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IBM acquires RPA vendor to enhance automation suite

IBM said Wednesday it reached an agreement to acquire a Brazilian RPA vendor in a move that will add RPA to IBM’s suite of automation tools.

The company, WDG Soluções Em Sistemas E Automação De Processos LTDA, is informally called WDG Automation.

“IBM doesn’t currently have an RPA offering (beyond partnerships), so this plugs a hole for them,” said Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder of market advisory and research firm Deep Analysis. “Frankly, it looks like a smart move; they have acquired a firm with good basic technology at most likely a modest price.”

Low-code RPA

Based in São José do Rio Prêto, Brazil, WDG Automation primarily sells robotic automation systems, chatbots and automation software to enterprises in Latin America. Its low-code/no-code platform is designed to enable business users to easily create bots.

IBM said it plans to integrate more than 600 prebuilt RPA functions from WDG Automation into its Cloud Pak products on Red Hat OpenShift, beginning with Cloud Pak for Automation.

Integrating WDG Automation technology into Cloud Pak for Automation, a platform for building and running automation applications, will enable IBM customers to deploy bots faster and automate more workflow processes.

Eventually, IBM aims to integrate WDG Automation technology into its other products, including Watson AIOps, a tool meant to automate processes that help CIOs detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies, IBM said.

IBM did not disclose the price of the acquisition. WDG Automation is a privately held company with between 101 and 250 employees, according to business information provider Crunchbase.

IBM acquires WDG Automation, adding RPA to its portfolio of automation software.

RPA consolidation

The acquisition comes after Microsoft’s purchase of RPA vendor Softomotive in May.

Given Microsoft’s acquisition, IBM needed to make a similar move, said Burley Kawasaki, chief product officer at process automation vendor K2.

Frankly, it looks like a smart move.
Alan Pelz-SharpeFounder, Deep Analysis

“Especially given the focus that IBM has historically had on AI with IBM Watson, they can’t afford to be left out of the party, so to speak,” Kawasaki said.

The acquisition helps validate the importance of AI and automation, and is part of a larger consolidation in the tech industry, he added.

“You would expect the other major cloud platforms, like Amazon and Google, to follow suit and acquire or build RPA capabilities to round out their capabilities around AI,” Kawasaki said.

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How to Install or Disable Hyper-V in Windows 10

In this article, I will write about a familiar-sounding tool I regularly use to prepare custom images for Azure amongst other tasks. Windows 10 comes with the Windows Client Version of Hyper-V with it built-in so there is no need to download anything extra! It is the same Hyper-V you use within the Server but without the cluster features. Here’s how to configure Hyper-V for Windows 10.

Operating System Prerequisites

First, let us check the prerequisites.

Windows 10 Licensing

Not every license of Windows 10 has Hyper-V enabled. Only the following versions are eligible for Windows 10 Hyper-V.

  • Windows 10 Professional
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Education

You can find your installed Windows Version when using PowerShell and following command.

The screenshot below shows the PowerShell output.

Windows 10 licencing, PowerShell

Let us follow up with the hardware prerequisites,

Hardware prerequisites

There are two parts to be considered. First the hardware configuration and second the BIOS and UEFI setup.

Hardware configuration

  • 64-bit Processor with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT).
  • CPU support for VM Monitor Mode Extension (VT-x on Intel CPU’s).
  • Minimum of 4 GB memory. As virtual machines share memory with the Hyper-V host, you will need to provide enough memory to handle the expected virtual workload.

The screenshot shows my system as an example.

Windows 10 Basic System Information

BIOS / UEFI Configuration

You need to enable two Options in your system BIOS / UEFI.

  • Virtualization Technology – may have a different label depending on the motherboard manufacturer.
  • Hardware Enforced Data Execution Prevention.

You can find these options in the CPU Settings of your system. See the screenshot below as an example.

BIOS UEFI CPU settings Windows 10

How to check the hardware compatibility

To verify hardware compatibility in Windows, open the PowerShell and type systeminfo. 

Windows 10 PowerShell System Info

If all listed requirements in the output are showing “yes”, your system is compatible with Hyper-V.

How to Install or Disable Hyper-V in Windows 10

How to install Hyper-V in Windows 10

When all hardware and license requirements are met, you can start the installation of Hyper-V in your Windows.

The easiest way is to search for Hyper-V in the Start Menu. It will then point to “Turn On or Off Windows Feature” Window in the Control Panel

Hyper-V Installation Windows 10

Within the context menu, you enable the Hyper-V feature together with the Platform and Management Tools.

