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For Sale – MSI 27″ QHD 144Hz Curved Monitor | MSI X370 Gaming Pro | MetallicGear Neo ATX Case | Zotac RTX 2080 Ti Blower

Hello all, a few things to clear out. Any questions feel free to get in touch and I will reply as soon as I can, as recovering from poor health.

MSI MAG271CQR 27″ 1440p 144Hz Curved VA monitor – £285 ONO

This has only been used for a couple of weeks in total, but I’ve decided to stick to my 27GL850 and don’t have the space for a third monitor. In essentially like new condition with no dead/stuck pixels, and boxed with all accessories. This is absoloutely better than the newer MAG272CQR model which has a poorer panel with worse pixel response times (more dark smearing).

MSI X370 Gaming Pro – £70 ONO

One year old and working great. Comes boxed with all accessories. BIOS is updated to support Ryzen 3000 and has been running a 3200G and 200GE for the majority of its life, but has been tested wtih a 3700x and has been perfect.

MetallicGear Neo Silver ATX Case – £60 ONO

About 9 months old, and in near immaculate condition aside from a very small scratch (see image) which is almost unnoticeable. Comes boxed with all accessories, and will include an additional new MetallicGear Skiron 120mm fan (for a total of 2). This is a sub brand of Phanteks, so the quality is incredibly high. There is an inetegrated RGB LED in the front which is controlled by a small button on the top. Glass on both sides with cable routing channels on the rear. Has been a great case, but clearing out as have moved the system into an ITX. Just a note the included fans are black ones and not RGB as in the picture.

Zotac RTX 2080 Ti Blower model – £875 ONO

Only a few months old, was used for a couple of weeks in an ITX system before being replaced and has been boxed since. Has been registered for extended warranty. Comes boxed in like new condition. No pictures to hand but will add those in the next couple of days.

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Dell Financial Services maintains flexible payments in pandemic

With the pandemic still raging across the globe, Dell Technologies said it will extend its Payment Flexibility Program for customers and partners.

The program, launched as part of Dell’s COVID-19 relief package in April, aims to give customers and partners additional financing options to help stem the pandemic’s economic disruptions. Options include payment deferrals, Dell partner relief programs and low-rate financing offerings. Along with the Payment Flexibility Program, Dell Financial Services (DFS) allocated $9 billion in financing to the initiative.

Dell said it will extend the program through Oct. 30, 2020, with payment deferrals until 2021.

Additionally, the company updated its Technology Rotation payment offering with a lower rate and total cost of ownership for purchases of PowerStore storage arrays, PowerEdge servers, and Dell laptops and desktops. The Technology Rotation offer lets customers return their Dell equipment and upgrade to newer technologies at the end of the term.

“The customer can enter into a technology rotation for 36 months, coupled with a no-payment for six months … and they will pay actually less than 0% and then have flexibility at the end of the term,” said Darren Fedorowicz, vice president of Dell Financial Services, about the Technology Rotation option. 

Customers, partners engage Dell payment options

Fedorowicz said the Dell Payment Flexibility Program has seen engagement from customers spanning from SMBs to large organizations faced with budgetary constraints. “The [pandemic has] affected everybody, and small business has probably been the most impacted because they are working on short-term cash flow. … The reality is six months of [deferred] payments may help keep them afloat if they were going to make an investment of $20,000 for IT. … We have really been aggressive in being able to help small business customers,” he said.

The programs also seek to help Dell Technologies partners faced with cash-flow challenges. “[Because partners] are buying equipment, adding their value-added services, and then reselling that equipment, they are always in a cash-constrained potential issue of collecting from their customers, repaying vendors and managing their cash management cycle,” Fedorowicz said.

Partners can use Dell Financial Services’ programs to craft offers for customers and collect payment from DFS soon after a deal closes. “The real impact here is that if we execute [the deal] with the customer, then DFS pays the partner immediately. We take all the credit risk, and then we get cash to that partner immediately,” Fedorowicz said.

Fedorowicz noted that DFS has also seen growing interest from partners and customers around consumption-based offerings for on-premises technology, via Dell’s Flex On Demand program.

SonicWall portfolio expansion opens opportunities for partners

SonicWall has expanded its portfolio with a raft of new products and updates, many of which aim to benefit SonicWall partners.

The product announcements included the following:

  • SonicOS 7.0, the operating system that powers the company’s firewalls;
  • New TZ570 and TZ670 next-generation firewalls;
  • NSsp 15700 Series firewalls, which target large enterprises, managed security service providers (MSSPs) and telcos;
  • NSM 2.0, a redesigned version of Network Security Manager;
  • And the CSa 1000, an on-premises appliance that includes SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection sandbox service with Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection technology.

The updated SonicOS introduces multi-instance and multi-tenancy capabilities, aimed at enterprise customers and MSSPs.

“All of this … opens up a world of opportunity for our partners,” said HoJin Kim, vice president of worldwide channels and North American sales at SonicWall. “When you think of the install base that is out there … and what customers are going through today in terms of making sure that their remote users are secure, adding these new products to the portfolio and refreshing some of the lower-end lines [provides] more things that partners can … talk to their customers about.”

In addition to developing new products, SonicWall has recently focused on enhancing partner resources. Kim said SonicWall has rapidly grown its partner enablement and training content available through the SonicWall University portal. “Over the past four months, we have added over 200 new training courses,” he said.

Kim added that SonicWall is also looking to restructure how the company invests in partner relationships. He said the SonicWall aims to better align its investments to partners that “are seeing SonicWall as more than just the niche firewall player, but as a real platform vendor that they can have a strategic relationship with.”

SolarWinds study examines MSP activity during pandemic

A new study, “COVID-19: Impact and Response,” by IT management software vendor SolarWinds, sheds light on how MSPs are coping with the pandemic and their outlooks on the market.

The study, which polled 500 MSPs globally, revealed the following:

  • Fifty-nine percent of MSPs applied for government financial relief programs, with 74% receiving assistance.
  • Eighty percent of the MSPs surveyed said they operate at their pre-pandemic staffing
  • The majority of MSPs said they have adapted their security services for work-from-home clients, with 59% of MSPs offering more security bundles than any other business model, according to SolarWinds.

