-up-error-msg” class
*/
function renameErrorMsgClass() {
$(“.errorMessageInput”).each(function() {
if ($(this).hasClass(“hidden”)) {
$(this).removeClass(“errorMessageInput hidden”).addClass(“sign-up-error-msg hidden”);
} else {
$(this).removeClass(“errorMessageInput”).addClass(“sign-up-error-msg”);
}
});
}

/**
* when validation function is called, replace “errorMessageInput” with “sign-up-error-msg”
* before return
*/
function validateThis(v, form) {
var validateReturn = urValidation.validate(v, form);
renameErrorMsgClass();
return validateReturn;
}

/**
* DoC pop-up window js – included in moScripts.js which is not included in responsive page
*/
$(“#inlineRegistration”).on(“click”,”a.consentWindow”, function(e) {
window.open(this.href, “Consent”, “width=500,height=600,scrollbars=1”);
e.preventDefault();
});

— but there’s another level of complexity when cloud enters the mix.

A session at last week’s Virtualization Technology Users Group event in Foxborough, Mass. detailed the nuances of Office 365 subscription offerings and the migration challenges administrators face. Microsoft offers a la carte choices for companies that wish to sign up for a single cloud service, such as Exchange Online, and move the messaging platform into the cloud, said Michael Shaw, a solution architect for Office 365 at Whalley Computer Associates in Southwick, Mass., in his presentation.

Microsoft offers newer collaboration services in Office 365, but some IT departments cling to one holdover that the company cannot extinguish — public folders. This popular feature, introduced in 1996 with Exchange 4.0, gives users a shared location to store documents, contacts and calendars.

For companies on Exchange 2013/2016, Microsoft did not offer a way to move “modern” public folders — called “public folder mailboxes” after an architecture change in Exchange 2013 — to Office 365 until March 2017. Prior to that, many organizations either developed their own public folders migration process, used a third-party tool or brought in experts to help with the transition.

Organizations that want to use existing public folders after a switch from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 should be aware of the proper sequence to avoid issues with a public folders migration, Shaw said.

Most importantly, public folders should migrate over last. That’s because mailboxes in Office 365 can access a public folder that is on premises, but a mailbox that is on premises cannot access public folders in the cloud, Shaw said.

“New can always access old, but old can’t access new,” he said.

IT admins should keep in mind, however, that Microsoft dissuades customers from using public folders for document use due to potential issues when multiple people try to work on the same file. Instead, the company steers Office 365 shops to SharePoint Online for document collaboration, and the Groups service for shared calendars and mobile device access.

In another attempt to prevent public folders migration to Office 365, Microsoft caps public folder mailboxes in Exchange Online at 1,000. They also come with a limit of 50 GB per mailbox in the lower subscription levels and a 100 GB quota in the higher E3 and E5 tiers. Public folder storage cannot exceed 50 TB.

Still, support for public folders has no foreseeable end despite Microsoft’s efforts to eradicate the feature. Microsoft did not include public folders in Exchange Server 2007, but reintroduced it in a service pack after significant outcry from customers, Shaw said. Similarly, there was no support for public folders when Microsoft introduced Office 365 in 2011, but it later buckled to customer demand.

Upskilling: Digital transformation is economic transformation for all – Asia News Center

“So, we are working with a number of non-government organizations to help build the skills of these youth, to build their digital skills. We know that today, about 50 percent of jobs require technology skills. Within the next three years, that’s going to jump to more than 75 percent. So we’re working to help build the skills that employers need to expand their companies.”

In Sri Lanka, decades of civil strife have now given way to sustained economic growth. In this period of calm and reconstruction, 24-year-old Prabhath Mannapperuma leads a team of techie volunteers teaching digital skills to rural and underprivileged children. They use the micro:bit, a tiny programmable device that makes coding fun. “Using a keyboard to type in code is not interesting for kids,” says Mannapperuma, an IT professional and tech-evangelist, who is determined to inspire a new generation.

