Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ category

Skype for Business Online being retired in 2021

August 19th, 2019

Microsoft has stated that, “starting September 1, 2019 ), we will onboard all new Office 365 customers directly to Teams for chat, meetings, and calling.” (only 2 weeks away)

For those of you using Skype for Business On-premises this change will not affect you till July 2021.

Microsoft now feels that Teams provides all the functionality (and then some) that Skype for Business Online provided so they recommend that every Skype for Business Online customer upgrade to Teams.

In Teams Microsoft provides some of the features that aren’t offered in Skype for Business Online

• Dynamic 911 ◦Automatically find a caller’s current location so you can route to a PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) call center operated by the local government. Dynamic E911 is due by the end of 2019

• Shorter Retention Periods◦Set retention periods to as short a 1 day – this ensures channel and chat data will be removed from all permanent storage locations in the Microsoft Teams service. This feature is also due by the end of 2019

• Teams and Skype Consumer interoperability With this latest feature you will be able to communicate between Microsoft Teams and Skype Consumer by using either chat or calling. This is due to release in Q1 2020

• Contact Center Integration and Compliance Recording
At Microsoft Inspire this year there was an announcement of these Teams partnerships: Five9, Genesys, and NICE, to enable Contact Center solutions. In addition, Compliance Recording will be offered by: ASC, NICE, and Verint!

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Power BI wave 2 Oct 2019 – what’s new preview

August 18th, 2019

The 2019 release wave 2, 2019 release wave 2 -planned to release in the time frame October 2019-March 2020 – brings to market significant new capabilities to enable digital transformation for businesses. For Power BI, these new capabilities include:
Unified platform for enterprise BI
• Data Protection (Preview)
• Shared and Certified Datasets
• Data lineage capabilities (Preview)
• Open platform connectivity (XMLA Read/Write) (Preview)
• Datasets larger than 10GB in Power BI Premium (Preview)
• Admin usage metrics
• Unattended Power BI template app installation

Self-service analytics for everyone
• New experience for report consumption
• Home customization
• Mobile Home

Gartner recognized SnapLogic as a Visionary in its Data Integration Magic Quadrant

August 7th, 2019

Gartner recognized SnapLogic as a Visionary in its Data Integration Magic Quadrant! This comes on the heels of being recognized as a Leader in three top analyst reports for the best integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solutions – the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, and G2 Crowd Grid.
We believe these collective recognitions testify to the fact that SnapLogic is unrivaled when it comes to integrating cloud applications and on-premises data in one unified platform.

Gartner commended SnapLogic for:
• Our powerful integration convergence and augmented data integration delivery
• Our easy accessibility to diverse user personas
• Our pricing model simplicity and trial version

Synergy Software Systems is a Middle East partner. . This solution speeds up deployment of complex solutions with multiple jntegrations and significantly improves and simplifies the management and maintenance of integrations.

Whether for EDi to Odette standards for the automotive sector, or for streaming high volumes of data, or for ETL processes to bring data from multiple, enterprise systems into a data lake or Enterprise BI or Corporate performance management system, Snap Logic provides a multitude of pre built “Snap integrations: for a low code, configuration approach to integration.

Synergy Software Systems has provided integrated solutions in the region. Digital revolution is proving new opportunities and challenges. Robotic Processes Automation, Predictive analytics, ML AI, IoT, RFID, cloud services, data lakes, and mobility are now standard components of any solution. However digital revolution also requires agility and rapid robust deployment and ease of update and maintenance. Integration ETL, and streaming data from multiple systems at enterprise scale needs a new ‘productized’ low code approach to integration.

Snaplogic is a key tool for successful agile deployment of Enterprise integration, Corporate Performance management, EDI, BI and RPA solutions.

There are already major clients deploying Snap Logic in the UAE.

