Moving Beyond Traditional EDR

 

An evolution is happening in the cybersecurity industry. Even as our workforce is becoming more and more distributed, our security architecture is unifying into a single security analytics capability for threat detection and response. Extended detection and response (XDR) is at the center of this shift, providing centralized visibility across your various security data sources. Security teams who are investing in detection and response tools must consider XDR in their evaluations, as XDR delivers all the capabilities of traditional endpoint detection and response (EDR), but with superior extensibility and analytics to meet the needs of the future.

 

XDR Is an Extension of EDR Capabilities

To tell the story of XDR, we must begin with traditional EDR because it is the foundation from which we are extending. EDR capabilities are a critical precursor to an XDR solution because there is no better way to detect an intrusion than by monitoring the actual target environment being attacked, and the telemetry collected by EDR forms the basis of triage and investigation. You simply cannot have a marketable XDR solution if you don’t have best-in-class EDR capabilities. That said, 10-20% of any organization’s laptops and workstations are not under management, so as great as EDR is, it’s only situationally useful. Let’s take a look at how XDR improves upon this situation.

 

 

Cloud Workloads Require a Different Type of Endpoint Monitoring

An endpoint is traditionally understood to be an end user computing device such as a laptop or workstation. Unfortunately, this ignores another important endpoint if we’re to view network communication using the middle-school definition of a line segment, connecting two endpoints. As cloud technologies such as containers and serverless become more prevalent, it’s essential that we be able to monitor these endpoints with the same confidence we have in our end user computing environment. This critical next step toward a full-fledged XDR product enables a unified view across the endpoints within your environment, regardless of system function.

 

Let’s Not Forget How the Network Ties It All Together

Network telemetry serves three critical functions in an XDR environment: 

  1. Detecting compromise of unmanaged assets. 
  2. Providing application-layer anomaly detection where some attacks may never compromise the system itself. 
  3. Correlating events across systems to enable triage of alerts as a single incident across your environment. 

While the first two objectives are advantages of having a network detection and response (NDR) solution, only by leveraging XDR can you accomplish the third to greatly reduce not only the frequency of alerts but the time to triage and investigate them.

 

Why Are You Still Shopping for a Traditional EDR Product?

XDR extends all the benefits you expect from a traditional EDR product by further stitching together telemetry from non-endpoint sources to provide better detection and a bigger picture of what’s going on in your environment for your security operations team. Organizations without XDR invest tons of time and money sending traditional EDR data into their SIEM in an attempt to achieve the same benefits an XDR solution will give you out of the box. Don’t invest in the last generation of endpoint security products with traditional EDR, extend your team by unifying your threat detection capabilities with XDR.

To learn more, contact us today. 

 

Introducing New Cloud-based Admin Capabilities to help you better service Microsoft 365 Apps

 

The work of the IT admin community over the last few months has been nothing short of heroic. It’s always been the role of IT to build secure and resilient infrastructures, but practically overnight you became leaders in enabling an entirely new way of work for your organizations.

As remote work becomes the new norm, you will continue to play a critical role by applying the right technology to deliver a flawless user experience, reduce costs, and digitally transform. We’re proud to announce the preview of new cloud-based capabilities within the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center to help you manage Office apps as a service and better manage your IT costs. Three pillars work together to bring this new service to life:

  • Intelligent insights, including Apps Inventory, Add-In Inventory, and Security Currency, to give you a deep view into your environment to help you act quickly if you find problems.
  • Servicing automation with controls, including Servicing Profile that delivers not only comprehensive servicing automation but also gives you the necessary precision controls to deliver updates based on metrics, optimize network utilization and streamline processes for less business disruption.
  • Microsoft 365 Apps health, including alerting and reporting to help you increase the performance, and reliability of Office apps.

 

Intelligent insights

 

We’re enabling you to get quick answers to frequently asked questions about your Office environment with these additions. Using Office Inventory, you can drill into detailed views of devices running Office apps in your environment to understand which Office client versions and Office add-ins are running. You can also see which servicing channel each device belongs to: Beta Channel, Current Channel, Monthly Enterprise Channel, or Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel. This helps you act quickly to manage unsupported Office build versions and add-ins to ensure your environment is secure and compliant. You can easily export these results to create reports for internal or external audits.

 

The Security page in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center provides a dashboard view of your security update compliance. You can see the latest patch date and percentage of Office apps in your environment that are up to date. You can also see which devices and apps have failed to update and determine what actions to take next. To help manage security updates for Office apps, you can set a goal time and goal percentage to specify when devices should be updated after a security patch is released. In the Servicing action center in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center, you can easily specify a Target version to change the update channel for devices by user or Azure Active Directory group. This way, you can ensure that specific devices receive updates only when you’ve chosen. You can also easily roll back updates for certain users or groups.

 

Servicing automation with controls

 

Streamlined and automated Microsoft 365 Apps servicing helps you reduce the burden of manual deployments and accelerate the rollout of the latest productivity features and security patches without adding extra effort and costs. Our new Servicing Profile feature can associate devices in your organization to automate the delivery of monthly Office app updates from the Office CDN. Updates are throttled using our wave algorithm, which is helpful if you have users receiving updates in areas where network congestion or bandwidth is an issue.

You can view the Servicing Profile by device and easily pause and resume updates as needed. If you learn that users are experiencing issues with an update, you can pause updates until issues are resolved. You can also restore updates easily to a previous version in the event you experience unforeseen issues after a rollout.

Through the Servicing Profile, you can also specify exclusion date periods when Office apps updates should not run, such as during company town halls, board meetings, or holiday seasons. This can be scheduled once, or on a recurring basis, based on your business’s needs. To help ensure compliance with Office apps updates, you can choose either to let users install updates at their own pace, or you can force updates to happen by a particular deadline.