Upskilling is also a priority in one of Asia’s poorest countries, Nepal. Here, Microsoft has launched an ambitious digital literacy training program that is transforming lives. Santosh Thapa lost his home and livelihood in a massive 2015 earthquake and struggled in its aftermath to start again in business. Things turned around after he graduated from a Microsoft-sponsored course that taught him some digital basics, which he now uses daily to serve his customers and stay ahead of his competitors.

Often women are the most disadvantaged in the skills race. For instance in Myanmar, only 35 percent of the workforce is female. Without wide educational opportunities, most women have been relegated to the home or the farm. But times are changing as the economy opens up after decades of isolation. “Women in Myanmar are at risk of not gaining the skills for the jobs of the future, and so we are helping to develop the skills of young women, and that’s been an exciting effort,” says Michelle.

The team at Microsoft Philanthropies has partnered with the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation in its Tech Age Girls program. It identifies promising female leaders, between the ages of 14 to 18, and provides them with essential leadership and computer science skills to be future-ready for the jobs of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The goal is to create a network of 100 young women leaders in at least five locations throughout Myanmar with advanced capacity in high-demand technology skills. One of these future leaders is Thuza who is determined to forge a career in the digital space. “There seems to be a life path that girls are traditionally expected to take,” she says. “But I’m a Tech Age Girl and I’m on a different path.”

In Bangladesh, Microsoft and the national government have come together to teach thousands of women hardware and software skills. Many are now working at more than 5,000 state-run digital centers that encourage ordinary people to take up technology for the business, work, and studies. It is also hoped that many of the women graduates of the training program will become digital entrepreneurs themselves.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These examples are undeniably encouraging and even inspirational. But Michelle is clear on one point: Digital skills development is more than just meaningful and impactful philanthropic work. It is also a hard-headed, long-term business strategy and a big investment in human capital.

Microsoft wants its customers to grow and push ahead with digital transformation, she says. And to do that, they need digitally skilled workers. “This is about empowering individuals, and also about enabling businesses to fill gaps in order for them to actually compete globally … by developing the skills, we can develop the economy.”

AWS management tools: Partners gain visibility with buyers

Cloud consultants experienced in AWS management tools have new avenues to promote their skills. Amazon Web Services recently added four tools to its AWS Service Delivery Program, which the cloud provider unveiled in November 2016.

The program aims to help customers identify AWS Partner Network companies with expertise in specific skill or service areas. The AWS management tools added to the program are AWS CloudFormation, Amazon EC2 Systems Manager, AWS Config and AWS CloudTrail. According to an AWS blog post, 11 companies have been named Management Tools Service Delivery launch partners.

Among those companies is 2nd Watch, a managed public cloud provider based in Seattle. The company has obtained AWS Service Delivery launch partner status for AWS CloudFormation, AWS CloudTrail and AWS Config.

“Customers looking to leverage and understand how to use AWS Config, CloudTrail or CloudFormation will be able to find us [via the AWS partner portal] and understand we have more than just the basic knowledge of these products and how to use them,” said Jeff Aden, executive vice president of strategic business development and marketing at 2nd Watch.

Customers looking to leverage and understand how to use AWS Config, CloudTrail or CloudFormation will be able to find us.
Jeff Adenexecutive vice president of strategic business development and marketing, 2nd Watch

Aden said those three tools are commonly implemented across 2nd Watch’s customer base.

Companies that become an AWS management tools delivery partner can promote their offerings through channels such as the AWS Service Delivery website, the Partner Solutions Finder and the services partner page, according to AWS.

Other launch partners for the AWS management tools delivery designation include Cloudnexa, Cloudreach, Cloudticity, Cognizant, Datapipe, Flux7, Foghorn Consulting, Logicworks, REAN Cloud and Stelligent.

NAYA Tech, NuoDB in reseller pact

NAYA Tech, a database consulting and managed IT services company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has entered a reseller relationship with NuoDB, a company that provides an elastic SQL database for hybrid cloud applications.

