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Dell EMC Isilon file storage floats into Google public cloud

Dell EMC spun out a flurry of cloud initiatives to bolster one of the few areas where its products lag competing storage vendors.

The infrastructure vendor teamed with Google to make its Dell EMC Isilon OneFS file system available for scale-out analytics in the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Dell EMC said Google cloud customers can scale up to 50 petabytes of Isilon file storage in a single namespace, with no required application changes.

The managed NAS offering uses Google compute to run software instantiations of Isilon OneFS. The service is part of Dell Technologies Cloud, an umbrella branding for Dell EMC’s cloud options. This is Google’s second major foray into file system storage within the last year. It acquired startup Elastifile, whose scale-out system is integrated in Google Cloud Filestore.

Dell Technologies Cloud hybrid cloud infrastructure enhancements also include native Kubernetes integration in VMware vSphere, along with more flexible compute and storage options.

File storage written for cloud

Dell EMC allows customers to tier local file storage to all three public cloud providers via its Isilon CloudPools, but the Google partnership is its first effort at writing OneFS specifically for cloud-native workloads. AWS has the largest market share of the public cloud market, followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Dell did not address if it plans similar integrations with AWS or Microsoft Azure, but it represents a likely path, especially as enterprises deploy multiple hybrid clouds. File pioneer NetApp started offering cloud-based versions of its OnTap operating system several years ago, while all-flash specialist Pure Storage recently added file services to its block-based FlashArray flagship array. Hewlett Packard Enterprise also sells file services in the cloud on ProLiant servers through an OEM deal with Qumulo, whose founders helped to engineer the original Isilon NAS code.

Dell has to continue to execute on this strategy with the other major cloud providers. This can’t be a one-and-done.
Matt EastwoodSenior vice president of enterprise infrastructure, IDC

“Dell has to continue to execute on this strategy with the other major cloud providers. This can’t be a one-and-done [with Google]. We’ll need to see more improvements from Dell in the next six to 12 months to show they are able to bring their file storage technologies to the cloud,” said Matt Eastwood, a senior vice president of enterprise infrastructure at IDC.

Although Dell and Google publicly acknowledged a beta version in 2018, the formal OneFS cloud launch comes a little more than one year after Thomas Kurian took over as CEO at Google Cloud Platform. An interesting twist would be noteworthy if Kurian’s arrival helped spur the Dell product development: George Kurian, his twin brother, and CEO at NetApp, has said Dell is “years behind” NetApp’s Data Fabric strategy.

Brian Payne, a Dell EMC vice president, said enterprises have struggled to run traditional file systems that fully exploit Google’s fast compute services for analyzing large data sets. Enterprises can purchase the cloud version of Dell EMC Isilon OneFS with the required compute services in the Google Compute Platform portal.

“We found that customers are using Google to run their AI engines or data services, and we paired with Google to help them process and store very large content files in Isilon,” Payne said.

Node requirements flexed for Dell Technologies Cloud

Dell’s strategy has evolved on how to unify is hybrid cloud offerings with public cloud technologies, although its ownership of VMware provides assets supported by Dell EMC storage competitors.

Dell Technologies Cloud integrates VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) and Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure as a combined stack to run workload domains, software-defined storage, software-defined networking and virtualized compute. Customers can buy Dell Technologies Cloud and manage it locally or as an on-demand service.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 includes native Kubernetes integration that allows container orchestration to be managed in vSphere. The Kubernetes piece is part of Project Pacific, the code name for a major redesign of the vSphere control plane. Payne said it allows cloud-native workloads to run directly on the Dell Technologies Cloud platform, with Dell handling lifecycle management.

Dell Technologies On Demand offers the same services as a consumption license. Payne said Dell’s new entry requirement is a minimum of four nodes, down from eight nodes, and users can scale capacity across multiple racks.

The Dell Technologies Cloud binge includes updates to Dell EMC SD-WAN software-defined networking, based on the VeloCloud technology VMware acquired in 2017. Dell also added support for Dell EMC PowerProtect Cyber Recovery data protection to VMware Cloud, which uses Dell EMC storage to extend private IaaS deployments to public clouds.

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Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students | | Microsoft EDU

It’s Day 3 of Bett, where we’ve been bringing you updates and insights into how to use the latest and most effective ed tech tools and resources. It’s our final day live streaming from London. We explored how educators can help students develop communication, and collaboration skills while using free tools like Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams in our Day 1 episode here and we shared how you can prepare students for jobs of the future in our Day 2 episode here. Today, we want to talk about how to use built-in accessible tools at no extra cost and the power of joining an innovative and caring community of like-minded innovators in education.

Today, we’ll dive into ways to provide students with personalized learning, how to foster inclusion to meet the needs of all the learners in your classroom, and the power of joining a global community devoted to improving equity in education. At Microsoft, we’re committed to providing you and your students with built-in accessibility tools at no extra cost. These can improve language, literacy and numeracy skills and give students of all abilities independence and the opportunity to learn without stigma.  

In this episode we will show you how:  

  • You can use available Immersive Reader features in the new Microsoft Edge  
  • You can now use Office 365 Education online for free, from anywhere, with built-in tools for accessibility  
  • You can promote student confidence and capacity to learn and improve independently with powerful learning tools 

For starters, we want to share this inspiring story about Louis Riel School Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the entire community is focused on creating equitable, inclusive and accessible learning environments. Check out this case study and video below to learn about how the district went about meeting the needs of all students and how administrators support teachers in accessing education technology in ways that advance teaching and learning goals. 