To learn more . Call us on 00971 43365589

SQL Server 2014 Sp3 mainstream support ended on July 9 – CU4 just released

July 31st, 2019

However Cumulative Update 4 for SQL Server 2014 SP3 has just been released.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4500181/cumulative-update-4-for-sql-server-2014-sp3

Office 365 will retire TLS 1.0 and 1.1 starting June 1st, 2020

July 24th, 2019

To provide best-in-class encryption, and to ensure the service is more secure by default, Microsoft is moving all of its online services to Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2+

Office 365 will be retiring TLS 1.0 and 1.1 starting June 1, 2020. This means that all connections to Office 365 using the protocols TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 will not work so prior to June 1, 2020.

Plan to replace clients and devices that rely on TLS 1.0 and 1.1 to connect to Office 365.

The TLS protocol aims primarily to provide privacy and data integrity between two or more communicating computer applications. It is an IETF standard intended to prevent eavesdropping, tampering and message forgery. Transport Layer Security (TLS), and the deprecated predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), are cryptographic protocols that provide communications security over a computer network and the protocols find are uses in applications such as: web browsing, email, instant messaging, and voice over IP (VoIP). Websites use TLS to secure all communications between their servers and web browsers. The latest version – TLS 1.3 – is an overhaul that strengthens and streamlines the crypto protocol.

The work on TLS1.3 started in April 2014, and it took four years and 28 drafts before it was approved in March of 2018. Version 1.3 makes the handshake process faster by speeding up the encryption process. This has a security benefit, and will also improve performance of secure web applications. With TLS 1.2, the handshake process involved several round trips, whereas with 1.3 only one round is required, and all the information is passed at that time. In addition to security improvements, TLS 1.3 eliminated a number of older algorithms that did nothing other than create vulnerabilities.The updated protocol added a function called “0-RTT resumption” that enables the client and server to remember if they have communicated before.

The PCI compliance standards require that any site accepting credit card payments uses TLS 1.2 after June 30, 2018 Services such as PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, UPS, FedEx, and many others already support TLS1.2, and have announced that they will eventually refuse TLS 1.0 connections. This means your safest action is to upgrade to TLS 1.2+/3 sooner than later to avoid disruption. It also likely to be a consideration for GDPR compliance in the event of a breach if using an older protocol.

Dynamics 365 license changes – from 1 October 2019

July 22nd, 2019

There was a lot of exciting product and technology news form Microsoft’s Inspire event in Las Vegas this month.
Not so inspiring for many of the audience was the announcement of changes in licensing to take effect as early as 1 October this year.

if you are an existing Dynamics 365 customer on the cloud for any app then you are affected, as are those intending to buy.

For now there is no change to on-premise licenses (some D365 apps are only available on the cloud).

Effective October 1 , 2019, Customer Engagement Plan, Unified Operations Plan, and Dynamics 365 Plan
SKUs will be removed from all price lists. Finance and Operations will be split into individual applications – one for Supply Chain Management, and one for Finance. This change will enable customers to purchase suitable core workload application(s) for individual user
needs going forward.

Core workload Business Applications are Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Supply Chain Management, Finance, Retail, and Talent. The current plan offerings for :Customer Engagement Plan, Unified Operations Plan, and Dynamics 365 Plan be removed from all channels and for all licensing segments.

The new ‘ la carte’ approach is user license (USL) based.

Base license: the first Business Application purchased at the standard price.
Attach licenses are the additional USL application(s) at a flat price of:
$20 per Customer Engagement application
or
$30 per Unified Operations application.

• Each Attach license can only be assigned to a user with the prerequisite Base license.
• When purchasing multiple Business Applications, the Base license must be the higher priced license.
• Each user may only have one Base license.
• Attach license:USL application(s) incrementally purchased after the Base license. Users may have
as many Attach licenses as needed.
• Base and Attach licenses are identical in their core capabilities and are only differentiated in price. .

