Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Microsoft. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2018

Microsoft announces security tools

Microsoft announced several new intelligent security tools to help enterprises more easily secure their data and networks against today's biggest threats and emerging threats aimed at IoT and edge devices.  The rollout includes:
  • Azure Sphere -- microcontroller unit (MCU) for connected devices. Microsoft describes Azure Sphere as "a holistic platform for creating highly secured, connected MCU devices on the intelligent edge." Azure Sphere will boast more than five times the power of legacy MCUs, an OS custom built for IoT security, and a turnkey cloud security service that guards every Azure Sphere device. 
  • New intelligent security features for the Microsoft 365 commercial cloud offering. 
  • Microsoft Secure Score and Attack Simulator -- makes it easier for organizations to determine which controls to enable to help protect users, data and devices by quickly assessing readiness and providing an overall security benchmark score. I
  • Attack Simulator -- a part of Office 365 Threat Intelligence, lets security teams run simulated attacks — including mock ransomware and phishing campaigns — to event-test their employees' responses and tune configurations accordingly.
  • Windows 10 update -- now in preview, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) works across other parts of Microsoft 365 to include threat protection and remediation spanning Office 365, Windows and Azure. Also in the upcoming Windows 10 update, are new automated investigation and remediation capabilities in Windows Defender ATP, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly detect and respond to threats on endpoints, within seconds, at scale.
  • Conditional Access -  provides real-time risk assessments to help ensure that access to sensitive data is appropriately controlled, without getting in the way of users' productivity. Microsoft 365 is now adding the device risk level set by Windows Defender ATP to Conditional Access in preview to help ensure that compromised devices can't access sensitive business data.
  • A new security API for connecting Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph-enabled products as well as intelligence from solutions built by customers and technology partners to greatly enhance the fidelity of intelligence.
  • A new Microsoft Intelligent Security Association for security technology partners - Palo Alto Networks and Anomali join PwC and other existing partners as founding members of the new association.

"As last year's devastating cyberattacks demonstrated, security threats are evolving and becoming even more serious," said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. "The tech sector's innovations need to accelerate to outpace security threats. Today's steps bring important security advances not just to the cloud, but to the billions of new devices that are working on the edge of the world's computer networks."

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Microsoft Azure opens partner data centre in Canberra, Australia

Microsoft launched a new Azure region in Canberra, Australia.

The new Australia Central regions enable customers to deploy their own applications and infrastructure within Canberra Data Centres directly connected via Azure ExpressRoute to Microsoft’s global network. The services are provided in partnership with Australian-owned Canberra Data Centres and are specifically designed to address the requirements of the Australian and New Zealand governments and critical national infrastructure, including banks, utilities, transport and telecommunications.

Microsoft now offers Azure from three cities in Australia: Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra with connectivity to Perth, Brisbane and Auckland.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Telstra delivers cloud voice for Microsoft Office 365 in Australia

Telstra has partnered with Microsoft to deliver native voice calling services from the Microsoft cloud with the launch of Telstra Calling for Office 365.

The Telstra Calling for Office 365 service, which will be available for Telstra’s Australian business customers from the middle of 2018, lets customers securely access cloud collaboration tools combined with voice infrastructure.

“We are always looking for ways we can make it easier for our customers to connect. Telstra Calling for Office 365 brings the full scope of Office 365’s cloud productivity and collaboration apps – including video conferencing and meeting broadcast capabilities – alongside Telstra voice calling. By combining what have traditionally been separate collaboration channels, we’re helping to increase productivity while simplifying the experience for employees," stated Michelle Bendschneider, Executive Director of Global Products, Telstra.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Microsoft posts solid growth in cloud - Azure up 98% yoy

Microsoft reported revenue of $28.9 billion for the quarter ended 31-Dec-2017, up 12% over the same period a year earlier. Operating income was $8.7 billion and increased 10%. The company took a $13.8 billion GAAP charge in the quarter related to the tax reform.