Video for Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students

The new Microsoft Edge– supporting inclusive learning 

The web should have built-in flexibility and accessibility to support you and every student in your classroom. The new Microsoft Edge web browser supports inclusive classrooms with built-in Microsoft Learning Tools and helps every student learn and benefit from the web. Immersive Reader capabilities in Microsoft Edge help students, particularly struggling readers, stay engaged and promote reading skills. While using Microsoft Edge, teachers and students can use Immersive Reader to change text size to improve readability and hear text read aloud. Additional Immersive Reader capabilities that allow users to customize their experience will come later this year. 

Learning Tools 

Today’s classrooms have students with diverse learning needs, and as teachers, we know you have a strong desire to effectively reach every one of your students. Microsoft Learning Tools enable teachers to provide differentiated support to all students in reading, writing, and math as well as communication. We have updates below! 

Reading 

Immersive Reader 

We’re thrilled that the Immersive Reader learning tool continues to come to more platforms. The full-screen reading experience improves the readability of content in many ways, including by enabling users to tailor text size, fonts, spacing, line focus, read-aloud capabilities and more.

Here’s some additional Immersive Reader news: 

  • Spotlight on The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and Azure AI partner Buncee: We’re inspired by the way that schools like the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria (TYWLS) are using Immersive Reader to empower readers of all ages and reading abilities. Learn more about their story and how Azure AI is enabling partners to build accessible applications in our blog.

Video for Live from BETT: What’s new in EDU–Fostering an accessible, inclusive classroom that works for all students

  • Six new immersive Reader partners: Today we are excited to highlight six new partners who are integrating the Immersive Reader: FlocabularyHaldorHelperbirditsLearningKidblog and Pear Deck.  These are the latest of six partners that have integrated the Immersive Reader, which is an Azure Cognitive Service.  To see the growing list of Immersive Reader partners, bookmark this link
  • Office Lens for iOS and Android both now have the full Immersive Reader experience integrated with the latest updates for both iPhone and iPad. Office Lens on Android (all platforms) will be shipping a similar update in spring. Office Lens is a free mobile scanning app. It offers a great way to capture text from a document or elsewhere without manually having to retype it. 
  • Language updates: Parts of speech in Immersive Reader allows students to label nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. We’ve rolled out parts of speech for Arabic. We’ve also added the ability to translate to and from the Maori and Gaelic languages in the Immersive Reader. These will also be available in Live Presentations in PowerPoint for the Web. 
  • Immersive Reader for Microsoft Forms is now available globally for students and educators, so they can leverage Immersive Reader tools as they create or take a quiz.  

Writing 

Dictation (speech to text) is an important technology that allows people to easily type with their voice. It is especially helpful for those with dyslexia, dysgraphia or mobility impairments. In addition to about a dozen languages already available, we are rolling out Dictation support in public preview for five new languages: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. These languages will start rolling out in Word, OneNote, Outlook and PowerPoint Desktop and web in late January.   

Math 

Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10  

We’re thrilled to let you know that we’re starting to roll out Equation Tools in OneNote for Windows 10. Equation Tools allows students to input and make changes to math equations more easily than by typing those in with a keyboard. To get started, all you do is press the Equation button in the ribbon Insert tab in OneNote on your Windows 10 device and choose from a range of structures and math symbols to build up equations.  

We believe an inclusive math class is one where students have a variety of methods for inputting equations because we know different learners have different styles and needs, and we’re so glad to add this resource to the classroom toolbox!  

Math Assistant in OneNote for iPad 

We’re excited to announce we’re bringing Math Assistant in OneNote to iPad users this spring. We heard you say you wanted Math Assistant on this platform, and we worked hard to make it happen. It’s easy to use–all you do to get started is log into your Office 365 Education account in OneNote on your iPad and press the Math button on the ribbon Draw tab. 

You’ll be able to use the tool to help you solve equations and see solution steps to help build student understanding. Look out for additional updates to the app, such as the ability to graph equations and generate practice quizzes, which is popular on other platforms, after Bett and ahead of back-to-school season.  

For more on inclusive math tools, check out this interactive guide.  

Windows graphing calculator for Windows 10 

We’re excited to announce that Windows Calculator is getting a new feature: graphing mode. We’re adding this feature to every Windows 10 and 10S PC for students and teachers to help with instruction related to graphing concepts. Educators and students will be able to use this free tool right from their devices, without having to buy an expensive graphing calculator. It will help users plot and analyze multiple equations and manipulate equation variables to help understand how changes to equations affect graphs. 

The graphing mode in Windows Calculator is available now through our Microsoft Insider program and will be refined and released for a general audience before back-to-school season.  

We’re excited to make this feature available to Windows 10 users, offering a built-in, easy-to-use tool that can help create a more inclusive learning environment. Many of you have asked if educators can disable the feature if they need to, for assessments for example, and the answer is yes. It’s yours to use with your students, as that makes sense. 

We welcome your feedback. We’ve open sourced the Windows Calculator app on GitHub, which means those of you who are computer science educators, or have some background knowledge, can study the source code, build system, unit tests and product roadmap and offer new ideas for improvements. We always enjoy seeing educators, and sometimes their students, get involved in this kind of collaboration. If you see a feature that is missing, build it yourself and add it to the graphing calculator! You can read more here

Communication  

OneNote Live Captions. As we noted in our Bett kickoff post, a recent study at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), found that 42 percent of students use closed captions to help maintain focus and 38 percent use interactive transcripts to help them better retain information. In addition, student outcomes improve with the use of transcripts. This month, we are rolling out a private preview of OneNote that allows any student to connect OneNote to a Microsoft Translator captions via a Join Code and receive the captions and translation stream.  

This allows captions from the educator speaking to flow directly into OneNote for reading, while still allowing the student to take notes. In addition, the student can pause the captions, highlight portions, and then have the entire transcription saved as a page into OneNote. This feature will benefit all learners but especially those who may be hard of hearing or speak multiple languages. We’ll start by rolling out OneNote Live Captions in private Beta in early February with more general availability to follow.  

