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AI at the core of next-generation BI

Next-generation BI is upon us, and has been for a few years now.

The first generation of business intelligence, beginning in the 1980s and extending through the turn of the 21st century, relied entirely on information technology experts. It was about business reporting, and was inaccessible to all but a very few with specialized skills.

The second introduced self-service analytics, and lasted until just a few years ago. The technology was accessible to data analysts, and defined by data visualization, data preparation and data discovery.

Next-generation BI — the third generation — is characterized by augmented intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing. It’s open everyday business users, and trust and transparency are important aspects. It’s also changing the direction data looks, becoming more predictive.

In September, Constellation Research released “Augmented Analytics: How Smart Features Are Changing Business Intelligence.The report, authored by analyst Doug Henschen, took a deep look at next-generation BI.

Henschen reflected on some of his findings about the third generation of business analytics for a two-part Q&A.

In Part I, Henschen addressed what marked the beginning of this new era and who stands to benefit most from augmented BI capabilities. In Part II, he looked at which vendors are positioned to succeed and where next-generation business intelligence is headed next.

In your report you peg 2015 as the beginning of next generation BI — what features were you seeing in analytics platforms at that time that signaled a new era?

Doug HenschenDoug Henschen

Doug Henschen: There was a lot percolating at the time, but I don’t think that it’s about a specific technology coming out in 2015. That’s an approximation of when augmented analytics really became something that was ensconced as a buying criteria. That’s I think approximately when we shifted — the previous decade was really when self-service became really important and the majority of deployments were driving toward it, and I pegged 2015 as the approximate time at which augmented started getting on everyone’s radar.

Beyond the technology itself, what were some things that happened in the market around the time of 2015 that showed things were changing?

Henschen: There were lots of technology things that led up to that — Watson playing Jeopardy was in 2011, SAP acquired KXEN in 2013, IBM introduced Watson Analytics in 2014. Some startups like ThoughtSpot and BeyondCore came in during the middle of the decade, Salesforce introduced Einstein in 2016 and ended up acquiring BeyondCore in 2016. A lot of stuff was percolating in the decade, and 2015 is about when it became about, ‘OK, we want augmented analytics on our list. We want to see these features coming up on roadmaps.’

What are you seeing now that has advanced next-generation BI beyond what was available in 2015?

Anything that is proactive, that provides recommendations, that helps automate work that was tedious, that surfaces insights that humans would have a tough time recognizing but that machines can recognize — that’s helpful to everybody.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Henschen: In the report I dive into four areas — data preparation, data discovery and analysis, natural language interfaces and interaction, and forecasting and prediction — and in every category you’ve seen certain capabilities become commonplace, while other capabilities have been emerging and are on the bleeding edge. In data prep, everyone can pretty much do auto data profiling, but recommended or suggested data sources and joins are a little bit less common. Guided approaches that walk you through how to cleanse this, how to format this, where and how to join — that’s a little bit more advanced and not everybody does it.

Similarly, in the other categories, recommended data visualization is pretty common in discover and analysis, but intent-driven recommendations that track what individuals are doing and make recommendations based on patterns among people are more on the bleeding edge. It applies in every category. There’s stuff that is now widely done by most products, and stuff that is more bleeding edge where some companies are innovating and leading.

Who benefits from next-generation BI that didn’t benefit in previous generations — what types of users?

Henschen: I think these features will benefit all. Anything that is proactive, that provides recommendations, that helps automate work that was tedious, that surfaces insights that humans would have a tough time recognizing but that machines can recognize — that’s helpful to everybody. It has long been an ambition in BI and analytics to spread this capability to the many, to the business users, as well as the analysts who have long served the business users, and this extends the trend of self-service to more users, but it also saves time and supports even the more sophisticated users.

Obviously, larger companies have teams of data analysts and data engineers and have more people of that sort — they have data scientists. Midsize companies don’t have as many of those assets, so I think [augmented capabilities] stand to be more beneficial to midsize companies. Things like recommended visualizations and starting points for data exploration, those are very helpful when you don’t have an expert on hand and a team at your disposal to develop a dashboard to address a problem or look at the impact of something on sales. I think [augmented capabilities] are going to benefit all, but midsize companies and those with fewer people and resources stand to benefit more.  

You referred to medium-sized businesses, but what about small businesses?