 

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Microsoft 365 Apps Servicing profile

 

Microsoft 365 Apps health

 

Innovations in app health give you insights not just during, but also between deployments. From the Microsoft 365 Apps health dashboard in Microsoft 365 Apps admin center, you can view the overall health of your tenant at a glance at any time to help you understand which Office apps updates your devices are running and actions to take to increase performance and reliability. You can monitor trends in performance and reliability in your organization and assess how many users are reporting diagnostics to help you discover issues. Microsoft 365 Apps health also shows advisories to inform you about issues occurring in your environment with information about which Office apps and update channels are experiencing the problems. We are also bringing you high-level insights into the health of the Office apps, such as currency through Productivity Score. Learn more about accessing and using the Microsoft 365 Apps health dashboard to help you optimize Office clients in your tenant.

 

Microsoft 365 Apps health - high res.png

Health status of Microsoft 365 Apps in the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center

We’ve also enabled a more efficient end-user feedback process and faster response to issues to help you better understand user sentiment and reduce your IT support burden. When you must roll back an update to a previous build, you can report blocking issues to Microsoft. These will be escalated quickly to the Office Product Team. You can view the progress of issue resolution and see when a fix will be available in a future build.

 

The value of the up-to-date Microsoft 365 Apps

 

In May, we announced the new Monthly Enterprise Channel as the first capability in this wave of innovation to help you modernize servicing of Microsoft 365 Apps. Today we are happy to share some evidence from our customers, as they are finding benefits of both a faster cadence to deliver productivity and security value and the predictability the new channel brings along.

We like the guarantee of only one update per month with a faster cadence for features and bug fixes. I believe we will be able to expand upon the success we have already seen and deploy Monthly Enterprise Channel to a much wider audience. – Dawn Wentner, Senior Systems Analyst, Chevron

The reasoning for choosing Monthly Enterprise Channel is that our users like the predictability the new channel offers, knowing that they are going to receive updates once a month. This also helps us stay current with security features while allowing us ample time to do testing with other apps, macros, add-ins that use Office.“ – Basith Raheem, End User Technology Analyst, Mars

 

The new servicing profile gives us great visibility into the device inventory and the update status within few hours of the update release, without us even managing the updates. Transition to the new Monthly Enterprise Channel went smoothly and completed without impacting any end-user productivity, the overall experience is a huge value add.” – Sunila Chugh, Consultant, Workstation Engineering, Avanade

Backed up by all the new servicing capabilities that give you deep insights while leaving you in control, Current Channel (our recommendation) provides your users with the newest Office features as soon as they are ready. If you would benefit from additional predictability for when new Office features are released each month, we recommend the Monthly Enterprise Channel. 

 

To learn more on Microsoft 365, contact us

 

Reimagining Virtual Collaboration for the Future of Work and Learning

Today we’re announcing a set of new features in Microsoft Teams that make virtual interactions more natural, more engaging, and ultimately, more human. These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education. First, they help you feel more connected with your team and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging. And third, they help streamline your work and save time.

It’s all about enabling people everywhere to collaborate, to stay connected, and to discover new ways to be productive from anywhere. Let’s dig into the details.

Feel more connected and reduce meeting fatigue

Together mode—At a time when people are conducting more virtual meetings than ever, our research has shown that many of us feel less connected since moving to remote work, and experience more fatigue during video meetings than during in-person collaboration. Together mode is a new meeting experience in Teams that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class. Together mode makes meetings more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction. It’s great for meetings in which multiple people will speak, such as brainstorms or roundtable discussions, because it makes it easier for participants to understand who is talking. Together mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August. And we’ll bring more views to Together mode in the future.

Dynamic view—While Together mode offers an extraordinary new meeting experience, it’s not intended for every meeting. We believe that traditional video meetings people use every day can also be more engaging and dynamic. A set of enhancements we call dynamic view gives you more control over how you see shared content and other participants in a meeting. Using AI, meetings dynamically optimize shared content and video participants. New controls—including the ability to show shared content and specific participants side-by-side—let you personalize the view to suit your preferences and needs. Dynamic view builds on the meetings enhancements  include large gallery view, where you can see video of up to 49 people in a meeting simultaneously, and virtual breakout rooms, which allow meeting organizers to split meeting participants into smaller groups for things like brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions.

An image of the new Dynamic view.Dynamic viewAn image of the new large gallery view.Large gallery view

Video filters—We’ve all become familiar with video filters used in photography and social media apps, and now we’re bringing them to Teams. Before joining a meeting, you can use the filters to subtly adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera to customize your appearance.

An animated image of background filters.

Reflect messaging extension—Our research shows that employee well-being is more important to productivity than ever. Creating an emotionally supportive environment is key to keeping people healthy, happy, and focused. The new Reflect messaging extension gives managers, leaders and teachers an easy way to check in with how their team or students are feeling — either in general, or about a specific topic like work-life balance, the status of a project, current events, or a change within the organization. IT administrators will be able to install the Reflect extension from GitHub, and then make it available to employees in their organization in the message extension menu. Once installed, the extension provides suggested check-in questions and the ability to add custom questions that team members can respond to in a poll-like experience. Managers or teachers can also choose to make poll results anonymous.

An image of reflect messaging extension.

Make meetings more inclusive, engaging, and effective 

Live reactions—Non-verbal cues like smiles and head nods can be difficult to notice in online meetings, making it challenging for presenters to gauge audience reactions and for participants in large meetings to share a sentiment without interrupting the meeting flow. Soon, you will be able to react during a meeting using emojis that will appear to all participants. Live reactions is a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations, which allows audience members to provide instant feedback to the presenter. We are also bringing PowerPoint Live Presentations to Teams in the future, further enabling audience engagement right from Teams.

