Tag Archives: using

Cisco Webex Edge for Devices links on-prem endpoints to cloud

Businesses using on-premises video gear from Cisco can now get access to cloud services, while keeping their video infrastructure in place.

A new service, called Cisco Webex Edge for Devices, lets businesses connect on-premises video devices to cloud services like Webex Control Hub and the Webex Assistant. Customers get access to some cloud features but continue to host video traffic on their networks.

Many businesses aren’t ready to move their communications to the cloud. Vendors have responded by developing ways to mix on-premises and cloud technologies. Cisco Webex Edge for Devices is the latest offering of that kind.

“It gives users that cloudlike experience without the businesses having to fully migrate everything to the cloud,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

Cisco wants to get as many businesses as possible to go all-in on the cloud. Webex Edge for Devices, introduced this month, tees up customers to make that switch. Companies will have the option of migrating their media services to the cloud after connecting devices to the service.

Webex Edge for Devices is available for no additional charge to businesses with an enterprise-wide Collaboration Flex Plan, a monthly per-user subscription. Alternatively, companies can purchase cloud licenses for the devices they want to register with the service for roughly $30 per device, per month. The service won’t work with gear that’s so old Cisco no longer supports it.

Video hardware linked to the cloud through the service will show up in the Webex Control Hub, a console for managing cloud devices. For on-premises devices, the control hub will provide diagnostic reports, usage data, and insight into whether the systems are online or offline.

Many businesses are already using a mix of on-premises and cloud video endpoints. Webex Edge for Devices will let those customers manage those devices from a single console. In the future, Cisco plans to add support for on-premises phones.

Businesses will also be able to sync on-premises video devices with cloud-based calendars from Microsoft and Google. That configuration will let the devices display a one-click join button for meetings scheduled on those calendars.

Another cloud feature unlocked by Webex Edge for Devices is the Webex Assistant. The service is an AI voice system that lets users join meetings, place calls and query devices with their voice.

In the future, Cisco plans to bring more cloud features to on-premises devices. Future services include People Insights, a tool that provides background information on meeting participants with information gleaned from the public internet.

Cisco first released a suite of services branded as Webex Edge in September 2018. The suite included Webex Edge Audio, Webex Edge Connect and Webex Video Mesh. The applications provide ways to use on-premises and cloud technologies in combination to improve the quality of audio and video calls.

Cisco’s release of Webex Edge for Devices underscores its strategy of supporting on-premises customers without forcing them to the cloud, said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research.

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Storytelling using data makes information easy to digest

Storytelling using data is helping make analytics digestible across entire organizations.

While the amount of available data has exploded in recent years, the ability to understand the meaning of the data hasn’t kept pace. There aren’t enough trained data scientists to meet demand, often leaving data interpretation in the hands of both line-of-business employees and high-level executives mostly guessing at the underlying meaning behind data points.

Storytelling using data, however, changes that.

A group of business intelligence software vendors are now specializing in data storytelling, producing platforms that go one step further than traditional BI platforms and attempt to give the data context by putting it in the form of a narrative.

One such vendor is Narrative Science, based in Chicago and founded in 2010. On Jan. 6, Narrative Science released a book entitled Let Your People Be People that delves into the importance of storytelling for businesses, with a particular focus on storytelling using data.

Recently, authors Nate Nichols, vice president of product architecture at Narrative Science, and Anna Schena Walsh, director of growth marketing, answered a series of questions about storytelling using data.

Here in Part II of a two-part Q&A they talk about why storytelling using data is a more effective way to interpret data than traditional BI, and how data storytelling can change the culture of an organization. In Part I, they discussed what data storytelling is and how data can be turned into a narrative that has meaning for an organization.

What does emphasis an on storytelling in the workplace look like, beyond a means of explaining the reasoning behind data points?

Nate NicholsNate Nichols

Nate Nichols: As an example of that, I’ve been more intentional since the New Year about applying storytelling to meetings I’ve led, and it’s been really helpful. It’s not like people are gathering around my knee as I launch into a 30-minute story, but just remembering to kick off a meeting with a 3-minute recap of why we’re here, where we’re coming from, what we worked on last week and what the things are that we need going forward. It’s really just putting more time into reminding people of why, the cause and effect, just helping people settle into the right mindset. Storytelling is an empirically effective way of doing it.

We didn’t start this company to be storytellers — we really wanted everyone to understand and be able to act on data. It turned out that the best way to do that was through storytelling. The world is waking up to this. It’s something we used to do — our ancestors sat around the campfire swapping stories about the hunt, or where the best potatoes are to forage for. That’s a thing we used to do, it’s a thing that kids do all the time — they’re bringing other kids into their world — and what’s happening is that a lot of that has been beaten out of us as adults. Because of the way the workforce is going, the way automation is going, we’re heading back to the importance of those soft skills, those storytelling skills.