Other key findings showed MSPs making some level of changes to their businesses in order to accommodate customer needs during the pandemic. For example, 24% of MSPs said they have offered delayed payments, while 23% have offered temporary discounts. Nineteen percent of MSPs said they reduced their services to fit decreases in customer budgets. Sixty-five percent of MSPs said they didn’t expect to make any pricing changes to their manage services package in the long term, according to SolarWinds.

Top challenges cited by MSPs include securing new customers, social distancing requirements in the office and at customer sites, lower IT budgets and spending due to the recession, and adapting to the work-from-home needs of staff and clients, SolarWinds noted.

Looking ahead, 51% of MSPs plan to build out security services to advance their businesses, while 47% plan to increase cloud services sales, SolarWinds said. Meanwhile, 42% of MSP respondents foresee growing their businesses through additional project work. Thirty-nine percent predict an uptick in managed services contacts.

While the pandemic caused a slowdown in MSP M&A activity, 40% of the large-sized MSPs that SolarWinds surveyed said they expected to expand their businesses through mergers or acquisitions.

In related news, SolarWinds president John Pagliuca said in statement that the company is exploring the possibility of spinning off SolarWinds MSP, its MSP-focused software business, into a standalone, publicly-traded company.

Other news

  • Digital Defense, a vulnerability and threat management technology vendor, unveiled an MSP partner program. The program features flexible billing cycles aligned to monthly recurring revenue models, self-provisioning via its Frontline Cloud platform, and procurement directly or through public cloud marketplaces such as AWS, Azure, Oracle and Google, the company said.
  • Security company CyCognito rolled out a global channel program. Benefits of the program include deal registration protection and support. The program will be overseen by Carrie Roberts, CyCognito’s newly appointed senior director of global channel sales. Roberts joined the vendor from Mimecast, where she was director of channel sales in the U.S. and Latin America.
  • Sirius Computer Solutions, an IT solution integrator based in San Antonio, Texas, joined the Google Cloud Partner Advantage Program as a Google Cloud Sell and Service partner.
  • Cloud service provider AllCloud said it launched a new service to help consumer goods companies learn about and use Salesforce Consumer Goods Cloud.
  • Enterprise software vendor HYCU said Nubosoft, a Premier Google Cloud Partner based in Mexico City, joined its Cloud Services Program.
  • Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), a distributor and master agent based in Chicago, added Ovation Wireless Management to its portfolio. TBI also said it named security subject matter expert Jim Bower as its security architect.
  • MBX Systems, a manufacturer of hardware for technology companies, expanded its channel strategy to target manufacturers of base servers used in customers’ integrated hardware and software solutions.
  • Ben Nowacky, senior vice president of product at Axcient, which provides business availability software for MSPs, joined the executive council of the CompTIA ISAO (Information Sharing and Analysis Organization).
  • The ASCII Group, a North American IT community of MSPs, MSSPs, VARs and solution providers, said it will host a two-day virtual business building event this fall. The event, MSP Connect Live, replaces the in-person ASCII IT Success Summits previously scheduled for 2020, the organization said.

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

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ONC focuses on HIEs for data sharing

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will award $2.5 million in funding to health information exchanges to improve and expand healthcare data collecting and sharing services.

Don Rucker, national coordinator for health IT, said health information exchanges (HIEs) could act as a healthcare data network for providers and as a resource for integrated data reporting, including test results and patient demographic information, that could prove critical during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. HIEs play instrumental roles in communities by collecting information from multiple points of care, data Rucker said will help public health agencies support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as well as future health events.

ONC will allocate the $2.5 million it received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in five cooperative agreements of up to $500,000 each to HIEs under a federal program that aims to improve HIE infrastructure. Agreements will be awarded by end of September.

Recipients will be required to deploy services that increase health information exchange at the state and local levels. They will have to include a diverse set of participating providers that care for more at-risk populations, as well as focus on communities hard-hit by the pandemic such as older adults and those with disabilities. Rucker said HIEs could provide greater opportunity for a one-stop shop when it comes to receiving reported data from communities.

“Right now, we have a lot of different mandated reporting because of the pandemic,” Rucker said Monday during a fireside chat at the virtual ONC Tech Forum. “But I think, over time, we can move to that more integrated reporting where then the public health agencies get a feed from the HIEs. We’re not there yet, but I think that’s a big opportunity.”

CIOs and health information exchanges 

Healthcare CIOs and other C-suite decision-makers are at the forefront of establishing relationships with HIEs, which allow providers to electronically share and access a patient’s medical information across the continuum of care.

These exchanges operate under different funding models, including as nonprofit state or regional organizations that receive federal funds as well as private business models paid by participating providers. There are approximately 100 HIEs in the U.S. that cover 99% of the population.  

The Indiana Health Information Exchange, which gets its funding from participating providers, makes information from hospitals, small clinical practices, laboratories, payers and other healthcare services available to 50,000 providers in Indiana and surrounding states. It has more than 15 million patients’ information stored in the HIE.

Shaun GrannisShaun Grannis

When establishing a relationship with a new healthcare system, Shaun Grannis, M.D., chief medical information officer at the Indiana Health Information Exchange, said he speaks directly with healthcare CIOs and others in the C-suite about what partnering with an HIE looks like, what it will take to implement data interfaces to exchange data and how patient data is managed and secured.

Being very clear about value propositions, how data is going to be secured and what value it brings to the [provider] is very important in that relationship-building activity.
Shaun GrannisCMIO, Indiana Health Information Exchange

“The critical success factor is building a fabric of trust,” Grannis said. “Typically, if you approach people to join an HIE, the first questions are, ‘Who are you, why do you want my data and what’s in it for me?’ Being very clear about value propositions, how data is going to be secured and what value it brings to the [provider] is very important in that relationship-building activity.”

A significant function of an HIE’s technical infrastructure is collecting, standardizing and aggregating clinical data from multiple providers and other healthcare services, such as laboratories. Grannis said data standardization continues to be a challenge for providers and is often a question he fields from CIOs, which is why most HIEs have become involved in regulatory data standardization efforts, such as the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) healthcare data standard framework.