An animated image of Live reactions.

Chat bubbles—During meetings, chat has become a lively space for conversation and idea-sharing, and offers an option for people to participate in the discussion without having to jump in verbally. But it can be challenging to pay attention to video feeds, presentations, and chats all at the same time. Currently, Teams users need to manually open a chat window to view the chat screen. Soon, however, chats sent during a Teams meeting will surface on the screens of all meeting participants, making the chat more central to the conversation. 

Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts—While Teams already provides live captions as a way to follow along with what is being said in a meeting, soon we will add speaker attribution to captions so that everyone knows who is speaking. Live transcripts, coming later this year, provide another way to follow along with what has been said and who said it. After a meeting, the transcript file is automatically saved in a tab as a part of the meeting.

Note: Remarks made by participants joining from a conference room device will be attributed to the room rather than to the individuals in the room.

An animated image of Live Captions with speaker attribution.Live Captions with speaker attribution

An animated image of Live transcription with speaker attribution.Live transcription 

Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow—There are times when it’s important to bring large groups together for meetings or classes. For more interactive meetings—where attendees can chat, unmute to talk, and turn on their videos for real-time collaboration—Teams meetings are growing to support up to 1,000 participants. When you want to bring more people together to watch a presentation or discussion, Teams can support a view-only meeting experience for up to 20,000 participants.

Microsoft Whiteboard updates—Visual collaboration tools can make meetings and teaching environments more effective and inclusive. Whiteboard in Teams will soon be updated with new features including faster load times, sticky notes, text, and drag and drop capabilities. These features enable team members who don’t have access to a touchscreen or Surface Hub to participate in whiteboarding sessions during Teams meetings.

An image of Microsoft Whiteboard updates.

Streamline your work and save time 

Tasks app– The Tasks app in Teams provides a new unified view of tasks from across Microsoft To Do, Planner, and Outlook. Smart lists like “Assigned to me” bring tasks together across different shared plans, whether you’re on desktop, web, or mobile. Add Tasks as a tab in a channel and get your familiar Planner tab experience with the new list view.

Suggested replies—Get your message across with just one tap! Suggested replies in Teams chat uses assistive AI to create short responses based on the context of the previous message. So the next time someone asks you “Do you have time to meet today?” you can respond “I sure do!” without even pulling up your keyboard. 

Cortana in Teams—Coming soon to the Teams mobile app, Cortana uses AI and the Microsoft Graph to provide voice assistance in Teams. To stay connected to your team even when you have your hands full, you can ask Cortana to make a call, join a meeting, send chat messages, share files, and more. These voice assistance experiences are delivered using Cortana enterprise-grade services that meet Microsoft 365 privacy, security, and compliance commitments. Cortana will be available in the Teams mobile app on iOS and Android in the coming weeks for Microsoft 365 Enterprise users in the U.S. in English.

Microsoft Teams displays—Organizations need to enable their employees to set up more effective home office spaces while also preparing some to return to the office. To help, we’re introducing new Microsoft Teams display, a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices that feature an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana. With natural language, users can ask Cortana to join and present in meetings, dictate replies to a Teams chat, and more. These devices seamlessly integrate with your PC, providing easy access to Teams chat, meetings, calling, calendar, and files. And with a camera shutter and microphone mute switch, your conversations stay private. The Lenovo ThinkSmart View will be the first Microsoft Teams display to market, and Yealink will deliver one of the first devices in this category too. Microsoft Teams displays with Cortana will be available in the U.S. starting later this year.

An image of PCs with Microsoft Teams desplays.

Touchless meeting experiences—As some people begin to return to their worksites, touchless meeting experiences in shared spaces are more relevant than ever. Today, Teams enables people to join meetings and share content to meeting room devices from their own mobile device or PC. Later this year, we’ll enable these capabilities on Surface Hub as well. We’re building on these capabilities with a new room remote in the Teams mobile app, which will provide additional meeting controls such as the ability to leave the meeting, mute and unmute the room, adjust audio volume, and turn cameras on and off. Beginning later this year, voice assistance will be enabled for Microsoft Teams Room devices, allowing in-room participants to ask Cortana to join and leave a meeting, add a participant from the address book to a meeting using their name or phone number, and more. We’re also introducing the ability to wirelessly cast to any Teams Room, collaboration bar, or Surface Hub device, enabling seamless ad-hoc in-person collaboration for people in a shared space.

Note: Voice commands will launch first for Microsoft 365 Enterprise users in the U.S., in English. Not all Teams Room audio devices will support Cortana voice assistance.

An image of Room remote for Microsoft Teams devices.
Room remote for Microsoft Teams devices

While the above capabilities are designed for work and school, we aspire to make Teams the platform for work, life, and learning.

And they all reflect our vision for the future of work: where everyone is able to contribute and do their best work; where they can move fluidly between experiences, apps, and devices; where AI lends a helping hand to streamline tasks, provide short cuts, and save you time; and where technology contributes to wellbeing and doesn’t detract from it.

From the kickoff call to the project’s launch—and all points in-between—Teams is the place where people come together to get work done. Working alongside our customers, we’ll continue reimagining the future of work and delivering technologies that put people at the center of every experience.

For more information on Microsoft Teams, please contact us

Take your communications to the next level with new offerings in Microsoft Teams

In recent months, the shift to remote and hybrid work has catalyzed organizations of all sizes, and across every industry, to rethink how their people and teams communicate and collaborate. Many of our customers are now navigating a new COVID-19 response phase, moving on from “remote everything” to a more sustainable, hybrid workplace, blending remote work and physical offices. They are investing in long-term resilience and strengthening their organizational agility, while proactively managing cost and risk of current economic uncertainty.

