Tag Archives: speed

Why it’s time to rethink the DevOps vs. ITIL debate

Historically, ITIL and DevOps have made poor bedfellows. DevOps is about speed and enablement, while ITIL, at least traditionally, is a far more proscriptive framework that places considerable delays into a DevOps workflow.

This isn’t to say that DevOps is perfect; many organizations have found — to their cost — that an open DevOps approach has led to major issues, such as relatively uncontrolled code making its way from development to production.

However, DevOps has matured — as has the ITIL IT service management framework. And while the two technologies are not yet a perfect match, it’s time to stop thinking in terms of DevOps vs. ITIL, and instead consider DevOps and ITIL.

Where DevOps and ITIL intersect

DevOps shops must have the right checks and balances in place. They must codify processes that enable audits; feed errors back to developers for a fix; and create a feedback loop from end users to development and operations teams.

The latest version of the ITIL framework — ITIL 4 — is value-focused, which provides a solid foundation for these processes. And as DevOps continues to evolve, ITIL practices could help IT teams create idempotent environments.

Idempotency is the means by which an entity — such as an end user, developer, IT operations professional, or even an AI or machine learning engine — defines the desired outcome of any given change. Underlying tools then use scripts to create and provision packages into an operational environment that will achieve that desired outcome. This approach requires continuous monitoring and feedback loops to ensure that the outcome is not only achieved, but is maintained as the platform changes as well.

ITIL 4 embraces these concepts. The framework’s service value chain promotes an interconnected set of activities that deal with service creation, delivery and continuous improvement. It’s complementary to the continuous development and continuous delivery practices in DevOps. Yet, there is a key difference between DevOps vs. ITIL here: The former emphasizes the under-the-hood, technical ways to perform these tasks, through the use of development tools and hard processes, while the latter focuses more on ensuring tasks occur in a controlled and auditable manner.

ITIL’s service value system overlies its service value chain. This broad system embodies how an organization works from opportunity or end-user demand to value delivery.

ITIL service value system

DevOps vs. ITIL for the business

At the time of publication, ITIL’s service value system far outstrips the current state of DevOps — specifically, the state of BizDevOps. In this DevOps model, business drivers shape how developers work, with the goal of meeting the needs of users who directly affect the organization’s bottom line. There has been some progress around BizDevOps, but not enough to make it a reality across enterprise IT shops. ITIL’s service value system could provide a layer on top of existing DevOps environments to enable this much-needed capability.

The majority of open source DevOps tools address the down-and-dirty technology needs of developers and operations staff, although some commercial systems also try to target the business. But these systems, to date, have been met with limited success, in part because IT departments, not the business, largely procure DevOps tools. In addition, IT teams still suffer from the perception of being somewhat removed from the rest of the organization, and so are loath to roll out and support the business front end of such tools.

ITIL, on the other hand, is nominally a business process tool — particularly under ITIL 4. It is incumbent on Axelos, the organization behind the ITIL framework, to make an effort to push ITIL to the business, as a means to provide the necessary controls over the end-to-end value chain across an organization.

It will be interesting to see if tool vendors and open source developers start to focus less on comparisons of DevOps vs. ITIL, and instead view the latter as a non-competitive framework that creates a standardized platform on which they can work. If DevOps teams and vendors can fold ITIL concepts and practices into their environments, everyone could win.

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BP Logix BPM tool packs AI features in latest release

Low-code BPM development tools today already help developers simplify and speed up business process application development. The next step is to make those apps smarter.

To that end, BP Logix, a business process management (BPM) company in Vista, Calif., recently introduced version 5.0 of its Process Director that adds AI features to enable predictive analysis, enhanced UIs and journals for configurable collaboration.

Rather than present complex AI features, Process Director 5.0 offers a set of basic machine learning tools that the average app developer can use, such as a point-and-click graphical interfaces that guide configuration processes and display results of analytics, with no coding required.

