Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Dynamics 365 Talent leverages LinkedIn -coming soon.

May 20th, 2017

In a recent post we announced details about the Linked-in Sales Navigator: http://www.synergy-software.com/blog/?p=5707 following Microsoft’s blockbuster acquisition of LinkedIn last year,

Dynamics 365 will also include features for Human Capital Management (HCM). Earlier this month, Microsoft announced its new Talent application for Dynamics 365 which is scheduled for release from July 2017 as a standalone cloud-based HCM application that includes Human Resources (HR) admin, workforce planning and employee experience capabilities and utilizes Microsoft Common Data Services as the data storage and extensibility model (i.e. it is not directly part of either CRM, and you need to on cloud to use it.).

Some of these capabilities are built out from the HCM capabilities of the Dynamics 365 ERP Operations app / Dynamics AX which will retain that existing functionality.

Microsoft has highlighted two new HCM workflows: for candidate engagement, and for employee on-boarding that will be exclusively available to Dynamics 365 Talent, and that leverage the LinkedIn integration.

to see a Technical preview register your details here: https://info.microsoft.com/get-updates-for-dynamics365-talent-app-register.html

Talent Engagement

When hiring new staff HR teams have many disconnected sources of data: LinkedIn profiles, CV’s, portfolios of work and actual job applications all of which need to be matched to the selection criteria for each role.

Without visibility of a complete candidate profile, time is lost to build up a profile from these various sources, or is wasted on interviewing unsuitable candidates.

Connecting directly to LinkedIn Recruiter, Dynamics 365 Talent will offer a more complete human resources profile that also connects Office 365 and that will make the hiring process more transparent for HR professionals. Using LinkedIn Recruiter, teams will be able to define the criteria for a job role: location, skills, spoken languages and job titles etc to find prospective, matching candidates:

Within the Dynamics 365 Talent interface, hiring managers can easily see what both internal and external recruiters are doing thanks to new integration with LinkedIn. This will for example show which individuals applied for the role, and the current stage of the process for each candidate. Each candidate’s LinkedIn profile, including their application detail, is integrated and accessible directly from Dynamics 365 for HR teams from both desktop and mobile devices.

From this interface to Dynamics 365 Talent, use Office 365 integration to check the availability for all members of the interview team to suggest suitable times to set up interviews in the hiring team’s schedule. Send out Calendar invites from Dynamics 365 to each party and track these and the invitation responses:

Provide feedback about candidates which is shared with everyone involved in the hiring decision within Dynamics 365 Talent to help identify which individual(s) will be made an offer.

Employee On-Boarding

Hiring the right people doesn’t necessarily mean an appointment will be successful and high attrition from new starters is costly in terms of the recruitment costs and lost productivity.

The new, on-boarding experience, provided by Dynamics 365 Talent provides added support to manage these logistics. in the launch event, Microsoft demonstrated how Dynamics 365 will streamline on-boarding processes to help new employees get started so they fit in with the organisation’s culture, and quickly contribute to its growth.

These capabilities include on-boarding templates, that feature a series of activities which need to be completed by HR teams and successful candidates prior to their arrival. For example, this running background checks on the individual and following up references, or getting the candidate to provide their national insurance details, send an employment tax summary from their previous employment, submit visa information, or complete a non-disclosure agreement.

This provides clear visibility from a single interface about the state of readiness for both the candidate, and the organisation ahead of the employment start date. Templates can also be used to share more information that will prepare the individual for their first day. This could include logistical detail such as parking information and building security processes, details of the training they will need to complete and more detail about organisation and its values, e-polices, office access out of hours, claiming expense, reporting absence etc. This content can also provide more information about their role, and how this contributes to the success of the business.

Leveraging LinkedIn integration, the on-boarding template can also introduce the individual to their new work colleagues enabling them to connect with these contacts ahead of their arrival. This will also highlight other contacts within the organisation who they may already know, this can include individuals who attended the same school, or who also worked previously for the same employer. Once defined, adapt each template and re-use for future on-boarding processes.

With access to the respective skills, qualifications and past experiences of staff using LinkedIn data that will enrich Dynamics 365 this will likely evolve to enable individuals to be more accurately matched to projects. It will be interesting to see how this eventually works with the Dynamics 365 project service to go beyond its existing skill ratings functionality. Already it is clear that these new connected capabilities will help organisations to strategically hire the right people and nurture them for mutual success.

LinkedIn announced last month that it had “crossed an important and exciting milestone” by reaching a half billion users across 200 different countries, compared to the 467 million the company reported in October. “A professional community of this size has never existed until now,” noted Aatif Awan, vice president for growth and international products, in a LinkedIn blog post .

The United Arab Emirates, is the country with the most connected users, with an average of 211 connections each, while London is the most connected major city, with an average of 307 connections per user.

