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A brother and sister team are rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean – their equipment includes Microsoft Teams

A brother and sister team taking part in a 3,000-mile race across the Atlantic Ocean have stayed in touch with family and friends by using Microsoft Teams, despite being hundreds of miles from land.

Anna and Cameron McLean have used the Microsoft tool to contact loved ones, and receive weather and race updates from a crew on shore during the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Known as “the world’s toughest row”, participants spend 60 days at sea in a small boat, braving 40-foot waves, sharks, illness and a schedule that sees them sleep and row in two-hour shifts as they make their way from La Gomera in The Canary Islands to Antigua. To put the gruelling race in context, fewer people have rowed the Atlantic than reached the summit of Everest.

While many mixed-sex teams have completed the challenge, Anna and Cameron believe they are the first brother and sister to take part.

Speaking via Teams on the 35th day of their journey, Anna said the Microsoft tool had been crucial for receiving messages of support that have kept the siblings going.

  • Part of the Microsoft Teams call between Anna McLean, in the Atlantic, and Andy Trotman, in the UK

“We can use Teams to communicate with anyone in the world from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That’s been essential,” she said. “Teams has been such a dream because we’ve been able to maintain a two-way dialogue with our family and friends back home, as well as our sponsors. We have been able to share real-time updates and pictures, and get information such as the weather forecast. That’s been a big contributing factor to the success and speed of our crossing. Teams has helped us navigate the best and most direct course.

“It’s been easy to set up, too. We connect to the internet via a satellite, and then open up the Teams app on my phone. That’s it.”

Anna, 25, and Cameron, 32, are currently third in the pairs race, in a field of 34 vessels. They are each burning 10,000 calories a day and fighting against sleep deprivation, exhaustion, blisters and bruises. Meals consist of “space food” that has to be mixed with water and left on deck so the sun can warm it up. Sea water is filtered for drinking, and they aim to drink at least 10 litres a day.

Even though they are experienced rowers, having competed at university, nothing could prepare them for a race of this magnitude.

Anna McLean rowing across the Atlantic
Anna and Cameron are spending 60 days at sea in a small boat, braving 40-foot waves, sharks, illness and a schedule that sees them sleep and row in two-hour shifts

“The nights are brutal,” said Anna, who works for Microsoft partner AlfaPeople. “With a lack of moonlight, the nights are so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of your face or the waves that crash over the side of the boat and threaten to capsize you. The sea was so rough one night that we broke an oar.

“Then, each new day brings new challenges. Our water maker and autohelm broke, and we have been followed by what I estimate to be a 14-foot shark. But we have no choice but to overcome those challenges through strength and perseverance.”

Anna and Cameron are rowing to raise money for UN Women, an organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. “The impact they have for women and girls everywhere is just phenomenal,” Anna added.

The pair have around 300 miles to go before they reach the finish line, and Anna is already looking forward to some simple luxuries.

“I can’t wait to see my mum and dad, and give them a big hug,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to a hot shower and eating fresh fruit and vegetables.”

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Google Cloud retail strategy provides search, hosting, AI for stores

NEW YORK — Google made a pitch to chain-store brands this week, taking on Microsoft Azure and AWS with a bundle of fresh Google Cloud retail hosting and services, backing it up with blue-chip customers.

In sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and Carrie Tharp, retail and consumer vice president, wooed retailers with promises of AI, uptime and search expertise — including voice and video, in addition to traditional text content — as well as store employee collaboration tools.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s said it will embark on a multiyear plan to rebuild its customer experience, both in-store and online, with Google Cloud at its center. Lowe’s plans to spend $500 million per year through 2021 on the project.

Kohl’s, Ulta Beauty’s business drivers

“Customers expect retailers to be as good with their tech as they are with their physical stores,” said Paul Gaffney, CTO of Kohl’s. The 1,060-store chain launched a major overhaul of its digital customer experience and IT infrastructure in 2018 with Google Cloud retail services, and plans to migrate 70% of its apps into Google Anthos.

Retailers need cloud services that create value for their brands among its customers, Gaffney said, but uptime and scalability is also a major consideration during peak selling times.

“The big rush of business used to be Black Friday, last year was the Cyber Five [Thanksgiving until the following Monday], and now seems like the months of November and December,” Gaffney said in a session with Kurian. “Folks who have been doing this a long time know that we all used to provision a lot of gear that lay idle other than during that period.”

