Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

A look ahead to IT in 2015

December 20th, 2014

The Internet of Things, IoT, – a proliferation of sensors and cloud computing gives businesses access to unlimited amounts of data – he challenge in the coming year is to act on key insights, to improve customer service,to reduce time to market, to enable new innovation in product and services development, and to ultimately transform a business with new business models and revenue streams.

Rockwell Automation is a prime example of the transformative power of IoT – Rockwell is building new forms of intelligence to transform the petroleum supply chain by providing managed monitoring and support for its products across the globe. This includes cloud-based solutions that use software, sensors and devices to predict equipment failures along the vast oil and gas supply chain, track performance in real time, and help refine designs and processes to prevent failures in the future.

In 2014, big-name companies in nearly every industry fell victim to cyber-attacks, prompting FBI Director James Corney to say “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.” A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute showed the average cost of cybercrime for U.S. retail stores more than doubled from 2013 to an annual average of $8.6 million per company in 2014, and greatly increased in the financial services, technology, and communications sector as well.

One of the big changes we’ll see is a migration to Europay MasterCard and Visa (EMV), a new technology to protect consumers and reduce the costs of fraud. EMV is a global standard for cards equipped with computer chips and the technology used to authenticate chip-card transactions. Coming in October 2015, merchants using non-EMV compliant devices that choose to accept transactions made with EMV-compliant cards assume liability for transactions that are found to be fraudulent. In 2015, we expect this compliance requirement to drive a massive move to modern card technology and modern points-of-sale devices. That translates to better security for banks, merchants and consumers. Ask us about TCPOS

Businesses will make use of big data services in the cloud and we can expect machine learning to grow exponentially across the retail, manufacturing and health care sectors driven by three factors: broader access to machine learning, massive computing power connecting systems and services, and the explosion of online data. These developments create opportunities for organizations to use machine learning for data-driven decisions. For CIOs, this means providing data liquidity: the ability to get data the firm wants into the shape it needs with minimal time, cost and risk. Many large firms have found their big data pilots shut down by compliance officers concerned about legal or regulatory violations. This is particularly an issue when creating new data combinations that include customer data.

On 21 January 2015 at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters an invitation-only sneak peak at some of the features of the company’s new Windows 10 operating system. The full release of the new OS is expected sometime in mid-2015. Microsoft has been dropping hints about what the new operating system will look and feel like. That experience will include the Cortana digital voice assistant featured on the latest Windows phones, according to a Wall Street Journal blog post.

Among the changes Windows 10 is expected to bring is a return of the Start Menu. The lack of that menu in Windows 8/8.1 alienated many users, in the enterprise environment. Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will feature an extended Start Menu with one-click access to most commonly used functions. It will also enable users to personalize the menu with their own choices of apps and Web sites.

Windows 10 will be targeted especially to business users. It will feature “enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection,” as well as “simplified management and deployment to help lower costs, including in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete,” according to Microsoft.

Other new features arriving with Windows 10 are: a multiple-desktop option, special features for users of two-in-one devices, a new Task view button, snap enhancements and a return to resizable windows.

There will be no Windows 9 in between 8/8.1 and 10.

Prophix 11 Service Pack 3

December 17th, 2014

Azure and Biz Talk

December 13th, 2014

BizTalk Services – Seamlessly integrate the enterprise and the cloud. Windows Azure BizTalk Services (WABS) provides integration capabilities in the cloud for EAI and B2BT and this new service on Windows Azure was made available in November 2013.

WABS is a cloud integration platform or integration platform as a service or IPaaS.

Build your integration on premise, and deploy in the cloud, where it is hosted in a service (a set of dedicated hardware).

This operates as a subscription model for the IPaaS service in the cloud ( BizTalk Services means running on Windows Azure – hence the name Windows Azure BizTalk Services). Currently there are quite some players offering that kind of service like Dell, Attunity, MuleSoft, TIBCO, and so on.

Recent features adds this year include:
• EDIFACT Protocol Support and X12 Schema Updates
• Pulling Messages from Service Bus Queues and Topics
• Service Bus Shared Access Signatures (SAS) support with Service Bus Queues and Topics
• BizTalk Adapter Services No Longer Needs SQL On Premises
• Backup and Restore Support
• Operation Log Support
• DocumentDB is a recent storage option added to Microsoft Azure. It is a no-sql storage service that stores JSON documents natively and provides indexing capabilities along with other interesting features.