Embedding intelligence into business applications requires specialized knowledge and teams of data scientists, said Charles Araujo, principal analyst for Intellyx, a consulting firm in Glens Falls, N.Y. Process Director 5.0’s blend of AI and low-code features brings predictive application processes to nontechnical users.

“The value Process Director 5.0 delivers is less about features, per se, and more about accessibility,” Araujo said.

AI inside

The AI tools inside Process Director 5.0 enable machine learning, sentiment analysis, capture and expression of dissimilar events and conditions in a single state and configurable collaboration. The company also added UI features for iterative list search, calendar views, and inline HTML and text editing.

“AI and machine learning create prediction models that have been missing from BPM,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, research director for MWD Advisors, a U.K.-based IT consulting firm. With AI, the application learns from past history, identifies trends and makes recommendations for decisions.

As an example, Ward-Dutton pointed to how AI capabilities can help with a loan request by identifying factors that make the applicant and the loan’s purpose a low or high risk. Combined data mining and machine learning tools aggregate information about previous loan applications and current market conditions to help the loan officer make a decision.

AI and machine learning create prediction models that have been missing from BPM platforms.
Neil Ward-Duttonresearch director, MWD Advisors

Araujo said he sees businesses with reliable data on actions and outcomes adopt AI-enabled, predictive-type applications quickly and with good results. Developers can use that legacy data to build models that predict behavior of application users who meet certain criteria and perform specific actions. With these functions, the tool recommends a best action and prioritizes options that are presented to the user, so the application feels more intuitive or takes actions automatically.

Applying AI for nontechnical users, even with accessible tools, requires a change in traditional BPM project approaches. Araujo said project teams will have to think like a data scientist.

“Applying intelligence to applications requires imagination,” he said. “Developers need to think about application usage patterns and imagine ways to use predictive capabilities to meet users’ needs.”

“That’s not the way we’ve historically approached applications, particularly business-process-based ones,” Araujo added.

Process Director 5.0 is generally available, with versions for both cloud and on premises. In addition to AI and low-code/no-code development tools, the platform includes traditional BPM capabilities for compliance automation, process modeling, multifactor authentication and other standard BPM features.

How to Monitor Hyper-V Performance with PowerShell

Virtual machines can quickly lose speed and efficiency unless managed properly. Using PowerShell, you can monitor Hyper-V performance so you can keep on top of your performance levels and ensure your Hyper-V VMs are running optimally at all times.

In my last article, I demonstrated how to work with performance counters but from a WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) perspective, using the corresponding Win32 classes with Get-CimInstance. Today I want to circle back to using Get-Counter to retrieve performance counter information but as part of a toolmaking process. I expect that when you are looking at performance counters, you do so on a very granular level. That is, you are only interested in data from a specific counter. I am too. In fact, I want to develop some tooling around a performance counter so that I can quickly get the information I need.

Getting Started

I’m using Hyper-V running on my Windows 10 desktop, but there’s no reason you can’t substitute your own Hyper-V host.

You should be able to test my code by setting your own value for $Computer.

Hyper-V Performance Counters

Of all the Hyper-V performance counters, the one that interests me is part of the Hyper-V Dynamic Memory VM set.

Dynamic Memory Counters

I am especially interested in the pressure related counters. This should give me an indication if the virtual machine is running low on memory. You sometimes see this in the Hyper-V management console when you look at the memory tab for a given virtual machine. Sometimes you’ll see a Low status. I want to be able to monitor these pressure levels from PowerShell.

After a little research, I found the corresponding WMI class.

Memory Counters via WMI and CIM

As you can see SRV2 is running a bit high. One of the benefits of using a WMI class instead of Get-Counter is that I can create a filter.

High Memory Pressure VM

Building Tools With What We’ve Done So Far

One tool I could create would be to turn this one line command into a function, perhaps adding the Hyper-V host as a parameter. I could set the function to run in a PowerShell scheduled job.

Another option would be to register a WMI event subscription. This is an advanced topic that we don’t have room to cover in great detail. But here is some sample code.