Yair Rozilio, CEO and founder of NAYA Tech, suggested NuoDB’s technology will have applicability across multiple industries, noting that NAYA Tech has an opportunity to offer its services to both enterprise customers and startups. Specifically, the company plans to focus on industries with a pressing need for an elastic, cloud-centric transactional database.

“We’ll focus first on independent software [vendors] offering SaaS solutions that require immense scale, and also expand into other areas such as the financial and communications sectors,” Rozilio said.

Rozilio said NuoDB suits two types of customers for which NAYA Tech can provide services. For customers with existing applications that need greater scale, elasticity or lower cost than their current databases, NAYA Tech offers a migration-as-a-service turnkey solution. In this model, the company takes a customer’s existing database architecture and applications and migrates them to NuoDB. For customers looking for the appropriate database technology to power next-generation data architectures, NAYA Tech offers design and implementation services, Rozilio explained.

NAYA Tech plans to train dozens of its core database technology consultants on NuoDB, Rozilio said. He said those consultants include solutions architects, database administrators and developers experienced with relational and NoSQL database technologies.

Stephen Fahey, senior vice president of sales at NuoDB, based in Cambridge, Mass., said the company has worked with a number of international resellers and consultants, but noted its relationship with NAYA Tech represents its first reseller agreement based in the U.S. 

BackupAssist rolls out ransomware protection

BackupAssist, a Windows server backup and recovery vendor, introduced CryptoSafeGuard, a new ransomware protection product for the SMB market. The company sells its products through resellers and managed service provider partners.

CryptoSafeGuard, which combines with the vendor’s backup software, aims to protect customers from ransomware infections, complementing existing security products such as firewalls “by providing an extra layer of protection to the backup,” said Linus Chang, CEO of BackupAssist.

“We are not trying to replace existing [security] solutions. We are actually providing an extra safety net,” he said.

“Recently, [ransomware] has evolved into a threat for all businesses,” and the threat is growing exponentially every year, said Troy Vertigan, BackupAssist’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Businesses have a higher chance … of being taken down by ransomware more than the risk of a flood or a fire,” he noted.

Customers of the company’s BackupCare subscription service will have access to the CryptoSafeGuard through version 10.1 of BackupAssist’s software.

Hurricane relief for partners

ConnectWise, a company that offers remote monitoring and management, professional services automation and other products for service providers, is raising funds to assist partners affected by Hurricane Harvey. In a blog post, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini said the company aims to “help our partners survive as entrepreneurs and reestablish their successful businesses.” The company plans to raise $750,000 and will match donations to ConnectWise.com/HelpNow.

Other news

  • Datatec Ltd., the parent company of Westcon-Comstor, has closed the sale of the distributor’s North America and Latin America business to Synnex Corp. The deal also includes the sale of a minority share in Westcon-Comstor’s EMEA and Asia-Pacific business to Synnex. Datatec’s plan to sell the Westcon-Comstor assets was disclosed in June 2017.
  • In other acquisition news, VRP Consulting, a Salesforce consulting firm and digital transformation services provider based in San Francisco, has purchased CodeSWAT, a Salesforce consultancy in Santa Clara, Calif.
  • SolarWinds MSP, an IT service management technology provider, revealed it has purchased SpamExperts, an email security company. SpamExperts currently offers services for email archiving, as well as spam and virus filtering. SolarWinds MSP said the acquisition will expand its SolarWinds MSP Mail technology.
  • Data protection company StorageCraft launched a $100,000 Recovery Guarantee for qualified partners. The guarantee covers the recovery of virtual or physical machines, either on premises or in the cloud, according to StorageCraft.
  • The NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars have tapped TierPoint LLC to provide colocation and other managed data center services. TierPoint in 2015 acquired its Jacksonville, Fla., data center and has since completed an infrastructure and security upgrade, according to the company. Shifting from AFC South to AFC North territory, TierPoint also announced it will build a second data center in Baltimore. The planned 35,000 sq. ft. facility will see an initial investment of more than $10 million.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

Announcing the new 2017-2018 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Showcase Schools |

At Microsoft, we recognize that technology alone cannot develop the 21st century skills students require. We are inspired, every day, by the impact amazing educators and thoughtful leaders are making on innovative teaching, all leading to improved student outcomes. We are heartened when our Microsoft Educators and Showcase Schools help support and transform others across the world – just as we saw last month, when the St. Thomas School in Medina, Washington collaborated on the development of a new Showcase School in Rwanda.