The new features to WABS extended the flexibility and ability to create cloud solutions. However, WABS will need more adapters (sources/destinations) for instance to be able to compete with some of the other IPaaS vendors like MuleSoft.

Most of the configuration of WABS is done through Visual Studio a main component currently to build, deploy and manage a bridge solution. Managing for some parts of a bridge solution like configuration of sources and destinations might be better done in a tool like management console/web application or even within Windows Azure itself.

Expect frequent improvement of the service in many areas.

Microsoft office on Android – Office 365

December 11th, 2014

Last month Microsoft announced that Office apps customers are coming to Android tablets with the start of Office for AndroidTM tablet Preview.

Microsoft is also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone® and updates for the iPad apps–

New, touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works

Complete functionality with Office 365

Customers get the best value and a complete set of features from an Office 365 subscription, including 1 terabyte of OneDrive online storage — with unlimited storage on the way. By subscribing, customers join a community of over 7.1 million active Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscribers and unlock the full productivity power of Office on every device they have.

(Ask us about special year end bundled promotions of Office 365, Power BI and On-Line CRM)


The new Office for iPad and Office for iPhone apps are available in 29 languages and 136 countries. The apps require an iPad or iPhone running iOS 7.0 or later. The Office for Android tablet preview is available for sign-up beginning today.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – are you ready?

December 11th, 2014

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was proposed in 2012 and aims to apply a single set of data protection rules across the European Union (EU) to protect user’s data.

Organisations will be expected to report a breach in 72 hours, and give data owners the right to request a copy of the personal data they hold, and the right to have personal data erased.

The regulation will impose greater fines on organisations that break the law -compliance failures will carry fines of up to €100m or 5% of global turnover – whichever is greater.

The proposed regulations are planned to begin at the end of 2014, coming into effect over the next two years.

A recent survey from network management and monitoring software specialist, Ipswitch showed that
- over half of employees could not accurately describe GDPR
- and 52% admitted their firms were not ready for the changes the regulations might bring.

Survey finds users think SAP is too expensive

December 11th, 2014

An interesting finding from an SAP UK and Ireland User Group survey is that:
- SAP customers find the supplier’s account managers insufficiently knowledgeable about their businesses.
- Customers say SAP knows too little about their businesses and is too expensive
- Over 50% of respondents say that SAP account executives don’t have the level of knowledge about customers’ industry or business to help with adopting innovation.
- 74% of respondents said that SAP was bringing out technology innovations at a speed with which they were unable to cope.

SAP’s reputation for high costs was also evidenced by the survey – 15% more respondents (69%) said that SAP licensing and subscription costs were cited as an adoption barrier compared to other vendors (54%)

Cloud adoption – recent analyst reports December 2014

December 6th, 2014

Cloud adoption is increasing as companies identify more IT operations they want to migrate.

The results of IDG Enterprise’s survey of 1,672 IT decision-makers represent the practices and opinions of technology buyers whose organizations already have, or plan to have, at least one application or some portion of their infrastructure in the cloud. The pace and implementation focus vary according to company size, industry and job titles of parties involved, while security concerns persist as the top challenge to deployment. (Computerworld 11.04.2014)

A survey of more than 650 IT decision makers in Australia, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, North America, and Singapore by Dimensional Research that uncovers global trends in information technology (IT) strategies for 2015 found that the vast majority (77 percent) plan to implement multi-cloud architectures in the coming year. These same decision makers are seeking interconnected colocation data center environments because they offer direct connections to multiple cloud providers for increased security, reliability and performance.

CompTIA researchers at the IT advocacy and education organization has watched cloud go from potential game changer to foundational player in modern IT. That meteoric rise, and the prospects for long-tail entrenchment of cloud in business technology, continued unabated this year, with more than 90 per cent of companies now using some form of cloud computing, the latest CompTIA study finds. (Channelweb)

Most enterprise cloud users (83%) struggle to consolidate their cloud services and get a holistic view of their cloud infrastructure, software and platform services, a study from Forrester Consulting revealed. “Cloud computing has reached a tipping point for enterprises with some 83% of the enterprises we surveyed struggling to bring together all their cloud services — from IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS and from public and private clouds to traditional IT,” See the study, titled Simplify and innovate the way you consume cloud. (Computer Weekly 11.19.2014)