Power BI premium is now available

May 20th, 2017

The introduction this month of Power BI Premium promises greater flexibility in terms of: licensing, scaling and ease of deployment. See the announcement on powerbi.microsoft.com,

The license flexibility gives Organizations greater control over its user’s level of access, fully enabling capabilities for some, while others who just need to view and interact with reports will be able to do so without licenses.

Similar to many other Microsoft cloud-based products and services like Dynamics 365, Power BI Premium comes with greater scalability, to allow organizations to scale up or down based on their changing business needs over time.

Premium also provides the ability to manage Power BI reports on-premises with Power BI Report Server.
Power BI Report Server on-premises is fully compatible and cloud-ready. This is particularly of interest for those looking into a Local Business Data (on-premises) deployment of Dynamics 365 for Operations. The new service will be generally available late Q2 2017.

Microsoft has also just released the new Process Analyzer Content Pack for Power BI for Dynamics 365 Version 8.2 and higher. Use this content pack to monitor and analyze your business processes based on the detailed process information stored in your Dynamics 365 system.

There was also a recently introduced Microsoft Power BI content pack for Social Engagement with a new Engagement Analytics report; and of course there still tne Engagement Performance and Team Performance reports previously released.

The Engagement Analytics report provides additional insights regarding engagement on social media with metrics based on location, sentiment, tags and authors. The data model is also enhanced to include these additional dimensions to give more power to explore and to analyze your Social Engagement data.

Mobile security- Microsoft’s Secure Productive Enterprise

May 7th, 2017

As more information, devices and users travel beyond the traditional network restraints, every organisation needs to place security at the forefront of a modern workforce strategy. It’s now over 6 months (October 2016) since Microsoft released its Secure Productive Enterprise package,
• What is SPE all about?
• Is SPE just ECS under a new name?
• Is SPE just a licensing bundle?

1. What is Secure Productive Enterprise?

SPE is a licensing option from Microsoft that e bundles together: Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security technologies into a single offering.

It comes in two variants: SPE E3 and SPE E5.
It can be purchased per user, with a significant cost saving compared buying the products individually.

There are several other variations nuances, of how you can buy SPE (which licensing program) and how much it will cost you. This will largely depend on your organisation’s requirements and your current licensing position with Microsoft.

2. Is SPE just ECS under a different name?

The Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) has effectively become SPE E3 and includes the following core products and services:
• Windows 10 Enterprise (E3)
• Office 365 (E3)
• Enterprise Mobility + Security (E3)

3. What is Enterprise Mobility + Security?

Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) is what was the Enterprise Mobility Suite. The name change reflects the significant number of security products and services that were added to this solution since the launch of EMS.

4. So, is SPE just a licensing bundle?

SPE can just be a licensing bundle, if that’s all you want it to be. But it is also much more…
There is so much new technology in SPE (and Microsoft is adding to it all the time) that it can be hard to keep up. Even as a licensing option, Microsoft has included some firsts.

SPE includes brand new cloud and on-premises licensing entitlements to help organisations who plan to transition to the cloud over time, and it allows Software Assurance customers to install Office Professional Plus and Office 365 Professional Plus on up to five devices per user for the length of the subscription.

You also get the on-premises server rights for SharePoint, Exchange and Skype for Business thrown in.

More than forty thousand customers that Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) today.

For industries that require advanced identity governance such a:s government, military, pharma, financial services, etc SailPoint integration will extend Azure Active Directory Premium to provide full, fine-grained provisioning and lifecycle governance across enterprise systems on-premises and in the cloud. A direct connector automatically aggregates user accounts, group permissions, and Microsoft Access Panel tiles and maps each of these to the SailPoint Identity Cube. It also provides the basis for SailPoint to send change events back to Azure AD when access is modified during a governance mitigation process.

In addition to this, SailPoint will connect to applications managed outside of Azure AD, including on-premises applications like EPIC, which is widely used in healthcare. This creates a 360-degree view of all access in the organization and creates a strong foundation for comprehensive control

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/enterprisemobility/2017/02/10/azure-ad-and-sailpoint-advanced-identity-governance-across-your-on-premises-and-cloud-resources/

Contact us to request a copy of Microsoft’s fact sheet “Secure-Productive-Enterprise-at-a-Glance-October-2016.pdf”

0097143365589

Microsoft signs an agreement to acquire Intentional Software.

April 22nd, 2017

Microsoft has recently signed an agreement to acquire Intentional Software, a company focused on creating a platform for a new generation of team productivity apps.

We live in a hyper-connected world that requires the ability to collaborate across geographies, disciplines and organizations. Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace for Office 365, and the continued momentum and customer demand for Surface Hub, a device designed to unlock the power of the group are tools to support team collaboration.

Intentional Software’s technology will enhance Microsoft’s existing capabilities to add new tools and services to productivity applications, to put people at the center of collaboration.