Empower Every Voice with Flipgrid: Microsoft’s free video discussion platform!

NEW! Edit captions, launch the Immersive Reader on video transcripts, and more. Flipgrid enables you to empower every voice in your classroom by recording and sharing short, awesome videos … together! Since last year, Flipgrid revolutionized the camera, adding trimming and rearranging clips, whiteboard mode, live inking, and more. Furthermore, every video is now automatically transcribed and close-captioned by Microsoft Azure. Take engagement to the next level by “sticking” videos ANYWHERE with the transformative Flipgrid AR. Inspired by your feedback and ideas, the Flipgrid team is constantly innovating and improving for you, your community, and your peers from 190 countries around the world.

Wrapping it up 

Thanks for checking out our latest episode of What’s New in EDU, live from Bett 2020 and those we brought you earlier in the week. We’ve enjoyed meeting so many innovative and passionate educators here in London. And we hope you found the information we brought you to be helpful. Please check out our new tech tools, free teacher training resources, STEM and computer science materials and advice on boosting future-ready skills in your students. As always, share your feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU! 

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Microsoft Store empowers students with free Computer Science Education Week workshops | Windows Experience Blog

Students at a Microsoft Store

One hundred and thirteen years ago in New York, a girl was born into a generation where the average woman was more likely to perfect a signature pie recipe than solve a pi-based equation. Pushing against expectations, this girl became one of the pre-eminent technologists of our times and made it possible to convert human language into machine code understood by computers. On Dec. 9, the anniversary of Admiral Grace Hopper’s birthday kicks off Computer Science Education Week, an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science.

As technology such as AI and cloud computing rapidly transforms the future of work, it’s more important than ever for students and educators to develop STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—skills. It’s estimated that over 85 million jobs worldwide will go unfilled by 2030 if we don’t bridge the STEM skills gap—but schools often struggle to implement quality STEM curriculum and prepare students for career paths that are just starting to come into focus.

Inspire students to ignite a passion for Computer Science

Microsoft Stores are committed to empowering students and educators with computer science resources and will host over 400 events in partnership with STEM influencers throughout Computer Science Education Week across locations. Ensuring no one is left behind when it comes to developing increasingly crucial computer science skills, programming this year has an increased focus on inclusion for traditionally underrepresented students.

Microsoft Store workshops will offer hands-on learning centered around coding, game design, app development and more using technologies from Windows, Surface, Office 365, Minecraft and more. Participants will hear from a diverse group of mentors and organizations from across the STEM field, including Lynell Caldwell, NASA, Brandon Copeland, Black Girls Code, Al Smith, Curtis Baham, Lee Woodall, Dennis Brown and Titus O’Neil.

Students at a Microsoft Store

Check your local Microsoft Store to register for exciting workshops geared toward empowering every learner, including workshops like;

  • Latina Girls in Gaming with MakeCode Arcade: Learn basic block coding and create video games with Gabriela Ponce, producer with Turn 10 Studios and advocate for helping the Latinx community succeed in the gaming industry. Gaby will share more about her journey combining her passions for art, culture and technology, and empower Latina girls to embrace STEM skills.
  • All Kids Code with Tynker Space Quest: Solve coding puzzles to guide an astronaut in space with Nadmi Casiano, the first deaf woman to graduate with an aeronautical engineering degree. All students are welcome, and ASL interpreters will be available at participating Microsoft Store locations to empower students with hearing disabilities.
  • African American Girls Code with Tynker Space Quest: Joan Higgenbotham, one of the first African American female astronauts to go into space, will share her experience at a workshop geared toward inspiring African American Girls to pursue STEM. Participants will learn basic coding concepts in an engaging format as they navigate aliens in search for a spaceship.
  • MANCODE with Design and Code Apps: Brainstorm app ideas and bring ideas to life with MANCODE, an organization aimed at addressing the stagnate growth of African American males within the STEM industry, who currently represent only 2.2% of the field. This workshop is geared toward underrepresented male students aged 13 and older, who will meet a male minority mentor and learn about the importance of technology.
  • Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit Workshop: Explore the magic of STEM at a Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit Workshop that introduces foundational coding concepts, including drag-and-drop coding. This autism-friendly workshop features alternate activities to allow a broad level of participation, and parents are welcome to join with their child.

In addition to these workshops, Microsoft Stores will also host Minecraft Hour of Code workshops, teaching students of all ages to code with Minecraft. The new Minecraft Hour of Code lesson aligns with this year’s theme, Computer Science for Good. Students will explore coding and artificial intelligence as they protect a village from forest fires in an immersive Minecraft world. Anyone can learn how coding can help build a better world—in just one hour!

Check availability of workshops and RSVP at your local Microsoft Store. Programming will vary by location. And, do you know students always get 10% off at Microsoft Store?* Make sure to take advantage of your discount when you shop at Microsoft Store.

* See full terms at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/b/education

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Container backup grows, following container adoption

The popularity of container deployments is reaching a tipping point where all backup vendors will eventually need to be able to support them, industry experts said.

As container technology adoption increases, the need for container backup grows. Until now, most containers have been stateless and required no backup.

“We’re going to be seeing more stateful containers, buoyed by the fact that now there’s ways to protect them,” said Steven Hill, senior analyst at 451 Research.

Tom Barton, CEO of container storage vendor Diamanti, said he is seeing more customers’ containers with persistent storage. Barton said when containers replace virtual machines, they require the same data protection and disaster recovery (DR) requirements.

“I think containers will generally displace VMs in the long-run,” Barton said.

Diamanti recently launched the beta version of its Spektra platform, a Kubernetes management layer designed for migrating Kubernetes workloads between on premises and cloud. Spektra enables high availability and DR for Kubernetes workloads, and Barton said Diamanti and its competitors partner with data protection vendors to provide container backup.