HIEs also provide greater data sharing capabilities through collaboration with other HIEs. They come together through initiatives and organizations like the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative to better collaborate with HIEs from across the country and help providers share data across state lines and with other healthcare systems. Through this initiative, the Indiana Health Information Exchange connects HIEs from Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan.

Grannis said steps from federal agencies, including this new push by ONC to award HIEs with federal funds to build out the necessary data-sharing infrastructure, should be incentive for CIOs to consider how to use HIEs across the care continuum as part of their interoperability strategy.

“As the healthcare system in the United States becomes more interoperable, more digital, health information exchanges can be a partner to clinical organizations who are increasingly having to connect across organizational boundaries,” Grannis said. “HIEs have been doing this for years, they have a great deal of expertise not only in the technical and business aspects of it, but also the regulatory aspects.”

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Implement simple server monitoring with PowerShell

As your server inventory expands, you will need assistance to ensure you can head off any problems.

There are many server monitoring and reporting options in the market, but certain situations may call for a lightweight solution. Monitoring with PowerShell is a way to use the native functionality in Windows to create scripts that check your systems and send regular updates.

This article explores how to create a simple framework for Windows Server checks with the added benefit of generating reports at different intervals to assist with your monitoring efforts. While PowerShell 7 is available, this tutorial is based on Windows PowerShell 5.1 due to the ease of its default PowerShell remoting setup process.

Server monitoring with PowerShell

While there are many server checks you can perform, this article will concentrate on just a few to demonstrate the capabilities of a simple PowerShell monitoring framework. This tutorial will cover:

  • Disk space. Checking local disks and triggering a warning if the percentage of free space goes below 10%.
  • OS version. Checking if the version number is lower than 6.2. If it is, then the server OS predates Windows Server 2012, 2016 and 2019 and is no longer supported by Microsoft.
  • Expiring certificates. Compile a list of certificates that are within 30 days of expiration.
  • License usage. Check licensed states and report any that are unlicensed.

Script structure for server monitoring with PowerShell

The overall idea behind this server monitoring framework is to run a series of checks on one or more servers, save the results and then review the findings. To do this, we will create functions in the PowerShell script.

  • Invoke-ServerCheck. This function will take in a series of checks and computers to run those scripts against, then export the results to an XML file.
  • New-ServerReport. This function will take the XML files and generate different formats based on the requested report type, either daily or monthly.

Constructing the server checks

There are many ways to structure a potential script to do server checks, but this tutorial will place all checks in a hashtable that uses scriptblocks, which makes it easy to run the code on the requested computers, either local or remotely.

Additionally, the script uses a condition key and associated scriptblock to report whether the check has passed or failed. Every condition should return a Boolean value.

Adding new checks is as easy as adding a new top-level key with a sub-key of check and condition. Both are scriptblocks run by Invoke-Command within the Invoke-ServerCheck function.

$Checks = @{
'OSVersion' = @{
'Check' = {
Get-CimInstance Win32_OperatingSystem | Select-Object Caption, Version, ServicePackMajorVersion, OSArchitecture
}
'Condition' = {$_.Version -LT 6.2}
}
'Certificates' = @{
'Check' = {
Get-ChildItem -Path 'Cert:' -Recurse -ExpiringInDays 30 | Select-Object Subject, NotAfter
}
'Condition' = {$Result.Count -GT 0}
}
'DiskSpace' = @{
'Check' = {
Get-CIMInstance -Class 'Win32_logicaldisk' -Filter "DriveType = '3'" | Select-Object -Property DeviceID, @{L='FreeSpaceGB';E={"{0:N2}" -f ($_.FreeSpace /1GB)}}, @{L="Capacity";E={"{0:N2}" -f ($_.Size/1GB)}}
}
'Condition' = { ($Result | Where-Object { (($_.FreeSpaceGB / $_.Capacity) * 100) -LT 10 }).Count -GT 0 }
}
'License' = @{
'Check' = {
Enum Licensestatus {
Unlicensed = 0
Licensed = 1
OOBGrace = 2
OOTGrace = 3
NonGenuineGrace = 4
Notification = 5
ExtendedGrace = 6
}

Get-CimInstance -ClassName SoftwareLicensingProduct -Filter "PartialProductKey IS NOT NULL" | Select-Object Name, ApplicationId, @{N='LicenseStatus'; E={[LicenseStatus]$_.LicenseStatus} }
}
'Condition' = {($Results | Where-Object LicenseStatus -NE 'Licensed').Count -EQ 0}
}
}

How the Invoke-ServerCheck function works

The Invoke-ServerCheck function handles the bulk of the server monitoring with PowerShell. This function takes in an array of checks from the $Checks variable, then each set of checks will be run across the servers or the local computer.

The script executes the following steps:

  1. iterates over each check in the $Checks variable;
  2. runs Invoke-Command on the scriptblock from the Checks key;
  3. stores the result in a $CheckResults variable; and
  4. saves the XML of the $Output variable to the requested path, which allows for easier manipulation of this variable in later functions.
Function Invoke-ServerCheck {
[CmdletBinding()]

Param(
[Parameter(Position = 0, Mandatory = $True)]$Checks,
[Parameter(Position = 1, ValueFromPipeline = $True)]$ComputerName,
[Parameter(Position = 2)]$Path = $Env:TEMP
)

Process {
If ($ComputerName) {
$Computer = $ComputerName
} Else {
$Computer = $Env:COMPUTERNAME
}

$CheckResults = @()

$Checks.GetEnumerator() | ForEach-Object {
Write-Host "Running Check, $($_.Key), on $Computer" -ForegroundColor 'Green'

$Params = @{
"ScriptBlock" = $_.Value.Check
"Verbose" = $MyInvocation.BoundParameters.Verbose
}

If ($ComputerName) {
$Params.Add('ComputerName', $Computer)
}

$Result = Invoke-Command @Params

$CheckResults += ,[PSCustomObject]@{
"Check" = $_.Key
"Result" = $Result
"Condition" = (Invoke-Command -ScriptBlock $_.Value.Condition -ArgumentList $Result)
}
}

$Output = [PSCustomObject]@{
"Server" = $Computer
"Results" = $CheckResults
}

$FileName = "ServerResults-{0}-{1}.xml" -F $Computer, (Get-Date -Format "yyyy_MM_dd_HH_mm_ss")

Export-Clixml -Path (Join-Path -Path $Path -ChildPath $FileName) -InputObject $Output
}
}

Next, we will want to generate a report telling which checks have passed or failed for any of the given servers.