Ulta Beauty, which operates 1,124 stores, chose the Google Cloud Platform for its Ulta Rewards loyalty program hosting and customer data handling, said Michelle Pacynski, vice president of digital innovation at Ulta. The program has 33.9 million members and drives 95% of Ulta’s sales, she added.

Ulta chose Google in part for its data, analytics and personalization platform, Pacynski said. But data ownership also weighed heavily in the decision.

“We looked at the usual subjects, who you would think we would look at,” Pacynski said. “Ultimately for us, we wanted to own our data, we wanted to have power over our data. We evaluated everybody and looked at how we could remain more autonomous with our data.”

Google Cloud retail taking on Azure, AWS

Google’s charge into the retail space started last year with the introduction of retail-specific services to manage customer loyalty, store operations, inventory and product lifecycle management. At NRF 2020, Google added search, AI and hosting services to that stack. It’s part of Google’s bigger push into verticals, Tharp said.

Really, where we see the future of cloud capabilities is in industry-specific solutions.
Carrie TharpRetail and consumer vice president, Google Cloud

“[Google] Cloud started as an infrastructure-as-a-service play,” Tharp said. “Really, where we see the future of cloud capabilities is in industry-specific solutions — having a deep understanding of the industry and building products specific to that. We’re constructing our entire organization around these industry-specific solutions.”

Tharp and some industry experts at NRF said that some retailers harbor resentment toward Amazon as a competitor and are looking for cloud partners other than AWS for future projects. But that is changing, as stores realize that offering Amazon-like speed of delivery and customer service in general is a more important business priority than beating Amazon.

Still, there’s enough anti-Amazon sentiment among retailers that Google has an opportunity to expand its foothold, said Sheryl Kingstone, 451 Research analyst.

“We’re seeing Google Cloud Platform pop up as one of the strategic vendors retailers are looking for in their digital transformations,” Kingstone said. “Azure is up there, and AWS is the 800-pound gorilla. But in the retail space, there’s that opportunity of stealing away someone who is very concerned about being on AWS.”

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AWS Access Analyzer aims to limit S3 bucket exposures

Amazon Web Services is taking another crack at mitigating S3 bucket misconfigurations and data exposures with a new tool called IAM Access Analyzer.

Announced at the re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, IAM Access Analyzer will be part of the AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) console. The tool will alert users when an S3 bucket is configured to be publicly accessible and will offer a one-click option to block public access to ensure no unintended access.

“When reviewing results that show potentially shared access to a bucket, you can Block All Public Access to the bucket with a single click in the S3 Management console, configure more granular permissions if required, or for specific and verified use cases that require public access, such as static website hosting, you can acknowledge and archive the findings on a bucket to record that you intend for the bucket to remain public or shared,” Shasya Sharma, senior technical product manager for AWS, wrote in a blog post.

The IAM Access Analyzer console will group all publicly accessible buckets and show users whether this access is a result of an access control list (ACL), policy setting or both, as well as what permissions are enabled for that bucket. 

AWS buckets are private by default, but that hasn’t stopped a series of high-profile data exposures due to misconfiguration, including exposures involving data from the Department of Defense, Verizon and more. AWS has been trying for two years to mitigate S3 bucket exposures, beginning with making it clearer when buckets were public, sending emails to owners of public buckets, introducing new settings to batch change bucket settings, and adding new tools.

AWS announced Control Tower at a re:Invent conference in Boston earlier this year as a landing page for some of these tools, such as AWS Config, which allows users to set standardized rules for S3 buckets and receive alerts if a new bucket is deployed that isn’t consistent with those rules.

Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at UpGuard, based in Mountain View, Calif., who has found a number of exposed S3 buckets, said IAM Access Analyzer “is definitely a step in the right direction,” but may not see wide adoption.

“The most notable aspect being that you have to know it exists and proactively turn it on,” Vickery told SearchSecurity. “Entities with massive already-existing configurations and systems may be hesitant to change things even if problems are detected, for fear of breaking the overall functionality.

“There is also the aspect of smaller operations, without sophisticated IT staff, feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the tech language, ID strings and other output,” Vickery added. “Those types of people want to simply know ‘Am I in trouble? Yes or no?’ It’s a complicated situation because Amazon doesn’t inherently know the purpose of each customer’s use.”