When it comes to communications, there is a broad spectrum of needs that are required to connect employees from the worksite to the main office to the home office—across locations and time zones. The spectrum starts with the most basic 1:1 meetings and calls with colleagues, to larger group meetings, all the way to large events and conferences. During the crisis response to the pandemic, many organizations transformed rapidly in group meetings first, as evidenced by Microsoft Teams reaching 200 million participants in a single day. Organizations looking to create more sustained transformation are seeing that Teams serves communications needs well beyond group meetings, taking communications to the next level with broad scale company-wide events. At the other end of the spectrum, Teams modernizes 1:1 calling with a cloud-based phone system in the same Teams app that keeps you in the communications flow.

Today we’re excited to announce new offerings and capabilities across all ends of the communications spectrum.

Scale with professionalism and control with Advanced Communications

Communication systems across the world are evolving to support customers’ changing needs.  As our customers are mastering using Teams for group meetings, they want to increase their reach, and use the same familiar tool to deliver online meetings and events at a much broader scale. Naturally, this scale requires both structure and admin control, to achieve a more professional, seamless, compliant experience. Today, we are excited to announce a new Advanced Communications set of capabilities to support these needs:

  • Scale your Teams meeting up to 20,000 participants. Reach larger audiences to stay connected with your employees, customers, and partners. When building this capability, we were focused on your meeting experience, making sure that even as the meeting scales it is still easy to manage and listen to the speakers.  Therefore, we limited the size of interactive meetings to 1,000 participants, with a seamless shift to a ‘view only’ mode after the limit is met.
  • Enhanced admin control. Use new capabilities and insert more structure to meetings, by adding your company’s branding to meetings for a professional look and feel. Start out with branded meeting lobby, launching in the coming months, and extend your branding to the core meeting experience coming later. Connect with business applications to manage at scale and automate workflows. Work with Teams certified solution partners and help your organization address business needs by setting up compliance recording policy or bringing in collaboration to your customer engagement workflows.

 

An animated image of the Custom branded background.

Custom branded background.

Each of these new capabilities will be enabled with the new Advanced Communications plan, which can be added to any Microsoft 365 or Office 365 paid subscription.

Give employees 1:1 connections with Teams Calling

Connecting 1:1 with colleagues, customers and partners is important, especially when meeting face-to-face can be challenging.  Employees in your organization can easily call each other from Teams without a phone number. For your employees who use phone numbers to make and receive calls with customers, partners, and vendors, those numbers need to be with them, wherever they are. With Teams Calling, a cloud-based phone system, employees can continue to do this whether they are in the office, working from home, or some combination of the two.

When using Teams, you are getting best-in-class calling capabilities—validated by Team’s leader position in both the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave reports.  With all your communication tools in one place, Teams Calling makes it easy to call anyone, anywhere with any device. And, you can also move seamlessly between chat, calling, and meetings based on your needs. This saves IT time, reduces costs associated with multiple point solutions, and diminishes the need for employee training. Teams Calling is a secure, robust solution that is being used by both large call centers and individuals alike. It can be deployed quickly using your existing calling plan or a Microsoft calling plan in select markets.

As communication is being reimagined, so are the tools that we use to communicate. Instead of a desk phone and other peripherals, we’re taking a fresh perspective on what a phone could be with our newest device innovation, Microsoft Teams displays. This is a dedicated Teams device featuring an ambient touch screen, high-quality calling and video, and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana.

An image of with Cortana built-in, the Lenovo ThinkSmart View and Yealink will be delivering the first Microsoft Teams displays in the U. S. later this year.

With Cortana built-in, the Lenovo ThinkSmart View and Yealink  will be delivering the first Microsoft Teams displays in the U. S. later this year.

We also realize that being able to use existing hardware can provide important cost savings when moving to a new phone system. Today, we are announcing extended support for Skype for Business (3PIP) phones beyond 2023, so you can continue to use your existing Skype for Business phones as you move to Teams. Additionally, we will be supporting core calling features on SIP phones from Cisco, Yealink, Polycom, and others with Teams. Support for SIP phones will be available in the first half of 2021.

For customers looking to modernize their phones, we are bringing a new line of Microsoft Teams phones with physical buttons, high-quality audio, and core calling features at an affordable price. These phones are designed for common areas and basic information worker scenarios, with options available from AudioCodes, Poly, Yealink starting early 2021. We are also expanding our portfolio to deliver new USB peripherals that have dial pads and a modern Teams user interface for heavy call users. These USB phones work out of the box, featuring a Teams button, and will connect to both a PC and Mac to bring a high-quality Teams audio experience. These will be available in late 2020.

To get started with Teams, contact us

Bring innovation anywhere with Azure’s multi-cloud, multi-edge hybrid capabilities

As businesses shift priorities to enable remote work, take advantage of cloud innovation, and maximize their existing on-premises investments, relying on an effective multi-cloud, multi-edge hybrid approach is even more important than it has ever been.

Since the beginning, Microsoft Azure has always been hybrid by design, providing customers consistency and flexibility in meeting their business needs and empowering them to invent with purpose. This is one of the many reasons that the world’s leading brands trust their businesses to run on Azure. As we expand our Azure hybrid capabilities, we give customers a holistic and seamless approach to run and manage their apps anywhere across on-premises, multi-cloud, and the edge. Today, we are releasing even more innovation in our Azure hybrid portfolio.

hybrid1

Azure Arc: Bring Azure to any infrastructure

In November 2019, Microsoft launched Azure Arc to give customers the flexibility to innovate anywhere with Azure. Azure Arc does two key things: first, it brings Azure management capabilities to any infrastructure, and second, it enables Azure services to run anywhere. Since its launch, Azure Arc has seen tremendous customer interest and adoption across all industries. Organizations such as Africa’s Talking, Avanade, DexMach, Ferguson, Fujitsu, KPMG, and Siemens Healthineers are already realizing value with Azure Arc. They use Azure Arc to manage and govern their resources more efficiently in distributed environments, and they use Azure Arc to bring Azure data services on-premises.