Hyper-V Platform and Management Tools

Afterward, your system will require a reboot.

Windows 10 reboot

After the reboot, you should be able to open the Hyper-V Manager on your system and start to configure Hyper-V.

WIndows 10 start menu, Hyper-V

Hyper-V Manager WIndows 10

That’s all you need to do in order to install Hyper-V on your Windows 10 system.

How to disable Hyper-V in Windows

To disable Hyper-V is again pretty simple. You go the back to the “Turn Windows Features on or off” section in the control panel.

Turn Windows Features on or off control panel

Remove the checkmark from the Hyper-V checkbox.

Disable Hyper-V Windows 10

Reboot your Windows System and you are done.

Rebooting Windows 10 after removing Hyper-V

Closing notes

Hyper-V in Windows 10 can be a pretty good tool for some certain administrative or daily task e.g.:

  • Spinning up a VM to test certain software
  • Using VMs to open suspicious files
  • Create an encapsulated work environment on your PC or Notebook when you work from home
  • Create custom images for VDI environments like Citrix or Windows Virtual Desktop
  • Open backups from VMs and extract certain files
  • etc.

I hope the blogpost will help some of you to become familiar with Hyper-V and the management tools. If there is anything you wish to ask, let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to you!

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Author: Florian Klaffenbach

Intermountain Healthcare relies on virtual hiring to fill CIO role

Intermountain Healthcare will be onboarding a new CIO at the end of this month, making him the first senior executive to be hired virtually by the healthcare organization.

Ryan Smith will take over for longtime Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst, who announced his retirement earlier this year, before the COVID-19 outbreak and the mandates for nonessential employees to work from home. With remote work in full swing, Dan Liljenquist, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Intermountain, said the healthcare system had to rely exclusively on virtual hiring to pick its new healthcare CIO.

Smith is a known entity to the healthcare organization. He served in IT leadership roles at Intermountain for 19 years from 1994 to 2013. But the hiring team felt his five years as CIO at Banner Health in Phoenix and, more recently, his two years as senior vice president at Health Catalyst, an analytics software and services provider in Salt Lake City, best prepared him for the position.

Smith will start his new role June 29 the same way he was hired: virtually. Smith said the virtual hiring process has been “quite different” from the traditional recruiting process he’s used to.

“Typically, you would fly in for your on-site interview with key executives in a formal setting,” he said. “It’s a strange feeling to put on a full suit, dress shirt and tie to only walk to another room in your home for an interview where you’re the only one physically in the room.”

Onboarding a CIO during a crisis

But going through the virtual hiring process had its benefits for Smith. It made him realize the importance of video conferencing technology — both the criticality of it running smoothly and the new challenges it presented such as making sure the background is appropriate for the meeting.

Soon-to-be Intermountain Healthcare CIO Ryan SmithRyan Smith

And, Smith said, with every interview he grew more comfortable with the virtual hiring process.

“Coming out of each round of virtual interviews, I was surprised at just how much more comfortable and down to earth the conversations felt,” he said. “There are definitely some benefits to this form of interviewing, while also posing some new challenges.”

Liljenquist said the Intermountain Healthcare hiring team used technology to find and interview finalists for the CIO role, even when it came down to final selection.

It’s a strange feeling to put on a full suit, dress shirt and tie to only walk to another room in your home.
Ryan SmithIncoming CIO, Intermountain Healthcare

“All of us know Zoom and Webex and Microsoft Teams better than we ever thought we would,” he said.

Liljenquist said Smith will be using those same tools to connect to and lead his team. While Smith said it will be different starting his new role remotely, he sees his existing relationships with team members from his time at Intermountain as an advantage. He’s also planning for a remote start as CIO to come with challenges, specifically with “rounding,” where he would normally meet with providers and discuss in person what technology is working and what needs to improve.

As part of the final selection for the new CIO, Liljenquist said Intermountain required Smith and other finalists to give a virtual presentation on what health IT would look like post-COVID-19.

Intermountain Healthcare senior vice president and chief strategy officer Dan LiljenquistDan Liljenquist

In his presentation, Smith said he focused on new realities the healthcare industry will face in the coming months, such as reductions in medical care, the continuation of remote work, increases in digital expectations from patients and increases in merger and acquisition activity across the industry.

“We talked about recommended approaches for leading the IT team in addressing this new normal, entailing business alignment and partnership, innovation, accountability, transparency, customer focus and fiscal responsibility,” Smith said.

In a news release, Intermountain Healthcare said Smith will lead the care transformation information systems team, while partnering with others to “implement innovative digital, data and technology platforms and solutions” that align with the organization’s strategic goals.