Founded in 2002 by Charles Simonyi, a pioneer in the area of intentional programming, Intentional Software was initially focused on how to make programming less complicated. Over the past few years, the Intentional Software team has applied their programming expertise to develop productivity scenarios for the future workforce. Charles was a former Microsoft employee where he oversaw the creation of some of Microsoft’s most well-known productivity applications, such as Excel and Word.

The closing of the acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

Micorsft is to acquire Deis

April 22nd, 2017

Containers have been at the forefront of cloud transformation in recent years, and for good reason – Container technologies let organizations more easily build, deploy and move applications to and from the cloud. With this increase in agility and portability, containers help to make applications in the cloud. There is explosive interest in the deployment of containerized workloads on Azure, and ensuring that Azure is the best place to run those apps.

Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Deis – a company at the center of the container transformation. Deis gives developers application agility, efficiency and reliability through their Kubernetes container management technologies.

In addition to their container expertise, the Deis team brings a depth of open source technology experience – furthering Microsoft’s commitments to improve developer productivity and to provide choice and flexibility for all customers. Members of the Deis team are strong supporters of the open source community – developing tools, contributing code and organizing developer meetups.

We expect Deis’ technology to make it even easier to work with the existing container portfolio including Linux and Windows Server Containers, Hyper-V Containers and Azure Container Service, no matter what tools they choose to use.

Vista – Microsoft support has ended-upgrade to Windows 10

April 20th, 2017

As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, is now investing resources towards more recent technologies.

What happens if I continue to use Windows Vista?

If you continue to use Windows Vista now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 9 is no longer supported, so if your Windows Vista PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 9 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista.

Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows Vista.
If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, then you’ll continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time.

However, please note that Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other antivirus software) will have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware.

To find out if you’re running Windows Vista, follow these steps:

1.Click the Start 
Start button icon button, and then type winver in the search box.
2.Double-click winver in the list of results to open the About Windows dialog box, where you’ll see the version of Windows that your PC is running.

You can purchase a full version of Windows 10, but you should first make sure that your computer can run it. Very few older computers are able to run Windows 10. We recommend that you check out the Windows 10 specifications page to find out if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 10.

PCmover Express— si a tool for transferring selected files, folders, and more from your old Windows PC to your new Windows 10 PC.

3 new Microsoft tools to help you to move to the cloud.

April 18th, 2017

Here’s a breakdown of the three new Microsoft tools to help you move to the cloud faster and what they can offer businesses.

1. Free cloud migration assessment

This assessment will help customers to more easily find and to better understand their current server setups, to help them to determine the cost and the value of moving to the cloud. Once the servers are discovered, the tool can analyze their configurations, and give the user a report of the potential cost drop of moving to Azure.

Data center administrators can export the results of the assessment into a customized report. The report could provide some valuable data and statistics for a CIO conversation with the CFO.

2. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

This tool should save users money on their cloud deployments. Customers can activate the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal,It is available on Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, to all customers. “Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to save big on Windows Server VMs in Azure. By using your existing licenses, you pay the base compute rate and save up to 40 percent.” the tool’s web page said,

3. Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is meant to ease the process of migrating virtual machines to Azure. Applications running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or physical servers can be moved. Additionally, a new feature in Azure Site Recovery will “allow you to tag virtual machines within the Azure portal itself, This capability will make it easier than ever to migrate your Windows Server virtual machines.”

Other features include automated protection and replication of virtual machines, remote monitoring, custom recovery plans, recovery plan testing, and more

Shadow Brokers malware – update your Windows pcs and servers

April 18th, 2017

Last Friday, hacker group Shadow Brokers released 300 MB of alleged exploits and surveillance tools targeting Windows PCs and servers. There was also evidence of hacks on the SWIFT banking system.

Microsoft in a blog post published late Friday night by Philip Misner, principal security group manager at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) said that most of these vulnerabilities were patched by previous updates
“We work to swiftly validate the claim and make sure legitimate, unresolved vulnerabilities that put customers at risk are fixed,” Once validated, engineering teams prioritize fixing the reported issue as soon as possible, taking into consideration the time to fix it across any impacted product or service, as well as versions, the potential threat to customers, and the likelihood of exploitation.”

In the case of the Shadow Brokers leak, “most of the exploits that were disclosed fall into vulnerabilities that are already patched in our supported products,” Misner wrote,

The following exploits were already addressed, via the updates listed in parentheses:
•EternalBlue (MS17-010)
•EmeraldThread (MS10-06)
•EternalChampion (CVE-2017-0146 and CVE-2017-0147)
•ErraticGopher (Addressed prior to the release of Windows Vista)
•EsikmoRoll (MS14-068)
•EternalRomance (MS17-010)
•EducatedScholar (MS09-050)
•EternalSynergy (MS17-010)
•EclipsedWing (MS08-067)

The three remaining exploits—EnglishmanDentist, EsteemAudit, and ExplodingCan—cannot be reproduced on supported Microsoft platforms, Misner wrote. That means that users running Windows 7 and later versions, as well as those using Exchange 2010 and later versions, are not at risk. However, users that are still running older versions of those products should upgrade immediately, the post said.