Today, we are announcing more innovation with Azure Arc:

  • Azure Arc enabled data services is now in preview. Now, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure PostgreSQL Hyperscale can run across on-premises datacenters, multi-cloud, and the edge. Customers can now take advantage of the latest Azure managed database innovation, such as staying always current with evergreen SQL, elastic scale, and a unified data management experience, regardless of whether it’s running in Azure, running in their datacenter, or running in a different public cloud. And, these data services work in both connected and disconnected modes. Customers are seeing wide-ranging benefits in improving their IT productivity and business agility with Azure Arc enabled data services. 
  • Azure Arc enabled servers is now generally available. Customers can seamlessly organize and govern Windows and Linux servers—both physical and virtual machines (VMs)—across their multi-cloud, multi-edge environment, all from the Azure portal. Customers can now use Azure management services to monitor, secure, and update servers, and audit them with the same Azure Policy across multi-cloud and multi-edge deployments. In addition, customers can implement standardized role-based access control across all their servers to meet important compliance requirements.  Learn more about Azure Arc.

Azure Stack HCI and Azure Stack Hub: Modernize on-premises datacenters

Today, we’re launching new Azure Stack capabilities to help customers modernize their datacenters:

  • Preview of Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI. AKS on Azure Stack HCI enables customers to deploy and manage containerized apps at scale on Azure Stack HCI, just as they can run AKS within Azure. This now provides a consistent, secure, and fully managed Kubernetes experience for customers who want to use Azure Stack HCI within their datacenters. 
  • Azure Stack Hub is now available with GPUs. To power visualization intense apps, we’ve partnered with AMD to bring the AMD Mi25 GPU to Azure Stack Hub, which allows users to share the GPU in an efficient way. The NVIDIA V100 Tensor Core GPU enables customers to run compute intense machine learning workloads in disconnected or partially connected scenarios. The NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU provides visualization, inferencing, and machine learning for less compute intense workloads. 

Azure VMware Solution: Seamlessly extend and migrate VMware workloads to Azure

Many customers want the ability to seamlessly integrate their existing VMware environments with Azure. Today, we are announcing Azure VMware Solution is now generally available. Designed, built, and supported by Microsoft, Azure VMware Solution is cloud verified by VMware and enables customers to migrate VMware workloads to the cloud with minimal complexity. The Azure service includes the latest VMware Cloud Foundation components such as vSphere, NSX-T, HCX, and vSan, and integrates with a rich set of partner solutions, so customers can continue to use existing tools and skills. In addition, with our licensing offering Azure Hybrid Benefit, Azure is the most cost-effective cloud to migrate your Windows Server and SQL workloads to, whether they run on VMware or elsewhere.

New innovation to run compute and AI at the Edge

Organizations are extending compute and AI to the edge of their network to unlock new business scenarios. Imagine that a retail store always stocks the right products at the right places, a hospital extends patient care to the most remote areas in the world, or a factory optimizes its performance level against capacity in real time. It’s what we call the intelligent edge. Azure offers a comprehensive portfolio of cloud services and edge device support to help customers realize these new use-cases.

Today, we are releasing new edge capabilities:

  • Azure SQL Edge is now generally available, bringing the most secure Microsoft SQL data engine to IoT gateways and edge devices. Optimized for edge workloads, this small-footprint container supports built-in data streaming, storage, and AI in connected or disconnected environments. Built on the same codebase as SQL Server and Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Edge provides the same industry-leading security, the same familiar developer experience, and the same tooling that many teams already know and trust. 
  • Two new Azure Stack Edge rugged devices are available. Customers can perform machine learning and gain quick insights at the edge by running the Azure Stack Edge Pro R with NVIDIA’s powerful T4 GPU and the lightweight, portable Azure Stack Edge Mini R. Both devices are designed to operate in the harshest environments at remote locations. 
  • Azure Stack Edge is now available with GPUs. Customers can run visualization, inferencing, and machine learning at the edge with the Azure Stack Edge Pro series powered by the NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU. This unlocks a broad set of new edge scenarios, such as automatically recognizing license plates for efficient retail curbside pickup, and detecting defects in real time in products on a manufacturing assembly line. 
  • AT&T builds cellular-enabled guardian module with Azure Sphere: AT&T and Microsoft are teaming up to enable enterprise customers to connect their machines and equipment securely by Azure Sphere guardian devices to the cloud seamlessly via AT&T’s cellular network, without needing to rely on Wi-Fi systems. This enables customers to connect their devices where Wi-Fi does not meet their security standards. For example, customers who operate franchises in third-party locations will be able to connect their machines directly to their own clouds, bypassing third-party-owned Wi-Fi. The AT&T powered guardian device expands Azure Sphere’s reach with the AT&T Global SIM that can operate in over 200 countries, and provides multi-layered, unified security from edge to cloud.

We look forward to sharing even more updates on our innovation in multi-cloud, multi-edge hybrid!

To learn more about Microsoft Azure hybrid offerings, contact us

Overview of Microsoft 365 Business Premium

What is Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Microsoft 365 Business Premium (formerly Microsoft 365 Business) is a comprehensive subscription service for businesses with less than 300 employees. It integrates your favorite Office productivity apps and services, and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, with advanced security and device management capabilities.