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Microsoft to apply CCPA protections to all US customers

Microsoft is taking California’s new data privacy law nationwide.

The software giant this week said it will honor the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) throughout the United States. When the CCPA goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, companies in California will be required to provide people with the option to stop their personal information from being sold, and will generally require that companies are transparent about data collection and data use.

The CCPA applies to companies that do business in California, collect customers’ personal data and meet one of the following requirements: have annual gross revenue of more than $25 million; buy, receive, sell or share personal data of 50,000 or more consumers, devices or households for commercial purposes; or earn 50% or more of their annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal data.

Julie Brill, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for global privacy and regulatory affairs and Chief Privacy Officer, announced her company’s plans to go a step further and apply the CCPA’s data privacy protections to all U.S. customers — not just those in California.

“We are strong supporters of California’s new law and the expansion of privacy protections in the United States that it represents. Our approach to privacy starts with the belief that privacy is a fundamental human right and includes our commitment to provide robust protection for every individual,” Brill wrote in a blog post. “This is why, in 2018, we were the first company to voluntarily extend the core data privacy rights included in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to customers around the world, not just to those in the EU who are covered by the regulation. Similarly, we will extend CCPA’s core rights for people to control their data to all our customers in the U.S.”

Brill added that Microsoft is working with its enterprise customers to assist them with CCPA compliance. “Our goal is to help our customers understand how California’s new law affects their operations and provide the tools and guidance they will need to meet its requirements,” she said.

Microsoft did not specify when or how it will apply the CPAA for all U.S. citizens. In recent years the company has introduced several privacy-focused tools and features designed to give customers greater control over their personal data.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, said Microsoft has an easier path to becoming CCPA compliant because of its early efforts to broadly implement GDPR protections.

“They’re staying very true to all the processes they went through under GDPR,” she said. “CCPA has some differences with GDPR. Namely, it’s got some requirements to verify the identity of people who want to exercise their rights. GDPR is still based on an opt-in framework rather than an opt-out one; it requires consent if you don’t have another legal basis for processing somebody’s data. The CCPA is still really about giving you the opportunity to opt out. It’s not a consent-based framework.”

Khatibloo also noted that Microsoft was supportive of the CCPA early on, and that Brill, who formerly served as commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission under the Obama administration, has a strong history on data privacy.

“She understands the extensive need for a comprehensive privacy bill in the U.S., and I think she also understands that that’s probably not going to happen in the next year,” Khatibloo said. “Instead of waiting for a patchwork of laws to turn up, I think she’s taking a very proactive move to say, ‘We’re going to abide by this particular set of rules, and we’re going to make it available to everybody.’ The other really big factor here is, who wants to be the company that says its New York customers don’t have the same rights that its California customers do?

Rebecca Herold, an infosec and privacy consultant as well as CEO of The Privacy Professor consultancy, argued that while CCPA does a good job addressing the “breadth of privacy issues for individuals who fall under the CCPA definition of a ‘California consumer,'” it falls short in multiple areas. To name a few criticisms, she pointed out that it doesn’t apply to organizations with under $25 million in revenue, it does not apply to all types of data or individuals such as employees, and that many of its requirements can come across as confusing.

But Herold said Microsoft’s move to apply CCPA for all 50 states makes sense and it’s something she recommends to her clients when consulting on new regional regulations. “When looking at implementing a wide-ranging law like CCPA, it would be much more simplified to just follow it for all their millions of customers, and not try to parse out the California customers from all others,” she said via email. “It is much more efficient and effective to simplify data security and privacy practices by treating all individuals within an organization’s database equally, meeting a baseline of actions that fit all legal requirements across the board. This is a smart and savvy business leadership move.”

Mike Bittner, associate director of digital security and operations for advertising security vendor The Media Trust, agreed that Microsoft’s move isn’t surprising.  

“For a large company like Microsoft that serves consumers around the world, simplifying regulatory compliance by applying the same policies across an entire geography makes a lot of sense, because it removes the headaches of applying a hodgepodge of state-level data privacy laws,” he said in an email. “Moreover, by using the CCPA — the most robust U.S. data privacy law to date — as the standard, it demonstrates the company’s commitment to protecting consumers’ data privacy rights.”