How is storytelling using data more effective at presenting data than typical dashboards and reports?

Anna Schena WalshAnna Schena Walsh

Anna Schena Walsh: The brain is hard-wired for stories. It’s hard-wired to take in information in that storytelling arc, which is what is [attracting our attention] — what is something we thought we knew, what is something new that surprised us, and what can we do about it? If you can put that in a way that is interesting to people in a way they can understand, that is a way people will remember. That is what really motivates people, and that’s what actually causes people to take action. I think visuals are important parts of some stories, whether it be a chart or a picture, it can help drive stories home, but no matter what you’re doing to give people information, the end is usually the story. It’s verbal, it’s literate, it’s explaining something in some way. In reality, we do this a lot, but we need to be a lot more systematic about focusing on the story part.

What happens when you present an explanation with data?

Nichols: If someone sends you a bar chart and asks you to use it to make decisions and there’s no story with it at all, what your brain does is it makes up a story around it. Historically, what we’ve said is that computers are good at doing charts — we never did charts and graphs and spreadsheets because we thought they were helpful for people, we did them because that was what computers could do. We’ve forgotten that. So when we do these charts, people look at them and make up their own stories, and they may be more or less accurate depending on their intuition about the business. What we’re doing now is we want everyone to be really on the same story, hearing the same story, so by not having a hundred different people come up with a hundred different internal stories in their head, what we’re doing at Narrative Science is to try and make the story external so everyone is telling the same story.

So is it accurate to say that accuracy is a part of storytelling using data?

Schena Walsh: When I think of charts and graphs, interpreting those is a skill — it is a learned skill that comes to some people more naturally than others. In the past few decades there’s been this idea that everybody needs to be able interpret [data]. With storytelling, specifically data storytelling, it takes away the pressure of people interpreting the data for themselves. This allows people, where their skills may not be in that area … they don’t have to sit down and interpret dashboards. That’s not the best use of their talent, and data storytelling brings that information to them so they’re able to concentrate on what makes them great.

What’s the potential end result for organizations that employ data storytelling — what does it enable them to do that other organizations can’t?

With data storytelling there is a massive opportunity to have everybody in your company understand what’s happening and be able to make informed decisions much, much faster.
Anna Schena WalshDirector of growth marketing, Narrative Science

Schena Walsh: With data storytelling there is a massive opportunity to have everybody in your company understand what’s happening and be able to make informed decisions much, much faster. It’s not that information isn’t available — it certainly is — but it takes a certain set of skills to be able to find the meaning. So we look at it as empowering everybody because you’re giving them the information they need very quickly, and also giving them the ability to lean into what makes them great. The way we think about it is that if you can choose to have someone give a two-minute explanation of what’s going on in the business to everyone in the company everyday as they go into work, would you do it? And the answer is yes, and with data storytelling that’s what you can do.

I think what we’ll see as companies keep trying to move toward everyone needing to interpret data, I actually think there’s a lot of potential for burnout there in people who aren’t naturally inclined to do it. I also think there’s a speed element — it’s not as fast to have everybody learn this skill and have to do it every day themselves than to have the information serviced to them in a way they can understand.

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

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For Sale – 27” mid 2011 iMac i7 / 16gb For spares its repair

I was using it, then it stopped. I spoke to Apple Support and the booked me into Cambridge Store Genius. They ran a diagnostic and it passed all their tests and he suspected that it was a hard drive fail. It is classed as vintage and he says Apple would not repair it. I have already replaced with a new one so want this one gone. The guy in Apple removes the hard drive for me and that us not included. As for condition I can see no marks but he warned me that there may now be dust between glass and screen. Can take pictures if needed. It is boxed and comes with mouse only.

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Microsoft Teams to add smartphone walkie-talkie feature

Workers will soon be able to turn their smartphones into a walkie-talkie using Microsoft Teams. The feature is one of several Microsoft unveiled this week targeting so-called frontline workers, such as retail associates, nurses, housekeepers and plumbers.

The walkie-talkie feature will let groups of employees speak to each other by pressing a button in the Teams mobile app. The audio will travel over Wi-Fi and cellular networks, meaning users will be able to communicate with colleagues anywhere in the world. The feature will be available in private preview in the first half of 2020.

Many retailers, hospitals, airlines and hotels still rely on physical walkie-talkie devices. In recent years, startups like Orion Labs and legacy vendors like Motorola Solutions have begun selling smartphone walkie-talkie apps. Those mobile apps come with benefits like location tracking and integration with other business technologies.