How the New-ServerReport function operates

To make better sense of which checks have run against which servers, we will use the New-ServerReport function.

The function performs the following steps:

  1. looks for XML files that match the name ServerResults;
  2. runs checks based on whether a Daily or Monthly report exists;
  3. looks at the CreationTime to determine whether to either pull all files on the given day or 30 days back;
  4. after gathering the results, groups them based on the servers and then outputs a table of the checks; and
  5. saves the results to a CSV file for later viewing.
Function New-ServerReport {
[CmdletBinding()]

Param(
[Parameter(Position = 0)]
[ValidateSet('Daily','Monthly')]
[String]$Type = 'Daily',
[Parameter(Position = 1)]$Path = $Env:TEMP,
[Parameter(Position = 2)]$ReportPath = $Env:TEMP
)

Process {
$Files = Get-ChildItem -Path $Path -Filter '*.xml' | Where-Object Name -Match 'ServerResults'

Switch ($Type) {
'Daily' {
$Results = $Files | Where-Object 'CreationTime' -GT (Get-Date -Hour 0 -Minute 00 -Second 00)

$ResultArray = @()

$Results | ForEach-Object {
$ResultArray += ,[PSCustomObject]@{
'Results' = (Import-Clixml -Path $_.FullName)
'DateTime' = $_.CreationTime
}
}

$Report = $ResultArray | Foreach-Object {
$DateTime = $_.DateTime

$_.Results | Group-Object -Property 'Server' | Foreach-Object {
$Server = $_.Name

$_.Group.Results | ForEach-Object {
$Object = [PSCustomObject]@{
"Server" = $Server
"Check" = $_.Check
"Result" = $_.Condition
"DateTime" = $DateTime
}

$Object
}
}
}

$FileName = "ServersReport-{0}.csv" -F (Get-Date -Format "yyyy_MM_dd_HH_mm_ss")

$Report | Export-CSV -Path (Join-Path -Path $ReportPath -ChildPath $FileName) -NoTypeInformation

$Report

Break
}

'Monthly' {
$Results = $Files | Where-Object 'CreationTime' -GT (Get-Date).AddDays(-30)

$ResultArray = @()

$Results | ForEach-Object {
$ResultArray += ,[PSCustomObject]@{
'Results' = (Import-Clixml -Path $_.FullName)
'DateTime' = $_.CreationTime
}
}

$Report = $ResultArray | Foreach-Object {
$DateTime = $_.DateTime

$_.Results | Group-Object -Property 'Server' | Foreach-Object {
$Server = $_.Name

$_.Group.Results | ForEach-Object {
$Object = [PSCustomObject]@{
"Server" = $Server
"Check" = $_.Check
"Result" = $_.Condition
"DateTime" = $DateTime
}

$Object
}
}
}

$FileName = "ServersReport-{0}.csv" -F (Get-Date -Format "yyyy_MM_dd_HH_mm_ss")

$Report | Export-CSV -Path (Join-Path -Path $ReportPath -ChildPath $FileName) -NoTypeInformation

$Report

Break
}
}
}
}

Running the monitoring with PowerShell script

There are several ways to use this script, but the simplest is to add the servers to check and then use the New-ServerReport command to determine which checks have run over time.


@("Server1","Server2","Server3") | Invoke-ServerCheck
New-ServerReport

Modular structure provides flexibility when monitoring with PowerShell

By using PowerShell to create a modular framework to easily create and execute checks on servers, a system administrator can quickly gain better visibility and control of their environment. Although these checks are simple, there are many ways to extend the capabilities to include more in-depth inquiries into your server inventory.

With new cross-platform abilities of PowerShell 7, you can extend these checks to work on Linux systems to handle things such as necessary OS-specific updates.

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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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OneDrive for Business: Tips and Tricks for High-Performing Admins

This article focuses on administration and management exclusively for OneDrive for Business. We will cover advice and best practices from my extensive experience working with service ideal for system admins and those actively working with it on a daily basis.

What is Microsoft OneDrive?

Microsoft has two different, but similar services called OneDrive, both of which offer cloud file storage for users. A free version of OneDrive is available to everyone and is often called the “consumer” version. The business version is “OneDrive for Business” and requires a subscription to Microsoft 365 or Office 365. Both look a lot alike but are managed very differently. To add to the mix, Microsoft often refers to OneDrive for Business as simply “OneDrive” in their documentation and even in the UI.

Note: I may refer to OneDrive instead of OneDrive for Business from time to time in this article for the sake of brevity, but I always mean OneDrive for Business unless otherwise stated.

OneDrive for Business has company-wide administration in mind. A service administrator can control the deployment of the synchronization app, network performance, and many other settings. With OneDrive (consumer), there is no management framework. The individual using the service controls their settings.

Where Should Users Save Files?

OneDrive for Business makes it very easy to share files with others, but if you find yourself sharing lots of files, it is recommended to use Teams or SharePoint instead. Teams and SharePoint are simply better for collaboration. For example, with OneDrive, you can’t check-in and check-out a document. Also, in Teams, any document you upload to Teams is available to the entire Team by default, whereas documents you upload to OneDrive are private by default. Also, in Teams, a conversation about a document is shared in a Teams channel rather than via email. The general guidance is if you are working on a file without others involved – use OneDrive for Business. If you need others involved, use a more collaborative service – Teams or SharePoint.

OneDrive for Business uses SharePoint Online as Service

As the service administrator, one of the most important concepts to master is that OneDrive for Business is a special purpose SharePoint document library created automatically for every user in your company. When a user is assigned an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 license, the services automatically create a personal OneDrive for Business document library.

The URL for OneDrive for Business is formatted as follows:

https://<company base name>-my.sharpoint.com/personal/<user-id>

OneDrive For Business SharePoint Library

The landing page (shown above) for OneDrive for Business shows “My Files” which are your files. You can also navigate from here to any SharePoint asset, including SharePoint Document Libraries, files hosted for Teams, or other SharePoint content.