Herold added that the CCPA will likely become the de facto data privacy law for the U.S. in the foreseeable future because Congress doesn’t appear to be motivated to pass any federal privacy laws.

Brill appeared to agree.

“CCPA marks an important step toward providing people with more robust control over their data in the United States,” she wrote in her blog post. “It also shows that we can make progress to strengthen privacy protections in this country at the state level even when Congress can’t or won’t act.”

Senior reporter Michael Heller contributed to this report.

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Veritas Flex appliance line extends out to the edge

Veritas is taking its Flex backup appliance to the edge.

The Veritas Flex 5150 is the latest addition to the vendor’s Flex line of “container-based” appliances running its flagship NetBackup data protection software. These appliances are designed to allow multiple Veritas NetBackup deployments on one machine. The 1u 5150 model launched this week is smaller than the earlier 5240 and 5340 models, and is designed to be deployed to places with limited IT resources such as branch or remote offices.

Veritas claims the 5150 appliance requires less initial configuration than the other Flex models, and is designed for non-IT personnel to set up the device at the remote site. Once the appliance is set up and communicating with machines in the main office, administrators can remotely customize configurations and settings from the data center.

Deploying a Veritas Flex appliance at the edge allows data deduplication to take place there, reducing the amount of data that goes over the network to the data center. It also lowers ingress charges for pushing data to the cloud. Flex customers can restore from on-premises backup copies, copies at the central site or backups in the cloud.

Veritas executive vice president Phil Brace said the Flex 5150 can serve as a standalone backup appliance for small businesses. However, he said the main purpose is to extend the backup capabilities of enterprises running NetBackup in their data center.

The edge is increasingly becoming an area backup vendors should be paying attention to, Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Christophe Bertrand said. IoT sensors and monitors can generate large amounts of data that is critical to the business, but the locations where this data is created may not even have IT staff.

“These are places where serious work is being done, where transactions are being completed,” Bertrand said.

Companies do have other backup options at the edge. Bertrand pointed to vendors such as Unitrends, Arcserve and Veeam, with products that extend protection out to remote and branch offices.

render of Veritas Flex 5150 appliance
The Veritas Flex 5150 is the smallest of the Flex lineup, which includes the 5240 and 5340 models.

These are often lightweight on-premises appliances. Enterprises may also turn to backup as a service (BaaS) on the edge. For instance, newcomer Metallic, a SaaS-focused subsidiary of Commvault, advertises remote office backup as one of its use cases.

When comparing on-premises backup and BaaS for remote offices, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both, said Phil Goodwin, research director at IDC. BaaS is simpler in terms of deployment and billing, removing the need for on-premises infrastructure. A local backup appliance provides faster recovery and access to backup even if lines of communication go down. The recovery needs will be different for every customer, so it is never right to say one option is always better than the other.

Goodwin shared Bertrand’s view that the need to protect data on the edge is increasing. Aside from sensors and monitors for gathering data for surveillance, research or diagnostics, one of the most important sources of data is point-of-sale (POS) systems. For many consumer-facing businesses, POS data is their only record of transaction with customers, and losing that data could be detrimental.

“This has been a problem that’s been around a long time,” Goodwin said. “One of the realities is there’s less IT in organizations now.”

Goodwin said Veritas’s edge-focused Flex appliance really simplifies backup for remote environments. It means every retail store in a chain can have an appliance, but they don’t also need IT staff at every site.

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Cloudflare battles malicious bots with ‘fight mode’

Cloudflare is taking aim at malicious bots attacking its customers with a new security measure scheduled to go live for all by the end of the year.

The new Bot Fight Mode is rolling out now as an opt-in only feature to help Cloudflare customers avoid damage caused by malicious bots. John Graham-Cumming, chief technology officer for Cloudflare, described the new mode as a way to “frustrate” and disincentivize bots through tarpitting.

“If our models show that the traffic is coming from a bot, and it’s on a hosting or a cloud provider, we’ll deploy CPU-intensive code to make the bot writer expend more CPU and slow them down. By forcing the attacker to use more CPU, we increase their costs during an attack and deter future ones,” Graham-Cumming wrote in a blog post. “Every minute we tie malicious bots up is a minute they’re not harming the Internet as a whole.”

