Tag Archives: software

‘There’s nothing wrong who you are’: Michelle Chen’s journey to live more freely in her own skin – Microsoft Life

Surrounded for the first time by a supportive culture and a community of LGBTQ+ friends, this software engineer is unlocking the key to self-acceptance

By Candace Whitney-Morris

Michelle Chen knew she was gay long before she came out. Growing up, she found it hard enough to admit to herself, let alone to say it out loud for others.

In high school, people would tease her with questions like, “Are you sure you’re straight?” Ever since grade school when she had to defend her choice to wear “boy’s” clothes and keep her hair short, she had to be quick on her toes, ready with reassurances. She’d reply, “Oh yeah, I’m straight! I have a crush on so-and-so. Don’t worry.”

Chen wasn’t ready to come out in high school, and the small town she grew up in wasn’t ready for her to come out, either. Neither were her traditional, Chinese parents.

“Any sexuality that isn’t straight is not accepted at all,” Chen explained of her family’s beliefs. “You have to conform to what everyone else looks like. You have to find a husband, have kids. That’s just your purpose.

“Even my parents believed that female children were lesser than male children. Navigating that space was really difficult for me growing up, because not only were they like, ‘Oh you have to have kids,’ but they were like, ‘You have to marry a Chinese man.’”

Chen decided to take her time before telling them that she was gay; she’d move away and get a job first.

In the meantime, the hiding was taking its toll: deep down Chen grew full of self-loathing, hating that she couldn’t conform to people’s expectations and suspicious that something was wrong with her.

The first taste of self-acceptance came during college where she met and befriended other lesbians. One summer, she traveled to New York City and experienced her first Pride parade.

“I saw everyone dressed however they wanted to dress; no one felt ashamed of anything,” she said. “I knew right then that I wanted to live my life this way, that I wanted to be as happy as these people.”

A fellow college student encouraged Chen to think about interning at Microsoft and then referred her and helped coach her through the interview process. The same year that Chen decided to come out, she got the internship and headed to Seattle for the summer.

“I was so excited, partly because I knew Seattle was super gay,” she said, laughing. She hoped that meant she could live more out in the open.

“When I came to Microsoft, I felt like I had found my place,” she said. Right away, Chen joined GLEAM, the LGBTQ+ employee resource group at Microsoft that, among other things, provides mentorship to new interns who identify as LGBTQ+.

She interned again the next summer, and now one year later, she works at Microsoft as a software engineer. Although Chen didn’t originally know anyone in Seattle, she quickly made friends through GLEAM and in her neighborhood of Capitol Hill. “Now, almost all my friends are queer, and I see most of them every day.”

“When I came to Microsoft, I felt like I had found my place.”

The same year she started at Microsoft, she decided it was time to come out to her mother. As she dialed the phone, she gave herself a pep talk: “OK, Michelle, now’s the time. You are going to come out.”

Chen’s mom answered with, “I heard you got a septum ring.”

Michelle ChenTaken off guard, Chen said, “What? Who told you that? How do you know these things?”

Her mom responded that she had her sources. “There are people in this town that tell me things.”

Chen was so frustrated that she just blurted out, “Oh, did they tell you I’m gay, too?”

“Wait, what?” her mom said, shocked. It took a minute for the news to sink in.

Chen recalled, laughing, “I mean, it was kind of nice because it took the focus off the septum ring.”

But then her mother said something Chen will never forget: “Oh, no, no, no. You should change. I can’t believe it. This must’ve been something I did wrong.”

Although Chen was not expecting an approving response, “it was still pretty shocking to hear from my own mother,” she said.

It has been a few months since that phone call, and while Chen and her mother maintain contact, she told her mom that she can’t visit her in Seattle until she’s comfortable with her daughter’s sexual orientation.

“It’s not something I can just sweep under the rug anymore,” she said. “I’d rather be happy than hide my true self.”

Chen doesn’t regret waiting to tell her parents, and she hopes to encourage others to take their time.

“I had to get outside of my small town and see that being LGBTQ+ is not a bad thing. It’s not shameful. There’s nothing wrong with dressing the way that you want to dress.

“There’s nothing wrong with who you are.”

Meet more Microsoft employees who are changing hearts and minds and advancing human rights.

See how Microsoft is celebrating Pride 2018 and how you can be an ally.

Learn how Microsoft and its LGBTQ+ employees push for change across borders.