Today, we are delighted to announce thousands of educators, school leaders, and schools are once again leading digital transformation in education through our Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Microsoft Showcase Schools programs.

Announcing the 2017-2018 Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts

The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) program is composed of more than 150,000 educators worldwide, who have joined the Microsoft Educator Community and successfully completed online courses, contributed lesson plans, and connected with other educators across the globe.

This year, we welcome over 6,000 educators who were selected as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEE) for their excellence in teaching and learning. These educators spark creativity among their students with thoughtful integration of Microsoft technologies to improve student learning.

These accomplished educators inspire peers and policymakers as they find new and innovative ways to incorporate 21st century learning into their classrooms. They share their best practices and work together, both in-person and online, through the Microsoft Educator Community. The MIE Experts also provide Microsoft representatives with valuable insights and ideas, so we can evolve technology to improve teaching and learning further.

Hear from MIE Experts about what this community means to them:

[embedded content]

Announcing the 2017-2018 Microsoft Showcase Schools

The Microsoft Showcase Schools program recognizes innovative leaders in schools around the world. As Microsoft Showcase Schools, leadership teams are part of a professional community that thoughtfully leverages technology to drive digital transformation and efficiencies in schools.

Microsoft Showcase Schools are recognized leaders in personalized learning amplified by devices for each student. These schools thoughtfully integrate a variety of Microsoft solutions such as Windows, Office 365, OneNote, Skype and more to enable anywhere, anytime learning for students.

Microsoft Showcase Schools represent urban and regional schools, as well as schools with various levels of funding. They also cover all types of demographic and geographical regions – last year, for instance, we happily welcomed Ysgol Bae Baglan from Wales into the program.

[embedded content]

See the list of more than 550 new Microsoft Showcase Schools and 2,200 Microsoft Schools.

Recognizing our 2017-2018 Microsoft Schools

Currently there are more than 2,200 participating institutions in our Microsoft Schools program who are exploring digital transformation and integration of Microsoft technology into their classrooms. These schools are benefiting from the best practices of Microsoft Showcase Schools and are emerging as new education leaders in their communities.

If you are in a school that’s starting to consider how to transform education and integrate technology, we invite you to register anytime for the Microsoft Schools program.

Learn more about getting involved: 

DevOps tools training sparks IT productivity

Enterprises have a new weapon to combat the IT skills shortage where new hiring and training practices fall short.

Most IT pros agree the fastest path to IT burnout is what Amazon engineers have termed “undifferentiated heavy lifting,” which is repetitive and uninteresting work that has little potential for wider impact beyond keeping the lights on. DevOps tools training, which involves IT automation practices, can reduce or eliminate such mundane work and can compensate against staff shortages and employee attrition.

“Automation tools aren’t used to eliminate staff; they’re used to help existing staff perform at a higher level,” said Pete Wirfs, a programmer specialist at SAIF Corp., a not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company in Salem, Ore., that has used Automic Software’s Automation Engine to orchestrate scripts.

The company has used Automation Engine since 2013, but last year, it calculated new application development would add hundreds of individual workflows to the IT operations workload. Instead, Wirfs said he found a way to automate database queries and use the results to kick off scripts, so a single centralized workflow could meet all the project’s needs.

As a result, SAIF has expanded its IT environment exponentially over the last four years with no additional operations staff. The data center also can run lights-out for a few hours each night, with the automation scripts set up to handle monitoring, health checks and route alerts to the appropriate contacts when necessary. No IT ops employees work on Sundays at SAIF at all.