“This quarter’s results speak to the differentiated value we are delivering to customers across our productivity solutions and as the hybrid cloud provider of choice,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft. “Our investments in IoT, data, and AI services across cloud and the edge position us to further accelerate growth.”

Revenue in Productivity and Business Processes was $9.0 billion and increased 25% (up 24% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 10% (up 10% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 41% (up 41% in constant currency)
  • Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 12% (up 11% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 29.2 million
  • Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 10% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 67% (up 68% in constant currency)
  • LinkedIn contributed revenue of $1.3 billion during the quarter with sessions growth of over 20% for the fifth consecutive quarter


Revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $7.8 billion and increased 15% (up 15% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Server products and cloud services revenue increased 18% (up 18% in constant currency) driven by Azure revenue growth of 98% (up 98% in constant currency)
  • Enterprise Services revenue increased 5% (up 3% in constant currency) driven by Premier Support Services

Revenue in More Personal Computing was $12.2 billion and increased 2% (up 2% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:

  • Windows OEM revenue increased 4% (up 4% in constant currency) driven by OEM Pro revenue growth of 11%
  • Windows commercial products and cloud services revenue decreased 4% (down 5% in constant currency) due to the impact of a prior year large deal
  • Gaming revenue increased 8% (up 8% in constant currency) driven by Xbox hardware revenue growth from the Xbox One X launch
  • Search advertising revenue excluding traffic acquisition costs increased 15% (up 15% in constant currency) driven by higher revenue per search and search volume

Monday, October 23, 2017

Microsoft to add 37 MW of wind power in Ireland

Microsoft has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with GE to purchase 100% of the wind energy from a new, 37-megawatt Tullahennel wind farm in County Kerry, Ireland.

The clean power will be used to support Microsoft cloud services from Ireland.

Microsoft is also working with ElectroRoute, a Dublin-based subsidiary of Mitsubishi, that trades energy across nine European countries.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

AWS and Microsoft collaborate on deep learning library

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft announced a new deep learning library, called Gluon,for prototyping, building, training and deploying sophisticated machine learning models for the cloud, devices at the edge and mobile apps.

"The potential of machine learning can only be realized if it is accessible to all developers. Today’s reality is that building and training machine learning models requires a great deal of heavy lifting and specialized expertise,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon AI. “We created the Gluon interface so building neural networks and training models can be as easy as building an app. We look forward to our collaboration with Microsoft on continuing to evolve the Gluon interface for developers interested in making machine learning easier to use.”

“We believe it is important for the industry to work together and pool resources to build technology that benefits the broader community,” said Eric Boyd, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft AI and Research. “This is why Microsoft has collaborated with AWS to create the Gluon interface and enable an open AI ecosystem where developers have freedom of choice. Machine learning has the ability to transform the way we work, interact and communicate. To make this happen we need to put the right tools in the right hands, and the Gluon interface is a step in this direction.”

Key facts on the Gluon interface:

  • Provides an easy-to-understand programming interface that enables developers to quickly prototype and experiment with neural network models
  • Can be used to create neural networks on the fly, and to change their size and shape dynamically. 
  • Currently works with Apache MXNet and will support Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK) in an upcoming release
  • Can be used to build machine learning models using a simple Python API and a range of pre-built, optimized neural network components. 


https://github.com/gluon-api/gluon-api/.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Microsoft Azure introduces Availability Zones

Microsoft Azure has begun offering Availability Zones across its global cloud infrastructure.

Availability Zones are fault-isolated locations within an Azure region, providing redundant power, cooling, and networking.

The ability to designate an availability zone promises higher availability and fault tolerance for data center failures.

To date, Microsoft has announced 42 data center regions worldwide, which is more than any other cloud provider/ Availability Zones are now in preview in two regions, East US 2 in Virginia and West Europe in the Netherlands, with plans to offer preview to additional regions in the US, Europe, and Asia before the end of the year including our new France Central region in Paris.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Microsoft acquires Cycle Computing for cloud HPC

Microsoft has acquired Cycle Computing, a start-up specializing int cloud orchestration of High-Performance Computing (HPC) resources. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Cycle Computing describes its CycleCloud software suite as a cloud orchestration, provisioning, and data management platform for Big Compute, Big Data, and large technical computing applications running on any public, private, or internal environment. The tool suite helps manage cloud workflows.