Henschen: In the BI and analytics world there are products that are geared to reporting and helping companies at scale. The desktop products are more popular with small companies — Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, Tibco Spotfire are some that have desktop options, and small companies are turning also to SaaS options. We focus on enterprise analytics — midsize companies and up — and I think enterprise software vendors are focused that way, but there are definitely cloud services, SaaS vendors and desktop options. Salesforce has some good small business options. Augmented capabilities are coming into those tools as well.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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The Latest Updates from Windows Server 2019 Development

**Webinar Announcement**

Want to know all about the full version of Windows Server 2019 upon its release? Join our upcoming free webinar What’s New in Windows Server 2019 on October 3rd to learn from the experts about all the new updates as well as a closer look at the standout features.

Windows Server 2019 free webinar from Altaro

The webinar will be presented live twice on the day at 2pm CEST/8am EDT/5am PDT and at 7pm CEST/1pm EDT/10am PDT to cater for our audiences on both sides of the pond. The content will be the same so feel free to join whichever time slot suits you best. Both webinars are live so bring your questions to ask our experts anything you want to know about Windows Server 2019!

Save my Seat for the webinar!

The Current State of Affairs – Windows Server 2019 Updates

Microsoft’s Windows Server teams have been hard at work on preparing 2019 for release. They’ve already given us several new features over the past few months. As we approach the unveiling of the final product, the preview release cadence accelerates as long-term projects begin to wrap up. Where we previously covered one build per article, I now have three separate builds to report on (17733, 17738, and 17744). We’ve got a raft of new features as well as multiple refinements geared toward a polished end product.

The Final Stages

If you haven’t yet started trying out Windows Server 2019 previews but have been thinking about it, I don’t think there will be a better time. There’s always a chance that some new major feature has yet to be announced, but there are more than enough now to keep you busy for a while. If you’re thinking about becoming an expert on the product for employability or sales purposes, if you’re planning to release software for the new platform, or if you intend to adopt Windows Server 2019 early on, this is the time to get into the program. Get your feedback and bug reports into the system now while it’s still relatively easy to incorporate.

Microsoft has been asking for two things all along that have increased in importance:

  • In-place upgrades: Wouldn’t you like to just hop to the next version of Windows Server without going through a painful data migration? If so, try it out on a test system. Microsoft has done a great deal of work trying to make Windows Server 2019 upgrade friendly. I’ve had some mixed experiences with it so far. They can only make it better if we tell them where it fails.
  • Application compatibility: I would prioritize application compatibility testing, especially for software developers and administrators responsible for irreplaceable line-of-business applications. Windows Server 2019 introduces major changes to the way Windows Server has operated nearly since its introduction. You need to be prepared.

How to Join the Windows Server Insider Program

To get involved, simply sign up on the Windows Server Insiders page. Unlike the Windows [Desktop] Insiders program, you don’t need to use up a licensed server instance. Windows Server Insider builds use their own keys. You can try out features and report any problems or positive experiences to a special forum just for Insiders. Be aware that the builds are time-bombed, so you will only be able to keep one running for a few months. This software is not built for production use.

Remember that even after Windows Server 2019 goes live, the Insider program will continue. You’ll have the opportunity to preview and help shape the future of LTSC and SAC builds beyond 2019. However, I expect that the Windows Server teams will turn their attention toward the next SAC release after 2019 goes gold, meaning that you likely won’t be getting new GUI-enabled builds until they start working on the post-2019 LTSC release.

Official Release Statements

You can read Microsoft’s notices about each of the builds mentioned in this article:

Summary of Features in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

New features included in these builds:

  • Support for HTTP/2
  • Support for Cubic (a “congestion control provider” that helps regulate TCP traffic)
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) right in Windows Server and controlled by Windows Admin Center — no VMM necessary!
  • SDN high-performance gateways
  • Distributed Cluster Name Objects — allows a CNO to simultaneously hold an IP from each node rather than present a single IP across the entire cluster
  • Specialized bus support for Windows Server containers grants containers the ability to directly utilize SPI, I2C, GPIO, and UART/COM
  • Failover Clustering no longer requires NTLM
  • SMB 1.0 is now disabled by default
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux is part of the build
  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection has been rolled in
  • Windows Server 2019 images ship with version 4.7 of the .Net Framework

Summary of Updated Features in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

The following features were previously introduced, but received significant updates in these builds:

  • Cluster Sets: A “cluster set” is essentially a cluster of clusters. They address the scalability limits of clusters without making many changes on the cluster level; smaller organizations can use clusters as they always have while larger organizations can employ new benefits. Build 17733 adds new enhancements for virtual machine placement on hyper-converged cluster sets.
  • Windows Admin Center provides greater control over Hyper-V

Refinements in Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

Not everything is a feature; sometimes things just need to work better or differently. Microsoft did a few things during the preview cycles that would be inappropriate for a release product. These builds include some of those corrections.