Other products that offer container backup include Veritas NetBackup, which introduced its Docker container support at the beginning of this year, and IBM Spectrum Protect, which has recently entered this space by rolling out snapshotting for Kubernetes users.

Hill shared similar beliefs about containers replacing VMs but stressed it will not be a one-for-one replacement. He said economics will always play a role. He said some applications and workloads will remain that make sense to keep on VMs while others will belong on containers. The situation will vary between organizations, but it won’t be fair to say containers are strictly better than VMs, or vice versa.

Screenshot of vProtect version 3.9
Storware vProtect supports a wide variety of hypervisors.

“You never do everything with just the one tool,” Hill said.

Hill also stressed that containers themselves aren’t a mature market or technology yet, and vendors are still waiting to see how organizations are using them. Customers putting mission-critical applications on containers have nudged demand for data protection, backup, recovery, availability and failover — the same kind of capabilities expected in any environment. Vendors are responding to this demand, but the tools aren’t ready yet.

“Protecting stateful containers is still relatively new. The numbers aren’t there to define a real market,” Hill said.

Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting, said containers still lack the security, flexibility and resilience of VMs. He chalks that up to containers’ lack of maturity. As customers put containers into production, they will realize the technology’s shortcomings, and vendors will develop products and features to address those problems. Staimer said the industry has recently reached a tipping point where there’s enough container adoption to catch vendor interest.

Staimer acknowledged that when containers mature to the same point where hypervisors are now, there will be widespread replacement. Like Hill, he does not expect it to be a wholesale replacement.

“We like to believe these things are winner-takes-all, but they’re not,” Staimer said. “In tech, nothing goes away.”

Staimer said from a technical standpoint, container backup has unique problems that differentiate it from traditional server, VM and SaaS application backup. The core problem is that containers don’t have APIs to allow for backup software to take a snapshot of the state of the container. Most backup vendors install agents in containers to scan and capture what it needs to build a recoverable snapshot. This takes time and resources, which goes against the intent of containers being lightweight VMs.

Trilio CEO David Safaii said installing agents in containers also create extra hassle for developers because they have to go through an IT admin to conduct their backups. He said there’s a “civil war” between IT managers and DevOps. IT managers need to worry about data protection, security and compliance. These are all important and necessary measures, but they can get in the way of DevOps’s philosophy of continuous and agile development.

Trilio recently launched the beta program for its TrilioVault for Kubernetes, which is an agentless container backup offering. Asigra similarly performs container backup without using agents, as does Poland-based Storware’s vProtect.

Storware vProtect started in the container backup space by focusing on open platforms first, protecting Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes projects. Storware CTO Paweł Mączka said no one asked for container data protection in the early days because container workloads were microservices and applications.

Mączka saw customers now use containers as they would VMs. DevOps now put databases in containers, shifting them from stateless to stateful. However, Mączka doesn’t see containers taking over and proliferating to the same point as hypervisors such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, which vProtect only started supporting in its latest version 3.9 update.
“I don’t think they’ll rule the world, but it’s important to have the [container backup] feature,” Mączka said.

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Purchase an Xbox One with Xbox All Access for No Upfront Cost; Special Upgrade Offer Available for a Limited Time – Xbox Wire

At Xbox we believe strongly in choice.  Choice in what, where and how you play, in addition to where and how you buy.  It’s with that that we’re thrilled to reintroduce Xbox All Access to more players around the world starting with the U.S., U.K. and Australia— and now including an all-new upgrade option for the next Xbox console, Project Scarlett.

With Xbox All Access, you get an all-inclusive Xbox experience with everything you need to start playing right out of the box for as little as $19.99 per month for 24 months (US pricing). The program is a great choice for players who want flexibility in their purchasing options and are looking for the best value in gaming. When joining Xbox All Access, you get:

  • Xbox One console
  • 24-month membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
    • Xbox Pass Ultimate includes all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, including online multiplayer, and access to over 100 great games on console and PC.
  • Option to upgrade to Project Scarlett once its available in Holiday 2020

While Xbox All Access isn’t eligible to be stacked with any other discounts or limited time promotions, the price you pay per month is dependent upon which console you choose and saves players over $100 dollars compared to purchasing everything separately.

Here’s how it works in four easy steps:

  • In order to join the program, simply visit a participating retailer.
  • Select the console you would like to purchase with no upfront cost.^
  • Qualify with our financing partner (Citizens Bank in the U.S.; Klarna in the U.K.; Telstra in Australia). Once approved, complete your purchase with the retailer.
  • Once you’ve signed up and brought your console home, it’s time to power up and game on.

Xbox All Access will be available beginning on October 29 in Australia, November 5 in the U.K. and November 18 in the U.S. through select partners and retailers, including:

Some program details vary by country. Please visit country specific links to learn more.

Players in the U.S. and U.K. who purchase an Xbox One console with Xbox All Access have the option to upgrade to Project Scarlett once it’s available Holiday 2020 and they’ve made 18 payments.  Players in Australia can buyout their hardware at any time and upgrade to Project Scarlett once it’s available.

We realize buying a console is an investment and some players are waiting to make the jump to the next generation with Project Scarlett when it launches in Holiday 2020 alongside “Halo Infinite”.  This is why as a limited time offer this holiday season, players in the U.S. and U.K. who purchase an Xbox One X with Xbox All Access through December 31, 2019, have the option to upgrade to the next Xbox console in as few as 12 months and once Project Scarlett has officially launched.