Watch this video for a quick overview of Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

 

 

Small business security needs
Your business data can be compromised in many ways. You and your users can compromise your organization’s security when you sign in with compromised credentials or view organization data on different devices and applications. More specifically, your organization is at risk from:

  • Compromised or weak sign-in credentials.
  • Compromised device with a weak pin, or a user owned device.
  • Users who can copy/paste/save your organization’s data to personal apps.
  • Users who install and use third-party apps with weak security.
  • Email vulnerabilities, including sharing sensitive data, phishing attempts, malware, and so on.
  • When people who should not, can access documents with sensitive information.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium helps safeguard your data in each of these instances. The security features that protect your business data are detailed in the following figure.

How your data and devices are protected

Microsoft 365 Business Premium helps defended against threats by:

  • Scanning links in emails and documents in real time to block unsafe web sites (ATP Safe Links).
  • Performing advanced analysis of email attachments in a sandbox environment to detect newly developed malware (ATP Safe Attachments).
  • Enabling anti-phishing policies that use machine learning models and impersonation detection to provide protection against advanced attacks (ATP anti-phishing intelligence).
  • Setting up advanced policies that disable access from untrusted locations or bypass multifactor authentication from trusted places such as your office network (Azure MFA including trusted IPs, and Conditional Access).
  • Enforcing malware protection across all your organization’s Windows 10 devices and protecting files in key system folders from changes made by ransomware (Windows Defender)

Your business data is protected by:

  • Using automatic detection to help prevent sensitive information such as Social Security numbers or credit cards from leaking outside your business (data loss prevention).
  • Encrypting sensitive emails so you can communicate securely with customers or other people outside your organization. This ensures that only the intended recipient can read the message (Office 365 Message Encryption).
  • Controlling who has access to company information by applying restrictions such as Do Not Copy and Do Not Forward to email and documents (Azure Information Protection, Plan 1).
  • Enabling unlimited cloud archiving so you can retain all your organization’s email, including the mailboxes of former employees (Exchange Online Archiving).

Your devices are secured by:

  • Controlling which devices and users can access your Microsoft data, with options to block users from signing in from home computers, unapproved apps, or outside of work hours (Conditional Access).
  • Applying security policies to protect business data on iOS and Android devices. For example, you can require users to provide a PIN or fingerprint to access business data, and encrypt data on mobile devices (App protection for Office mobile apps).
  • Keeping business documents, emails, and other data within approved Office mobile apps and preventing employees from saving these to unauthorized apps and locations (App protection for Office mobile apps).
  • Remotely wiping business data from lost or stolen devices without affecting personal information (Intune selective wipe).
  • Using simplified controls to manage policies for all the Windows 10 PCs in your company, enforcing BitLocker encryption and automatically installing critical Windows updates (Enforce Windows update policies).

 

For more information on Microsoft 365, please contact us.

Cohesity Announces Automated Disaster Recovery that Minimizes Application Downtime and Data Loss

Cohesity announced Cohesity SiteContinuity, an automated disaster recovery solution that is integrated with the company’s backup and continuous data protection capabilities — making it the only web-scale, converged solution to protect applications across tiers, service levels, and locations on a single platform. Cohesity is making this announcement as organizations are concerned about losing data to ransomware attacks, natural disasters, or human error. This new integrated solution will help companies ensure data isn’t lost, applications are available, costs are reduced — by eliminating redundant or unnecessary infrastructure — and that strict service-level agreements (SLAs) are met.

Today, many companies are not equipped to meet critical recovery objectives. In a recent study published by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), when respondents were asked if their actual recovery times met their pre-established SLAs, 78 percent stated they are unable to “always” meet their objectives and 33 percent said they “sometimes” or “rarely” meet these objectives.*

“Maintaining the integrity of our data in the face of a disaster or attacks is crucial and protecting our applications and data across various SLAs is complex and challenging,” said Steve Culy, senior systems engineer, Navis. “The new solution from Cohesity is very timely as it allows us to protect our mission and business-critical applications on a single platform. We can now automate our business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, all from Cohesity’s data platform, making it easier for us to manage SLAs, and reduce downtime with automated, rapid failover and failback.”

“Cyber threats such as ransomware and growing natural disasters such as hurricanes or wildfires increasingly put critical applications and data at risk,” said Matt Waxman, vice president of product management, Cohesity. “With that backdrop, this is an ideal time for IT leaders to rethink how they can simplify IT operations while also reducing costs with an integrated, web-scale, converged backup and disaster recovery solution.”

 

Elevating Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

With Cohesity SiteContinuity, organizations can recover a single file, critical business application, or an entire data center with just a few clicks, automating recovery operations spanning across application tiers and on-premises and public cloud environments. It dramatically simplifies the challenge organizations face in trying to manage complex hybrid and multi-cloud IT environments with numerous applications running across multiple tiers with varying service levels during the course of normal operations. Cohesity’s converged backup and disaster recovery solution provides:

  • Simplified operations: Consolidate backup, continuous data protection and automated disaster recovery on a single platform, managed through one global UI and a unified policy framework, across application tiers, service levels, and environments.
  • Near-zero application downtime and data loss: With just a few clicks, automatically orchestrate failover and failback of a single application or an entire site, ensuring minimum data loss and downtime as business applications are rapidly recovered in a disaster scenario.
  • Flexible recovery: Journal-based recovery helps to meet varying service levels across application tiers by restoring to any point in time — including days or even seconds before the disaster hit, on-premises or to the public cloud.
  • Machine learning-based ransomware detection and recommendation: At the time of failover and/or restore, Cohesity Helios’ machine learning algorithm helps identify a clean point in time to restore. This helps protect the DR site from malware impact during the failover process.
  • Disaster testing: Meet DR compliance objectives with confidence through end-to-end automated non-disruptive disaster recovery testing, including complete audit trail reporting.
  • Reduced TCO: Reduce costs by converging backup and DR, eliminating the need for separate point products and driving better storage efficiency. Further reduce data footprint and costs with global variable-length deduplication and compression across workloads. Additionally, there is no need to deploy dedicated virtual machines to support recovery of each ESXi host.
  • Limitless scalability: The underlying web-scale architecture of the Cohesity platform enables organizations to scale BCDR capabilities limitlessly and painlessly.