Cisco to merge Viptela, DNA Center for campus networking

ORLANDO, Fla. — Cisco plans to merge its Viptela SD-WAN management software into DNA Center over the next 18 months, providing customers with a single view of their LAN, WAN and campus networks.

During interviews this week at the Cisco Live conference, company executives said the integration would take place after Cisco builds a cloud-based version of DNA Center for campus networking. Companies would then have the option of accessing DNA Center as a service from Cisco or a managed service provider. DNA Center is a centralized software console for managing campus networks built on top of Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 switches.

“At that point, it may make logical sense to bring the two solutions together,” said Scott Harrell, general manager of Cisco’s enterprise networking business.

Waiting for a cloud-based version of DNA Center makes sense, because Viptela’s management application, vManage, is an online service. In a separate interview, Kiran Ghodgaonkar, senior marketing manager for Cisco’s enterprise products, said integrating vManage into DNA Center would occur over the next 12 to 18 months.

Merging the two products will tie the Viptela SD-WAN into other technologies wrapped into DNA Center, such as SD-Access, which lets engineers set access policies that follow employees wherever and however they want to enter the corporate network, Ghodgaonkar said. The SD-Access integration is essential, because Viptela routes traffic to and from business applications running on SaaS and IaaS platforms.

One view of LAN, WAN and campus networking

Overall, merging Viptela technology into DNA Center would simplify network management by treating the LAN, WAN and campus networking as a “single entity,” Ghodgaonkar said. Cisco wants to make SD-WAN management part of a single workflow within DNA Center.

Until then, development of Viptela’s SD-WAN and vManage products would continue “full-bore,” Harrell said. Slowing down the current pace of upgrades would risk falling behind rivals adding security, analytics, load balancing and other features to their software.

“Right now, we want to be able to iterate and make innovations as fast as possible,” Harrell said.

Enhancements planned for Viptela include making the 4000 Series Integrated Services Routers for the branch manageable through vManage, Harrell said. “That’ll be this summer.”

To make that happen, Viptela would run as a software image on ISR, Ghodgaonkar said. Cisco plans to release the image as a software upgrade for the router starting in July.

Cisco customers currently use ISR to run its legacy SD-WAN product, Intelligent WAN. IWAN’s complexity prevented it from becoming a successful product, so many analysts have predicted Cisco would slowly migrate customers to Viptela.

Since acquiring Viptela a year ago, Cisco has increased sales of the company’s SD-WAN product to more than 800 customers globally, according to Ghodgaonkar. He declined to say how many customers Viptela had when Cisco bought the company.

The global market for SD-WAN, which includes revenue from vendors and managed service providers, will grow by nearly 70% annually through 2021, when it could reach $8 billion, according to IDC.

Tableau acquisition of MIT AI startup aims at smarter BI software

Tableau Software has acquired AI startup Empirical Systems in a bid to give users of its self-service BI platform more insight into their data. The Tableau acquisition, announced today, adds an AI-driven engine that’s designed to automate the data modeling process without requiring the involvement of skilled statisticians.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Empirical Systems started as a spinoff from the MIT Probabilistic Computing Project. The startup claims its analytics engine and data platform is able to automatically model data for analysis and then provide interactive and predictive insights into that data.

The technology is still in beta, and Francois Ajenstat, Tableau’s chief product officer, wouldn’t say how many customers are using it as part of the beta program. But he said the current use cases are broad and include companies in retail, manufacturing, healthcare and financial services. That wide applicability is part of the reason why the Tableau acquisition happened, he noted.

Catch-up effort with advanced technology

In some ways, however, the Tableau acquisition is a “catch-up play” on providing automated insight-generation capabilities, said Jen Underwood, founder of Impact Analytix LLC, a product research and consulting firm in Tampa. Some other BI and analytics vendors “already have some of this,” Underwood said, citing Datorama and Tibco as examples.

The Tableau acquisition adds an AI-driven engine that’s designed to automate the data modeling process without requiring the involvement of skilled statisticians.

Empirical’s automated modeling and statistical analysis tools could put Tableau ahead of its rivals, she said, but it’s too soon to tell without having more details on the integration plans. Nonetheless, she said she thinks the technology will be a useful addition for Tableau users.

“People will like it,” she said. “It will make advanced analytics easier for the masses.”