Microsoft’s smartphone walkie-talkie feature is not innovative. But if it works well, the capability could help Microsoft boost adoption of Teams among workers who otherwise wouldn’t use the app. Microsoft has made targeting frontline workers a priority since late 2018.

In addition to the walkie-talkie app, Microsoft said Thursday it would add to Teams a task feature for creating and assigning small projects to employees. The system will give businesses a dashboard to track tasks in real time across multiple departments or store locations. It will launch in the first half of 2020.

Microsoft will also expand the scheduling capabilities of Teams by integrating the app with popular workforce management platforms by Kronos and JDA Software. Those integrations will let businesses keep existing scheduling software in place while giving workers the ability to swap shifts and request time off through Teams.

Microsoft is not the only collaboration vendor targeting frontline workers, said Rob Arnold, analyst at Frost & Sullivan. But Microsoft has a leg up on competitors because it can offer businesses so many complementary cloud services. Those include the customer relationship manager Dynamics 365 as well as e-commerce and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms within Microsoft Azure.

New identity and access features for Microsoft Teams

Additional features targeting frontline workers include SMS sign-in, off-shift access controls and shared-device sign-out. These features will roll out between now and the middle of the year. 

Workers will soon be able to sign into their Azure Active Directory account (which controls access to Teams) using only a mobile phone number. IT admins will decide which groups of employees use the method.

IT admins will also be able to prevent frontline workers from accessing Teams when they are not on the clock. Temporarily blocking access will help businesses comply with labor laws.

Finally, for Android, Microsoft will add an “end shift” button to shared mobile devices and tablets that will clear app logins and browser sessions. Purging that data will prevent employees from accessing information they shouldn’t.  

Collectively, the latest features show that Microsoft wants to take Teams beyond the 30% of corporate employees who work in offices, Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, said. “I think Microsoft is aggressively trying to expand the reach of Teams.”

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For Sale – Custom Gaming PC – Intel i5 3570 – Mini ATX – GTX 770 – 8GB RAM – SSD – Windows 10 Pro

For sale here is a small form factor gaming PC, as I decided to go back to using console. It can handle most latest titles in medium settings and some not-so-demanding ones in high. Will come with power cord and few bits of screws that come with the case. As I don’t have the box anymore, this is only to collect in person from Tooting, South London. Looking for a quick sale as I’m moving in 3 weeks time.

Specifications:
Case

Kolink Satellite Micro ATX Desktop PC Gaming CubeCase Black

Motherboard
MSI H61M-P20-G3 Motherboard (Intel H61 Processor,M-ATX, Gigabit LAN, Socket LGA1155, USB2)

CPU
Intel Core i5-3570 Processor and Intel Cooler

Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce GTX770 SuperClocked with EVGA ACXCooler, 2GB GDDR5 256bit, DL DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DP, SLI Ready

Memory
Ballistix Sport 8GB Kit (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 UDIMM

SSD
Samsung SSD 850 Evo 250GB ATA
Integral V Series 120 GB SATA III Solid StateDrive, 2.5 Inch

PSU
EVGA 500 W1, 80+ WHITE 500W

Misc
USB Bluetooth Adaptor

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For Sale – 32GB DDR3 / Itx bundle

Had these sitting in a drawer for a while now (circa 2 – 3 months) but never got round to using them. They are still retail sealed and obviously I will honour against DOA plus help with any warranty requirements.

Full details here:

4x8GB Sealed kits, totalling 32GB.

Asking £70 inc

——————————————————–

Itx bundle:

1x Socket 1150 ECS H81H3-TI2 (1.0) Thin ITX motherboard
1x Pentium G3258 anniversary edition cpu
1x Stock Intel Fan / Heatsink
1x 4GB DDR3 Ram Stick
1x Sealed i/o shield
1x sata power breakout cable
1x pcie wifi card
1x HP PSU brick
Win 10 pro 64bit license tied to mobo

Motherboard specs:

Asking £60 inc
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For Sale – Ryzen 3700X, NVidia RTX 2070 Super, ADATA 1TB NVME, EVGA 750W PSU, Noctua Cooler, Noctua Case Fans, Meshify C Case, Samsung SSD

Built a gaming PC in September, but I’m just not using it enough to justify keeping it, so I’m selling all the parts from it. Everything apart from the Samsung SSD was only bought 4 months ago, and the PC itself wasn’t built until the middle of September, so the parts have only been used for effectively 3 months and are in excellent condition, wasn’t even any dust on most of the internals

. I will include PDFs or screenshots of all order invoices for all goods (again, aside from the Samsung SSD), for warranty purposes. As far as I’m aware, nothing has less than 7-8 months warranty, more in many cases, which will be detailed for each specific item.