“There’s never been a time in our industry when there’s been such a great dependency on the IT organization’s ability to be flexible, to rapidly innovate and to drive results in short periods of time,” Smith said. “I think most of the plans I had in mind coming into this opportunity are still relevant, but the priorities may need to shift given the nature of the environment we find ourselves in.”

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SAP reimagines Sapphire Now 2020 as a virtual event

It’s safe to say that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SAP Sapphire Now 2020 will be like none that has come before it.

SAP Sapphire Now is an annual event where SAP customers, partners and company executives can hear about SAP’s newest technology and latest strategy, learn skills and pursue certifications, and — perhaps most importantly — network and hobnob with denizens of the SAP ecosystem.

But the days of in-person hobnobbing are gone, at least for now, and, like many other enterprise conferences and trade shows, SAP Sapphire Now will be held virtually this year, with streaming keynotes, online sessions and demos from SAP and partners.

The virtual version of SAP Sapphire Now will attempt to provide the same kind of content and messaging from the top levels of SAP, but in a different way, said Alicia Tillman, global chief marketing officer at SAP.

“The objective here, over the course of a very short period of time, was to stand up something as new and as different as this,” Tillman said. “How do we get the content right? How do we make it global? And how do we create an exceptional experience, as all three of those components need to come together?”

3 virtual programs  

This year’s SAP Sapphire Now consists of three programs: Sapphire Now Unplugged, Sapphire Now Vision and Sapphire Now Converge, Tillman said.

Alicia Tillman, global chief marketing officer, SAPAlicia Tillman

Sapphire Now Unplugged is a series of videos of SAP executives speaking with external thought leaders and innovators, such as Ian Bremmer, Malcolm Gladwell and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The last episode of the series will be made available June 11.

Christian Klein, SAP CEOChristian Klein

SAP Sapphire Now Vision begins June 15 with new SAP CEO Christian Klein’s keynote address. He is expected to set the strategy for SAP’s vision of the intelligent enterprise, which uses advanced enterprise systems to enable companies to transform old business processes or develop new business models. SAP Sapphire Now Converge begins after the keynote, Tillman said, and consists of 11 online channels that will have live content from SAP, partners and customers. The channels will cover a range of SAP technology, platform and industry areas, including ERP, finance, HR, procurement, supply chain, platforms, customer experience and experience management. Presentations will be made available for on-demand viewing.

The goal is to provide content that’s informative but in a format that keeps attendees engaged, according to Tillman. Sessions will be short or will be laced with entertainment breaks to keep things interesting. In one high-profile example, rock legend Sting will perform live at breaks in Klein’s keynote.

Tillman argues that the virtual SAP Sapphire Now could present an advantage for a global audience that may not have always been able to travel to Orlando.

“SAP Sapphire Now will use a ‘follow the sun’ model, where the sessions will air at the regionally relevant time,” she said. “All the content is going to be translated with subtitles into 14 different local languages. And the regions are also going to layer into that short segments hosted by each regional president, who will have local customers and localized content to make it relevant for their particular market.”

SAP Sapphire Now crowds will gather online this year.
SAP Sapphire Now will be conducted online this year, rather than at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

Missing the human touch

The online version of SAP Sapphire Now will be a significant change from an event that annually drew thousands of attendees to the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

There will likely be something lost with the lack of human interaction, but it is difficult to judge what those losses will be, said Shaun Syvertsen, managing partner and CEO of ConvergentIS, an SAP business partner based in Calgary, Alta.

ConvergentIS provides services for SAP implementation and migrations, with a particular focus on UX design and building SAP Fiori apps. The company has been a part of several recent SAP Sapphire events as a sponsor and exhibitor, and this year will present the first session in the Sapphire Converge UX channel, Syvertsen said.

“The ad hoc meetings that happened during Sapphire are a little bit more difficult to schedule this year,” he said. “Although you’ll avoid getting all those steps in when you’re trying to get from one end of the floor to the other to go meet someone on time for that meeting.”

Syvertsen described SAP Sapphire Now as a valuable event to attend because of the opportunities to meet with SAP professionals he may not have otherwise connected with, including one who provided marketing expertise for ConvergentIS.

“I never really would have gotten to know him if we hadn’t attended events like Sapphire and SAP TechEd in person,” he said. “That’s probably the secret sauce for Sapphire that made it worth investing money and sponsoring, traveling, and that’s really hard to do from the virtual remote limited interaction perspective.”