Cycle Computing said it is joining Microsoft because Azure has a massive global footprint, powerful infrastructure, InfiniBand support for fast networking and state-of-the-art GPU capabilities.

Microsoft Azure's Jason Stowe writes: "We’ve already seen explosive growth on Azure in the areas of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and deep learning. As customers continue to look for faster, more efficient ways to run their workloads, Cycle Computing’s depth and expertise around massively scalable applications make them a great fit to join our Microsoft team. Their technology will further enhance our support of Linux HPC workloads and make it easier to extend on-premise workloads to the cloud."

https://cyclecomputing.com/cycle-computing-joining-microsoft/

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Microsoft announces enterprise blockchain framework

Microsoft introduced its "Coco" Framework for advancing enterprise adoption of blockchain technology.

Microsoft said its Coco Framework reduces the protocol complexity of blockchain while meeting the high-transaction speed, distributed governance and confidentiality requirements of enterprise networks. The Coco Framework by design will be compatible with any ledger protocol and can operate in the cloud and on premises, on any operating system and hypervisor that supports a compatible TEE. Initial Coco Framework implementations will include R3 Corda, Intel Hyperledger Sawtooth, J.P. Morgan Quorum, and Ethereum.

When integrated with a blockchain network, key benefits of the Coco Framework include these:

  • Transaction speeds of more than 1,600 transactions per second
  • Easily managed data confidentiality without sacrificing performance
  • A comprehensive, industry-first distributed governance model for blockchain networks that establishes a network constitution and allows members to vote on all terms and conditions governing the consortium and the blockchain software system

“Blockchain is a transformational technology with the ability to significantly reduce the friction of doing business,” said Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Azure at Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to bringing blockchain to the enterprise. We have listened to the needs of our customers and the blockchain community and are bringing foundational functionality with the Coco Framework. Through an innovative combination of advanced algorithms and trusted execution environments (TEEs), like Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) or Windows Virtual Secure Mode (VSM), we believe this takes the next step toward making blockchain ready for business.”

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-microsoft-s-coco-framework-for-enterprise-blockchain-networks/



Monday, August 7, 2017

Microsoft advances its cloud initiative

Following publication of its better-than-expected quarterly results on July 20th, the headlines could not have been more positive for Satya Nadella and his efforts to restructure Microsoft around the cloud, as shown by the following:

Bloomberg - Microsoft Regains Turnaround Momentum on Strong Cloud Growth

MarketWatchMicrosoft is challenging Amazon for cloud throne

New York Times - Microsoft Is Rewarded for Turning to the Cloud

Wall Street Journal - Microsoft Profit Jumps, Fueled by Cloud Computing

The numbers were good, with revenue for fourth fiscal quarter of 2017, ended June 30th, of $23.317 billion, up from $20.614 billion a year earlier. Net income (GAAP) amounted to $6.515 billion, up from $3.122 billion a year earlier.

Highlights include:

•   Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 6% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 43% (up 44% in constant currency).

•   Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 13% (up 13% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 27.0 million.

•   Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 7% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth of 74% (up 75% in constant currency).

•   LinkedIn contributed revenue of $1.1 billion during the quarter.

•   Server products and cloud services revenue increased 15% (up 16% in constant currency) driven by Azure revenue growth of 97% (up 98% in constant currency).

•   Enterprise Services revenue decreased 3% (down 1% in constant currency) with declines in custom support agreements offset by growth in Premier Support Services.

Azure growth is hot

Azure's 97% year-over-year growth comes in contrast to IBM, often ranked as the No.4 public cloud service provider, which last week reported that its cloud revenue grew 17% YoY in Q2 2017, led by as-a-service offerings, which were up 32% year-to-year. IBM's total cloud revenue was $15.1 billion for the last 12 months and XaaS revenue was $8.8 billion at an annual exit run rate in the quarter, up 30% year to year (up 32% adjusting for currency).