The code is checking every 30 seconds (within 30) for instances of the performance counter where the current pressure value is greater or equal to 80. I am registering the event subscription on my computer.  As long as my PowerShell session is open, any time a VM goes above 80 for Current Pressure, information is logged to a CSV file.

When using an Action scriptblock, you won’t see when the event is raised with Get-Event. The only way I can tell is by looking at the CSV file.

image

To manually stop watching, simply unregister the event.

Using this kind of event subscription has a number of other applications when it comes to managing Hyper-V. I expect I’ll revisit this topic again.

But there’s one more technique I want to share before we wrap up for today.

Usually, I am a big believer in taking advantage of PowerShell objects in the pipeline. Using Write-Host is generally frowned upon. But there are always exceptions and here is one of them.  I want a quick way to tell if a virtual machine is under pressure. Color coding will certainly catch my eye.  Instead of writing objects to the pipeline, I’ll write a string of information to the console. But I will color code it depending on the value of CurrentPressure. You will likely want to set your own thresholds. I wanted settings so that I’d have something good to display.

It wouldn’t take much to turn this into a function and create a reusable tool.

Colorized Performance Counters

I have at least one other performance monitoring tool technique I want to share with you but I think I’ve given you plenty to try out for today so I’ll cover that in my next article.

Wrap-Up

Have you built any custom tools for your Hyper-V environment? Do you find these types of tools helpful? Would you like us to do more? Let us know in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading!

Plattner: ‘Speed is the essence’ for SAP HANA Data Management Suite

The intelligent enterprise must be built on speed — speed like you get from the in-memory processing of the HANA database, which is also the foundation of the SAP HANA Data Management Suite, SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner said in his keynote address at  Sapphire Now.

The vendor announced SAP HANA Data Management Suite at its annual user conference, which was held this month in Orlando, Fla. It’s an amalgam of SAP applications intended to allow companies to get a better grip on the various data sources flowing through the organization and extract business value, according to the company.

SAP HANA Data Management Suite consists of the SAP HANA database; SAP Data Hub, a data governance and orchestration platform; SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services, a large-scale data processing platform based on Hadoop and Spark; and SAP Enterprise Architecture Designer, a collaborative cloud application that can let anyone in an organization participate in planning, designing and governing data analytics applications.

“When we talk about human intelligence, it’s directly correlated to speed. Every intelligence test in the world is based on how fast you can solve certain [tests]. Speed is the essence. And the faster you can do something, the faster you can simulate, the higher the probability that you reach a decent result,” Plattner said. “There are data pipelines, governance and workflows from one HANA system, and we can access all other HANA systems and even non-HANA systems. This is very important when we think about Leonardo projects we build outside the system, but can access any kind of data objects or services inside the system.”

Plattner outlined five innovations that are key to SAP HANA Data Management Suite:

  • data pipelines that allow access to data at its origin, which improves security and reduces management;
  • text and search, including natural language processing of unstructured data from sources like Hadoop;
  • spatial and graph functions that can combine business data with geographic and streaming data to enable much faster geo-enabled applications;
  • data anonymization that can be done on the fly, allowing for applications that can be in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation in near-real time; and
  • persistent memory, which keeps data in nonvolatile storage that can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to reload data in the event of an outage.

“Our objective is not only that we connect everything with everything else, but that we can develop enhancements to products without touching the products. We have to reduce the maintenance efforts,” he said.

Not new, but bundle may help

Our objective is not only that we connect everything with everything else, but that we can develop enhancements to products without touching the products. We have to reduce the maintenance efforts.
Hasso Plattnerco-founder and chairman of the supervisory board at SAP

SAP HANA Data Management Suite is not really new, but the bundle may help SAP to market data management applications, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“It’s a combination of stuff they’ve already announced. So, it’s nothing new, but it’s really the glue to keep the new SAP together. They also want to simplify things; [Plattner] always thinks there are too many products and confusion with names and so on. So, why not put them together?” Mueller said. “In the field, they’re probably going to sell more Data Management Suite and Data Hub now that it’s bundled with HANA. They can throw it in together, so it really is just packaging. It’s a new product, so there’s only a few customers out there. But from what I see, there are some early projects, and it’s going.”