43% of enterprises are planning to deliver the majority of new business applications over the internet next year, a new Akamai Technologies report revealed. However, half of the companies reportedly run 20% or less of their business apps over the internet, the “Trends in Application Delivery Strategies” survey report added. Akamai Web Experience Business Unit senior vice president and general manager Mike Afergan said: “Trends such as globalisation, telecommuting and mobility continue to drive the shift to Internet-delivered applications, and enterprises today are working hard to keep up. (Computer Business Review 11.18.2014)

In October with a series of cloud announcements Microsoft moved to put a stake in the ground with hybrid cloud computing and emerge from the shadow of cloud rivals Google and Amazon. “This helps get Microsoft onto an equal footing with Amazon and Google, who are the most talked about cloud players today,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “It’s a smart move. It gives Microsoft a unique offering that can’t easily be matched by its competitors right now.”

Microsoft (MSFT) and IBM (IBM) announced a partnership aimed to enhance their respective positions in cloud space. The partnership will let IBM’s middleware software, known as WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere MQ, and DB2 database, run in virtual machines (or VMs) on Microsoft Azure for development and deployment purposes. Although fierce rivals in the market for cloud computing services, IBM and Microsoft both pledged to make their technologies interoperable in the cloud for the sake of their users. In October thecompanies jointly announced that many Microsoft enterprise products would run on IBM’s infrastructure and platform services, and that many key IBM middleware products would be available for use on Microsoft Azure. (Computer World 10.22.2014)

Microsoft added three new big data services to its Azure cloud platform as part of its ongoing efforts to make Azure a leading platform for big data services and to make it ready to tackle the Internet of Things (IoT). “Every day, IoT is fueling vast amounts of data from millions of endpoints streaming at high velocity in the cloud,” says Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Machine Learning at Microsoft. “Examples of streaming analytics can be found across many businesses, such as stock trading, fraud detection, identity protection services, sensors, web clickstream analytics and alerts from CRM applications. In this new and fast-moving world of cloud and devices, businesses can no longer wait months or weeks for insights generated from data.” ( 10.30.2014)

Public IT cloud services spending will reach $56.6 billion in 2014 and grow to more than $127 billion in 2018, according to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC). This represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8%, which is about six times the rate of growth for the overall IT market. In 2018, public IT cloud services will account for more than half of worldwide software, server, and storage spending growth. (BusinessWire 11.03.2014)

Dynamics CRM, Cortana and Windows 8.1 devices

December 6th, 2014

Dynamics CRM 2015 will ship next month with multiple enhancements, including one literally audible: using Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1 devices, users will be able to talk to the customer relationship management suite.

Tasks available via Cortana voice commands will include setting up meetings and reminders, searching for contacts, accounts and activities, calling up customer lists and creating new records. (Computer World 11.06.2014)

>”This is very significant. Salespeople spend a lot of time on the road, so this lets them leave voice memos on an account while on the go, without having, for example, to be typing and driving,” said analyst Ray Wang, chairman and founder of Constellation Research.

Nucleus Research vice president, and analyst, Rebecca Wettemann, said it’s been proven that adding mobile access to CRM drives significant productivity gains. “This is just the tip of the iceberg in vendors leveraging the voice capture and analytics technologies to deliver CRM productivity,” Wetttemann also views the integration as part of a broader and recent Microsoft trend to leverage its product portfolio to boost its enterprise applications under new CEO Satya Nadella. “The bigger story is that this is a great example of how Microsoft is bringing its product strengths to bear on CRM,” she said.

A recent example of this approach was last month’s launch of the Sales Productivity bundle, which combines Dynamics CRM Online Professional with Office 365 and Power BI.

Oracle license audits survey November 2014 – user mistrust

December 6th, 2014

Oracle’s relationship with customers ‘filled with mistrust’:
A survey by the Campaign for Clear Licensing has found that customers do not trust Oracle and are confused by its licensing structure.

CCL contacted 100 global end-user organisations,
- 92% said Oracle does not clearly communicate licensing changes
Less than a quarter said the firm was helpful during an audit or contract-renewal process.
- 88% thought Oracle audit requests were unclear and difficult to manage or to respond.

Three themes emerged from CCL’s research:
• customers do not feel autonomous;
• messaging from the vendor is inconsistent;
• Oracle moves the goalposts to suit its own revenue objectives.

Atlas 6 release for Dynamics Ax – ask Synergy Software Systems

November 24th, 2014

I was able to catch up with the Ataas team at Convergence Barcelona 2014 earlier this November. and to see the Atlas 6.0 launch experience.