In order to participate in the upgrade program when Project Scarlett launches in Holiday 2020,  players in the U.S. and U.K. will need to be in good standing with the respective financing partner in their market, purchase Project Scarlett with a new Xbox All Access purchase from the same retail partner where they joined the program, and trade-in the console originally purchased with Xbox All Access. Terms and conditions apply, including an upgrade fee for players upgrading from the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition to Project Scarlett.

As always, we’re grateful to our fans for their support and look forward to bringing Xbox All Access to more players around the world in the coming months.

To find out more about Xbox All Access, including how to join, what consoles are available for purchase, your upgrade option, and terms and conditions, please click here in the US, here in the United Kingdom and here in Australia, or visit your local retail partner.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

AWS gets behind Rust programming language

AWS has gotten behind the Rust programming language in a big way, to the point where the cloud infrastructure giant has become a sponsor of the language.

Since its first stable release four years ago, Rust has emerged as a viable alternative to C++. Known for enabling developers to build high-performing, reliable applications, as well as for boosting programmer productivity, Rust has been adopted as a system programming language by companies including Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Yelp, Dropbox, Cloudflare and AWS.

“Rust is the first real alternative to C++ that we’ve seen in a long time,” said Cameron Purdy, CEO of Xqiz.it, a Lexington, Mass., startup developing its own programming language, known as Ecstasy. “Rust is built for systems-level work, and appears to be far better thought out than C++ was.”

Indeed, “Rust is making significant inroads as a language for systems programming,” said James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk.

The use of Rust at AWS has grown, as services such as Lambda, EC2 and S3 use Rust in performance-sensitive components. Also, AWS’s Firecracker virtualization technology is written using Rust.

The AWS sponsorship of Rust includes supporting the Rust project infrastructure. AWS provides promotional credits to the Rust project to be used to perform upstream and performance testing, CI/CD or storage of artifacts on AWS, the company said in a blog post. AWS also is offering similar promotional credits to other open source projects, including AdoptOpenJDK, Maven Central and the Julia programming language.

Jeffrey HammondJeffrey Hammond

“I think AWS is looking for opportunities to blunt the criticism — undeserved or not — that while it is a consumer and benefactor from its OSS consumption, it’s not a producer or community supporter of it,” said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Projects like Coretto, Firecracker and sponsorship projects like this all go to counter that narrative.”

According to AWS, the Rust project uses AWS services to:

  • Store release artifacts such as compilers, libraries, tools and source code on S3.
  • Run ecosystem-wide regression tests with Crater on EC2.
  • Operate docs.rs, a website that hosts documentation for all packages published to the central crates.io package registry.

“It’s interesting that AWS recently made this approach explicit, but AWS is not alone,” Governor said. “I talk a lot about folks being ‘Rust curious,’ but it appears we’re now moving beyond curiosity. Microsoft is another major player making a strong call for more Rust-based development. Rust is no longer something for developers to play with on their weekends. It’s becoming a language of infrastructure.”

I talk a lot about folks being ‘Rust curious,’ but it appears we’re now moving beyond curiosity.
James GovernorAnalyst, RedMonk

Rust has been ranked as the “most loved” programming language in the annual Stack Overflow developer survey for four years in a row. With no runtime or garbage collector, Rust delivers faster performance. Rust also provides memory and thread safety, which helps to eliminate bugs.

In July, Microsoft said it was looking at Rust as an alternative to C and C++ based on its safety and performance. In other words, Rust enables developers to create secure, high-performant applications, said Ryan Levick, a principal cloud developer advocate at Microsoft, in a blog post.

“We believe Rust changes the game when it comes to writing safe systems software,” Levick said. “Rust provides the performance and control needed to write low-level systems, while empowering software developers to write robust, secure programs.”

However, Microsoft found some issues with Rust that will need to be addressed, including the lack of first-class interoperability with C++, and interoperability with existing Microsoft tooling, Levick said.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in San Francisco, said the race for cloud market leadership is based on attracting developers to build next-generation applications on the leading cloud platforms.

“From time to time there is a new programming language that catches the attention of developers, usually for productivity and/or capability reasons,” he said. “That’s the case with Rust, which is gaining quickly in popularity and, hence, large IaaS providers need to support Rust.”

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The future of PowerShell begins to sharpen in focus

While predicting on the future of PowerShell, it helps to take a look back at its beginnings to see where it’s going as a cross-platform management tool.

Microsoft released PowerShell in 2006 as part of the Windows desktop and server versions released that year. The company added thousands of cmdlets over the years to expand the tool’s reach across the data center and into the cloud.

Microsoft’s embrace of Linux, due in large part to the number of Linux virtual machines running on Azure, steered the company to make a significant change with PowerShell in 2016. Microsoft ended development of Windows PowerShell in favor of a new tool called PowerShell Core, which would be an open source project to rework the utility as a cross-platform management tool for Windows, Linux and macOS systems.

A lot of features Windows PowerShell had were missing in the first PowerShell Core release in January 2018, mainly due to a switch in the underlying platform from the Windows-based .NET Framework to the cross-platform .NET Core. Jeffrey Snover, the inventor of PowerShell, has said the Windows edition will always have support but recommends IT pros learn how to use PowerShell Core, which is the version Microsoft uses to manage workloads on Azure.

SearchWindowsServer advisory board members shared their thoughts on the recent changes with the cross-platform management tool and their expectations for the future of PowerShell.

Recent releases broaden appeal beyond Windows admins

Reda ChouffaniReda Chouffani

Reda Chouffani: Many administrators who might have resisted moving away from familiar tools such as web interfaces or Microsoft Management Console have come to realize that despite the commands written in PowerShell, it is capable of automating some of the most complex and tedious activities.

At first, a lot of IT pros saw PowerShell just as another replacement to the traditional command line that ships with every Windows box. But once they dug deeper, they found how beneficial it was to use PowerShell commands to manage Exchange Server, Office 365, Skype for Business, Azure and a slew of other platforms.