Embedding analytics into S/4HANA Cloud

Analytics is a major focus area for SAP, and the company announced it will begin to embed SAP Analytics Cloud functions directly in S/4HANA Cloud, the SaaS version of its newest ERP platform, allowing organizations to plan and run analytics in one system. SAP Analytics Cloud provides analytics for business intelligence — including SAP BusinessObjects, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) and SAP Business Warehouse (BW) capabilities in one cloud-based platform, said Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of SAP Analytics and SAP Leonardo. The analytics functions are not just available in the data layer of an application.

“We’re not just providing access to data that sits on premises; we’re also supporting things like doing planning in Analytics Cloud that allows you to write that to BPC. So, you can continue to do all of your systems of record in BPC, but access the information and do the planning in Analytics Cloud, which has advanced features and a more modern interface,” Flannagan said. “Just having access to the data is one thing, but our customers haven’t invested in BusinessObjects only because of the data that’s there. It’s also the semantic layer where they’ve made a significant investment — years of investment. So, being able to take advantage of that investment while using cloud functionality is really important.”

SAP faces a crowded competitive landscape on the analytics front, but the expansion of the SAP Analytics Cloud portfolio may help differentiate it, said Doug Henschen, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“SAP Analytics Cloud is roughly 3 years old, but it was fairly late to the market — such that many large customers had already taken other paths to self-service analytics like Tableau, Microsoft PowerBI and Qlik, or to cloud-based planning with Anaplan, Adaptive Planning or Host Analytics. And there’s plenty of competition on the predictive analytics front, as well,” Henschen said.

“Standardization on SAC [SAP Analytics Cloud] across the SAP portfolio is a good move on SAP’s part that could help sway customers to give it a second look,” Henschen continued. “But I think SAP has to continue to deepen the capabilities on the self-service analytics, planning and predictive fronts to stand up against best-of-breed competitors in each of these niches.”

How to build a Packer image for Azure

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Bring yourself up to speed with our introductory content.

Packer is an open source tool that automates the Windows Server image building process to give administrators a consistent approach to create new VMs.


For admins who prefer to roll their own Windows Server image, despite the best of intentions, issues can arise…

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from these handcrafted builds.

To maintain some consistency — and avoid unnecessary help desk tickets — image management tools such as Packer can help construct golden images tailored for different needs. The Packer image tool automates the building process and helps admins manage Windows Server images. Packer offers a way to script the image construction process to produce builds through automation for multiple platforms at the same time. Admins can use code repositories to store validated Packer image configurations that admins across different locations can share to ensure stability across builds.

Build a Packer image for Azure

To demonstrate how Packer works, we’ll use it to build a Windows Server image. To start, download and install Packer for the operating system of choice. Packer offers an installation guide on its website.

Next, we need to figure out where to create the image. A Packer feature called builders creates images for various services, such as Azure, AWS, Docker, VMware and more. This tutorial will explain how to build a Windows Server image to run in Azure.

To construct an image for Azure, we have to meet a few prerequisites. You need:

  • a service principal for Packer to authenticate to Azure;
  • a storage account to hold the image;
  • the resource group name for the storage account;
  • the Azure subscription ID;
  • the tenant ID for your Azure Active Directory; and
  • a storage container to place the VHD image.

Validate the Windows Server build instructions

A Packer feature called builders creates images for various services, such as Azure, AWS, Docker, VMware and more.

Next, it’s time to set up the image template. Every Packer image requires a JSON file called a template that tells Packer how to build the image and where to put it. An example of a template that builds an Azure image is in the code below. Save it with the filename WindowsServer.Azure.json.