Now that you know OneDrive for Business is using SharePoint under the hood, the following guidance makes sense:

To manage the OneDrive sharing settings for your organization, use the Sharing page of the new SharePoint admin center, instead of the Sharing page in the OneDrive admin center. It lets you manage all the settings and latest features in one place.

In this way, settings related to file sharing on SharePoint are aligned with those for OneDrive for Business (and Teams, which also uses SharePoint as a file store). OneDrive picks up many features from SharePoint, such as the ability to do File Restores, Restore a previous version of file, and synchronize files to your desktop.

Easy Anonymous Access

One main reason OneDrive for Business is well-liked is that it’s so easy to share a document with anyone. You can send someone a URL to a document and relax. It just works, and you won’t hear the dreaded “I can’t open the document” (which is all too common and a huge productivity sink).

The screenshot below exemplifies my point. What’s being shown is the side-by-side sharing experience in Teams vs. OneDrive. Take note! There is no Share option in Teams. You can copy the link to the file, but you must know if the user you send it to has rights to view the document in the Teams library. In OneDrive for Business, however, there is a Share option that allows you to send a URL to anyone. This is called Anonymous Access and is one of the primary reasons users share from OneDrive rather than Teams.

OneDrive For Business, Microsoft Teams

Also, in OneDrive, if you click on Anyone with the link can edit, you can further refine the Sharing options.

OneDrive For Business Sharing Options

As a side note, users frustrated by Teams’ lack of sharing controls can easily open a document or folder in SharePoint instead of Teams (as shown below). In SharePoint, you can share the file with anyone just like in OneDrive. There’s no need to copy a file in Teams to OneDrive to share anonymously. Just open it in SharePoint instead!

SharePoint Document Sharing

Controlling Default Permissions

Many businesses prefer to control who can open company documents. You can change the default settings in the OneDrive administration center, but let’s follow Microsoft’s advice to use SharePoint administration instead.

OneDrive SharePoint Admin Center

There are separate controls for External Sharing for SharePoint and OneDrive, ranging from Only people in your Organization to Anyone. However, what a static snapshot does not reveal is that the OneDrive settings cannot be more permissive than SharePoint. If you lower the permission on SharePoint, the permission also lowers on OneDrive. OneDrive can be more restrictive than SharePoint but never less restrictive. Since SharePoint hosts OneDrive files, this makes sense.

These settings are company-wide. Let users know before you make changes to global settings that cause changes in expected behavior. You WILL hear from them, and it generally won’t be a happy face emoji.

When guest users are needed, as they frequently are, consider securing the environment with the guidance provided by Microsoft in the documentation page titled Create a secure guest sharing environment.

Savvy admins can control sharing using options available when you click on More external sharing settings on the same screen shown above:

OneDrive SharePoint External Sharing Settings

The option Limit external sharing by domain lets you allow or deny sharing to a particular domain. This can be a great way to go when you want to constrain sharing to a specific set of partners or external resources.

Allow only users in specific security groups to share externally lets you control who can share files with people outside your organization. A security group is an Azure AD object that is generally a collection of users and other groups. After populating the security group with users, you can assign permissions and policies to the group, such as granting the group access to a SharePoint site, a mailbox, or forcing members of the group to use 2-factor authentication.

Consider the following scenario. Marketing is involved with a lot of external sharing, so we want to enable sharing for members of Marketing but deny everyone else, AND we don’t want to have to make adjustments every time someone moves into or out of marketing.

To illustrate how this can be achieved with security groups, I created a security group in Azure AD named Marketing-Org and added four users. As employees come and go, members of marketing are added to and removed from this group. (If you haven’t created security groups in Azure AD, it’s straightforward.)

Next, (shown below) I created another security group called External-Sharing.

Azure AD External Sharing

Security groups can have other security groups as members! By adding Marketing-Org to External-Sharing, the users in Marketing-Org automatically inherit External-Org permissions and policies

After that, I assigned the sharing permissions to the External-Org group. Returning to the SharePoint admin center Policies->Sharing->More external sharing settings-> Allow only users in specific security group to share externally. Then, by clicking on Manage Security Groups (shown below), I added the External-Sharing group and set them so they can share with Anyone. To limit the ability of everyone else, I added the built-in security group Everyone except external users and set them to share with Authenticated guests only.

SharePoint Admin Center Manage Security Groups

In this way, everyone in the company can only share with authenticated guests, whereas only the members of External-Sharing can share with anyone.

The screenshot below shows the result. The user on the left is not a member of the External-Sharing group (the Anyone option is grey and cannot be selected). However, the user on the right can.

OneDrive For Business External Sharing

Once configured, effective administrators can manage membership of the security groups using PowerShell with the Add-AzureADGroupMember and associated cmdlets.

Storage space per user

Most Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans come with 1TB of storage per user for OneDrive. If there are more than 5 users on a plan, 1TB can be increased by administrators to 5TB. You can even go to 25TB on a user-by-user basis by filing a support ticket with Microsoft.

To increase the storage limit for all users, browse to the OneDrive administration console, and select Storage. Change the setting from 1024 to the new limit. Shown below is updating the limit to 5TB. There are no additional charges for the increase in capacity.

OneDrive For Business Storage Limit

A global or SharePoint admin can change storage quotas with PowerShell after you connect to SharePoint using the SharePoint Online Management Shell and run the following command:

Set-SPOSite -Identity <user’s OneDrive URL> -StorageQuota <quota>.

You have to construct the OneDrive URL from the company name and user name, as mentioned earlier. Then, find the user name from the list of active users in the Office or Microsoft 365 admin center.

For <Quota>, enter a number between 1024 (1MB is the minimum) and 5242880 (for 5 TB). Values are rounded up. 1TB is 1048576.

As of this writing, OneDrive allows files up to 100GB.

Request Files

In some scenarios, you may want to collect files from others, rather than send files to others. OneDrive for Business makes this easy with the Request Files feature. With this feature, users can send an email asking others to upload content to a specific folder.

To set up a request files email, in the OneDrive UI, select a folder, click on the ellipses (…), and click Request files. You will see a window similar to the one shown below.