  • The Hyper-V Server SKU no longer needs a product key. This does not mean that you can or should use a preview release of Hyper-V Server 2019 indefinitely.
  • You will now be asked to change your password at initial post-install sign in.
  • Changes to branding during the installation process.

Additional Reading on Windows Server 2019 Updates

We have a lot going on now with Windows Server 2019, but it’s just the leading edge of a long march of new features and improvements. A few links to help you get caught up:

Spend some time discovering and reading up on the new features. There is something in there for just about everyone.

Thoughts on Windows Server 2019 Builds 17733, 17738, and 17744

Overall, my greatest feeling on these builds is excitement — we’re seeing the clear signs that we’re closing in on the final release. I do have a few thoughts on some of the specific features.

Standard Networking Enhancements

I’ve followed a number of these enhancements closely. The HTTP/2 and LEDBAT demonstrations are impressive to watch. I have not yet seen any presentations on Cubic, but it certainly holds a great of promise. Even in my private home systems, I’ve long wanted a way to shape the way that various networking activities utilize my available networking bandwidth.

Hyper-V Networking Enhancements

Modifying the software-defined networking feature so that it can be controlled without VMM or a third-party tool is a huge step. Cloud and hosting providers have great use for SDN, as do large organizations that strain the limits of VLANs. However, SDN provides more than scalability. It also allows for a high degree of isolation. We’ve been able to use private Hyper-V virtual switches for isolation, but those become difficult to use for multiple VMs, especially in clusters. Now, anyone can use SDN.

Specialized Bus Support

Server virtualization solves multiple problems, but we still have a few barriers to virtual-only deployments. Hardware peripherals remain right at the top of those problems. The new bus functionality included in Windows Server containers may present a solution. It won’t be full virtualization, of course. It will, however, grant the ability to run a hardware-dependent container on a general-purpose host.

I should point out that this feature is designed around IoT challenges. We may or may not be able to fit it into existing hardware challenges.

Security Enhancements

If you look through the multitude of feature notes, you’ll find multiple points of hardening in Windows Server 2019. I welcomed two new particular changes in these recent builds:

  • SMB 1.0 disabled by default. Newer features of SMB eclipse version 1.0 in every imaginable way. First and foremost, the security implications of using SMB 1.0 can no longer be ignored. Through 2016, Windows and Windows Server made SMB 1.0 passively available because Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and some applications require it. Now that Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 have been out of support for several years, Microsoft no longer has any native reason to continue supporting SMB 1.0 by default. If you still have software vendors hanging on to the ’90s, they’ll have to go through extra steps to continue their archaic ways.
  • End of NTLM requirement for Failover Clustering. NTLM is relatively easy to break with modern technologies. Realistically, a cluster’s inter-node communications should be isolated from general network access anyway. However, that does not diminish our need to secure as much as possible. It’s good to see NTLM removed from cluster communications.

Windows Admin Center Enhancements for Hyper-V

I spent some time going through the 1808 version of Windows Admin Center release and noted several changes. The current state of WAC for Hyper-V deserves its own article. However, it would appear that Microsoft has been working on the user experience of this tool. Furthermore, WAC has additional control points over Hyper-V. It’s still not my interface of choice for Hyper-V, but it continues to improve.

Next Steps

I’ll continue bringing news of builds as they release, of course. I would recommend becoming directly acquainted with the advancements in Windows Server 2019 as soon as you can. At this stage of Windows Server’s maturation, new features are complicated enough that they’ll take time to learn. The sooner you get started, the less catch-up you’ll have to look forward to later. Of course, during our October webinar on Windows Server 2019 we will have all the details on the final version of all the features in all these builds – and more! Make sure to save your seat now and don’t miss out on that event!

If you are looking through these enhancements and testing things for yourself, are there any features here that you are most excited about? Anything you feel is over-the-top amazing? Anything you feel is lack-luster? Let us know in the comments section below!

Thank for reading!