{
  “variables”: {
      “client_id”: “”,
      “client_secret”: “”,
      “object_id”: “”
  },
  “builders”: [{
    “type”: “azure-arm”,

    “client_id”: “{{user `client_id`}}”,
    “object_id”: “{{user `object_id`}}”,
    “client_secret”: “{{user `client_secret`}}”,
    “resource_group_name”: “labtesting”,
    “storage_account”: “adblabtesting”,
    “subscription_id”: “d660a51f-031d-4b8f-827d-3f811feda5fc”,
    “tenant_id”: “bb504844-07db-4019-b1c4-7243dfc97121”,

    “capture_container_name”: “vhds”,
    “capture_name_prefix”: “packer”,

    “os_type”: “Windows”,
    “image_publisher”: “MicrosoftWindowsServer”,
    “image_offer”: “WindowsServer”,
    “image_sku”: “2016-Datacenter”,
    “location”: “East US”,
    “vm_size”: “Standard_D2S_v3”
  }]
}

You should validate the schema before you start with the packer validate command. We don’t want sensitive information in the template, so we create the client_id and client_secret variables and pass those at runtime.

packer validate -var ‘client_id=value’ -var ‘client_secret=value’ WindowsServer.Azure.json

How to correct Packer build issues

After the command confirms the template is good, we build the image with nearly the same syntax as the validation command. For the purposes of this article, we will use placeholders for the client_id, client_secret and object_id references.

> packer build -var ‘client_id=XXXX’ -var ‘client_secret=XXXX’ -var ‘object_id=XXXX’ WindowsServer.Azure.json

When you run the build the first time, you may run into a few errors if the setup is not complete. Here are the errors that came up when I ran my build:

    • “Build ‘azure-arm’ errored: The storage account is located in eastus, but the build will take place in West US. The locations must be identical”
    • Build ‘azure-arm’ errored: storage.AccountsClient#ListKeys: Failure responding to request: StatusCode=404 – Original Error: autorest/azure: Service returned an error. Status=404 Code=”ResourceGroupNotFound” Message=”Resource group ‘adblabtesting’ could not be found.”

[embedded content]

Using Packer to build an image from another VM.

  • “==> azure-arm: ERROR: -> VMSizeDoesntSupportPremiumStorage : Requested operation cannot be performed because storage account type ‘Premium_LRS’ is not supported for VM size ‘Standard_A2’.”

The error messages are straightforward and not difficult to fix.

However, the following error message is more serious:

==> azure-arm: ERROR: -> Forbidden : Access denied
==> azure-arm:
==> azure-arm:  …failed to get certificate URL, retry(0)

This indicates the use of the wrong object_id. Find the correct one in the Azure subscription role.

After adding the right object_id, you will find a VHD image in Azure.

Dig Deeper on Windows Server deployment

Marc Jacobs fuels creativity and innovative design with the Microsoft Cloud

Microsoft and partner Medius help renowned fashion house innovate at the speed of fashion by modernizing key aspect of supply chain

NEW YORK and REDMOND, Wash. — April 25, 2018 — Marc Jacobs International, a global fashion house with hundreds of doors across 80 countries, has partnered with Microsoft Corp. and Medius to ensure it can continue to deliver on the avant-garde and fine-arts-driven brand its customers have come to expect with each collection. Achieving this requires more than harnessing the talents of some of the most creative and forward-thinking designers in the industry; the company realized that to let creativity flow freely, it had to streamline and automate a key part of its supply chain.

In the fashion industry, inspiration strikes quickly, and innovation happens every few months in the form of the newest collection, making supply-chain management a complex task. The success of each collection depends on Marc Jacobs’ ability to quickly engage with these suppliers, receive the materials needed, and get products from the runway to the rack in as little time as possible. Further complicating the process, designers and creatives are working months in advance to anticipate trends for next season even before this season’s collection is available.