Security researchers have been speculating about why Microsoft mitigated these specific attacks a full month before they were published online. One theory is that an NSA source warned Microsoft about the impending leaks. Another sign that Microsoft may have gained prior knowledge of the exploits was its unprecedented delay in releasing its monthly updates in February, for which it did not give a reason, ZDNet reported.

For enterprise Microsoft users, the key takeaway is to always ensure your machines and software are up to date. It’s also important to stay informed on these types of breaches, especially when your business is one that deals with sensitive data.

Microsoft Office 365 Updates for April 2017 -ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

April 17th, 2017

One of the benefits of Office 365 is the continual updates in functionality, be it user experience or administration tools.

Yammer Integration
• Integration with Office 365 Groups
• Creating a new Yammer Group will create an Office 365 Group
• Requires only 1 Yammer network for your organization

Visio Online
• New Add-ins on mobile apps ◦12 Million Users of Visio Worldwide
◦ Use in your browser
◦ Comments
◦ New Visio Javascript APIs

Microsoft Teams
• Rolling out to users worldwide

Profile Experience
• Admin Setup is now in three pages
Extended profile card experience
Improves collaboration
Look up documents related to the card
Organization chart

Excel Get and Transform
• New horizontal list expansion
• Enhanced SQL Server connector – support for SQL Failover option

Service Health Dashboard
Now available to all customers
• Splits into incidents and advisories
• Provide feedback on usefulness of information

SQL memory

April 10th, 2017

While I am a big fan of maximizing memory its important to consider your memory configuration!
You add RAM in a physical server and expect it to work as you want.
Anything that leverages lots of RAM to function, including a database server, can take a substantial performance hit on performance.
Depending on the DIMM configuration, you might slow down your memory speed, which will slow down your application servers.
This speed decrease is virtually undetectable from the OS.
An example : To configure 384GB of RAM on a new server.
The server has 24 memory slots.
• You could populate each of the memory slots with 16GB sticks of memory to get to the 384GB total.
• Or, you could spend a bit more money to buy 32GB sticks of memory and only fill up half of the memory slots.
• Your outcome is the same amount of RAM.
• Your price tag on the memory is slightly higher than the relatively cheaper smaller sticks.
In this configuration, a 16GB DIMM configuration runs the memory 22% slower than if you buy the higher density sticks.

Check out page 63 of the server build guide for an HPE Proliant DL380 Gen9 server. https://www.hpe.com/h20195/v2/getpdf.aspx/c04346247.pdf

The fully populated 16GB stick configuration runs the memory at 1866 MHz.
When you only fill in the 32GB sticks on half the number of slots, then the memory runs at 2400 MHz.

SQL Server dynamically acquires and frees memory as required. Typically, an administrator does not have to specify how much memory is allocated to SQL Server. However, the max server memory option can be useful in some environments. Make sure that sufficient memory is available for the operation of Windows Server. . For example, make sure that you run a dedicated instance of SQL Server on a server that has at least 4 gigabytes (GB) of memory. If the available memory for the server drops below 500 megabytes (MB) for extended periods, then the performance of the server may degrade.

Use the ‘Memory: Available Mbytes performance counter’ for the Windows Server operating system to determine whether the available memory drops below 500 MB for extended periods. If the available memory drops below 500 MB frequently or for extended periods, then we recommend that you reduce the max server memory setting for SQL Server or increase the physical memory of the server.

Azure infographic

April 3rd, 2017

What can you do on the azure cloud?
Ask Synergy Software Systems: 0097143365589

Dynamics 365 – Licensing and support key dates to be aware. Ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

March 18th, 2017

License Renewal & Anniversary Date:

If you are considering an upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, then your license anniversary or enhancement renewal date is significant, You have the opportunity to do a full platform and license transition. There are specific incentives and license credits available to make this transition when you are on a supported product version.

The Mainstream Support End Date of your Current Dynamics AX Software Version:

If you do not opt to move to a cloud-based license model at your license anniversary, then the next important date to consider is the mainstream support end date for the current product you are using:

Support Dates for Existing Dynamics AX On-premise products:
AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2 – Mainstream support ends in April 10, 2018; Extended support is available until October 12, 2021
AX 2012 R3 – Mainstream support ends on October 12, 2021; Extended support is available until January 10, 2023

Why is it important to be on a Mainstream Supported Product?

There are many reasons to be on a supported product :
1.The option to receive support updates and hotfixes – this is the forum in which Microsoft collects bugs and issues and systematically releases fixes, making the platform up-to-date and reliable.
2.Regulatory Compliance ends with Mainstream Support – this means that when your organization is legally obligated to follow regulatory compliance standards, this process will need to be manually completed.
3. Access to Customer resources.