Delivery – SD=Special Delivery, SF=Signed For, PF=Parcelforce, DPD =…DPD

Parts for sale

£258 (+£7 SD) – AMD Ryzen 3700X – CPU only, no Cooler. Comes in the original AMD Plastic holder and AMD Box (I can include the original Air Cooler box as well, but it will have to be flat-packed), also comes with remainder of 3-year Warranty.

£35 (+£5 SF1st) – 2x Noctua NF-A14 PWM Chromax 140mm Case Fans – Come in all the original packaging, and remainder of 6-year warranties.

£80 (+£10 DPD) – EVGA 750W G3 80+ Gold Modular PSU – Comes with all the original cables, bags and manual and remainder of 10-year Warranty.

£60 (+£10 DPD) – FractalDesign Meshify C Case with Tempered Glass Side Window (Black) – Comes with all the original screws, hard drive caddy has been re-attached for delivery, but will most likely need to be relocated slightly. The magnets attached to the dust filter on the top of the case were very flimsy and came off, so I re-attached them with gorilla glue and some black tape above to tidy it up. Not quite as aesthetically-appealing as it was originally, but much stronger. Includes 2 Fractal 120mm Case Fans.

Please be sure to ask any questions you may have, I’ve tried to take plenty of photos to include everything, so if there’s anything you can’t see included with a certain item that you expect there to be, ask about it before agreeing to purchase anything.

IMG_20191202_105507.jpg IMG_20191202_105519.jpg IMG_20191202_111340.jpg IMG_20191203_105606.jpg

** SOLD **

£85 (+£12 PF48hr) – MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC (Wi-fi model) Motherboard – BIOS has been updated obviously to ensure immediate support for latest Ryzen CPUs. Comes with all the original accessories and manual/sticker/quick-start guide etc. I believe MSI cover motherboards for 3-Year warranty, so you should get the remainder of this. I have not registered it myself. Sold to ciderspace

£55 (+£3 SF1st) – Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4 3200Mhz C16 RAM – 2x8GB – Comes in original Corsair packaging. Limited Lifetime warranty. Sold to ciderspace

£30 (+£2 1stClass) – Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD Taken from my i6700HQ laptop, comes unpackaged with 4 screws. SOLD via ebay

£410 (+£25 SD) – Nvidia RTX 2070 Super – Purchased directly from Nvidia, comes with the remainder of a 3-year warranty. Comes with all the original packaging other than plastic wrapper that Card itself was wrapped in. SOLD via ebay

£15 (+£3 2nd/£4 SF2nd) – Club3D 3M DisplayPort 1.4 MBR3 8K Cable – Brand new and unused. SOLD via ebay

£85 (+£7 SD) – ADATA XPG SX8200 PRO 1TB M.2 NVME SSD – SSD and unused heatsink included along with ADATA packaging. Comes with remainder of 5-year Warranty. SOLD via ebay

£63 (+£10 DPD) – Noctua D15S Premium CPU Cooler – Comes with 2x NF-A15 PWM 140mm Chromax/Black Fans (effectively this is a Noctua D15 Cooler setup with two fans rather than one, halfway between the £75 standard D15 with ugly brown fans and the £88 Chromax edition, but Chrome/silver cooler not black). Includes Intel/AMD fittings. Also comes with Noctua NA-SYC1 (2x 4-Pin Y-Cables (£9 originally), each one for connecting two fans to one Fan slot on your motherboard). Come with remainder of 6-year Warranty. May be an extra day’s wait as I may have to source a box to put all these items in together. SOLD via ebay

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Soundscape app delivers the world in 3D sound with Bing Maps

Imagine being able to navigate through your neighborhood using your hearing alone. Microsoft Soundscape is an application built by the Enable Group in Microsoft Research that helps the blind and low vision explore the world around them using a map delivered in 3D sound. Armed with a stereo headset and the Soundscape app, anyone with a visual impairment can experience a mobile voice-based map that helps empower by providing the independence to traverse your environment and the ability to choose how to get from place to another.

With the help of Bing Maps Local Search and Bing Maps Location Recognition APIs, Soundscape enables you to hear where landmarks are around you to orient yourself, build a richer awareness of your surroundings, and have the confidence to discover what’s around the next corner.

Read the full story at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/maps/customers/microsoft-soundscape.

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What should CIOs do with SAP ECC support ending in 2025?

SAP has promised the end of SAP ECC support in 2025, and that means big changes for most SAP users. 