This model of engaging many suppliers for each collection creates a high volume of invoices. To solve this challenge, Marc Jacobs automated its accounts payable (AP) workflow by leveraging a hybrid cloud approach. The company uses MediusFlow, a Microsoft Azure-based AP invoice automation solution that integrates directly with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the company’s on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. By having better control over its AP processes, Marc Jacobs was able to immediately improve supplier relations by ensuring invoices were correctly routed and paid on time.

“At Marc Jacobs, we’re launching a completely new offering every four months — a model that’s rather unique to the fashion industry,” said Regis Litre, Marc Jacobs CIO. “By embracing this hybrid cloud model, we’re better enabling and empowering creativity to continue to push the envelope when it comes to our designs. Now, we’re able to tap into the most talented artisans around the world to bring our avant-garde creations from the runway to our vast network of stores and retailers as quickly as possible.”

Today, 92 percent of Marc Jacobs’ invoices are routed to the correct approver without human intervention, and time to pay invoices has been reduced from up to 90 days to just five days. Now, when invoices arrive in Marc Jacobs’ centralized AP inbox, they are automatically   routed to the appropriate approver by MediusFlow, eliminating the age-old problem of invoices getting buried in inboxes when someone is on vacation or even simply when volume is high. Because the solution is cloud-based, approvers can receive and approve the invoice from any device, anywhere — whether they’re in the office or out meeting with a new vendor. This not only significantly improves the company’s ability to innovate, it also provides better insight and more transparency into the company’s bottom line.

“Marc Jacobs’ success with MediusFlow, Azure and Dynamics is a great example of how we can combine the power of the Microsoft Cloud with the unique expertise of our partners to help solve our mutual customers’ most complex business challenges, transform their businesses and allow them to innovate as quickly as needed,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “Fashion trends change on a dime, and thanks to the cloud, Marc Jacobs can now stay well ahead of those trends to continue to delight its customers.”

About Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs (www.marcjacobs.com) is a global brand that produces womenswear, menswear, accessories, kidswear, jewelry, watches and fragrances. Started in 1986 with business partner Robert Duffy, Marc Jacobs has grown to include hundreds of doors worldwide. Jacobs is one of the most celebrated American designers to date also serving as the Design Director of Louis Vuitton since 1997.

About Medius/MediusFlow

Medius is a leading global provider of accounts payable (AP) invoice automation solutions in the cloud. The MediusFlow solution automates and simplifies the entire accounts payable process, enabling an unprecedented level of truly touchless invoice processing, shortened lead times, greater control, and improved visibility of financial metrics. The company has more than 2,500 customers around the globe – and over 150,000 unique cloud users. www.mediusflow.com.

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, [email protected]

Medius Media Relations, Fredrik André, VP Global Marketing, +46 709 23 93 81, [email protected]

Marc Jacobs Media Relations, [email protected]

 

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 Marc Jacobs fuels creativity and innovative design with the Microsoft Cloud appeared first on Stories.

Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Router

R8000 Nighthawk Router

Has amazing range and speed – far better than anything you will get chucked in from your ISP. Always been able to get my full (80 meg) over wifi using this.
Only selling as I changed over to a dedicated firewall device as I am learning more about networking through work.

Triple Band coverage – AC3200
Gigabit ethernet ports
USB ports – can share disks and printers across your network easily

Currently running Tomato enhanced firmware – I can switch this back to the…

Netgear R8000 Nighthawk Router

USB key storage

Anyone have a quality high speed, medium to high capacity USB key going spare? In ultra small form if I was being picky. Happy to take a couple if anyone has any laying around.

Location: northampton

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed…

USB key storage

Life after the uniform – Microsoft Life

It was one of those moments when life seems to both speed up and slow down almost to a standstill. Solaire Sanderson, suited up in heavy gear, braced herself inside the specialized mine-resistant vehicle where she was training with her fellow US Marines. The vehicles are built to withstand improvised explosive devices and save military lives. But sometimes, when struck, they roll over. The Marine Corps requires extensive training on how to escape if a vehicle flips in an explosion.