Tableau already has been investing in AI and machine learning technologies internally. In April, the company released its Tableau Prep data preparation software, with embedded fuzzy clustering algorithms that employ AI to help users group data sets together. Before that, Tableau last year released a recommendation engine that shows users recommended data sources for analytics applications. The feature is similar to how Netflix suggests movies and TV shows based on what a user has previously watched, Ajenstat explained.

Integration plans still unclear

Ajenstat wouldn’t comment on when the Tableau acquisition will result in Empirical’s software becoming available in Tableau’s platform, or whether customers will have to pay extra for the technology.

[embedded content]

Empirical CEO Richard Tibbetts on its automated data
modeling technology.

“Whether it’s an add-on or how it’s integrated, it’s too soon to talk about that,” he said.

However, he added that the Empirical engine will likely be “a foundational element” in Tableau, at least partially running behind the scenes, with a goal that “a lot of different things in Tableau will get smarter.”

Unlike some predictive algorithms that require large stores of data to function properly, Empirical’s software works with “data of all sizes, both large and small,” Ajenstat said. When integration does eventually begin to happen, Ajenstat said Tableau hopes to be able to better help users identify trends and outliers in data sets and point them toward factors they could drill into more quickly.

Augmented analytics trending

Tableau’s move around augmented analytics is in line with what Gartner pointed to as a key emerging technology in its 2018 Magic Quadrant report on BI and analytics platforms.

Various vendors are embedding machine learning tools into their software to aid with data preparation and modeling and with insight generation, according to Gartner. The consulting and market research firm said the augmented approach “has the potential to help users find the most important insights more quickly, particularly as data complexity grows.”

Such capabilities have yet to become mainstream product requirements for BI software buyers, Gartner said in the February 2018 report. But they are “a proof point for customers that vendors are innovating at a rapid pace,” it added.

The eight-person team from Empirical Systems will continue to work on the software after the Tableau acquisition. Tableau, which didn’t disclose the purchase price, also plans to create a research and development center in Cambridge.

Senior executive editor Craig Stedman contributed to this story.

Nyansa extends network performance monitor software

ORLANDO, Fla. — Nyansa, a network performance monitor software vendor, has introduced two applications that extend the company’s platform to the WAN and devices connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

The new products, called Voyance WAN and Voyance Client Agent, collect data and send it to the Voyance platform for measuring and analyzing network performance in data centers and wireless networks. Like other network performance monitors (NPM), Voyance checks for network problems and provides intelligence to help determine their causes.

Nyansa launched the products this week at the Cisco Live conference. The WAN application monitors traffic headed outside the corporate network to ensure employees are not spending a lot of time on nonessential online applications, such as YouTube or Facebook.

Because companies lease a finite amount of bandwidth from carriers, traffic to consumer sites can affect the performance of links to cloud-based collaboration and meeting applications or critical business software, such as Oracle, Salesforce or Workday.

Combing through data to find anomalies

Voyance WAN collects traffic data from routers through the NetFlow and cFlow protocols embedded in the devices. Nyansa plans to add support for the jFlow and sFlow protocols, but has not said when it will do so.

The Voyance platform analyzes the utilization of WAN links and correlates it with the performance of applications and network services. As a result, the platform can identify degradation in WAN performance. The software can also identify the problem site or WAN interface and provide the percentage of bandwidth usage at peak times.

The Voyance Client Agent is installed on corporate mobile devices accessing the company’s Wi-Fi. Data collected from the devices is fed into Voyance for analysis and correlation with other network metrics. The agent supports Apple macOS and iOS. Eventually, Nyansa plans to add support for Windows and Android.

In general, the Voyance NPM is based on a combination of deep packet inspections and cloud-based analytics. The network performance monitor software tracks all transactions and sends the data to AWS servers for analysis. The resulting intelligence is then transmitted to the user’s location, which network engineers can review through an easy-to-understand graphical user display.

Last November, the company added a remediation engine that spotlights problems with infrastructure devices and recommends configuration changes to correct it. The network performance monitor software also calculates the benefits of the corrective action.

In other news from Cisco Live, A10 Networks, an application delivery controller vendor, said it has added ingress filtering for Kubernetes containers. Enterprises and internet service providers use ingress filtering technology to block suspicious traffic from entering a network. The application examines all inbound packets and then permits or denies entry based on information in the packet header.

Finally, NetBrain Technologies announced the general availability of version 7.1. The latest iteration of the software provides integration with Cisco’s software-based networking technology for the data center, called Application Centric Infrastructure.