Dawn of a new Sapphire era

SAP Sapphire Now veterans said that the virtual event could represent an opportunity to introduce a new look for SAP, spearheaded by its young, new CEO Klein. But there will also be something lost without the human interaction that characterized the live events.

One major question is whether the online format will be able to match the dynamism of live keynotes, demos and breakout sessions that characterizes traditional conferences.

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst, Constellation ResearchHolger Mueller

“We will see the usual number of tracks and keynotes, but can SAP take advantage of the new format successfully or will it deliver a boring digital event with too much canned content, lack of interaction and little engagement,” said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “This will be an interesting one to see, as vendors are now four months into the new normal for events like this and the bar has been raised steadily. What was a ‘B’ for an event in April will be a ‘D’ in June and an ‘F’ in the fall.”

Jon Reed, co-founder, Diginomica.comJon Reed

The SAP Sapphire Now Online format, which will present content tailored to a global audience and will support some interaction, may work well, said Jon Reed, co-founder of Diginomica.com, an enterprise computing analysis and news site.

“On paper at least, it seems more interactive than most such events we’ve seen,” Reed said. “It’s ambitious in scope, and we’ll see if SAP is able to deliver on some of that live interactivity. It’s important to note that SAP sees this as a chance to bring in a global audience that couldn’t get to Orlando.”

Enough Zoom already

Most people have seen enough virtual meetings by now, so SAP must find a compelling way to present content in an online format, agrees Joshua Greenbaum, principal at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

“You can make a compelling online conference — Celonis and a few others have done a pretty good job — but there are some that have been absolutely mind-numbingly horrible,” Greenbaum said. “It looks like SAP is trying to do the right things to not make it boring and mind-numbing, so I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s harder for all of us because of the number of hours we’ve spent on Zoom, but I know there’s going be some compelling content.”

SAP Sapphire Now will also be a key moment for Klein to demonstrate that he has SAP under control, Reed said.

“Klein’s keynote will be important to watch, as people will use that to gauge whether he is ready for the daunting challenges SAP faces,” he said. “I believe he’s the right person to lead SAP right now, but you have to prove it out.”

Joshua Greenbaum, principal, Enterprise Applications ConsultingJoshua Greenbaum

It will be worth tuning into SAP Sapphire Now because there have been so many changes with the company’s leadership structure in the past year, Greenbaum said.

“This is the showcase and the moment for the ‘new SAP,’ not only with Klein as new CEO, but everybody’s job has changed,” he said.

Greenbaum pointed to several SAP executives who have recently assumed positions with major responsibilities and large portfolios, including Thomas Saueressig, president of SAP product engineering, and Adaire Fox-Martin, head of SAP customer success.

 “There have been a lot of big changes, not just with Klein,” he said.

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Microsoft issues 129 fixes for June Patch Tuesday

No public disclosures or zero-days for June Patch Tuesday will make rolling out Microsoft’s fixes less challenging, but administrators should take extra care with two vulnerabilities that could slip through the patching process.

For the fourth month in a row, Microsoft delivered corrections in the triple digits, reaching a high-water mark of 129 for June Patch Tuesday. Most of this month’s fixes are located in the Windows operating system and Microsoft’s web browsers, but administrators will want to keep a close eye on an update related to Adobe Flash Player and a fix for Windows Defender.

Microsoft’s security advisory ADV200010 details a critical remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2020-9633) affecting Windows client and server OSes running Adobe Flash Player builds before version that, if exploited, could let an attacker run code in the context of the current user.  The Microsoft security update corrects this issue while the advisory offers additional mitigation recommendations to reduce the likelihood of an exploit in the Adobe product that will reach end of support at the end of this year.

Chris Goettl, director of product management and security, IvantiChris Goettl

“Adobe is spending significantly less time on Flash Player and only resolving vulnerabilities that get reported,” said Chris Goettl, director of product management and security at Ivanti, a security and IT management vendor based in South Jordan, Utah. “Even though the end of life isn’t coming until December, we recommend people get Adobe Flash out of their environment as soon as possible.”

An elevation-of-privilege vulnerability (CVE-2020-1163) in Windows Defender, rated important, affects Windows client and server systems and several security products, such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection. The Windows Defender antimalware product has its own update engine, meaning it falls outside of the cumulative update model. This further complicates patching because it requires the administrator to check each affected system.

“Microsoft has tried to make the update process transparent, but when it doesn’t work, how do you know? For a lot of companies, it’s probably an audit blind spot,” Goettl said. “If threat actors are already involved, have they done something to prevent or block Windows Defender from updating? If so, then you’ve got a problem.”