OneDrive For Business Request Files

After clicking Next, you will see the Send file request window:

OneDrive For Business Send File Request

The email sent by this form provides a URL for uploading content to the OneDrive for Business folder. Request files is a great way to collect and concentrate needed files into a single location for processing. That said, you need to make sure to enable uploads for the folder locations in the request.

Of course, a savvy administrator is thinking, “Hmm, does this provide a way for these users to upload content forever to this location?”

Shown below is the SharePoint admin center for Policies, Sharing.

SharePoint Admin Center Policies Sharing

With these settings, you can put some boundaries around the ability to upload files to location access given in the Request files invitation. These settings apply to anonymous links sent from OneDrive and SharePoint as well. As a best practice, if you permit users to send links to Anyone, which is enabled by default, you should expire those links. Otherwise, over a period of years, there can be hundreds or thousands of URLs that provide access to your content making access control distressingly challenging or impossible without disabling anonymous access altogether.

Folders must be set to View, edit, and upload as shown above to allow users to upload files in response to a file request.

Synchronization

One of the main features of OneDrive for Business is the ability to synchronize files from a user’s PC or laptop with OneDrive. With the synch service running, users can work on files locally, and the changes are sent to the cloud. Also, well-known folder locations such as Documents can be synchronized, ensuring essential documents are both local and in the cloud. You can easily sync Teams File Repositories as well as SharePoint Document Libraries.

The synchronization service is part of Windows 10, so you do not generally need to download it individually. Users can install the service by clicking Start and typing OneDrive.

One Drive For Business App Windows 10

OneDrive For Business Sign In

Click on the OneDrive app to launch the setup. OneDrive is then accessible in the taskbar as the cloud icon (shown before logging in, below).

Alternatively, users can enable the client by logging into onedrive.microsoft.com and clicking Sync.

When installed, users can enjoy the integration of OneDrive with Windows File Explorer. A OneDrive location is visible in the File listing. The OneDrive file listing is unique as you can see if a file is in the cloud (cloud icon), local and in the cloud (checkmark), or synchronizing (arrows). Also, when you right-click on a file in the OneDrive folder, you can Share a file, View online, and check the version history.

OneDrive Windows File Explorer

Pay particular attention to the following icons. Shown below is a screenshot from one that appears during the installation of the OneDrive client.

OneDrive Client Installation

TAKE NOTE – File on demand enabled by default!

Imagine this scenario. You are working on an important project with several others. A Teams site is used for collaboration. You’re headed out for an important meeting with your clients, and a colleague posts several important files to Teams. You’ve installed the sync client, and you’re headed off to the airport, so you think “no worries, I’ve got them synced to my laptop, and I can view them in flight.” Aloft, you open your laptop and see there is a cloud icon next to files. Clicking on a file, it’s not accessible. What happened?

What happened is the Files On-Demand is enabled by default.

Files On-Demand marks content that appears in the cloud as cloud-only. A file added to a Teams File Repository will not automatically sync locally. It’s not available offline until you open the file, or set the file or folder to Always keep on this device. Optionally, you could also disable Files On-Demand, which we’ll get to in a minute.

For an important file or folder, right-click in Windows Explorer and select Always keep on this device. Users can also disable Files On-Demand in the OneDrive client by opening the client and clicking More->Settings->Settings, then clear the checkbox that reads Files On-Demand.

Microsoft OneDrive Files On-Demand

When you clear the checkbox, a pop-up message says that, indeed, the files will download to your PC instead of being cloud-only.

Microsoft OneDrive Disable Files On-Demand

Be advised that as the message above states, if your files in OneDrive for Business take up, say, 1TB, then that 1TB will be downloaded to your PC. Local storage needs to allow for this. Also, administrators need to consider the impact on bandwidth should you disable Files On-Demand for many users at the same time.

As an alternative, consider instructing users to mark files and folders they want to always be available offline “Always available on this device” using Windows File Explorer as previously discussed. Then you can keep Files On-Demand enabled to preserve bandwidth as only the designate files and folder will be permanently synched, while those you open, will be temporarily synched. All others will reside in the cloud.

Using Policy

For small businesses, administrators can manage OneDrive for Business effectively with the OneDrive for Business administration console. Larger organizations will be interested in using policy. The policy system for Microsoft and Office 365 is considered the most efficient way to manage many settings including those for OneDrive for Business. Policy-based administration provides administrators control, scale, repeatability, and flexibility.

Policy automation can be a complicated topic and breaks into different scenarios depending on your network architecture and configuration. For those with on-premise Active Directory environments, you manage policy via SCCM or Azure AD Domain Services.

If your environment is cloud-only (meaning, you are not using domain controllers locally), using Microsoft’s InTune service lets you deploy the OneDrive sync service to desktops using the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center.

You can also create and apply profiles to users that control OneDrive behavior. Shown below is a policy profile limiting the client upload rate to a percentage of available bandwidth. This one of many possible settings to control OneDrive policies in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

OneDrive policies in Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Previously, you saw how you can limit sharing with anonymous users to members of a specific security group. Similarly, you can apply different policy profiles to different security groups.

Microsoft EndPoint Manager Security Groups

In this way, you manage the behavior of OneDrive and many other aspects of your cloud service by membership in security groups. It’s easy to imagine uses for this practice with a group for New Hires, Legal-Review-Team, Alliance Partners, Vendors, or other typical roles with differing needs in a busy organization.

Network Impact

In regards to OneDrive, you want to be thoughtful about bandwidth consumption in your company, especially on the initial deployment of OneDrive for Business. More than one company has had issues with essential business services becoming sluggish when hundreds or even thousands of newly deployed OneDrive for Business sync clients start downloading content at the same time. Files On-Demand, as discussed earlier, helps significantly to reduce the initial bandwidth hit as files located in the cloud are not automatically downloaded to clients when enabled.

Known folder moves (discussed next) can also impact network performance by automatically uploading users’ local folders to the cloud when the client is deployed.

To help manage network impacts, the OneDrive sync client has bandwidth controls built-in. For a small business, you may want to adjust these settings on each users’ system. Right-click on the OneDrive for Business sync client, then click Settings->Network to see the settings.

Microsoft OneDrive Sync Client

In a larger business, you can use policy to push the desired settings, including the ability to mark OneDrive network traffic with QoS settings.