Business Applications that can’t be purchased as Attach licenses:
Core workload Business Applications:
• Project Service Automation
• Marketing
• Talent
Non-core workload applications:
• Customer Insights
• Microsoft Relationship Sales solution
• Sales Insights
• Marketing Additional Application
Customer Service Chat
• Resource Scheduling Optimization
• comprehensive hiring
• Order Lines
• Forms Pro
• All capacity add-ons

Customers seeking one Business Application per user should only purchase a Base license per user.
Single Business Applications priced between $50-$180 are less expensive than Customer Engagement Plan ($115) or Unified Operations Plan ($190) today.

For existing customers there is no immediate change to customers’ existing agreement. They can true up seats at the renewal anniversary as required. At renewal (after the beginning October 2019), customers must renew on the new Attach construct. They must have a qualified Base license for each user and assign the additional Attach licenses to their multiple application users as required. Its possible that someone will be able to use lower cost licenses.

Supply Chain Management, Finance, and Retail apps have a 20-user minimum purchase requirement. There is a difference between CE and CSA licensing in this respect..

There is no change in dual use rights. Dual use rights vary by application.

Power Bi new installers – be ready to change your upgrade scripts

July 20th, 2019

Currently, Microsoft builds and publish 84 different .msi files for installing Power BI – a 32-bit and a 64-bit one for each of the 42 languages it supports/

They have just completed work to wrap these into two installers (32- and 64-bit), which will give users the ability to change the language of the UI and model without having to install a new version.

An enterprise administrator who manages the rollout of Power BI Desktop to users in multiple languages will find this much easier.

You can get the new single installer at https://aka.ms/pbiSingleInstaller, and you still find the separate MSIs for each language at https://www.microsoft.com/download/details.aspx?id=45331.

The MSIs will continue to be available (and updated each month) until the September update, after which only the new single installer will be available.

If you have scripts that pull new versions of Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Download Center, need to be update to point to the new location before October 1st

Windows 7 exploit- critical fix July 2019

July 16th, 2019

Microsoft’s latest SSU helps fix a bug in Secure Boot that interferes with Windows’ BitLocker encryption system. The updates are available from the Microsoft Update Catalog or through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Microsoft said it “strongly recommends” that users and admins install this latest SSU before installing the latest cumulative update, which was released along with this month’s Patch Tuesday updates. This month’s updates brings a fix for a Win32k zero-day, marked as CVE-2019-1132, which was part of an attack used by Kremlin-backed hackers. The researcher at ESET, Anton Cherepanov, found the exploit for the flaw which doesn’t affect Windows 10 or Windows 8 but it does impact older versions including Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 SP2, and Windows Server R2 SP1. Cherepanov noted that the technique used in the current exploit is “very similar” to one used before 2017 by the advanced hacking group called Sednit, aka Fancy Bear, APT28, STRONTIUM, and Sofacy. Windows 8 and later block a key component of the exploit chain, which is why the flaw only affects earlier versions of supported Windows versions. He notes that Microsoft back-ported the Windows 8 mitigation to Windows 7 for x64-based systems.

Bugs like this are one reason Windows 7 users should follow Microsoft’s advice to upgrade. Those who still use Windows 7 for 32-bit systems Service Pack 1 should update to newer operating systems, since extended support of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 ends on January 14, 2020. Which means that Windows 7 users will then no longer receive critical security updates. Thus, vulnerabilities like this one will stay unpatched forever.

This is not the only fix – the Microsoft patches address 77 security flaws, including 15 rated “critical.”
In May this year patches were also released for BlueKeep’s – the ability to automatically spread from one vulnerable machine to another – could be exploited in an attack on the same global scale as WannaCry, whose worm capabilities were enabled by EternalBlue, the leaked NSA exploit for the SMBv1 file-sharing protocol. The NSA urged admins to patch the flaw and change configurations to prevent potential attacks. Its warning followed research that found that at least one million Windows computers were still vulnerable to BlueKeep. The NSA said it was “likely only a matter of time” before attacks emerged.