NetBrain software helps engineers manage network documentation and understand network design. Its products also assist in documenting and sharing network knowledge.

LiveAction buys Savvius to combine packet monitoring and NPM

LiveAction has acquired Savvius and plans to combine its packet monitoring software with LiveAction’s technology for measuring network performance.

LiveAction announced the acquisition this week, but it did not release financial terms. The vendor said it would use Savvius’ products to broaden LiveAction’s offerings for enterprise networks.

“LiveAction and Savvius will deliver a powerful set of capabilities in a single platform that will simplify our customers’ ability to manage their networks, while preparing for the ever-greater demands of software-defined infrastructure,” Brooks Borcherding, CEO at LiveAction, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a statement.

Buying Savvius will make it possible for LiveAction to combine two types of products many network operators typically buy from separate vendors, said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, based in Boulder, Colo. Engineers often use a network performance monitor to spot problems and then switch to a packet monitoring product to perform in-depth analyses to pinpoint causes.

“A combined solution can deliver a lot of value,” McGillicuddy said. “Having flow and packet monitoring side by side in one console will be very valuable to LiveAction users.”

The majority of network managers use more than four separate tools to monitor and troubleshoot networks, McGillicuddy said. “This means that they spend a lot of time going from one tool to the next, trying to piece together answers.”

Flow monitoring — the core feature in LiveAction — refers to tools that tap into the NetFlow data collection component built into routers and switches from Cisco and other manufacturers. The software uses the data to determine packet loss and delay and round-trip time, while also showing network administrators how well the network is delivering applications and services.

LiveAction is known for premium pricing

LiveAction analyzes NetFlow records and also sells a module called LiveSensor, which provides packet analysis and performance metrics for network components without the data collection feature. In July, LiveAction launched machine-learning-driven analytics and expanded its device support to 107 networking vendors.

The company’s annual revenue from its network performance monitoring products is between $11 million and $25 million, Gartner reported in its February Magic Quadrant report on the NPM market. The report pointed out that LiveAction mostly focuses on Cisco infrastructure and “is frequently cited by end users as offering a premium-priced solution.”

Formerly called WildPackets, Savvius, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., had embarked on a channel turnaround after being primarily a direct seller for more than 25 years. The vendor had set a goal of generating up to 95% of its revenue from channel partners by the end of the third quarter of 2018. LiveAction sales are mostly through channel partners.

Companies use Savvius packet monitoring for more than break-fix scenarios, according to the company. Its technology is also used to bolster security investigations. As a result, the company has linked its products to security offerings from Cisco, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks.

Apple iOS 12 USB Restricted Mode to foil thieves, law enforcement

A security feature that had popped up in beta versions of Apple’s iOS software appears to be coming in earnest as part of iOS 12, and it will protect devices against anyone trying to unlock them via USB.

USB Restricted Mode is described in the iOS 12 settings as the option to enable or deny the ability to “unlock [an] iPhone to allow USB accessories to connect when it has been more than an hour since your iPhone was locked.” In practice, this means a device will require a passcode unlock in order to connect any Lightning-to-USB accessory after the one-hour time limit has passed.

Apple didn’t mention USB Restricted Mode during the keynote at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, but developers saw it in the iOS 12 preview, which was released that same day. The setting is on by default and covers any type of security on an iOS device — Touch ID, Face ID and passcode.

Experts noted USB Restricted Mode will protect users’ data if a device is stolen, but it will also deny law enforcement from using unlocking services from companies like GrayKey and Cellebrite — the latter of which was rumored to have helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino, Calif., shooter’s iPhone.

Earlier tests of USB Restricted Mode had allowed for a one-week time limit, spurring GrayKey to reportedly alert customers of this feature when it surfaced in the iOS 11.3 beta, according to internal email messages obtained by Motherboard. A one-hour time limit could effectively make it impossible for customers to get the device to a company like GrayKey in time to gain brute-force access.

Rusty Carter, vice president of product management at Arxan, based in San Francisco, said USB Restricted Mode “is really about increasing the security of the device.”

If the device is vulnerable to brute-force attacks via wired connection, other security features, like being able to wipe the device after 10 unsuccessful authentication attempts, are rendered useless.
Rusty Cartervice president of product management at Arxan

“If the device is vulnerable to brute-force attacks via wired connection, other security features, like being able to wipe the device after 10 unsuccessful authentication attempts, are rendered useless … they are effectively a false sense of security,” Carter wrote via email. “Effectively, any data is vulnerable, unless the individual app developer has done the right thing both to secure and encrypt user data and require more than stored credentials or identity to access the data with their app, which is rarely the case today.”