Amazon is expected to release its Q2 financial report on July 27th, perhaps giving insight into how fast the leading public cloud vendor continues to grow now that we have passed the mid-year market. As of the end of Q1 2017, Alibaba’s Aliyun cloud division reported a 103% annualised growth rate.

However, it is difficult to make any direct comparisons between Microsoft's cloud growth rate, or Azure growth, to competitors due the various products that are rolled in. However, one can observe some of the announced metrics that illustrate the development of the overall public cloud market.

Microsoft states:

•   It is on-track to meet a $20 million annual run rate for cloud service in FY 18.

•   It is gaining early 120,000 new Microsoft Azure subscriptions a month.

•   40% of Azure revenue comes from start-ups and independent software vendors.

•   80% of Fortune 500 now on Microsoft Cloud (although the utilisation rate is not specified so in some cases this could mean a Office 365 subscription rather a full-scale enterprise installation).

•   1.2 billion people are using Microsoft Office.

•   Facebook recently deployed Office 365 for its more than 13,000 employees globally.

•   Nearly 1 in 3 Azure virtual machines are Linux.

•   400 million active users for Outlook.com.

•   More than 400 million devices running Windows 10, citing security as the primary upgrade reason to Windows 10, with the recent WannaCry ransomeware incidents impacting earlier versions of Windows.

Building up its reseller channel for the cloud

Microsoft has long relied on partners and independent value added reseller to drive a substantial amount of its business. Over the years, this has included local resellers installing Office, Windows and Exchange solutions on behalf of small and medium-sized businesses worldwide.

Microsoft's Inspire partnership conference in Washington, DC, which ran from July 9th to 13th, attracted about 17,000 people. At the event, Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, vowed that this partnership strategy will continue in the cloud era. With its Azure public cloud, Microsoft sales reps are paid up to 10% of the partner's annual contract value when they co-sell qualified Azure-based partner solutions. Microsoft says it is unique among public cloud vendors in providing this level of opportunity, providing powerful go-to-market differentiator. Microsoft said it now has more than 64,000 cloud partners, more than AWS, Google and Salesforce combined. CSPs can sell the full stack of services and subscriptions, including Windows 10, Office 365, Microsoft Azure and CRM subscriptions through a single partner with one user account, one point of contact for support and one simplified bill.

Now Microsoft is testing a new Azure co-sell program for partners. In its first six months, Microsoft claims that this program helped close more than $1 billion in annual contract value for Azure partners, created $6 billion in Azure partner pipeline opportunity and generated more than 4,500 partner deals.

Gearing up for the new offers

The company is now gearing up to launch Microsoft 365, a new set of commercial offerings that brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It promises to be a 'complete, intelligent and secure solution' to empower companies and workers, recognising that people are at the heart of digital transformation.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is the evolution of the company's Secure Productive Enterprise offering, and includes Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. This is targeted at large organisations.

In enterprise private cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Azure Stack is now available to order from launch partners Dell EMC, Lenovo, and HPE. Cisco has also announced integrated Azure Stack for its UCS platform. Azure Stack is an extension of Microsoft's public cloud that enables enterprises to run the same software environment in their private data centres. Azure Resource Manager ensures that the same application model, self-service portal, and APIs are operative across either the private, public or hybrid cloud.

Microsoft is also encouraging partners to capitalise on opportunities leveraging Azure data centres and the 'edge of the cloud'. Azure Stack partners cited include Rackspace, Tieto and Resello.

Microsoft 365 Business, which will also be available in public preview from August 2nd, is targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses with up to 300 users and integrates Office 365 Business Premium with tailored security and management features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It also includes a centralised console for deploying and securing devices and users in one location.