Opening the PowerShell platform to non-Windows platforms after the version 5.1 release was a significant shift for Microsoft meant to encourage administrators who manage Linux to adopt PowerShell as their management and task automation tool.

Changes in the latest preview versions of PowerShell Core 7, which is based on .NET Core 3.0, include more management modules to extend the functionality. Another recent development is the return of the Out-GridView cmdlet to PowerShell Core. Many administrators used this cmdlet in Windows PowerShell to build GUIs for scripts. The PowerShell Core team was able to bring it back based on user feedback and support of WinForms and the Windows Presentation Foundation in .NET Core 3.0.

Azure is the gateway to get Linux users on board

Stuart Burns: There is no getting away from the fact that automation is growing in the world of IT. How that automation is achieved varies, but the one constant is scripting.

Stuart BurnsStuart Burns

Within Linux, Bash scripting, along with languages like Perl and Python, have been the go-to for the serious systems administrator. Microsoft had nothing in this space until relatively recently, in the form of PowerShell for non-Microsoft operating systems. It is a departure from the Microsoft of old, whereby Linux was seen as a second-class citizen, to put it politely.

PowerShell is a good scripting language, but it remains to be seen how popular it will become beyond Windows administrators. Linux administrators tend to stay with tools that do the job. Many have spent years honing their skills and scripts with Bash. They are not familiar with having upgrades forced on them. I know some administrators who run legacy versions of infrastructure mainly because it just refuses to break.

Microsoft’s embrace of Linux, due in large part to the number of Linux virtual machines running on Azure, steered the company to make a significant change with PowerShell in 2016.

Linux IT pros also have long memories. They don’t trust Microsoft for its anti-Linux stance from years ago when former CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux a cancer, which will take a very long time for them to forget.

Until the large Linux vendors support PowerShell as a first-class citizen, it’s not likely the community will have the motivation to give PowerShell a chance. For example, on the RedHat exam, there is a basic scripting requirement. There is no outside access — or time to download or install — PowerShell so the test-taker has to learn Bash to pass the exam.

One thing Microsoft does have in its favor is the ever-increasing uptake of Linux on the Azure platform. The functionality that PowerShell Core provides, while available in other languages as plug-ins, is definitely easier to utilize on Microsoft’s cloud platform.

Some admins need a little extra help to get started

Brian Kirsch: When Microsoft introduced PowerShell in 2006, administrators had a hard time finding a use for it because the scripting and command lines could only go so far at the time.

The key to PowerShell was its task automation framework over a new scripting format. It took many in IT by surprise and gave them capabilities they didn’t know they might need.

Fast forward to January 2018 and Microsoft took its first serious step to expand PowerShell beyond Windows. The release of PowerShell Core and Linux support expanded the capabilities of this automation tool. It was a big change, but, ultimately, a safe one for Microsoft. While releasing something along the lines of Active Directory for Linux could affect the Windows Server bottom line, making PowerShell cross-platform didn’t.

Brian KirschBrian Kirsch

Building a PowerShell bridge between environments might help make the language a staple of the data center across many platforms. With plug-ins from a variety of third-party platforms, including big vendors such as VMware, this has established PowerShell as the ideal language going forward. So, even if you were not using Hyper-V, you could still use PowerShell for VMware.

Where does Microsoft go from here? Bringing more features and extending the cross-platform capabilities will be a help, but the team should think about ways to make it easier to get the traditional Windows admin using PowerShell Core. In my experience, a lot of admins tend to modify code, not write it from scratch, so the ability to generate code from a wizard was a welcome addition. It might help if the PowerShell developers put together a visual modeling tool to stitch together snips of code for a larger view of a longer automation routine.

It might seem odd to use a graphical interface for something that runs on a command line, but it’s hard for the longtime Windows admin to hand over their GUI management in exchange for code, no matter how powerful it may be.

The Linux side lags too far behind

Richard Siddaway: PowerShell has become the standard automation tool for Windows administrators since its introduction. The announcement of PowerShell Core in 2016 brought with it a lot of uncertainty.

When compared to Windows PowerShell 5.1, the initial version of PowerShell Core, 6.0.0, had a number of functionality gaps. PowerShell Core had no workflows. It was missing cmdlets, such as the WMI cmdlets. Many of the Windows PowerShell modules, such as Active Directory, would not work with PowerShell Core.

Since the initial PowerShell Core 6.0.0 release, the PowerShell project team addressed many of these points:

  • Foreach-Object has a parallel parameter to provide some, if not most, of the functionality delivered by PowerShell workflows.
  • The PowerShell team reinstated missing cmdlets where applicable. For instance, the WMI cmdlets aren’t available in PowerShell Core, but they have been effectively deprecated in Windows PowerShell in favor of the Common Information Model cmdlets.
  • Most of the Windows PowerShell modules have been recompiled to work under PowerShell Core and Windows PowerShell. You can use the Windows Compatibility module to enable most of the rest of the modules to work with PowerShell Core. Some gaps remain, but they are shrinking.

There is little incentive for Windows administrators to embrace PowerShell Core because Windows PowerShell 5.1 does what most administrators need. Recent announcements from the PowerShell team indicate that PowerShell Core 7.x will ship alongside Windows PowerShell 5.1. This may actually reduce adoption on the new PowerShell version as many administrators will stick with what they know.

Richard SiddawayRichard Siddaway

Take up of PowerShell Core on Linux has been much more enthusiastic than on Windows. Ironically, this may hinder further adoption on the Windows side if PowerShell Core is seen as too Unix-centered. The main issue with PowerShell on Linux, especially for Windows users, is there just isn’t the breadth of cmdlets to match Windows.