John Callahan, CTO of Veridium, based in Quincy, Mass., said, as a developer, his initial reaction to USB Restricted Mode was, “Great, now I’ll have to unlock the phone every time I go to debug a mobile app with Xcode.” But he later realized it could have protected a lot of stolen devices if it had been implemented in an earlier version of iOS.

“USB Restricted Mode in iOS 12 a big win for users, because we are keeping more personally identifiable information on our mobile devices, including healthcare, identification and biometric data. Our phones have become our digital wallets, and we expect a maximum level of privacy and convenience,” Callahan wrote via email. “Android devices, ironically seen as less secure, have long required unlocking when connected in USB Debug mode. In many ways, Apple is playing catch-up with respect to physical device security.”

Box workflow gets upgrade with Progressly purchase

Box last week acquired workflow software company Progressly for an undisclosed amount, with the hopes of upgrading its own core workflow and automation to better suit its customers.

The acquisition of Progressly is an interesting one for document management company Box, as it just last year released Relay, a product it developed in partnership with IBM that is also meant to help companies with workflow management. The idea behind the Progressly purchase, according to analysts, is to beef up the Box workflow capabilities.

“While Box and IBM have been talking about Relay for years, I have not seen much traction of it in the industry,” said Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. “I think it will be good for Box to expand the capabilities of their own native workflow engine, increasing the number of triggers and actions that can occur both inside Box, as well as becoming an engine for processes within other tools.”

The importance of workflow automation for companies can’t be understated. Between onboarding, contract management and other business necessities, a company can save a lot of time and money with a capable automation process.

While the Box workflow capabilities were there, they were described as “rudimentary” by Holly Muscolino, a research vice president at IDC.

“The way [Box] is positioning it is that the software from Progressly, or at least the team at Progressly, will develop software that will go into the core Box product,” Muscolino said. “They have a rudimentary workflow in Box, but this will enhance that.”

Box also has partnerships established with other business process companies, like Nintex and Pega.  Muscolino said she sees this acquisition as potentially adding triggers to get partner processes automated within Box.

And improving the Box workflow capabilities is not expected to lead to a new product, according to Lepofsky, but rather enhance the existing features within Box.

Native workflow inside Box should be considered more of a feature and not an additional monetary channel.
Alan Lepofskyprincipal analyst, Constellation Research Inc.

“Native workflow inside Box should be considered more of a feature and not an additional monetary channel,” Lepofsky said.

Lepofsky added that customers can find more automation capabilities within competitors, like Microsoft OneDrive and Flow. And by beefing up the workflow with the Box acquisition of Progressly, the company is trying to better challenge the other players in the market.

“I think the driving factor was customer need,” Lepofsky said. “The opportunity to help automate content-centric workflows is a big step in helping people get their jobs done.”

While improving the Box workflow features seemed to be the main reason for the Progressly purchase, Box’s chief product officer, Jeetu Patel, also made it clear that the small team of 12 at Progressly was a factor in the acquisition, calling the team in a blog post a “group of highly talented individuals that have created a world-class product with a vision that is directly aligned with the team here at Box.”

Patel added that the Progressly team will “allow us to play a bigger role in how Box customers digitize and automate business processes.”

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Catalogic Software teams up with Storware data protection

Catalogic Software is living on the edge.

The data protection vendor, based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., said today it has taken an equity stake in Storware, a European data protection company, and formed an exclusive distribution agreement to sell Storware’s products in North America. The partnership also means the two companies will work together on developing technology.

The distribution agreement covers two major Storware products: Kodo and vProtect.

The vProtect offering is an enterprise backup product that covers the edge hypervisor market, said Sathya Sankaran, vice president of business development and field CTO at Catalogic. That coverage includes Citrix XenServer, Xen, Red Hat Virtualization, Nutanix Acropolis and KVM, but not the top two hypervisors, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.

While there is a lot of support for Hyper-V and vSphere, the edge hypervisor market is largely untapped, Sankaran said, and vProtect is especially geared toward enterprises with what he called emerging workloads.

“We felt the technology has huge potential,” he said.

Organizations can deploy vProtect as a stand-alone product or use it as a backup staging platform, feeding backup data into IBM Spectrum Protect, Veritas NetBackup, Dell EMC NetWorker or Catalogic’s new vStor backup repository, which can be found in the latest update to its DPX data protection software.