Microsoft has also launched a new Skype Operations Framework, an end-to-end deployment methodology for partners to deliver Skype for Business Online to their customers. The company describes this as a blueprint for a new practice area. Recently added capabilities include Skype for Business meetings and voice services in Office 365, adding PSTN Calling in the UK, and expanded PSTN Conferencing to additional countries. Microsoft is also refining automatic transcription and translation for Skype Meeting Broadcast to Office 365 customers.

Bringing the Cloudyn acquisition on board

This week, Microsoft also completed its previously-announced acquisition of Cloudyn, a start-up based in Israel that developed hybrid, multi-cloud monitoring and optimisation solutions. Cloudyn's automated monitoring, analytics and cost allocation tools help customers maximize the efficiency of public cloud operations. Microsoft plans to make Cloudyn available to all Azure customers. The company also said that its new Cloudyn business unit will continue to invest in supporting multi-cloud environments including Azure, AWS and GCP.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Microsoft Builds Cloud Data Centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town

Microsoft announced plans to open cloud data centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa by next year.  These will be Microsoft's first data centers on the African continent.

The facilities will be used to deliver the Microsoft Cloud — including Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365.

This announcement brings us to 40 cloud regions around the world

https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2017/05/18/microsoft-deliver-microsoft-cloud-datacenters-africa


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Microsoft Acquires Deis for Kubernetes Management

Microsoft is acquiring Deis, a start-up specializing in Kubernetes container management technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Deis has offices in San Franciso and Boulder, Colorado.

"At Microsoft, we’ve seen explosive growth in both interest and deployment of containerized workloads on Azure," stated Scott Guthrie - Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft, in a company blog.

http://www.deis.com

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Microsoft's Project Olympus OCP Server Runs Qualcomm's ARM Processor

Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies (QCT) is working with Microsoft to enable a variety of Azure cloud workloads using its 10 nanometer Qualcomm Centriq 2400 ARM-based processor.

QCT has now joined the Open Compute Project and submitted a server specification using Centriq 2400, which offers up to 48 cores optimized for highly parallelized data center workloads.

Specifically, the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification is based on the latest version of Microsoft’s Project Olympus. The companies have demonstrated Windows Server, developed for Microsoft’s internal use, powered by the Centriq 2400 processor.

“QDT is accelerating innovation in datacenters by delivering the world’s first 10nm server platform,” said Ram Peddibhotla, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, Inc. “Our collaboration with Microsoft and contribution to the OCP community enables innovations such as Qualcomm Centriq 2400 to be designed in and deployed into the data centers rapidly. In collaborating with Microsoft and other industry leading partners, we are democratizing system design and enabling a broad-based ARM server ecosystem.”

“Microsoft and QDT are collaborating with an eye to the future addressing server acceleration and memory technologies that have the potential to shape the data center of tomorrow,” said Dr. Leendert van Doorn, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Corp. “Our joint work on Windows Server for Microsoft’s internal use, and the Qualcomm Centriq 2400 Open Compute Motherboard server specification, compatible with Microsoft’s Project Olympus, is an important step toward enabling our cloud services to run on QDT-based server platforms.”

http://www.qualcomm.com

Cavium's ARM-based ThunderX2 Powers Microsoft's Project Olympus Server

At the Open Compute Summit in Santa Clara, California, Cavium announced that its ThunderX2 ARMv8-A Data Center processor is being tested by Microsoft for running a variety of workloads on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

The ThunderX2 product family is Cavium's second generation 64-bit ARMv8-A server processor SoCs for Data Center, Cloud and High Performance Computing applications. The family integrates fully out-of-order high performance custom cores supporting single and dual socket configurations. ThunderX2 is optimized to drive high computational performance delivering outstanding memory bandwidth and memory capacity.

Cavium said its hardware platform is fully compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus which is one of the most modular and flexible cloud hardware designs in the data center industry. The platform integrates two ThunderX2 processors in a dual socket configuration. ThunderX2 SoC integrates a large number of fully out-of-order custom ARMv8-A cores with rich IO connectivity for accommodating a variety of peripherals for Azure, delivering excellent throughput and latency for cloud applications. The platform has been designed in collaboration with a leading server ODM supplier for Microsoft.