Companies using SAP ERP Central Component are faced with some major decisions. The most obvious is whether to stay on ECC or migrate their systems to S4/HANA. This is not easy decision to make, as each has its own set of pros and cons. No matter which choice a company makes, it will face business consequences, and must prepare accordingly.

From the vendor perspective, support staff and developers should focus on a new product. As part of this, most software vendors push their clients to adopt the latest platform, partly by imposing an end-of-support deadline. And this strategy has some success. Most clients don’t want to be left with an unsupported system that might cause work delays. But moving to a new product can also be problematic.

For an SAP ECC customer, moving to S4/HANA comes with its own set of challenges and poses risks. Implementing the latest SAP platform does not always equate to better and faster systems, as seen in Revlon’s disastrous SAP S/4HANA implementation. Revlon experienced shipping delays and revenue losses as a result of system, operational and implementation challenges. It was also sued by shareholders.

Such failures can’t always be blamed only on the new software. Other factors that can contribute to ERP implementation failure — whether a new SAP system or another vendor’s system — include lack of operational maturity, poor leadership, lack of experienced resources and cultural challenges. These can turn a potentially successful ERP implementation into a complete disaster.

End of SAP ECC support must be balanced with the risks of moving to S/4HANA. Companies must consider performing the following activities in order to prepare for the upcoming deadline:

  • Talk to others in the same vertical about their experience with S/4HANA.
  • Determine the costs and changes associated with the change.
  • Evaluate the latest version of S/4HANA.
  • Identify which vendors might potentially continue to provide third-party ECC support after SAP stops it.
  • Determine any compliance concerns that could arise from not receiving updates on ECC software.
  • Reach out to other companies within the SAP user groups and discuss what some of their plans are.
  • Determine a plan for necessary patching and bug fixes.

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What are the Azure Stack HCI deployment, management options?

There are several management approaches and deployment options for organizations interested in using the Azure Stack HCI product.

Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged infrastructure product, similar to other offerings in which each node holds processors, memory, storage and networking components. Third-party vendors sell the nodes that can scale should the organization need more resources. A purchase of Azure Stack HCI includes the hardware, Windows Server 2019 operating system, management tools, and service and support from the hardware vendor. At time of publication, Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI catalog lists more than 150 offerings from 19 vendors.

Azure Stack HCI, not to be confused with Azure Stack, gives IT pros full administrator rights to manage the system.

Tailor the Azure Stack HCI options for different needs

The basic components of an Azure Stack HCI node might be the same, but an organization can customize them for different needs, such as better performance or lowest price. For example, a company that wants to deploy a node in a remote office/branch office might select Lenovo’s ThinkAgile MX Certified Node, or its SR650 model. The SR650 scales to two nodes that can be configured with a variety of processors offering up to 28 cores, up to 1.5 TB of memory, hard drive combinations providing up to 12 TB (or SSDs offering more than 3.8 TB), and networking with 10/25 GbE. Each node comes in a 2U physical form factor.

If the organization needs the node for more demanding workloads, one option is the Fujitsu Primeflex. Azure Stack HCI node models such as the all-SSD Fujitsu Primergy RX2540 M5 scale to 16 nodes. Each node can range from 16 to 56 processor cores, up to 3 TB of SSD storage and 25 GbE networking.

Management tools for Azure Stack HCI systems

Microsoft positions the Windows Admin Center (WAC) as the ideal GUI management tool for Azure Stack HCI, but other familiar utilities will work on the platform.

Microsoft positions the Windows Admin Center (WAC) as the ideal GUI management tool for Azure Stack HCI, but other familiar utilities will work on the platform.

The Windows Admin Center is a relatively new browser-based tool for consolidated management for local and remote servers. The Windows Admin Center provides a wide array of management capabilities, such as managing Hyper-V VMs and virtual switches, along with failover and hyper-converged cluster management. While it is tailored for Windows Server 2019 — the server OS used for Azure Stack HCI — it fully supports Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016, and offers some functionality for Windows Server 2008 R2.

Azure Stack HCI users can also use more established management tools such as System Center. The System Center suite components handle infrastructure provisioning, monitoring, automation, backup and IT service management. System Center Virtual Machine Manager provisions and manages the resources to create and deploy VMs, and handle private clouds. System Center Operations Manager monitors services, devices and operations throughout the infrastructure.

Other tools are also available including PowerShell, both the Windows and the PowerShell Core open source versions, as well as third-party products, such as 5nine Manager for Windows Server 2019 Hyper-V management, monitoring and capacity planning.

It’s important to check over each management tool to evaluate its compatibility with the Azure Stack HCI platform, as well as other components of the enterprise infrastructure.

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