During Extended support, Microsoft provides support for the product and will provide security-related hotfixes.

Your Dynamics Roadmap – Action Plan

So, what should all of these dates mean to you? The answer depends on many things: which version you’re currently using, the range of modules, and customisations, and integrations, your hardware investment, internet connectivity, how you are impacted by statutory changes, economic pressures, and so on..

For those on AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 & R2:

It’s ideal to be on a mainstream supported product, and extended support is available through October of 2021. In either scenario, you need to an action plan to:
◾Decide whether to stay on premise thereafter , or whether to go cloud at some point.
◾Decide to what product you’ll upgrade and whether this will be a one or two step process – AX 2012 R3 or direct to Dynamics 365 operations?
◾Identify requirements for path chosen (Data migration, customizations, process change, short term hardware investments, whether to upgrade SQL or operating systems, etc.)
◾Budget [time and money] for the requirements gathering [can last several months] and the actual upgrade
◾Identify internal/external resources to execute the project
◾Perform and test the upgrade , and train new users.

Most companies want to have the decision and plan in place before mainstream support ends – which is just over a year away – April of 2018 for 2019.

There are other incentives as to upgrading sooner rather than later.

For those on AX 2012 R3:

Like the clients on AX 2009, 2012 R1, & R2 (above), the same decisions must be made.
Do you want to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Operations?
Do you want to stay on premise?

While your mainstream support lasts longer, there are benefits and incentives to consider when deciding on a timeline for your changes.

On-premise vs. Cloud Options:

Until February 2017, existing on-premise clients only had 3 Options:
◾Stay with your Perpetual License on AX 2012 or earlier (keep paying Enhancement or Software Assurance)
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations and move to Subscription Only [Cloud] Model (available at license anniversary/renewal)
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations in a Hybrid Model (Perpetual License + Cloud Add-On)
◾ Move to Dynamics 365 for Operations subscription license but continue to use Dynamics 2012 on premise R3 for some time before moving to Dynamics 365 for Operations (‘equivalence”)

On February 23rd, Microsoft announced a new, hybrid option based on edge computing:
◾Upgrade to Dynamics 365 for Operations, but stay on premise, either with a subscription license or keep a Perpetual License model.

On Monday last week in the Tech Conference , Microsoft announced more details about the new deployment options for Dynamics 365 for Operations that will be available in Q2 2017.

In addition to a pure-cloud environment, organizations can now choose from two options on how this can work .

◾The first is a hybrid deployment (called Cloud and Edge) where critical operations processes, as an example, can remain in an on-premise database, but the power of the cloud can be harnessed for additional scalability.

◾ The second option is, essentially, on premise option. Microsoft calls this option Local Business Data, where Dynamics 365 resides in your existing datacenter.

Investment Credit and Incentives:

Most companies do their budgeting annually, so planning your roadmap should already be underway in 2017. At the Summit Conference last October, Microsoft announced a 40% discount to existing on-premise clients who want to transition to the new Dynamics 365 Cloud Platform. This incentive is active for 3 years.
If you transition in 2017, you’ll be able to leverage 2 years of discounts,
if you transition in 2018, then you’ll only be able to leverage 1 year of discounts
If you do not transition till 2019, you may not get a discount (depending on transition month).

Under Dynamics 365, licensing SKU’s, functionality and license names also changed , so there is an additional consideration to make in how your organization is licensed. Like previous license models, Dynamics 365 for Operations has different user license types – each with different user rights. The more prescriptive you can be for what your users need to access to the more accurate will be your license transition and the more money you can save.

Strategic Planning with Synergy Software Systems

Synergy Software Systems can undertake a license and environment audit to help you understand your high- level options and costs associated with those options. If you feel that cloud has exciting new functionality and integration that you’ve been looking for, use the time you have between now and your next license anniversary/renewal to look at Dynamics 365 for Operations with us and decide if it’s right for you.

If you’re on Dynamics AX 2009, AX 2012 R1 or R2, use the time between now and April 2018 to decide how to best leverage your existing investment in your ERP system in the next supported step in your Dynamics roadmap journey.

If you’d like help to better understand your options then reach out to us on 00971 4 3365589

Dynamics 365 will have an on-premise option in June 2017

February 28th, 2017

The future of Dynamics Ax seemed to take a big hit last year when the Dynamics 365 was launched. When Ax7 was launched for the cloud it was understood there would be an on premise version based on a private cloud which would run on the azure technology stack. That proved to be not so easy and a Microsoft Representative at a user group explained that there will be no on premise version and to get used to it.

The future, it seemed was that there will be some on premise components (manufacturing and retail) but on premise was dead.

Customers and partners immediately began shaking their heads in disapproval. We were particularly blunt in our views. The end message perceived by multiple people in the audience, was “to take it or leave it”. The fallout was instant and, a recent poll by Computer Futures showed that 40% of Microsoft Dynamics Operations customers stated they were going to leave if an on premise product wasn’t offered within the next 3 years.