However, Cloudflare won’t just to waste the resources of malicious bots through computationally intensive challenges. The company also plans to share the IP addresses of bots with its Bandwidth Alliance partners in order to get those bots taken offline. 

Cloudflare said that of the 750 billion HTTP requests it handles per day, 3 billion are made by bots. A company spokesperson could not estimate how many individual bots are making those requests.

The spokesperson did note that how much effort it will take to stop bots will depend on “a number of factors.”

“The persistence of the bot is generally correlated to the value of the target,” the spokesperson told SearchSecurity. “A bot gives up quickly if the site is common and the value of a successful attack is low, but for bots that do things like inventory hoarding, the attacks are persistent.”

According to Graham-Cumming in the blog post, adopting tactics like this is important, because “malicious bots harm legitimate web publishers and applications, hurt hosting providers by misusing resources, and they doubly hurt the planet through the cost of electricity for servers and cooling for their bots and their victims.”

Graham-Cumming acknowledged that Bot Fight Mode lead to even higher electricity and cooling costs, so Cloudflare will be donating to One Tree Planted in order to offset the carbon costs.

Cloudflare also noted that this is just the first step in plans to fight malicious bots.

“Blocking outright is effective in preventing one bot from attacking one website, but the bot will just move on to a softer target. Bot Fight Mode makes that bot spend more time and resources before being able to move on,” the spokesperson said. “We have a number of other ideas we are working on that we’re not quite ready to share yet.”

However, there may be unintended consequences to Bot Fight Mode. Jean-Philippe Paradis, a programmer living near Montreal, shared a note from the Cloudflare Dashboard that warns: “Defeating Bots may affect some actions on your website and/or non-automated traffic. For example, it may block access to your APIs and prevent access from mobile applications.”

Cloudflare did not respond to requests for comment on this warning at the time of this post. Graham-Cumming noted in the blog post that the company’s model “spots the behavior of bots based on past traffic and blocks them,” and he said on Twitter that, “We look at how humans behave on the web vs. how bots behave. Bots behave differently (think how fast they click, or when they click, or what they click etc.)”. But it is unclear what recourse customers will have if access issues arise.

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WATCH: Hackathons show teen girls the potential for AI – and themselves – AI for Business

This summer, young women in San Francisco and Seattle spent a weekend taking their creative problem solving to a whole new level through the power of artificial intelligence. The two events were part of a Microsoft-hosted AI boot-camp program that started last year in Athens, then broadened its reach with events in London last fall and New York City in the spring. Check out the wrap-up video from the three U.S. events:

YouTube Video

“I’ve been so impressed not only with the willingness of these young women to spend an entire weekend learning and embracing this opportunity, but with the quality of the projects,” said Didem Un Ates, one of the program organizers and a senior director for AI within Microsoft. “It’s just two days, but what they come up with always blows our minds.” (Read a LinkedIn post from Un Ates about the events.)

The problems these girls tackled aren’t kid stuff: The girls chose their weekend projects from among the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, considered to be the most difficult and highest priority for the world.

The result? Dozens of innovative products that could help solve issues as diverse as ocean pollution, dietary needs, mental health, acne and climate change. Not to mention all those young women – 129 attended the U.S. events – who now feel empowered to pursue careers to help solve those problems. They now see themselves as “Alice,” a mascot created by the project team to represent the qualities young women possess that lend themselves to changing the world through AI.

Organizers plan to broaden the reach of these events, so that girls everywhere can learn about the possibility of careers in technology.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Hackathons show teen girls the potential for AI – and themselves – AI for Business

This summer, young women in San Francisco and Seattle spent a weekend taking their creative problem solving to a whole new level through the power of artificial intelligence. The two events were part of a Microsoft-hosted AI boot-camp program that started last year in Athens, then broadened its reach with events in London last fall and New York City in the spring.

“I’ve been so impressed not only with the willingness of these young women to spend an entire weekend learning and embracing this opportunity, but with the quality of the projects,” said Didem Un Ates, one of the program organizers and a senior director for AI within Microsoft. “It’s just two days, but what they come up with always blows our minds.” (Read a LinkedIn post from Un Ates about the events.)

The problems these girls tackled aren’t kid stuff: The girls chose their weekend projects from among the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, considered to be the most difficult and highest priority for the world.