“It plays nice with what you have on premise,” Sankaran said.

Kodo is a data protection software suite for desktops and laptops, mobile devices and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms Office 365 and Box.

Sankaran said he hopes to see an increase in the number of supported SaaS providers to include the likes of Salesforce, G Suite and Dropbox.

Catalogic Software, which has close to 1,000 customers, has become known for its copy data management, found in its ECX product.

Sankaran said Storware has been on Catalogic’s radar since late last year and culturally “fit us like a glove.”

The two companies can play off each other’s strengths, said Catalogic Software CEO Ken Barth.

“As we look at this evolving market of data protection, it looks more like data management to us,” Barth said. “The broader the coverage we felt was very important.”

Docker and OpenStack are also primary targets on Catalogic’s roadmap.

While Catalogic did not provide details on its equity in Storware, Sankaran said it is a substantial minority stake.

Kodo and vProtect are both available now from Catalogic Software.

‘Common DNA’ between Catalogic, Storware

There is very little overlap here, and some great synergies.
Paweł MaczkaCTO, Storware

The alliance with Catalogic Software is part of Storware’s strategy to improve its standing in the North American market, said Paweł Maczka, CTO of Storware, which is based in Warsaw, Poland. With the deal, Catalogic essentially becomes Storware’s North American arm. Catalogic can also sell Storware products in Europe — just not in an exclusive manner.

“What’s more, we do believe that there is common DNA between the two organizations,” Maczka wrote in an email. “Both are experienced vendors with the same approach to the market, specializing in enterprise backup and recovery. The alliance with Catalogic will help spread awareness of Storware technology, and in the end, the knowledge exchange between the two organizations will strengthen both teams.”

Maczka said Storware has expertise in hypervisors, mobile platforms and endpoints, while Catalogic Software has proficiency in enterprise storage, high-end database applications and handling a large volume of metadata in a searchable catalog.

“There is very little overlap here, and some great synergies,” Maczka wrote. “We’ve had many joint whiteboard sessions where we’ve been planning out ways to combine these joint strengths into new solutions.”

The two companies have integrated vProtect with Catalogic vStor. In addition to expanding into more SaaS offerings, the companies plan to explore other “underserved” markets, such as containers and next-generation databases, Maczka said.

“Providing effective protection and recovery in these areas is a growing concern for many organizations,” Maczka wrote. “Catalogic and Storware are perfectly placed to address these challenges.”

Microsoft + GitHub = Empowering Developers – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, we announced an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform. I want to share what this acquisition will mean for our industry and for developers.

The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology.

Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.

As every industry – from precision medicine to precision agriculture, from personalized education to personalized banking – is being impacted by technology, the developer community will only grow in numbers and importance. Developer workflows will drive and influence business processes and functions across the organization – from marketing, sales and service, to IT and HR. And value creation and growth across every industry will increasingly be determined by the choices developers make.

In short, developers will be at the center of solving the world’s most pressing challenges. However, the real power comes when every developer can create together, collaborate, share code and build on each other’s work. In all walks of life, we see the power of communities, and this is true for software development and developers.

That is why we are so excited about today’s announcement. More than 28 million developers already collaborate on GitHub, and it is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by people in nearly every country. From the largest corporations to the smallest startups, GitHub is the destination for developers to learn, share and work together to create software. It’s a destination for Microsoft too. We are the most active organization on GitHub, with more than 2 million “commits,” or updates, made to projects.

Microsoft has been a developer-focused company from the very first product we created to the platforms and tools we offer today. Building technology so that others can build technology is core to our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Chris Wanstrath (left), Github CEO and co-founder; Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Amy Hood, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer.

Microsoft is also committed to empowering communities, from the world’s professionals to IT professionals to gamers. We believe in the power of communities to achieve much more than what their members can do on their own. It’s our ability to work together that helps our dreams become reality, and we are dedicated to cultivating and growing communities to do just that.

And Microsoft is all-in on open source. We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem, we contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source. When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today, and in the future.

Given all of this, together with GitHub, we see three clear opportunities ahead.

First, we will empower developers at every stage of the development lifecycle – from ideation to collaboration to deployment to the cloud. Going forward, GitHub will remain an open platform, which any developer can plug into and extend. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects – and will still be able to deploy their code on any cloud and any device.