Windows 7 updates July 2019

July 16th, 2019

Last week there were Windows Updateof security and reliability fixes for Windows 7 as part of the normal Patch Tuesday delivery cycle for every version of Windows. icrosoft split its monthly update packages for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 into two distinct offerings: a monthly rollup of updates and fixes and, for those who are want only those patches that are absolutely essential, a Security-only update package. Under Microsoft’s rules, what it calls “Security-only updates” are supposed to include,only security updates, not quality fixes or diagnostic tools. However, this month’s Security-only update, the “July 9, 2019—KB4507456 (Security-only update),” bundled in the Compatibility Appraiser, KB2952664, which is designed to identify issues that could prevent a Windows 7 PC from updating to Windows 10.

The concern is that these components are being used to prepare either for another round of forced updates or to spy on individual PCs. The word telemetry appears in at least one file, and for some it seems to be a short step from innocuous data collection to spyware. Microsoft appeared to be surreptitiously adding telemetry functionality to most of its solutions. Microsoft has slipped this functionality into a security-only patch without any warning, thus adding the “Compatibility Appraiser” and its scheduled tasks (telemetry) to the update. The package details for KB4507456 say it replaces KB2952664 (among other updates). So this is not a security-only update.

The Appraiser tool was offered via Windows Update, both separately and as part of a monthly rollup update two years ago; as a result, most of the declining population of Windows 7 PCs already has it installed. Given the headaches users faced over unwanted upgrades back in Windows 10′s first year why is Microsoft reluctant to talk about security issues except in formal settings like release notes and support bulletins.

This has already been an exhausting week thanks to a pair of Windows 10 zero-day exploits being used in the wild, by Kremlin-backed hackers.

Windows 10 19H2 release

July 16th, 2019

The 19H2 release of Windows 10, which will probably be called the Windows 10 October 2019 Update, will not include a list of new user-facing features. Instead, it will deliver “select performance improvements, enterprise features and quality enhancements.”

This update “will install like a monthly update” on PCs that are running the latest Windows 10 release, version 1903. In other words its what we would call a service pack even if Microsoft no longer does. Devices on any currently supported version of Windows 10 will only need to reboot once to update them to 19H2. The 19H2 release will be fully supported for 30 months. While still n aggressive update schedule for some IT departments that is a lot easier to live with than 6 monthly updates. (The update is the last Windows 10 release before the end of free support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. )

For OEM and retail Windows editions, even Windows 10 Home, feature updates are no longer immediately mandatory. The twice-yearly feature updates are offered on PCs that Microsoft’s algorithms deem suitable; but the feature update is to be offered as an optional update that the PC’s owner has to approve manually. You’re can ignore that prompt for as long as the current version is supported, or a maximum of 18 months.

For businesses with PCs running Windows 10 Pro, the updates are delivered with the same 18-month support cycle. The difference is that administrators can defer monthly cumulative updates by up to 30 days and can defer feature updates by up to 365 days. On a PC with Windows 10 Settings app or applied Group Policy to defer feature updates, the option to update to the next release doesn’t appear at all until the deferral period ends or the current version reaches its end-of-support. Companies that run Windows 10 Pro should plan for an annual Windows 10 feature update – any .than 12 months, but and you may hit an end-of-support date and a forced feature update.

Customers running Windows 10 Enterprise and Education get the longest support calendar, \. The March updates will have an 18-month support cycle for all editions, whereas the September release will get the longer, 3 install version 1903 late in 2019 and plan to install the 19H2 release as a lightweight update when it’s ready. With that “service pack” in place, they can leave those PCs alone for two full years, until the second half of 2021.0-month support cycle for Enterprise and Education editions. (All Windows 10 Pro releases are supported for 18 months.)