Sanderson and her teammates were in the middle of this training when suddenly, Sanderson was tossed across the cab as her vehicle spun two and a half times—over, up, over, up, over—and landed upside down. Disoriented Marines hung from their seats. Quickly, they reached around to unclip seatbelts, help each other down, and grab their packs.

Sanderson exited the vehicle and took her position around the perimeter to complete the training, holding her rifle steady, not noticing the blood running down her face or realizing that the trajectory of her life had just begun to shift.

She soon learned that the impact had caused a concussion and a broken nose and had crushed multiple bones in both of her feet. After two surgeries and a year of rehabilitation, Sanderson realized that because of her injuries she wasn’t going to be able to maintain the rigorous lifestyle that the Marine Corps requires. She was devastated.

“I loved the Marines, and I wasn’t ready to get out,” Sanderson said. She’d planned a military career, so after five years in, she felt apprehensive about being without her fellow Marines.

“We trained together, ate together, slept in a pile like a litter of puppies, trying to get even five minutes of sleep between flights to and from deployments or amid missions, ” she said. “They had been my right-hand people for so long that I was sure I’d forget how to operate without them.”

Sanderson had to figure out what her next step in life would be, without them.

But Marines never get stuck for long. She immediately began to scan the perimeter of her life for other options.

[embedded content]

Solaire Sanderson, who was a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps and is now a security analyst, learned tech skills in Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, which connects veterans to civilian jobs.

Sanderson is in good company. Nearly 200,000 service members leave active military duty for civilian life every year. Many of them don’t have college degrees and worry that will keep them from building new careers.

“It doesn’t matter if you serve five years or 40 years, transition is tough,” said US Marine Corps Major General Chris Cortez (Ret.), vice president of Military Affairs at Microsoft. “All of a sudden you’ve got to start all over again.”

While the unemployment rate for veterans has been on the decline, some groups of veterans, such as men aged 25 to 34, face higher unemployment rates than their civilian counterparts. Finding a job is a top concern.

Many veterans have found their footing in the civilian work world. But some really struggle, not only with lack of training for another career and little experience looking for work in a competitive environment, but also with overwhelming feelings of isolation, anxiety, pressure, and unfamiliarity.

“In the military, you walk into a room and you look at people in uniform, and you know exactly who they are, and they know exactly who you are,” Cortez said. “But in the industry, it’s much different. There is no uniform.”

In some cases, civilian jobs don’t offer the camaraderie or sense of purpose that drives many veterans. Corporate culture can feel disorienting, where passion isn’t a prerequisite and duty doesn’t drive work hours. And while many veterans yearn to find a new sense of belonging, some say it’s easy to be misunderstood in the civilian work world: coworkers might have no idea what they’ve experienced or keep their distance because of stereotypes around post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The hardest challenge for me is just trying to figure out people’s idea of what military people do, of what we are like,” explained Sanderson. “Some are so curious and supportive, but others are really intimidated by it. They think you might bark at them.”

Several years ago, a group of employees at Microsoft who had gone through the military-to-civilian adjustment themselves wondered: What if there was a way to transform a perceived weakness or lack of experience into a new set of talents? How could veterans maximize their strengths—grit, systems savvy, strong decision making, and steadfastness—and build needed skills on top of that? How could they connect with organizations who needed them and communities where they could feel like they belonged?

The answer came into focus: inspired and motivated by stories like Sanderson’s, Microsoft started a unique training program called Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) in 2013, an effort which soon led to a the broader Military Affairs program to support veterans across the company.

From its inception, MSSA had the mission not only to inspire veterans to transform their lives, but also to help address a key challenge facing the technology world: the vast skills gap between the hundreds of thousands of needed computing jobs and the far fewer trained professionals entering the workforce.

After her life-changing injury, Sanderson was ready to start over, but she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. A few months prior to her scheduled departure from the military, she heard about MSSA from a friend on base who was enrolled at the time.