To become a cross-platform management tool, the Linux side of PowerShell Core needs more cmdlets for systems management to match the level in Windows. A base install of Windows 10 comes with about 1,500 cmdlets while the PowerShell Core for Linux has about 350 cmdlets. At a minimum, administrators need cmdlets to manage network cards, IP addresses, storage, DNS clients, and task and job scheduling. The administrator should be able to issue the same command against any platform and get the desired results in a compatible format.

PowerShell as an open source project ensures future development, but it also comes with the risk that Microsoft could stop supporting it. The other issue is that many of the recent changes are best described as tweaks to address edge cases. There doesn’t seem to be an overall roadmap. The PowerShell team’s blog post regarding the PowerShell 7 roadmap — they plan to drop the “Core” part of the name with the GA release — is a bit of a misnomer because there is no indication of where PowerShell is going and what it’s trying to be. The team should resolve these issues to make it clear what the future of PowerShell will be.

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AI, blockchain top healthcare CIO’s list of emerging tech

Geoffrey Brown was sure finance was where his career was headed, until his mother-in-law became ill. That’s when he witnessed firsthand the “support and compassion” with which she was handled by the healthcare industry.

Brown, who had an IT career in banking, started volunteering with the same hospice program that helped his mother-in-law, until his involvement grew and he was eventually offered the position of healthcare CIO at Georgia Baptist, now Tenet Healthcare. Thirty-five years later, Brown is now CIO at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta where he said he plays an increasingly strategic role. That includes keeping an eye on technologies he thinks will have a significant impact on healthcare, specifically artificial intelligence and blockchain. 

In this Q&A, Brown discusses how the healthcare CIO role has changed from an organization’s technical expert to leader of strategic initiatives, as well as what he thinks the CIO role will look like in the future.

How did you get your start in health IT?

Geoffrey Brown: I was already in the banking, finance industry, and that’s where I thought I wanted to go. But my mother-in-law, who was a nurse, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was a young husband, and my wife and I made a decision to do home hospice care, and that whole experience with the visiting nurse and the doctors that came and the network of clinicians that supported her was something new to me. I had never been around that kind of support and compassion and it affected me. After she passed away, I decided to become a hospice volunteer.

In the financial industry, we had access to all types of technology. I was a programmer, so I automated some of my reporting back then. The director of the hospice program asked if I could do some of that work for the hospice program and that was my entry point. Back then you had to write programs; you couldn’t buy these systems off the shelf.

How has the role of healthcare CIO changed?

Brown: In the early days, you were probably the most knowledgeable person in your organization around any form of technology. How you were promoted back then and the way you rose up was by being someone who was capable of understanding the technology and working with engineers and the programming, network-type staff, yet able to translate information to the business teams and the operational staff in an effective manner. Fast forward a few years, and as technology became more intertwined with healthcare, the role shifted from being tactical to strategic. Now, you’re in a more visionary, strategic, planning role and you have to be able to put teams together to execute on those visions, strategies and plans.

What challenges do healthcare CIOs face today?

Brown: There are three different areas that jump out to me. One is we’ve got to do things that ensure productivity, that we are bringing the right technologies into play to drive our services and provide consistency with how we formulate things — from our clinical workflow processes, so that we have standardized processes that are repeatable, all the way through our revenue cycle for billing and collection. You have to stay current and make sure you’re providing the latest access to systems and technologies for staff to be efficient in the work that they do.

The second area is around external threats. You hear people say cybersecurity, but I use the general term of security and protection of your digital assets. That’s a big part of what we have to stay conversant with. We have to make sure we’re following all of the right best practices and also getting ahead of that curve.

The third area is around the strategy component of it. You may hear terms like blockchain, AI and the ways those things are connecting and providing more efficient ways to manage care, to interact with the public, etcetera. We need to take a look at where we are, spend a fair amount of time in that space, and make sure we’re positioned to empower our staff to be the best they can be around those types of things.

What technologies and trends do you put stock into? What are you keeping an eye on?

Brown: We spent a fair amount of time in previous years building up our data analytics and reporting capabilities. I think we are doing very well in that space, and we’re starting to probe into predictive analytics. The analytics can only take you so far, and that’s where the artificial intelligence kicks in. We are less mature in artificial intelligence, but the application for it is huge and that’s where we’re placing some future bets. Also in our call centers, AI has become so good in some areas … around routine types of things.

We are less mature in artificial intelligence, but the application for it is huge and that’s where we’re placing some future bets.
Geoffrey BrownCIO, Piedmont Healthcare

With blockchain, there have not been great applications for it in healthcare. But I predict there will be and it will certainly be around security … because of its ability to identify various elements, resources, definitions of use scenarios, which will allow you to match up people and data in ways that are more secure than current methodologies.

The third area, that quite frankly will always be there, are infrastructures associated with our cyber challenges.

What project have you led at Piedmont as healthcare CIO that you consider impactful?

Brown: During the five years I’ve been here, we’ve doubled the size of our organization through mergers and acquisitions. Part of that process required us to integrate those organizations into the Piedmont systems — such as human resources systems, procurement and supply systems, financial systems, our electronic health record — so we could make sure if a patient came into Piedmont that, as rapidly as possible, their information would be known throughout our system statewide. Our health system is spread out across the state, so it was critical from a strategic perspective to make sure we had [consistent] policies and practices, which talk about providing care depending on the condition a patient presents with and to make those things happen as quickly as possible. We’ve been able to successfully integrate the technology — and, I think most importantly, the cultures — in a very successful manner.

Where is the role of the healthcare CIO headed?

Brown: I find myself more and more at the front end of thinking about how do we grow the business, how do we get waste out of the business, and operations, how do we enable our markets in more effective ways. I do see it becoming more and more intertwined with the business of the organization. I see us moving deeper into spots around analytics, predictive modeling and those types of things so that we can manage our resources, anticipate patient needs more than we can today, and support our physicians around decision-making using data as a driver. I see the strategic piece becoming more and more important as time goes on.

Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

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How to Master the Four Seasons in Forza Horizon 4 – Xbox Wire

In Forza Horizon 4, Seasons change everything where players must master driving in dry, wet, muddy, snowy and icy conditions. A first for the racing genre and rarely seen in any open-world game, dynamic seasons create a world that is constantly evolving each week and with more than 450 cars, novices and veterans alike can explore the beautiful open world of Britain filled with unique and challenging driving experiences.

While Forza Horizon 4’s deep upgrade system can optimize any car for any season, it’s always best to think about the right car choice for each weather condition, whether you need to adjust your suspension and how you need to change your driving style depending on the terrain. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks on how best to tackle each season and what to expect, sourced by Turn 10 Studios’ Design Director Jon Knoles.

Summer

Hovercraft GIF

 Under a high, mid-day summer sun, conditions are perfect for putting the pedal to the metal on Britain’s fastest motorways or ripping along the golden sands of the northern coast past the brooding Bamburgh Castle. You may encounter the occasional summer rain, but most of the time you’ll find dry weather.

If you take a shortcut through fields, you’ll easily plow through tall grasses and flowers. Don’t worry about wood and wire fences, small trees, or stacked drystone walls. Whatever you’re driving, if you’re going fast enough they’ll break without breaking your car. Smaller, lighter cars will slow down considerably more than larger, heavier vehicles when you plow through these obstacles.

Spring to Summer GIF

When Horizon summer arrives, as with all seasons, keep an eye out for seasonal gameplay events, challenges, and rewards, which expire at the end of the season. You may find summer events often take advantage of the perfect driving conditions to feature faster cars on faster, paved roads.

Autumn

Summer to Fall GIF

 Whether you call it autumn or fall, it’s perhaps the most beautiful and most colorful season to explore the tree-lined, winding roads of Britain’s Lake Country in the world’s greatest road cars, or to tackle the 4×4 Adventure Park’s muddy playground for off-roaders.

It’s after harvest, so fields that were full of tall grasses in summer are now plowed and full of soft or muddy earth that will slow you down a bit, and are peppered with new obstacles in the form of big and heavy bales of hay, which will definitely slow you down if you hit them. It will rain in autumn more than in summer and roads do become a bit slicker in the wet, so you’ll be wanting to plan a little earlier for hard turns.

Summer to Fall GIF

When autumn arrives, keep an eye out for a seasonal barn find car—each season reveals a classic to discover and restore, but you’ll want to find it before the season changes again.

Winter

Fall to Winter

With the low sun shimmering through bare trees across a frosty landscape, you might be worried that you’ll be sliding all over the place. Don’t worry, all tires are good for all seasons, and will be enough to keep you on the roads if you remember to brake—and turn—for curves. If you want more grip on the snow and ice, you can equip your car with studded winter tires in the upgrade shop, and any car that was already equipped with off-road or rally tires will automatically switch to studded tires.

The weather may range from clear to light flurries, or the occasional blizzard. Higher elevations in the north will have more deep snow than lowland areas in the south. Coastal beaches are still sandy, and motorways, the city streets of historic Edinburgh, and other major roads are cleared of ice and snow. In winter, you can reach previously inaccessible areas to search for bonus boards to smash or barn find cars, such as on an island in the middle of a deep lake. And when you’re on the frozen lake, it doesn’t matter what you’re driving or what kind of tires you have, you will slide around a lot, which itself is a lot of fun.

Fall to Winter GIF

Keep an eye out for snowmen, too. Smashing them is fun, and it will net you combo skill points. Seasonal events are sure to test your mettle on the slippery ice, but rest assured there are still clear roads to conquer.

Spring

Winter to Spring GIF

After a cold winter, the British landscape bursts to life once again in vibrant color, and one thing you can be sure of is a lot more rain, but you’ll also get a lot of sun. Or as they say in much of Britain in the spring, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.”

Of all the seasons, spring is probably the one with the most varied conditions throughout. Previously dry or shallow riverbeds become deep, rushing streams, which may bring low-slung supercars and lightweight cars to a crawl, but don’t pose much of a challenge for off-road vehicles such as SUVs, trophy trucks, and buggies. If you happen to climb to a mountain peak in the north, you’ll still find pockets of snow to play around in.

Spring to Summer GIF

As with autumn, spring events may bring a more rally-heavy theme with mixed-surface races to suit the varied conditions. Whether it’s in a sturdy new Subaru WRX Sti, or a classic Group B rally monster from the 80s, you’ll be sure to discover some trail-blazing events in cars built to tackle all the tarmac, gravel, and mud that you’ll get plenty of in spring.

Forza Horizon 4 launches on October 2, 2018 on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass, and is now available for pre-order in the Microsoft Store. Stay tuned to Xbox Wire and ForzaMotorsport.net for future updates.

Wanted – Mac Mini

Hi

Been looking around where to buy a used/looked after Mac Mini and these forums seems really well managed, so hopefully I’ll be able to source what I’m after

I’m looking for ideally a 2012 or 2014 Mac Mini, ideally an i7 but will consider an i5. 16GB RAM and with a 256GB minimum SSD or a 1TB fusion drive upwards (ideally the original 1TB HDD with a 120GB SSD or upwards)

Needs to be in full working order with no damage and running the latest OS

Preferably boxes with original power cable as well

I’m based in Bamber Bridge, near to Preston. Happy to collect within a sensible distance, or happy to have it sent via an insured courier (Royal Mail, Parcelforce, UPS etc)

Budget is c£500, but happy to pay more for the right Mini (within reason)

Thank you

Location: Bamber Bridge

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