To ensure updates don’t happen at the wrong time see this post:

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-control-updates-in-windows-10/?ftag=CMG-01-10aaa1b

P.S. Dark mode to reduce eye strain MacOS got dark mode last year in Mojave, . Android also got a dark mode setting last year, and the upcoming Android Q will make it easy to turn on. You can similarly dim the lights in Windows 10 = Go to Settings, tap Personalization, tap Colors and then under Choose your default app mode, choose Dark.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 -OUT OF SUPPORT today

July 13th, 2019

SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2, both of these versions of SQL server go out of extended support with Microsoft today 9th July 2019

Many companies and businesses are still SQL Server 2008 R2 and below. There can be a number of reasons for this, maybe the applications the databases support require an older version of SQL Server, maybe the applications are also coming to the end of life, but the end dates do not match up with the data platform end of support dates.

Sometimes applications are critical to the business and everything works just fine. The business doesn’t want to disrupt the application or introduce any risk by performing a migration to a new version so why change it?

In this situation your data platform is out of support completely. Out of support system attract hackers. Note the previous articles about fines for loss of privacy data to realise how serious this can be

So you should be making plans to migrate your legacy SQL Servers off the unsupported versions. It is likely if you are still on an old database that you are also on an old server and on an old version of Windows. That gives additional risk of failed hard disks, other system vulnerabilities – Meltdown, Spectre? Phishing…….
Investors and insurers are not likely to be sympathetic in such circumstances.

There are many performance and security benefits of upgrade.

If you decide to run on out support software and take the risk associated with running on out of support software. The main advantage of this approach is there is nothing immediate to do. The longer you run on the platform the greater the chances of you encountering a security vulnerability or failing a compliance test.
If anything does go wrong you’ll have no support from Microsoft.
Other software vendors support contracts may also require that you be on a currently supported database

Modernise and upgrade is one of the options that you have available.

You can upgrade your on premises SQL Server or migrate the databases to Azure either as IaaS solution where you run the VM in Azure or even the PaaS Azure SQL database offering

There are number of advantages to upgrading your data platform. You’ll be running your database workloads on an in support data platform, with a long support window. There will likely by new features in the latest and greatest version of SQL Server that you can use to add business value to your application – Availability Groups for example. Also you will likely find people with skills in the later technology, those skills will be more readily available in the jobs market.

There will likely be a different licensing model – the licensing model changed between SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2012 – it possible you will have to pay more for you SQL Server licences.

The third option is instead of doing nothing you pay for a custom support agreement. The main advantage here is you can continue to get security updates and therefore potentially remaining compliant. The main disadvantage of this approach is the cost involved, which is typically 75% of the full license costs of the latest version of SQL Server and Windows Server.

Migrate workload to Azure. Microsoft allow SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server R2 VMs running in Azure to have the security updates for free for a further 3 years. So you can migrate your database server to azure and continue to get security updates for free until 2022.

The main advantage of this is you get to keep running the same version of the OS and Data platform, the security updates are free so the cost is minimal \. The disadvantages is you would need to move off premises, if this is not an option for you then you can’t exercise this option and there will still be work in involved in ‘lifting and shifting’ the VM to the cloud.

Whatever you do when support ends for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 have a plan

Excel vulnerable

July 1st, 2019

Security researchers uncovered a serious vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.’s Excel that exposes around 120 million users to attack. Mimecast Services Ltd., identified that the vulnerability relates to how Power Query, a feature in Excel that is able to pull data from other sources, can be abused. A hacker is able to use Power Query to dynamically launch a remote Dynamic Data Exchange attack into an Excel spreadsheet to actively control the payload. The vulnerability can be exploited to launch hard-to-detect attacks that combine several attack surfaces, embed malicious content in a separate data source and even load the content into the spreadsheet when it is opened to compromise the user’s machine.