Microsoft claims it listens and that it constantly seeks feedback. That after all is the basis of its agile development model. And it seems they really do with the recent announcement that an On-Premise version is coming in June.

The graphic below was published by Sri Srinivasan on the week of 2/20/2017. The expectation now is that Dynamics 365 for Operations will be generally available on premise in June 2017.

Dynamics 365 for Operations is already available in the cloud and offers added advantage of Microsoft’s intelligence capabilities of embedded analytics, machine learning, or working with the IoT stack.

However for many companies who have already heavily invested in infrastructure, or who unreliable internet connections, or who have business needs to hold data locally those benefits do not outweigh the need to store their company’s critical data locally. Consider a continuous process manufacturing facility, or a lean manufacturing automotive supplier with swinging penalties if the production line is stopped and where workers need to keep the production line humming 24 x7 and avoid production delays, especially. Industries rely on expensive machines to produce goods; these machines are highly automated, working on inputs from the ERP systems thye provide critical output signals that are used for overall management of the production facility. In such scenarios, it is desirable to run these processes locally while leveraging the power of the cloud to maximize efficiency. Also, some geographies require that transactions and personal information be captured and stored locally. other factors that may are apply are when :

• Your company’s leadership holds a non-discretionary attitude towards cloud computing
• Your business model needs control of your: data, data residency, and data isolation
• Your business information needs permanent connectivity
• The business processes require the ability to customize the service infrastructure of the ERP system to meet specific business needs such as scalability
• Your company has recently invested in data center resources
• Your industry’s regulations do not permit data be stored in the cloud
• Your country or geographic area has connectivity limitations

The on-premise deployment option is referred to by Microsoft as, “local business data.” Local business data will run your business processes on-premises, and will support local transactions and storage of business data, without replication of that business data to the cloud. The update of business data in the cloud is simply switched off.

For this “local business data” deployment scenario, the application servers and SQL database will run in the customer’s own data center ( or could be hosted in a private cloud).

Customers and partners will still be able manage the application lifecycle through Life Cycle Services (LCS) in the Microsoft Cloud, including designing the business processes, creating and deploying the software image to deploy onto the on-premises nodes, monitoring the on-premises nodes in a system health dashboard, and keeping up with innovation from Microsoft.

Should your views change and your company later wants to utilize Dynamics 365 for Operations cloud capabilities then you can turn ON data synchronization to the cloud. Please note: the on-premise data will not benefit from Microsoft’s intelligent cloud capabilities like Power BI, AI, or other capabilities available to cloud subscribers.

So :
• New and existing customers will be able to license both local business data, and cloud and edge deployments.
• Customers can license local business data deployments via a Dynamics 365 for Operations license with Software Assurance/Enhancement Plan or a subscription model
• Customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance, may upgrade to local business data and remain entitled to access new versions and updates
• Transitions to Dynamics 365 cloud subscriptions are available to customers with active Microsoft Dynamics Enhancement Plans or Software Assurance
• Cloud and edge software and services will be licensed under the existing Dynamics 365 cloud subscription licensing model

We like the cloud for first time ERP implementations that are small or ones that have just a few people using AX/Operations. Its also suitable for companies who have limited integrations/customisations.

If you are an enterprise system with multi geographical units then you will come under different statutory regimes for taxes and payroll and each country’s economic budget may requite you to make system updates that cannot wait 8 hours or more for Microsoft to move.

For complicated manufacturing implementations, major companies with lots of licenses, or rapidly growing companies that are increasing their market share the current Ax 2012 on premise, or the on premise hybrid when it comes out, is for now a more pragmatic option. Uptime, system tuning when slow or unresponsive, minimizing downtime and scheduling it at your own convenience, dedicated support. plus the need for faster code moves and fast support response times are critical factors that need rapid access to the production server not currently possible on the cloud.

Expect a lot more details to emerge on this topic at the D365 Technical Conference in Seattle next Month and at the AXUG meet in Amsterdam early April.

Synergy will be at the AXpact CEO meeting the day before to meet with Chandru Shankar, Microsoft’s Manufacturing Industry Director, Sri Srinivasan, General Manager for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations in the Cloud and Enterprise Group, and Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft Technical Fellow to get more insight.
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The cloud – just another tool set

February 23rd, 2017

The cloud is a term that has for long time been the subject full of hype.

Conferences, blogs, media outlets tell us the cloud is the answer, the cloud is cheaper, the cloud is the way of the future, the cloud handles your DR, the cloud manages BI, IoT, etc. Major vendors, none more than Microsoft, are pushing the message of SMAC : “social first”, “cloud-first” “analysis fist’ and “mobile first”.