Some key new features:
• Blending data from many data sources; Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, OLAP cubes & external database, SSAS & Oracle.
• The new ‘Atlas Desktop Client’ with options for visualising your data, blending your information, and building dashboard reports & charts to paint a true BI picture of your company.
• For the first time, the capability to Report and Upload on the move as you access Desktop dashboards and visualisation canvases through mobiles and tablets.
Blend business data easily into your existing PowerPoint, Excel, Word & Outlook documents
• Drill down to source transactions
• Combination of reporting & upload styles.

I am pleased to advise some important dates to which that we have all been looking forward:

Release Dates
Atlas 6.0 General Availability: 8th of December 2014 – Available to all customers and prospects.
Atlas 6.0 Upgrade Scripts: 1st February 2014

New like-for-like License keys will be issued to each customer who has a current AEP subscription.
An additional add-on will be installed to assist the transition from Atlas 5.1 x to 6.0.
Please note:
Atlas 5.1 will be withdrawn from the market for new customers from 1st March 2015.

SQL Server 2012 SP2 Cumulative Update 3

November 23rd, 2014

Microsoft has released SQL Server 2012 SP2 Cumulative Update 3, which is Build 11.0.5556.
This CU has 34 hotfixes in the public fix list.
If you are running SQL Server 2012, then this is the build you should be planning to install, after you have done your testing.

They have also released SQL Server 2012 SP1 Cumulative Update 13, which is Build 11.0.3482.
It only has 10 hotfixes in the public fix list.
We recommend you should be planning to move from the SP1 branch to the SP2 branch sooner, rather than later.
The RTM branch of SQL Server 2012 has been retired.

Patch Tuesday woes November 2014

November 23rd, 2014

Last week’s patches.

Some serious problems with MS14-066 (KB2992611), (the SChannel patch). This patch is reported to cause severe performance problems on SQL Server, problems with the Chrome browser communicating with IIS web servers, and disconnections of TLS 1.2 sessions during the key exchange process. There are also compatibility problems with IBM’s B2B Integrator and File Gateway.

Also problems with MS14-065 (KB3003057), which is this month’s cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. Problems include crashes of IE 11, inability to connect to the Internet after installing the patch, and incompatibilities with specific software including Epim and the IWebBrowser interface.

MS14-070 (KB2989935) is reported to cause unexpected behavior with Websphere Application Server. In most of these cases, uninstalling the patches fixes the problems.

Meanwhile, a new “out of band” patch was released. Patch releases outside of the regular Patch Tuesday schedule are relatively rare, and generally reserved for very severe zero day type vulnerabilities are that already being exploited or have been publicly disclosed and thus the risk of imminent exploit is high. This one is a little different, though. Last week’s release was unusual in that the Advance Notification the week before announced the impending release of 16 patches but on Patch Tuesday, only 14 updates appeared. Two numbers, MS14-068 and MS14-075, were deferred with the label “Release date to be determined.”

MS14-068 (KB3011780) was released today, November 18. The vulnerability that it addresses is rated critical and affects all currently supported versions of Windows Server – 2003, 2008/2008 R2, 2012/2012 R2 – but it was reported privately and the attacker has to have valid domain logon credentials to be able to exploit it.

MS14-068 addresses a checksum vulnerability in Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC) that, due to failure to properly validate signatures, can allow certain types of Kerberos service tickets to be forged. An attacker can use this to elevate privileges remotely, gaining domain administrator privileges with an unprivileged domain user account. The attacker would be able to impersonate any domain user and join any domain group. Obviously this would give the attacker full control over the domain.

Windows Server domain controllers that are set up to function as Kerberos KDCs should be patched as soon as possible. This includes server core installations. In addition to fixing the Kerberos vulnerability, the update also includes some additional defense-in-depth system hardening. For that reason, it should also be applied to Windows client systems – Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 – even though they are not at risk from the Kerberos vulnerability.

Critical Patch Tuesday November 2014

November 8th, 2014

Next week’s round of Patch Tuesday updates from Microsoft will be the biggest so far this year with 16 bulletins in total, five of which are rated Critical and nine as Important.

Most of the Critical bulletins are for Windows components and affect a range of supported systems.

If you are currently running a supported version of Windows, then update as soon as these updates become available. These are some nasty vulnerabilities in Windows

We expect that one of these bulletins will address the OLE remote code execution for which a security advisory was published last month. Exploits have continued.