"Cavium is excited to work with Microsoft on ThunderX2," said Gopal Hegde, VP/GM, Data Center Processor Group at Cavium. "ARM-based servers have come a long way with first generation ThunderX-based server platforms being deployed at multiple data centers, which enabled a critical mass of ecosystem partners for ARM. We see the second generation products helping to drive a tipping point for ARM server deployment across a mainstream set of volume applications. Microsoft's support will help accelerate commercial deployment of ARMv8 server platforms for Data Centers and Cloud."

http://www.cavium.com

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cisco Offers Integrated Azure Stack in its UCS Platform

Cisco will begin offering Microsoft Azure Stack on its Unified Computing System platforms. The integrated, validated system enables organizations to deliver Microsoft Azure services from their on-premises data center.

“Cisco and Microsoft are coming together to offer a hybrid cloud solution built on the power of UCS and Microsoft Azure,” said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager, Computing Systems Product Group, Cisco. “Through our joint engineering efforts, application developers and IT managers will have a turnkey solution that is easy to deploy, manage and scale.”

“Microsoft and Cisco are proven innovators and trusted technology partners, giving customers the confidence their IT environments can be supported and secure. Microsoft Azure Stack provides services and application programming interfaces (APIs) compatible with the Azure public cloud, allowing developers to do their best work while giving them the agility to deploy their applications to public, private or hosted clouds,” said Mike Neil, corporate vice president, Azure Infrastructure & Management, Microsoft Corporation.

https://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?type=press-release&articleId=1819842

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Microsoft Azure Revenue Increases 93% YoY

Microsoft posted revenue of $24.1 billion GAAP and $26.1 billion non-GAAP for its quarter ending 31-Dec-2016. Net income was $5.2 billion GAAP, and $6.5 billion non-GAAP.

“Our customers are seeing greater value and opportunity as we partner with them through their digital transformation,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. “Accelerating advancements in AI across our platforms and services will provide further opportunity to drive growth in the Microsoft Cloud.”

Some cloud highlights:

  • Office commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 5% (up 7% in constant currency) driven by Office 365 commercial revenue growth of 47% (up 49% in constant currency)
  • Office consumer products and cloud services revenue increased 22% (up 21% in constant currency) and Office 365 consumer subscribers increased to 24.9 million
  • Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 7% (up 9% in constant currency) driven by Dynamics 365 revenue growth
  • Revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $6.9 billion and increased 8% (up 10% in constant currency), with the following business highlights:
  • Server products and cloud services revenue increased 12% (up 14% in constant currency) driven by double-digit annuity revenue growth
  • Azure revenue increased 93% (up 95% in constant currency) with Azure compute usage more than doubling year-over-year
  • Enterprise Services revenue decreased 4% (down 2% in constant currency) with declines in custom support agreements offset by growth in Premier Support Services and consulting.


http://www.microsoft.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

Comcast Business Brings 10 Gbps Private Links to Microsoft's Cloud

Comcast Business is now supporting 10 Gbps private connectivity for enterprise customers to the Microsoft Cloud, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics 365. The Azure ExpressRoute service is available to its more than one million Comcast Business Ethernet-enabled buildings nationwide.

The private cloud connectivity service provides businesses with predictable and often better performance, security and availability compared to connecting over the open internet, and is backed by a service level agreement (SLA).  Comcast Business is now a member of the Microsoft ExpressRoute partner program.