For many of us reactions vary from confused, to concerned, or even angry. There are still many who dismiss the idea of ‘cloud anything’ when it comes to data.

The reality is that almost everyone uses the cloud daily, Google, Hotmail, GPS, Facebook, You tube etc.
The cloud is a tool, the can really enable you to solve issues, some unsolvable any other way, without getting caught up in the details of implementing every little part of the system. That’s a any idea most of us embrace, even if we never thought about it. How many of us deal with hardware? How many of you install or configure Windows? Who day to day worries about SQL backups, or has scripts/tools/products to auto implement the back up new databases?

The reality is that few of us have ever seen an email server, or an erp a production database server with their own eyes, despite connecting to many.

We all move at different paces. Some of us still deal with SQL Server 2008, 2005, 2000,. Some of us need to manage those platforms for years to come. Using one application on the cloud does mean now work for IT on premise. Helping to build applications on Azure SQL Database and deal with data integrity, quality, and security issues, through a remote connection. Device connectivity and internet connections, and printers still need managing.

The cloud gives us a new set of tools and services that take away some of the details and drudgery. Think electric saws and power drills instead of hand tools. Sometimes that’s fantastic, and it enables more rapid, more scalable deployment of resources. Sometimes it’s dangerous because the vendors haven’t completely thought through the process, or integration, or latency, or licensing and contractual term.

We shouldn’t be doing many tasks that can be easily automated and done better, faster, cheaper.
When we don’t need to manage day to day management of hardware, databases, and interfaces we can look upwards and outwards and consider to use the tools, to ensure our organizations continue to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

So what tools does Microsoft offer on azure?

Cortana Intelligence Suite is an example – Microsoft’s big data, machine learning, and analytics platform.
Whether you work with a company that buys “best of breed” solutions and you manually manage your data or you only have one system but you lack the ability or wherewithal to analyze it, CIS can help.

CIS has several components and each has an intended purpose, though you can do similar functions across several elements, and may only use a few of those for your business.

Microsoft Azure
Azure’s intent is to provide cloud hosted virtual servers, apps, and services to Microsoft’s customers.
Azure offers developers both Microsoft and third party tools to operate on the cloud and takes full advantage of the IoT. Microsoft is playing to win the internet. It already has more data centres than Google and Amazon combined. The rapid improvements of the platform are steadily winning over developers and IT professionals.

Azure Data Catalog
Use it to tie together different types of data together from many sources, when all the fields or tables may be labeled differently. The Azure Data Catalog allows a user the ability to look up a data source in a common place in the cloud. The future of data management will tie together those end users with business knowledge and allow them to identify data relevant to your IT team.

Azure Data Factory
Azure Data Factory provides tools to pull together all your data into one place, to transform it, and to distribute it! (Pelluru, 2016)

Azure Event Hub
The Azure event hub is used for truly Big Data and the IoT. It allows mass data to be brought in for analysis. and is the opening to funnel in large amounts of data, like: temperature monitoring on all your reactors or the status of sensitive product shipments. Consume the data e.g. for behavior analysis on a mobile device.

Azure Data Lake
If Azure Event Hub is the front door, then lake is the storage closet for large amounts of data.
Use the lake to store all your data in its original non-relatable format, and integrate with any data warehouse you already have. It differs from Blob storage solely mainly in the amount of data you’re collecting.

Azure SQL Database
The SQL database needs no introduction, but how do SQL databases relate to Azure? A SQL database is where your data resides in tables, with key identifiers, which makes it relatable to other sets of data. SQL is simply the coding language for this particular database. The Azure SQL database puts it in the cloud.
But I don’t want my data in the cloud! That’s not secure.” Really ? Do you even bother to look the door of your server room? Are you really up to date with all he security patches and hotfixes?. I challenge you to rethink your philosophy and do a little research on the matter. Storage in the cloud is generally more secure than an on-premises solution, depending on several factors.

Azure Machine Learning
AML is where you go to create your machine learning models and API’s. What is machine learning?: It’s an evolutionary self-learning and adapting process. A machine looks at the data and suggests something. If that something doesn’t make it better, then it will try something else. If that still doesn’t make it better, it will try something else. It will keep trying until it finds something that works. And then try to make it work better.
Deep Blue the IBM computer than won a chess match with Kasparov not only worked with brute force calculation but also developed its own heurstics to better evaluate which positions t analyse further.
Machine learning is also about predictive analysis based on data you feed the machine. One example is when you go to Amazon, or Google or Booking .com based on your past purchases/searches, they recommend items. That’s machine learning!

Correlation of data to establish possible relationships has many applications from advertising to analysing medical symptoms. How might one use machine learning in manufacturing? You could increase the yields of your finished goods when you have data based on a specific factor, what was done prior to the production (cleaning, maintenance, etc), which operator does the best job on a particular product, and even which raw materials to use. Based on how much data you put in on your raw materials, such as quality data, ML could help with product engineering.