There will be an update to .NET Framework too – those patches tend to take longer than the average OS patch to install.

Patches for the Windows 10 and Windows Server Technical Previews will be available

The additional 16 bulletins means that we will probably finish the year under 100 vulnerabilities, which is a bit lower than in 2013

Bulletin 2, which covers all versions of Internet Explorer from IE6 on Windows 2003 to IE11 on Windows 8.1, should be a high priority for admins since there’s a whole underground industry developing browser exploit kits.

The Important bulletins address Windows, the .NET runtime framework and Word along with the SharePoint and Exchange servers. If you have automatic updates turned on all of the required updates will be downloaded as they become available. A reboot will be needed to complete the installation.

Adobe has put out Flash updates on all but one of this year’s patch Tuesdays, so add that to your list .

Convergence Day 1 Barcelona – Synergy Software Systems

November 5th, 2014

More then 4000 participants from 71 countries learned that sunny Spain stops at Barcelona as the heavens opened up with monsoon like rain and it turned out the main hall was the other side of the exhibition centre. Fortunately this did not dampen spirits and the day got off to a visionary start with the opening address that showed how Microsoft’s breadth of platform and products enables personal professional productivity.

This was delivered by Kirill Tatarinov president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division (MBS) who whose key theme was that today’s connected workforce is transforming business from the inside out.

Workplace productivity is changing and evolving in front of our eyes. A key statistic he cited is that next year, it’s estimated that almost 30 percent of the global workforce will be mobile and that it’s estimated that over 85 percent of organizations worldwide will have policies enabling their people to bring their own devices and use those for work.

As individual business people and teams work closer together, and organizations become more customer-focused, they need technology that will help them unite. Businesses are increasingly looking to the cloud to respond to these changes. 75 percent of enterprises already enjoy the benefits of the cloud. The Microsoft recipe for cloud success is rooted in the integration and interrelationships between cloud platform, cloud productivity and cloud Business Applications – and only Microsoft offers all three. Together, Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics Business Applications deliver cloud experiences businesses can count on.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM works seamlessly with Office and Power BI across mobile devices to help increase sales productivity, deliver smarter marketing, and boost customer loyalty. Advances in Dynamics CRM 2015 are designed to address the growing need for businesses to deliver great experiences to their customers by helping them to break down the barriers between divisions and to collaborate like never before.

Every day, twenty million businesses around the world trust the Microsoft Cloud – the only cloud provider that is certified by the European Union under the EU model clause – across all cloud services – Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online.

Case studies featured JJ Foods, Ingram Micro, Kudelski Group and Onduline, who are transforming their businesses in unique and creative ways, harnessing the power of the cloud to gain competitive advantage through outstanding customer experiences and productivity improvements.

A view of the future today showed how Power Bi, CRM, Office 365, Bing search engine, predictive analytics, alerts to a wearable wrist device and a mobile phone assistant can all interact across a range of platforms :ipad, Surface, browser, desktop, mobile.

It was also a chance to catch up with several of our partners for specialist isv solutions and global collaboration.

Emily- CWR mobility for Dynamics CRM

I was particularly interested in a session involving Mike Ehrenberg – Microsoft CTO on the future of Dynamics Ax showing how predictive analytics could be used for constraint based inventory forecasting e.g. for daily sale of an item based on a nearby event detected by Bing, change in weather or temperature, prior sales history etc. It also gave a peek at the future Ax html client.

Microsoft Convergence Barcelona 2014 – Synergy Software Systems

November 2nd, 2014

I will be in Barcelona all week, first for the Ax Pact CEO conference, then for Convergence.
This has been an interesting year for Microsoft with management changes, wholesale redundancies, major profit growth, significant new product acquisitions, a clearer corporate strategy, huge advances in Office 365, Azure , mobility, social media, BO, and major new releases of Dynamics Ax and CRM so there is much to be learned about the road ahead

For Synergy Software Systems it is chance to meet up with global partners and Senior Microsoft managers, and to stay in the vanguard of the product road map. Our membership of the Microsoft council Ax Pact, System Advisors Global and other international alliances is a a major benefit to our clients when planning their forward strategy.

Watch this space for convention news.
Yoshijima Ryohei CEO of our Japanese partner at the Temple of the Sacred Family before work starts in earnest tomorrow.