“Application availability and protecting data against disasters is vital for us,” said Francois Lepage, cybersecurity and infrastructure manager, Master Group. “And, we believe this new solution from Cohesity could easily empower organizations to strengthen their business continuity and disaster recovery strategy. A single platform that can automate DR orchestration, while also managing backups from a single policy has the power to be a transformative technology.”

“Business continuity continues to increase as a priority for many end customers. When a disaster strikes, they need simple, quick recovery as downtime and data loss are not an option,” said Brian Ellis, vice president, advanced solutions, Tech Data. “Cohesity’s new solution offers converged backup and automated DR on a single platform with automated failover and failback orchestration for near-zero downtime. This solution changes the game for our partners and their customers.”

“With the increased frequency and cost of cyberattacks, a robust set of disaster recovery processes combined with proven technology have never been more essential,” said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst, ESG. “Organizations should look for ease of use, automation and the ability to truly control their data recovery and application availability service level agreements. That’s why Cohesity’s web-scale converged backup and disaster recovery solution is not only timely, but also offers a comprehensive set of capabilities to take on the disaster recovery challenges enterprises face.”

This solution will be generally available in the fourth quarter of  2020.

For more information on Cohesity, kindly contact us.

Intercept X for Server Advanced with EDR – Extend Visibility Across Your Entire Cloud Environment

We are excited to announce that Intercept X for Server Advanced with EDR has been enhanced with powerful cloud visibility features from Cloud Optix.

In addition to even more detail on your AWS, Azure, and GCP cloud workloads, this integration gives customers critical insights into their wider cloud environments, including security groups, hosts, shared storage, databases, serverless, containers, and more.

See your complete cloud environment

The dynamic nature of cloud environments – with assets being spun up and down as and when necessary to meet changing demands – can make security and compliance assessments time-consuming. In many cases, you’ll need to log into multiple consoles and manually collate information to get a full picture.

With Sophos, it’s easy. You get details about your entire cloud infrastructure across different public cloud providers on one screen, in a single management console. You can dive directly into assets to get more detail about your asset inventory and cloud security posture.

Cloud Optix for EDR Screen Shot

Secure your complete cloud environment

Automated scans will detect any insecure deployments, with guided recommendations about how to fix potential issues. Additionally, guardrails can be deployed to lock down configurations, ensuring that they can’t be accidentally or maliciously tampered with and left in an unsafe state.

Artificial intelligence tracks normal behavior patterns, looking for any suspicious activity such as anomalous traffic patterns or unusual login attempts to cloud accounts. Issues are then flagged and prioritized by risk level if they require manual intervention.

 

Here’s the full list of what’s available:

  • Cloud asset inventory – see a detailed inventory of your entire cloud infrastructure (e.g. cloud hosts, serverless functions, S3 buckets, databases, and cloud workloads), eliminating the need for time-consuming manual collation
  • Access and traffic anomaly detection – unusual login attempts and suspicious traffic patterns are automatically detected and blocked or flagged to the admin as appropriate
  • Security scans – daily and on-demand scans monitor your cloud environment to ensure its on-going security. Issues are automatically resolved where possible, with admin notification if manual intervention is required
  • Configuration guardrails – stop accidental or malicious tampering with configurations that could negatively impact security posture
  • Compliance policies – ensure that your cloud environment conforms to Center for Internet Security (CIS) best practices, helping keep your security posture at its best
  • Alert management integrations – receive email notifications when manual intervention is required

Powerful visibility and protection for every setup

This exciting new cloud functionality is available to all Intercept X Advanced for Server with EDR customers at no additional cost. Log into your Sophos Central console, select Cloud Optix, and you can get started right away.

Current customers using Sophos Central that would like to try out this new functionality – in addition to the recently released EDR IT operations and threat hunting capabilities – can start a trial from within the Sophos Central console.

Intercept X Advanced for Server with EDR and Intercept X Advanced with EDR give organizations unparalleled visibility and protection across their cloud, on-premises, and virtual estates.

Cloud Optix shines a spotlight on complete cloud environments, showing what’s there, what needs securing, and making sure that everything stays safe and secure.

 


For more information, please contact us

Nutanix Clusters: Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure for the Multicloud Era

Nutanix Clusters is a state-of-the-art cloud offering that enables seamless hybrid cloud deployments that are natively integrated into public clouds. You get direct, low latency access to the cloud-native services with predictable Nutanix resilience, efficiency, and performance. The solution has been purpose-built so you can achieve agility in extending your data center capacity using public cloud elasticity and maximize operational efficiency by leveraging the same skill sets and tools across private and public clouds. 

 

Nutanix Cloud Platform for the Hybrid and Multicloud Era

Nutanix Clusters is designed to offer consistent experience between the on-premises and public cloud environments. You can move applications across these environments without the risk, cost or time taken to refactor applications, to truly achieve freedom from any lock-in to the underlying cloud. 

Nutanix Clusters Features and Benefits

Nutanix Clusters runs on AWS as the first supported public cloud provider, with others to come very soon. It enables you to run the Nutanix HCI stack directly on AWS EC2 bare metal instances using your existing VPCs. Prism Central can be used to centrally manage your on-premises as well as AWS deployments, helping you unify private and public cloud infrastructure operations. You can provision Nutanix Clusters on any of the globally available AWS regions with a choice of general purpose, storage intensive or compute intensive baremetal instance configurations, as required by your workloads.  