The possibilities are nearly endless.
Azure HDInsight
HDInsight is Hadoop as a service. Hadoop is faster than moving those large files across your network. Hadoop is an open source, Java-based programming framework that supports the processing and storage of extremely large data sets in a distributed computing environment. It is part of the Apache project sponsored by the Apache Software Foundation. It allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage.

As the World Wide Web grew in the late 1900s and early 2000s, search engines and indexes were created to help locate relevant information amid the text-based content. In the early years, search results were returned by humans. But as the web grew from dozens to millions of pages, automation was needed. Web crawlers were created. An open-source web search engine called Nutch evolved – the brainchild of Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella who wanted to return web search results faster by distributing data and calculations across different computers so multiple tasks could be accomplished simultaneously. During this time, another search engine project “Google” was in progress based on the same concept – storing and processing data in a distributed, automated way so that relevant web search results could be returned faster.

In 2006, Cutting joined Yahoo and took with him the Nutch project as well as ideas based on Google’s early work with automating distributed data storage and processing. The Nutch project was divided – the web crawler portion remained as Nutch and the distributed computing and processing portion became Hadoop (named after Cutting’s son’s toy elephant). In 2008, Yahoo released Hadoop as an open-source project. Today, Hadoop’s framework and ecosystem of technologies are managed and maintained by the non-profit Apache Software Foundation (ASF), a global community of software developers and contributors.

Azure Steam Analytics (ASA)
, Stream Analytics streams data over the cloud and uses it for near real time analysis. ASA compares new data coming in (by using the Data Factory “Move it!” to periodically move data copies from SQL DB to blobs for consumption) against historical data to simplify analysis and to identify outliers. Stream Analytics is easy use and offers many possibilities. Less than 15 minutes to set up a data connection for temperature and throw together a graph for visual consumption.

Power BI
Power BI brings visualization to your analysis through interactive reports within a browser, tablet, or mobile device. If you are a fan of PowerPivot or the eye-pleasing graphs out of Excel, you’ll enjoy the capabilities of Power BI. Show the C_Suite KPIs, top customers, and gross margins by product – all on one page.

Cortana
Speech is not the only way that you can interact with Cortana. Cortana can analyze visually as well audibly.
How about an app that can predict your age based on a picture of your face using Cortana?
What about QA tests based on comparing current images to approved sample images?.

Machine learning and telemetry. Microsoft itself collects data on what functions you use in their software and how you use it to better optimize the software and the use interface. . It does not collect data on personal use.

Security – Verizon Data Breach insights

February 18th, 2017

The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Digest, published Tuesday, found that the effects of a breach are spreading to even more parts of an enterprise, increasingly causing problems outside of IT.

They examined 16 different scenarios examined in the 2017 Digest drawn from Verizon’s Research, Investigations, Solutions and Knowledge (RISK) Team’s investigation of 1,400 breach cases over the past three years. The scenarios were broken up into the following four breach types:

1. The human element.
Those breaches in which humans:
- had been compromised,
- or simply made a mistake,
- or intentionally acted maliciously.

Two of the scenarios—hactivist attack and partner misuse—were labeled as “lethal.”

The hacktivist attack occurs when a hacker targets a company in response to a perceived injustice committed by the firm.
Partner misuse refers to an attack when an indignant stakeholder attacks the firm from the inside. Another example of this kind of breach is a disgruntled ex-employee.

2. Conduit devices

Conduit devices are points of entry by which an attacker gains access to an organization’s network. Mobile assault and IoT calamity were the names given to the lethal scenarios of this breach type.

- A mobile assault occurred refers to a business traveler who uses an unsecure Wi-Fi connection, which leads to his phone being compromised.

- An example of an IoT calamity is a major university that was breached through its connected vending machines and smart light bulbs.

3. Configuration exploitation

“From a system standpoint, misconfigured devices are the vectors of compromise; from a network standpoint, misconfigurations allow for easy lateral movement and avenues for data exfiltration.”

Lethal scenarios of this type are a DDoS Attack. and an ICS onslaught.

- An One example of a major DDoS attack is the Mirai botnet that took down the DNS provider Dyn, and almost took down an entire country.
- An ICS onslaught occurs when an industrial control system is compromised, and may lead toboth massive physical damage and data leaks.

4. Malicious software

In the Verizon report, none were labeled as lethal. Examples are traditional malware, RAM scraping, spyware, and keylogger software. The Digest lists the three primary purposes of malware as meant to “establish a beachhead, collect data, and exfiltrate data.”

To respond to a breach, the Verizon Data Breach Digest recommends taking the following five actions:
1.”Preserve evidence; consider consequences of every action taken.”
2.”Be flexible; adapt to evolving situations.”
3.”Establish consistent methods for communication.”
4.”Know your limitations; collaborate with other key stakeholders.”
5.”Document actions and findings; be prepared to explain them
.”