This post is part of a series on Windows Server 2019 builds leading up to the release in late 2018. Read more about the release here:

These 3 New Features in Windows Server 2019 Could be Game Changers

Windows Server 2019 Preview: What’s New and What’s Cool

Sneak peek: Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17666

What’s New in Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview Build 17692

Curious About Windows Server 2019? Here’s the Latest Features Added

Visual Search from Bing now lets you search what you see

Today we’re launching new intelligent Visual Search capabilities that build upon the visual technology already in Bing so you can search the web using your camera. Now you can search, shop, and learn more about your world through the photos you take.
These new Visual Search capabilities are available today in the US on the Bing app for iOS and Android, and for Microsoft Launcher (Android only). They’ll also begin rolling out today for Microsoft Edge for Android, and will be coming soon to Microsoft Edge for iOS and Bing.com. Just click the camera button to get started:

                         
For example, imagine you see a landmark or flower and want to learn more. Simply take a photo using one of the apps, or upload a picture from your camera roll. Bing will identify the object in question and give you more information by providing additional links to explore.


                        

You can even shop from your photos for fashion and home furnishings. Let’s say you see a friend’s jacket you like, but don’t know its brand or where to purchase. Upload a pic into the app’s search box and Bing will return visually-similar jackets, prices, and details for where to purchase.

We’ll be working hard over the coming months to add more capabilities to Visual Search, so your input on these features is greatly appreciated, as always. We hope you’re as excited by Visual Search as we are!

– The Bing Team

Alienware 13 R3 7700HQ QHD OLED Touch 1060 GTX 256GB SSD

Pickup from Newcastle Upon Tyne area only

1060 GTX with 6GB
QHD touch screen (amazing!)
i7/16GB ram
SSD 256GB
Power supply included (original)

Top spec edition cost over £1,800 12 months ago

NO issues, marks, scratches …it’s been kept as new. no time wasters please, best laptop i have ever used, it can do anything. feels and looks top class!

I have lot’s of games on this laptop and i’m happy to let someone demo the laptop before purchase in my house.

Price and currency: 1400…

Alienware 13 R3 7700HQ QHD OLED Touch 1060 GTX 256GB SSD

Alienware 13 R3 7700HQ QHD OLED Touch 1060 GTX 256GB SSD

Pickup from Newcastle Upon Tyne area only

1060 GTX with 6GB
QLED touch screen (amazing!)
i7/16GB ram
SSD 256GB
Power supply included (original)

Top spec edition cost over £1,800 12 months ago

NO issues, marks, scratches …it’s been kept as new. no time wasters please, best laptop i have ever used, it can do anything. feels and looks top class!

I have lot’s of games on this laptop and i’m happy to let someone demo the laptop before purchase in my house.

Price and currency: 1400…

Alienware 13 R3 7700HQ QHD OLED Touch 1060 GTX 256GB SSD

For Sale – Brand New 2017 Macbook Pro – 3.1ghz – Touch Bar – 512GB SSD

I’ve been gifted a 13″ Macbook Pro but upon opening it I have realised it has the base spec RAM of 8GB. I need 16GB RAM so I’m selling it on to put towards one with more RAM.

It is 2 hours old, opened and booted up then packaged back up. It has 0 battery cycles and comes with full 365 day warranty from Apple.

This comes with an upgraded SSD from 256GB to 512GB. It is a higher spec than a similar Macbook Pro for sale on here.

Specs:
Touch Bar and Touch ID
3.1GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Backlit Keyboard – British
Accessory Kit
Force Touch trackpad

This laptop retails for £1949 so it’s a saving of £550 for a difference of having the plastic wrapping opened!

Price and currency: £1400
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer
Location: Manchester / Liverpool
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Brand New 2017 Macbook Pro – 3.1ghz – Touch Bar – 512GB SSD

I’ve been gifted a 13″ Macbook Pro but upon opening it I have realised it has the base spec RAM of 8GB. I need 16GB RAM so I’m selling it on to put towards one with more RAM.

It is 2 hours old, opened and booted up then packaged back up. It has 0 battery cycles and comes with full 365 day warranty from Apple.

This comes with an upgraded SSD from 256GB to 512GB. It is a higher spec than a similar Macbook Pro for sale on here.

Specs:
Touch Bar and Touch ID
3.1GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz
8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
512GB SSD storage
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650
Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Backlit Keyboard – British
Accessory Kit
Force Touch trackpad

This laptop retails for £1949 so it’s a saving of £550 for a difference of having the plastic wrapping opened!

Price and currency: £1400
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer
Location: Manchester / Liverpool
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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