Not only does Nutanix Clusters help you decouple applications from the underlying platform, it also helps you decouple your business investments from the underlying platform. You have the freedom to use your portable Nutanix software licenses to the cloud of your choice. Additionally, you can also choose from pay-as-you-go (PAYG) or commitment-based subscription plans for flexible consumption. You can keep your existing investments with the public cloud providers and use your credits, discounts and the choice of payment models for the bare metal instances and cloud resources consumed. 

Use Cases

  • Lift and Shift: Move applications to the cloud or consolidate your data centers. No need to re-architect applications. Simply “lift and shift” them without any change, saving significant costs and time investments.
  • On-Demand Elasticity: Quickly scale capacity, or expand to different geographical regions, in minutes by bursting into public clouds to support seasonal demands.
  • Business Continuity: Leverage public clouds for high availability and disaster recovery without the complexity arising from managing a secondary datacenter or a stand-alone disaster recovery solution.
  • Cloud-Native Services: Modernize legacy on-premises applications with direct access to cloud-native services like artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, and more to advance your digital initiatives.

Key Workloads

  • Virtual Desktops on Cloud: Leverage public cloud resources to simply scale VDI infrastructure. 
  • I/O  Intensive Applications: Enable high end databases, big data and other I/O intensive apps to move to cloud without compromising on performance. 

Key Features

  • Native networking integration: Nutanix Clusters enables you to run all of your Nutanix software in your existing AWS VPCs and completely eliminates the networking overlay complexity. Reuse your existing AWS networking setup – cloud accounts, VPCs, subnets, and Direct Connect.
  • Rack Awareness & Auto host remediation: Nutanix Clusters intelligently picks the node placements across AWS racks to ensure highly available rack-aware design, even if a complete rack becomes unavailable. If any individual AWS host instance is reported as unresponsive by EC2, it triggers a node replacement operation to make sure the cluster health is restored.
  • Just-in-time scale and shrink: Easily add new compute nodes when you need to spin up more hybrid cloud capacity. You can either manually add nodes and expand the size of your cluster with one-click or use triggers based on capacity consumption to scale out nodes automatically.
  • On-demand hibernate and resume: Maximize hybrid cloud cost efficiency with a unique one-click hibernate and resume feature (currently in early access), so that you only pay for EC2 bare metal instances when you need them. The hibernation feature sends data to cost-efficient S3 storage, uninstalls your Nutanix software and stops the EC2 bare metal instances so that you can stop incurring bare metal compute costs. When you are ready to use your cluster again, you can bring it back from hibernation with just one-click and all your data preserved.

Nutanix Clusters Console 

Nutanix Clusters console orchestrates the provisioning of clusters in your AWS accounts. This global service provides deployment automation, cluster lifecycle management, IAM, RBAC, security, scaling, metering, logging and other functions related to cloud distribution. It continuously monitors the health of the bare metal instances in the cluster and executes the required remediation actions if any of the instances get into a degraded state. The day-to-day cluster administration, management, monitoring and workload operations can be performed via Prism Central.

Storage Architecture

 

Nutanix Clusters Storage Architecture

AHV hypervisor exposes the local NVMe storage to controller VMs (CVMs) to manage storage across different bare metal instances. The CVMs cluster together and provide a single storage fabric across all nodes with all the enterprise storage capabilities that enterprise apps need. The storage fabric from a Nutanix Cluster on AWS can be connected to a Nutanix Cluster running on-premises using Nutanix AOS DR, backup and replication capabilities, allowing seamless mobility of stateful applications from on-premises to AWS and back. While AHV is installed in the Nutanix Clusters on AWS, you can have any supported hypervisor in your on-premises Nutanix Clusters. 

Networking Architecture

Nutanix Clusters Networking Architecture

Nutanix Clusters natively packages in all the required networking integration so that you do not have to manage any network overlays. There are no management VMs needed which reduces complexity and costs. Nutanix Clusters installs AHV on the AWS bare metal instances with user VMs that are assigned IP addresses provided by native AWS network infrastructure. When user VMs talk to each other within two Nutanix Clusters on AWS or with a Nutanix Cluster and cloud-native EC2 VMs, they can talk natively to cloud services without going through any gateways or any packet translations, resulting in high performance and low latency networking.

AHV has been modified to achieve deep integration with AWS networking. AHV runs an efficient embedded distributed network controller that integrates user VM networking with AWS networking. The network controller does not create an overlay network and the AHV embedded network controller simply forwards the packets from the host to the right VM on the host or wherever it might have migrated to. IP address management is integrated with AWS VPC, hence all user VM IPs are allocated from the AWS subnets in the existing VPCs. As a result of this architecture, there is no need for network controller VMs, network edge gateways, or any other management VMs and Nutanix Clusters supports near-native networking performance between AHV user VMs and EC2 instances. 

Supported Instance Types

Nutanix Clusters supports 4 AWS EC2 bare metal instance types to allow for a variety of different use cases and provide global coverage across 20+ AWS regions.

Global availability with Nutanix Clusters

Get Started Today!

Nutanix Clusters provides the fastest path to a hybrid and multicloud and is now available for you! 

 

To learn more about Nutanix Clusters on AWS, its use cases, or to Test Drive it, contact us.

Sports Club Activity: White Water Rafting Experience in Kuala Kubu Bharu

On 25th July, all of us from CLL Systems had an awesome first experience water rafting at Kuala Kubu Bharu.

Thanks to our sports club committee for organizing such a wonderful trip! It’s highly recommended for someone who’s looking for a splashing good time, for an adventure and to experience nature. On this adventure, you will navigate through 7 kilometres of rapids surrounded by the thick greenery that grows by the river bank.

Whitewater rafting is definitely an experience that you will want to tell all your friends and family about! Check out how much fun we had and join us to have all the fun!

 

Interested to join us? Check out our Careers.