The result? Dozens of innovative products that could help solve issues as diverse as ocean pollution, dietary needs, mental health, acne and climate change. Not to mention all those young women – 129 attended the U.S. events – who now feel empowered to pursue careers to help solve those problems. They now see themselves as “Alice,” a mascot created by the project team to represent the qualities young women possess that lend themselves to changing the world through AI.

Organizers plan to broaden the reach of these events, so that girls everywhere can learn about the possibility of careers in technology.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

SAP PartnerEdge initiative offers free S/4HANA Cloud resources

SAP is taking a new tact to grow its public cloud offering and development resources: It’s giving them away for free.

As of July 1, qualified SAP PartnerEdge members can now test and demonstrate systems built on SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP C/4HANA free of charge. Partners need to have a valid SAP PartnerEdge status and employ three consultants who are certified in “operations capabilities for SAP applications running on S/4HANA Cloud” to get free access to test and demo systems, according to the company. Partners who have at least three consultants certified for SAP C/4HANA applications also qualify for the initiative.

SAP PartnerEdge is designed to provide SAP partners the resources they can use to develop, sell, service and manage SAP systems and applications. The program currently has more than 19,800 partners worldwide, according to SAP.

The new SAP PartnerEdge initiative appears to have positive reviews from partners, but one analyst believes the effort is a long-overdue strategic move to build out SAP applications and keep pace with other cloud providers like AWS and Microsoft.

Seeding the cloud applications

The SAP PartnerEdge initiative is an attempt to open up SAP Cloud Platform and S/4HANA to a broader range of developers and seed the market with applications built on SAP technology, according to analyst Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting, based in Berkeley, Calif. This is similar to the approach long favored by the likes of Microsoft and AWS.

“They want the developers of future great products — whether they’re internal development teams, startups or professional teams — to think about SAP as their development platform,” Greenbaum said. “That’s their fundamental strategy for growing the uptake of SAP Cloud Platform and S/4HANA.”

It’s being met with enthusiasm. Alain Dubois, chief marketing and business development officer at Beyond Technologies, called the program a “great initiative.”

Beyond Technologies, a Montreal-based SAP partner that specializes in development and integration of a range of SAP products, including S/4HANA and C/4HANA. It plans to take advantage of the free cloud access the new SAP PartnerEdge program offers.

“We will use it for demos and [proofs of concept] as well as for enablement, which is crucial for us as a value-added reseller because it will help [keep down] customer acquisition costs,” he said.

Shaun Syvertsen, CEO of ConvergentIS, is also looking forward to using the program’s resources. ConvergentIS is an SAP partner based in Calgary, Alberta, that provides SAP technology development and consulting services.

The SAP PartnerEdge program will drive the long-term success of SAP technology with partners, Syvertsen said. It’s particularly valuable for partners to get a deeper understanding of public cloud SAP versions.

“In particular, you have to understand that 20 years of on-premises experience is potentially dangerous in the cloud environment, as the setup and range of flexibility is quite different from on-premises,” Syvertsen said. “So, a new cloud-centric mindset and cloud-specific experience is critical.”

Better late than never

SAP partners have been beating the drum for an initiative like this for years to help them keep pace with competitors like AWS, Microsoft and Salesforce, Enterprise Applications Consulting’s Greenbaum explained.

“The partners and would-be partners have been saying that SAP has to emulate the rest of the market for a while,” he said. “There are lots of open source tools and there’s a huge amount of love and support [for developers] from competitor platform providers, and the partners have always said that SAP has to do something similar or they’ll go somewhere else.”

SAP has to do some work to catch up to Salesforce or AWS, but it’s still a relatively new game as cloud uptake numbers are just beginning to gain momentum in the enterprise applications market, according to Greenbaum.

What could be a differentiator for SAP also is the totality of what it can offer compared to the other cloud companies.

“Underneath the hood, SAP provides access to business services — data and processes — that are potentially very valuable,” he said. “Salesforce can do that, but only within the domain of CRM, and AWS doesn’t really do that at all. So, this is a good time for SAP. It would have been a better time two years ago, but the story is hardly over at this point.”

Availability for the new SAP PartnerEdge program for qualified partners began July 1. Registration will remain open until Sept. 30, 2019, according to the company. Partners who have already bought the test and demonstration licenses will receive a migration offer from SAP Partner Licensing Services if they want to migrate their existing services to the free access, according to SAP.

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