In addition to these corrections, June Patch Tuesday also fixed issues with the ChakraCore JavaScript engine, both the HTML and Chromium-based Edge browsers, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office Services and Web Apps, Microsoft Dynamics, Visual Studio, Azure DevOps Server, HoloLens (Windows Feedback Hub), Microsoft Apps for Android, Windows App Store, System Center and the Microsoft Bing Search Android app.

SharePoint receives a sizeable number of patches again

Of the 129 vulnerabilities for June Patch Tuesday, 11 are rated critical, with 10 of those affecting the Windows client and server operating systems.  

The remaining critical bug is a SharePoint Server remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2020-1181) that has an “exploitation less likely” rating, most likely because the attacker needs credentials to run a specially crafted page on the SharePoint server. The bug is one of 12 unique vulnerabilities in SharePoint that Microsoft addressed this month, the same number as last month.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted more companies to invest in the Office 365 collaboration platform, including a shift to the Microsoft Teams app, which uses SharePoint as the underpinning technology to share and store files.

“It’s not surprising to see the vulnerability counts for SharePoint go up because more people are using it and more defects are being escalated to Microsoft through support cases,” Goettl said. “Also, with more people using it, threat actors and security researchers take more of an interest.”

Federal agency warns of heightened threat for unpatched systems

On June 5, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a warning that certain Windows systems were at greater risk now that threat actors were using proof-of-concept code to exploit a critical vulnerability (CVE-2020-0796) — dubbed by some security researchers as SMBGhost — that Microsoft corrected in March.

The Microsoft Server Message Block 3.1.1 (SMBv3) protocol compression remote-code execution vulnerability exists in Windows 10 (versions 1903 and 1909) systems and Windows Server (versions 1903 and 1909) systems that have not been patched since March 12, when Microsoft released an out-of-band update. To exploit the vulnerability on a server system, an unauthenticated attacker could send a specially crafted packet to a targeted SMBv3 server. To exploit a client system, the attacker would need to convince a user to connect to a malicious SMBv3 server.

In addition to applying the security update for these systems, Microsoft also recommends blocking TCP port 445 and preventing SMB traffic from moving beyond the network perimeter.

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Wanted – Macbook Pro 2019/2020 13” full spec? – Long Shot!

Presume you’re looking for a MacBook Pro? At the end of June I will have for sale a 2018 Quad-Core 2.3 i5, 8GB RAM, 512 GB storage if you’re interested and could wait until then. A little bit older than you’re looking for but fairly similar to the 2019 spec.

It’s a great machine and has been used to edit documentaries for BBC Two on FCPX, but a new model is on order as it looks like there will be an extended period of working from home. I can’t sell until that arrives however, and Apple currently have given a delivery date of June 29.

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For Sale – Ryzen 3 3200G | 3700x (sold)

I’ve got a couple of things to get rid of so will list them below.

  • Ryzen 3 3200G 4C/4T Zen+ APU – £65

About 6 or so weeks old which I’ve been using as a backup for a second system as it meant I didn’t need to install a GPU. It was purchased new, and comes wtih the spire stealth heatsink, however I’ve lost the box. Still covered by the warranty of course, and I will provide the original receipt to go with it (from Amazon).

< Currently still in the system I am using right now I don’t have any pictures of it yet. >

  • ASUS RX 5700 XT TUF Gaming X3 – £320

About a month old, It was purchased new so I’m the only owner and it has barely seen much use. This card does have a bad rep, because ASUS were unfortuately too lazy to run it through QC so the GPU heatsink doesn’t apply enough pressure onto the die, and the GDDR6 modules have no heatsinks on them. I’ve addressed both of those so now it runs pretty much perfectly, and sees similar temps to a 5700 XT Pulse (which I’ve had previously). Original receipt will be provided to go with it.

< Will add pictures tomorrow. >

Collection welcome from Wolverhampton.

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Wanted – Macbook Pro 2019/2020 13” full spec? – Long Shot!

Presume you’re looking for a MacBook Pro? At the end of June I will have for sale a 2018 Quad-Core 2.3 i5, 8GB RAM, 512 GB storage if you’re interested and could wait until then. A little bit older than you’re looking for but fairly similar to the 2019 spec.

It’s a great machine and has been used to edit documentaries for BBC Two on FCPX, but a new model is on order as it looks like there will be an extended period of working from home. I can’t sell until that arrives however, and Apple currently have given a delivery date of June 29.

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For Sale – Custom built PC. 8GB, i5 core, 1TB drive. Large upgradeable Cosmos tower.

How well will this run something like iRacing, Assetto Corsa or Forza 7

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