Known Folder Moves

Finally, a feature called Known Folder Moves is of keen interest to administrators as it can help reduce support desk calls and ease users’ transitions to new computers when replaced or upgraded.

As you probably know, specific folders in Windows, such as Documents, Desktop, and Pictures, and others are unique. These are “known folders” as they are in the same location in the file system on every Windows operating system.

OneDrive includes a feature where known folder locations are synced to OneDrive for Business. When a user needs a file in one of these locations and their PC is not available, they can access it from any device, including a mobile device that has an internet connection. Also, when a user moves to a new PC or laptop, all the previous documents, images, and important files are online and can easily be synched back to the new device.

Known Folder Moves can be enabled in the sync client by clicking on Setting->Backup->Manage Backup.

Microsoft OneDrive Known Folder Moves

Of course, you can also use policy with the methods previously discussed. Should you decide to roll this out, be mindful of bandwidth impacts and network performance, all that content will be uploaded to the cloud.

Summary

OneDrive for Business is an exceptionally useful service. In this article, we’ve discussed many of the key considerations, benefits, best practices, and capabilities of OneDrive for Business so you can effectively manage the service for users. A capable administrator will understand the business use cases for sharing as well as the network impact of OneDrive for Business, and be familiar with how to administer the service including using policy to enforce the desired settings for your Business.

When set up, users will enjoy cloud access to essential files, including their Desktop, Document, Pictures, Team sites, and other files of importance, allowing them to share content quickly and work locally or collaboratively.

Of course, Microsoft is continuously updating OneDrive for Business, so as a last tip, bookmark the Microsoft official OneDrive blog to keep up-to-date.

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Author: Brett Hill

Salesforce Pardot, Interaction Studio get feature boosts

Salesforce Marketing Cloud users will finally get their hands on technology Salesforce acquired from Datorama, Evergage and Tableau in the form of new features due to be released in the coming months.

Salesforce Pardot, the B2B marketing automation suite under Marketing Cloud, will debut Salesforce Pardot Premium this month, the company said. Aimed at enterprise users, the new package adds Einstein AI capabilities to tackle predictive campaign analytics and the difficult concept of attribution — how marketers determine which campaign or channel drove what revenue.

Earlier this year, Salesforce acquired Evergage, a personalization technology vendor. Features from that acquisition will manifest themselves in Salesforce Interaction Studio, another wing of Marketing Cloud in which users track real-time engagement with customers via numerous channels such as marketing emails, social media channels and customer service.

Within Interaction Studio, new features slated for third-quarter release include Einstein Personalization Recipes, which enables the design and testing of recommendations for individual customers; Einstein Personalization Decisions, which uses an AI learning model to determine next best actions; and A/B testing to predict how different experiences may perform on different channels.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud data visualizations screenshot
Datorama and Tableau features coming to Salesforce Marketing Cloud offer analytics data visualizations to give marketing users context around customer activity, in this case.

Salesforce takes on Adobe with new features

The Salesforce Pardot Premium and Interaction Studio features may challenge those of market leader Adobe, Constellation Research analyst Nicole France said. While existing Salesforce users will welcome these granular, AI-assisted recommendation tools if they hadn’t used them before, enterprise users who already get that functionality from a mixed Salesforce-Adobe tech stack may also look at how they overlap.

“This is partly about having a competitive play [with Adobe and other vendors],” said France, adding that users want to simplify their stacks by reducing the number of vendors they need to put together to get the job done. “It’s also partly about having a tool that’s well integrated to a set of tools you’re already using — from a user standpoint, there is some appeal.”

Even when we come out of this, back to some sense of normalcy, a lot of behaviors have probably changed forever.
Adam BlitzerCEO, Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Available now in Salesforce Marketing Cloud are data-handling features built from its 2018 Datorama acquisition, combined with Tableau data visualization and analytics technology. Together, they pull together a Salesforce user’s marketing data and port it to charts and graphs based on a number of metrics such as geography or role of their customers in the buying process to understand and optimize marketing performance.

While integrating features from the acquisitions of Datorama, Evergage and Tableau were on the product roadmap for some time, Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Adam Blitzer said that some were moved up in the development queue after the pandemic reconfigured the needs of Salesforce users. Those included the analytics and tools that allow the mixing and mingling of different data sets.

“We have reevaluated our roadmaps, based on the world in which we find ourselves,” Blitzer said. “No one is sure when the current environment is going to end as we are in lockdown and isolation. … Even when we come out of this, back to some sense of normalcy, a lot of behaviors have probably changed forever. This notion of running your business from anywhere, being able to work from anywhere, is likely here to stay.”

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Microsoft Teams to get 7×7 video layout by late August

Microsoft Teams will soon display up to 49 video participants on screen simultaneously. The vendor will begin rolling out the 7×7 video layout this month and plans to provide the feature to all users in public preview by the end of August.

A larger group video display quickly became the most requested feature in Teams history amid the pandemic. When the virus forced most businesses to close offices in March, Teams only displayed four people on screen at one time.

Microsoft launched a 3×3 video layout in May but still trailed Zoom, which displays a 7×7 grid, and Cisco Webex, which supports a 5×5 pattern. The shortcoming has led some Teams customers to use Zoom for larger meetings. The introduction of a 7×7 grid could change that.

“This will definitely bring Teams to parity and fight the Zoom erosion,” said Joshua Tretakoff, head of business development at JustAnswer, an online help service. Tretakoff recently began holding some meetings on Zoom because of the small video display in Teams.

Tretakoff is also glad that Microsoft will soon let as many as 1,000 people participate in a meeting, up from 250 people. His company maintains a GoToMeeting license for larger meetings today. “And we’ll be glad to consolidate back on to Teams,” he said.

Gif of Microsoft Teams dynamic view
Microsoft Teams will get a more dynamic meeting display later this year.

More than 56,000 Teams users asked Microsoft to support a more substantial group video display through the vendor’s user feedback forum. That’s more than twice the number of users who voted for the second most popular feature request, the ability to log in to multiple Teams accounts simultaneously.

Microsoft said the 7×7 video layout would launch in preview, however. That means the company hasn’t finished engineering the feature, which could cause users to encounter glitches. Companies will need to activate the new multi-window meeting setting to use the 7×7 grid.