The 18-week educational program is specifically designed to prepare military service members, before they step out into civilian life, for a career in the technology industry. To date, more than 240 companies have become hiring partners that seek out MSSA graduates.

Military members take the course on their base or at nearby community campuses; it’s their duty assignment for that period of time. Wearing civilian clothes—a subtle way to help begin the transition—they receive both classroom and hands-on training in technology products and skills. They also get help writing resumes, translating military skills to civilian and corporate audiences, and preparing for interviews by learning how to talk about themselves in the business world. Students also receive mentoring from Microsoft employees. Both veteran and nonveteran mentors walk students through the ups and downs of landing and thriving in a technology career.

Sanderson wondered if she could parlay the intelligence analysis skills she built in the Marines to the next step in her journey. Through MSSA at Camp Pendleton and her interaction with Microsoft employee mentors, she discovered that her skills could translate and that she had everything she needed to build a great career.

This is precisely the kind of connection Cortez hopes for, because veterans are such a great fit for technology companies, he said. They are trained to quickly assess, analyze, and fix a situation with the resources at hand while working with all different kinds of people. Supporting others and working as a team is second nature to them, and they thrive when working toward a bigger goal and purpose.

And they are badly needed. There are currently more than 490,000 open computing jobs nationwide, according to Code.org. Yet last year, only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce.

Infographic with statistics about the MSSA program

“The IT industry overall has so many unfilled jobs,” said Cortez. And the military has hundreds of thousands of skilled workers.

“Why not bring those two together to help military men and women so they can leave and get into a new career?”

Microsoft Military Affairs invited other technology companies to hire the graduates because “we can reach more vets through partnerships,” said Cortez.

MSSA has a graduation rate of more than 90 percent, and graduates are guaranteed an interview with Microsoft or one of its hiring partners upon successful program completion.

Sanderson landed 14 interviews and seven job offers, many from some of the biggest names in technology, including Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and the National Security Agency (NSA).

“We wanted to make it a level playing field with our hiring partners,” said Carol Hedly, program manager for Microsoft Military Affairs, explaining why Microsoft partners with other companies. “Our hiring partner companies receive the resumes at the same time. We have an agreement: no one makes job offers before the interview week, and we all release our offers at the same time.”

MSSA graduates have been hired at more than 240 different companies, including Dell, Expedia, Accenture, the Department of Defense, Facebook, and many more. Greater than 90 percent of successful MSSA graduates are either employed or opt to complete a college degree.

“We want the individuals to have the choice and the best offer for them,” said Hedly. “That’s just good business for everyone.”

Ultimately, Sanderson decided to move to Seattle and work at Microsoft as an analyst in cybersecurity. She connected with other MSSA alums, both from inside Microsoft and from other companies, who helped her join her new Seattle veteran family.

“I truly believe in Microsoft’s mission statement: to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft has such a far-reaching impact on the world—as a Marine, I love the feeling of being a part of something greater than myself,” she said. “It was very comforting to know that I would have a similar feeling while working at Microsoft.”

Sanderson now volunteers as an employee mentor for the MSSA program, calling into a cohort class on Camp Pendleton every week. She personally assures them that there is a good life waiting for them after active service.

“I can tell you that there are so many people that don’t come out of the military in a great place; they just don’t know what to do,” Sanderson said. “But after MSSA they feel better, and not just because of Microsoft. I don’t define success as working at Microsoft. Many people end up at other companies or decide to go back to school because they get college credits for completing the course and their interest in IT was piqued.”

Either way, Sanderson continued, people come out of the course feeling like they had a powerful opportunity to take their last few months in the military and apply them toward their next steps in life.

“When young people go off, they don’t know if they’re coming back. Sometimes when they come back, they’re changed, they’re wounded and other things,” Cortez said. “What better community [for us] to serve than the veterans who have given so much?”

Learn: See the prerequisites, start your application, or tell someone you know about MSSA.
Hire: Find out how to hire a veteran program graduate.