"As businesses increasingly rely on cloud services to virtualize more of their IT applications, they require connectivity with measurable performance, reliability and security," said Rosemary Cochran, principal at Vertical Systems Group. "The addition of Comcast Business to the Microsoft ExpressRoute partner network offers companies the cloud connectivity they need, backed by the reach and flexibility of Comcast’s expansive Ethernet service footprint."

http://www.comcast.com


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Microsoft Makes Open Source Commitments

Microsoft announced a number of big moves to bolster its standing with the open source community, including:

  • joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member
  • welcoming Google to the independent .NET Foundation
  • working with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to enable .NET developers to build apps for more than 50 million Samsung devices worldwide
  • demonstrating a preview of Visual Studio for Mac, which enables developers to write cloud, mobile and macOS apps on Apple’s Mac operating system using the popular development environment
  • previewing the next version of the company’s flagship SQL Server database with support for Linux, Linux-based Docker containers and Windows-based environments
  • and previewing Azure App Service on Linux with support for containers.


“We want to help developers achieve more and capitalize on the industry’s shift toward cloud-first and mobile-first experiences using the tools and platforms of their choice,” stated Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Executive Vice President. “By collaborating with the community to provide open, flexible and intelligent tools and cloud services, we’re helping every developer deliver unprecedented levels of innovation.”

https://news.microsoft.com/2016/11/16/microsoft-contributes-to-open-ecosystem-by-joining-linux-foundation-and-welcoming-google-to-the-net-community/

Microsoft Contracts 237 Megawatts of Wind Energy

Microsoft announced two wind power purchasing agreements totaling 237 megawatts -- its biggest purchase of wind energy to date.


“Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud, and these agreements represent progress toward our goal of improving the energy mix at our datacenters,” said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft. “Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate.”

Specifically, Microsoft has contracted with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to fix its long-term energy costs and purchase the environmental attributes connected with the new, 178-megawatt Bloom Wind project in Kansas. The project is the first to use a novel structure developed by ART and designed to offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects. Microsoft is the first buyer to participate in this structure, which has the potential to bring clean energy projects online at a faster pace.

The second contract involves a long-term agreement with Black Hills Energy to purchase 59 megawatts of renewable energy certificates from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, which are adjacent to Microsoft’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, data center. The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy on an annual basis to cover the annual energy used at the datacenter.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to approach energy challenges and avenues of engagement with our utility partners,” said Christian Belady, general manager of cloud infrastructure strategy and architecture at Microsoft. “The team worked closely with ART to come up with a completely new model to enable faster adoption of renewables. Likewise, the tight engagement with Black Hills created the opportunity for Microsoft’s datacenter to become an asset for the local grid, maintaining reliability and reducing costs for ratepayers. This kind of deep collaboration with utilities has great potential to accelerate the pace of clean energy, benefitting all customers — not just Microsoft.”

These are Microsoft’s third and fourth wind energy agreements, joining the 175-megawatt Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and 110-megawatt Keechi wind project in Texas. In March, Microsoft also signed an agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy Inc. to bring 20 megawatts of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia. These projects are in addition to the renewable and carbon-free energy Microsoft purchases from the grid mix in the markets in which it operates.

http://www.blackhillscorp.com
http://www.microsoft.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Microsoft Azure Announces Cloud Bot-as-a-Service

Microsoft announced a new Azure Bot service powered by the Microsoft Bot Framework and serverless compute in Microsoft Azure.

The new Azure Bot Service helps developers to build, connect, deploy and manage intelligent bots that interact naturally via app or website to text/sms, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Teams, Kik, Office 365 mail and other popular services. Bots run on Azure Functions, a serverless environment. The service scales based on demand and the developer pays only for the resources the bots consume.

Microsoft is providing out-of-the-box templates such as the basic bot, Language Understanding Intelligent Service bot, form bot, and proactive bot. Developers can build bots in C# or Node.js directly in the browser and try it out with the companion Web Chat control.

The Azure Bot Service includes built-in configurable channels to improve your customer interactions and increase your reach to more customers. You can easily build bots that work from your apps or websites and across popular channels such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Teams, Web chat, Email, GroupMe, Kik, Telegram and Twilio. Through the Direct Line support you can interact with Microsoft Bot Framework features through a REST API, so you can bring the conversation experience to your app or website, provide control over your branded experience and reach  the many channels Bot Framework supports.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/bot-service/

See also