“There’s no end to what we can find to automate,” Wirfs said.

DevOps tools training standardizes IT processes

SAIF’s case illustrates an important facet of DevOps tools training: standardization of a company’s tools and workflows. A move from monoliths to microservices can make an overall system more complex, but individual components become similar, repeatable units that are easier to understand, maintain and troubleshoot.

“The monoliths of the early 2000s were very complicated, but now, people are a lot more pragmatic,” said Nuno Pereira, CTO of iJET International, a risk management company in Annapolis, Md. “DevOps has given us a way to keep component complexity in check.”

In modern monitoring systems, DevOps tools training can curtail the notifications that bombard IT operations pros through centralized tools, such as Cisco’s AppDynamics and LogicMonitor. These are popular among DevOps shops because they boost the signal-to-noise ratio of highly instrumented and automated environments, and they establish a standardized common ground for collaborative troubleshooting.

“[With] LogicMonitor, [we can] capture data and make it easily viewable so that different disciplines of IT can speak the same language across skill sets,” said Andy Domeier, director of technology operations at SPS Commerce, a communications network for supply chain and logistics businesses based in Minneapolis.

Four or five years ago, problems in the production infrastructure weren’t positively identified for an average of about 30 minutes per incident, Domeier said. Now, within one to two minutes, DevOps personnel can determine there is a problem, with an average recovery time of 10 to 15 minutes, he estimated.

Standardization has been key to keeping up with ever-bigger web-scale infrastructure at DevOps bellwethers such as Google.

“If every group in a company has a different set of technologies, it is impossible to make organizationwide changes that lift all boats,” said Ben Sigelman, who built Dapper, a distributed tracing utility Google uses to monitor distributed systems. Google maintains one giant source-code repository, for example, which means any improvement immediately benefits the entire Google codebase.

“Lack of standardization is an impediment to DevOps, more than anything else,” Sigelman said.

Google has standardized on open source tools, which offer common platforms that can be used and developed by multiple companies, and this creates another force-multiplier for the industry. Sigelman, now CEO of a stealth startup called LightStep, said DevOps tools training has started to have a similar effect in the mainstream enterprise.

Will AI help?

DevOps tools training can go a long way to help small IT teams manage big workloads, but today’s efficiency improvements have their limits. Already, some tools, such as Splunk Insights, use adaptive machine-learning algorithms to give the human IT pro’s brain an artificial intelligence (AI) boost — a concept known as AIOps.

“The world is not going to get easier,” said Rick Fitz, senior vice president of IT markets for Splunk, based in San Francisco. “People are already overwhelmed with complexity and data. To get through the next five to 10 years, we have to automate the mundane so people can use their brains more effectively.”

People are already overwhelmed with complexity and data. To get through the next five to 10 years, we have to automate the mundane.
Rick Fitzsenior vice president of IT markets, Splunk

Strong enthusiasm for AIOps has spread throughout the industry. Today’s analytics products, such as Splunk, use statistics to predict when a machine will fail or the broader impact of a change to an IT environment. However, AIOps systems may move beyond rules-based systems to improve on those rules or gain insights humans won’t come up with on their own, said Brad Shimmin, analyst with GlobalData PLC, headquartered in London. Groups of companies will share data the way they share open source software development today and enhance the insights AIOps can create, he predicted.

The implications for AIOps are enormous. Network intrusion detection is just one of the many IT disciplines experts predict will change with AIOps over the next decade. AIOps may be able to detect attack signatures or malicious behavior in users that humans and today’s systems cannot detect — for example, when someone hijacks and maliciously uses an end-user account, even if the end user’s identifier and credentials remain the same.

But while AIOps has promise, those who’ve seen its early experimental implementations are skeptical that AIOps can move beyond the need for human training and supervision.

“AI needs a human being to tell it what matters to the business,” LightStep’s Sigelman said, based on what he saw while working at Google. “AI is a fashionable term, but where it’s most successful is when it’s used to sift through a large stream of data with user-defined filtering.”

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