Microsoft attempts to create an immersive meeting experience

Microsoft also unveiled this week a unique new meeting display called “together mode.” The feature places video participants in seats in a virtual auditorium.

Microsoft designed the setting using the science behind virtual reality. The company wants to make people feel connected to colleagues by simulating the spatial relationships that exist while sitting together in the same room.

The feature is unlike any video display on the market today. But it’s an open question whether businesses will use together mode when Microsoft launches it in August. The company plans to eventually add support for more virtual environments, such as a coffee shop.

Gif of Microsoft Teams together mode
The new ‘together mode’ in Microsoft Teams places meeting attendees in a virtual auditorium.

Later in 2020, Microsoft will also alter its traditional meeting display. The new screen will place the most active meeting participants in the most prominent positions, keeping audio-only users off to the side. The update will also let users view video feeds even when someone is presenting a PowerPoint.  

Other future enhancements include real-time transcription, closed captioning with speaker attribution, emoji reactions, and video filters for adjusting light levels and camera focus. New features earmarked for the rest of the Teams app include suggested replies, a tasks tab and integration with the AI voice assistant Cortana.

However, Teams users are still waiting for many less flashy enhancements such as a better calendar and parity between webinars and meetings. Some users have expressed frustration about Microsoft prioritizing attention-grabbing features to battle Zoom instead of fixing more fundamental issues with the platform.

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CCPA regulation enforcement begins; Salesforce an early target

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will enforce the California Consumer Privacy Act regulation come hell, high water or coronavirus.

That was made immediately clear on July 1, when Becerra announced CCPA enforcement of the law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, would begin as scheduled despite its final regulatory language still being subject to a 90-day review by the California Office of Administrative Law that begun on June 1. It will likely be finalized sometime around the end of August. More than 30 trade associations and businesses sent a letter seeking an extension on CCPA regulation enforcement due to pandemic-related business disruptions.

Anecdotal reports passed on through trade associations claim that some companies have already gotten CCPA violation notices from Becerra’s office, which they have 30 days to address or face fines of $2,500-$7,500 per violation. On the civil lawsuit side, 34 complaints cited the CCPA regulation through July 2, according to law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, that tracks them.

The law gives California residents the legal right to know what specific personal information about them a company keeps, shares or sells; mandates a company deletes it upon request of the resident and allows customers to opt out of data sales; and it prohibits companies from discriminating against consumers who exercise their rights.

There are some exceptions: Companies with gross annual revenue under $25 million that buy, receive or sell information for fewer than 50,000 customers and derive less than 50% of annual revenue from selling consumers’ information are exempt from CCPA. Nonprofits and government offices are also exempt.

But for most people working in sales, marketing, customer service and e-commerce — if they’re located in California or have customers in the state — CCPA enforcement is in effect, Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller said.

“If we’re thinking about security as an operational checklist, we’re doing it wrong,” Miller said. “The reality is that our customers expect that when they finish a transaction online with a brand they trust, give a credit card number and give a home address, that we are going to do the most we possibly can to make sure that that information is used for good and does not fall into nefarious hands.”

CCPA regulation
California’s attorney general advises the state’s consumers of their rights under the CCPA regulation, outlining the specific requests with which CX teams in sales, service, marketing and e-commerce must accommodate.

Salesforce an early CCPA defendant

For now, Becerra’s office handles CCPA enforcement. A ballot initiative Californians will vote on in November, the California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act of 2020, would establish the California Privacy Protection Agency to handle enforcement. This law would strengthen the CCPA and add layers that affect adtech platforms, among other technologies.

One of the first CCPA lawsuits is a class-action complaint filed against Salesforce e-commerce customer and children’s clothier Hanna Andersson, stemming from a 2019 data breach. Salesforce, which is also named as a defendant in the suit, declined comment on the case for this article; attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to inquiries.

Cloud software vendors such as Alyce, which manages promotional gift and video lead-generation campaigns, are watching both the California Attorney General’s Office to determine enforcement patterns and the civil suits to see who is awarded damages. It could take more than a year to understand what CCPA violations draw fines, said Andy Dale, Alyce general counsel.

While Alyce was already CCPA-compliant, Dale said, the company is tweaking features on its platform to make CCPA compliance more straightforward in the user interface. One example is making data deletion easier so an Alyce user can quickly honor customer requests to do so.

Alyce integrates with Adobe Marketo and Salesforce, among other popular platforms. Dale said that the company is paying close attention to the Hanna Andersson and Salesforce suit.

You have to have your CIO and CISO involved in the conversation if something’s going to hook into your system or touch your customer in any way. The days of ‘random acts of marketing technology purchases’ have to be over.
Liz MillerAnalyst, Constellation Research

“It definitely hits our radar,” Dale said. “All I can do is watch and see what happens and see how they respond.”

Marketers and other CX professionals need to be vigilant when selecting cloud companies for their campaigns and enlist help before entering into contracts with vendors to make sure those service providers align with their company’s data-use and security policies. While marketing automation tools have proliferated over the last decade, and marketing teams built their own tech stacks, these new privacy compliance mandates spell the end of trial-and-error lead generation campaigns.

“You have to have your CIO and CISO involved in the conversation if something’s going to hook into your system or touch your customer in any way,” Constellation’s Miller said. “The days of ‘random acts of marketing technology purchases’ have to be over.”  

That said, Miller added, the CCPA regulation is creating “Christmas for lawyers,” and she expects a large number of initial lawsuits connected to data breaches that won’t necessarily be successful, because it puts too much onus on the plaintiffs to prove companies knowingly flouted the law.

National privacy law may be next

The CCPA regulation is the first state consumer privacy law of its kind; New York, Oregon, Washington and Nevada followed with their own.

More could come as legislators consider bills in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia and Maryland — Illinois already has a law protecting biometrics information, and a proposed consumer privacy bill in the works that would reinforce it. These different state laws prompted Microsoft to make the stringent CCPA its national standard to streamline compliance efforts.

Several privacy bills  have been introduced at the federal level. Should one pass, privacy compliance will be less of a state-by-state patchwork for cloud software vendors and their users.

“I think both sides see the merit in having something, so someday we may get there,” Alyce’s Dale said.

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