Second, we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels and access to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure and services.

Finally, we will bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

Most importantly, we recognize the responsibility we take on with this agreement. We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community, which will retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently and remain an open platform. We will always listen to developer feedback and invest in both fundamentals and new capabilities.

Once the acquisition closes later this year, GitHub will be led by CEO Nat Friedman, an open source veteran and founder of Xamarin, who will continue to report to Microsoft Cloud + AI Group Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie; GitHub CEO and Co-Founder Chris Wanstrath will be a technical fellow at Microsoft, also reporting to Scott. You can see how Chris, Nat and I envision the opportunity ahead in this public presentation.

Together we will continue to advance GitHub as a platform loved by developers and trusted by organizations.

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Developers set to build AI for Accessibility apps

Software developers have responded favorably to Microsoft’s push for responsible computing and the ethical use of artificial intelligence technology.

The AI for Accessibility program is a $25 million, five-year effort to promote the development of AI applications for more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide. It consists of grants and investments for developers who create innovative AI apps for the disabled to run on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

“Just like with good user experience and UI, we need good AI,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his keynote speech at the recent Microsoft Build conference. “We need to make this a first-class engineering discipline where the choices that we make can be good choices for our future.”

AI apps to improve lives

Microsoft hopes the AI for Accessibility program will generate applications that use AI to help blind, deaf or autistic people better communicate. At Build, Microsoft demonstrated how a deaf employee could better participate in meetings with the real-time transcription capabilities enabled by the company’s AI services. Other Microsoft technologies that could help developers build accessibility apps include the Microsoft Bot Framework, Microsoft Conversational AI tools, cognitive services in Azure Search and prebuilt models for speech, text and computer vision.

Rocky Lhotka, MagenicRocky Lhotka

Magenic, a software development shop in St. Louis Park, Minn., wants to build apps with AI to improve the lives of users, and includes those with disabilities, said Rockford “Rocky” Lhotka, Magenic’s CTO.

“Sometimes [our] software is fairly run-of-the-mill business software. Sometimes it is part of a solution that has direct impact on making people’s lives better in big or small ways,” he said. “When you get to work on a project that makes people’s lives better, that’s amazingly rewarding.”

Lhotka has a personal interest in this initiative. Two years ago he underwent a surgical procedure with what doctors told him was a 15% chance he’d be partially paralyzed. Fortunately, that did not happen, but it got him to think about how technology and software can be an equalizer in life.

“Something like partial paralysis often ends people’s lives as they know them,” he said. “With technology, though, there’s the very real possibility of people with severe medical conditions living life at a level they never could without those technologies.”

I want InterKnowlogy to stop building software for the company that is killing the world with cheeseburgers and start building more software that helps humanity … but I have to keep the lights on with ‘normal’ work.
Tim Huckabyfounder and chairman, InterKnowlogy

By providing seed grants to many people, the Microsoft program creates opportunities for new projects, devices and services that might not have otherwise been created.

“These technologies can be transformed to help solve general accessibility, transportation, communication problems and more,” said Kathleen Walch, an analyst at Cognilytica in Ellicott City, Md. She cited the impact of smart assistants to help those with hearing impairments communicate, and self-driving cars that one day will help transport the visually impaired.

New tools, support and therapies, such as a virtual assistant nurse, will help people with mental health conditions, and help doctors better diagnose and treat those patients.

InterKnowlogy, a software company in Carlsbad, Calif., also plans to develop AI apps for accessibility. In fact, AI for Accessibility just ought to be a $250 million program, said Tim Huckaby, founder and chairman of the company.

“I’d be willing to pivot the InterKnowlogy business to this if I could keep the lights on doing it,” Huckaby said. “I want InterKnowlogy to stop building software for the company that is killing the world with cheeseburgers and start building more software that helps humanity. We have done ‘projects of ethics’ for years. But, I have to keep the lights on with ‘normal’ work.”

Is AI ready for accessibility?

However, observers question whether the technology is mature enough to affect real change or whether it can only offer incremental help.

“So much of the AI-driven technology that Satya highlighted is going to radically transform the lives of so many people,” said Theresa Lanowitz, an analyst at Voke in Minden, Nev. “However, it will take a decade or more to create the technology, prove it beyond demos, and vet and test it across multiple regulatory agencies.”

When we see critical mass of use and the price drops, it will be earth-shattering, she said. “Until then, we just have to wait.”