In November 2017 Microsoft published an advisory that included workarounds, including recommending users disable the DDE feature where it is not needed in order to block external data connections. The same advisory did note, however, that users would have to click through a number of security prompts for malicious code to be installed. There is legitimate concern over the vulnerability as the feature is turned on by default. It’s unclear whether organizations are following Microsoft’s earlier advice, and it seems unlikely that many organizations have disabled it.

There are currently no known cases of the vulnerability being exploited in the wild, although that could change now its details have been published. Microsoft has not published a fix for the vulnerability nor has it indicated that it is working on one, but with 120 million users at risk and now widespread attention, we strongly recommend all Microsoft Excel customers implement the workarounds suggested by Microsoft.

VMware on Azure

June 25th, 2019

VMware on Azure has been Globally Announced

While running VMs on-premises is often a good idea, running other types of VM workloads in the cloud offers significant advantages. Transform your VMware environment with Azure by:
• Lowering total cost of ownership
• Unlocking new application innovation with new hybrid scenarios
• Benefitting from a highly scalable, reliable, and global infrastructure
• Getting first-class, consistent support from a single vendor

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/vmw-to-azure/?wt.mc_id=AID736046_EML_6014358

Contact us 0097143365589

June 24th, 2019

Guides is a new solution that works with Microsoft applications based on HoloLens (and, increasingly, mobile and tablet devices) in mixed reality, in four core areas: remote assistance, training, collaborative visualization, and contextual data access, (‘your data in your space’.)

Guides, trains people on how to correctly work with assets in a real-world setting.

Guides can display 3D visuals, training materials, and interactive tasks through HoloLens. It is intended to train workers and measure their performance. It has the ability to capture and store data on their usage history via the Microsoft’s Common Data Service – or in other apps that consume CDS data like Dynamics 365 Field Service or Finance and Operations.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – end of life July 9, 2019 -ask Synergy Software Systems

June 23rd, 2019

Microsoft has previously announced that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will reach end of life on July 9, 2019.

This means that in less than a month, Microsoft will no longer release regular security updates for the product.

There are several reasons this is important to you.
• Attacks against software products of all types are common and ongoing. With Microsoft SQL being such a prevalent platform, attacks against it are ubiquitous, and it’s important to keep your database platform up-to-date with the latest Microsoft security patches.
• Many compliance requirements dictate that you must be running currently supported software.
• As Microsoft drops support for a product, many third-party applications may also discontinue support for their products running on those platforms.

So, if you are still running SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, then what are your options?

1.Upgrade to a newer version of SQL.
SQL 2019 is in preview release as of this writing, so the current production version of SQL Server is 2017. Its end of life will be October 12, 2027.
Evaluate your applications and databases to make sure they are compatible e.g. Dynamic Ax 2012 is not supported beyond SQL 2016

Plan a migration for either on-premises or cloud. A move to an Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, will not require you to upgrade in the future. By choosing this option, you will also gain access to new features which have appeared in the latest SQL Server versions. However, it only offers subset of SQL features so you need to be sure it will support your application and use.

2.Migrate to Azure to receive three more years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. If you need to stay on the same SQL code base for a bit longer, Microsoft will allow you to rehost your SQL 2008 environment in Azure and still provide you with security updates for an extended period. There is no extra cost for the extended updates beyond the standard Azure VM rates.

3.Purchase extended support. Microsoft allows customers with an active Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance subscription to purchase and receive three years of Extended Security Updates for SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. The annual outlay for the updates is 75% of the full license cost.

4.The least desirable option is to stay where you are and pray. If circumstances prevent you from moving forward now, then at minimum you should:
• Recognize and account for the risk;
•Plan and budget for a transition as soon as possible;
•Re-evaluate your security and tighten it as much as possible.

Microsoft provides guidance for handling the end of support of SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 at https://www.microsoft.com/2008-eos.

Of course, Synergy is ready to help you to evaluate and to progress to the next level. 0097143365589

If you are running newer versions of SQL Server, then here are their End-of-Life dates.
•SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022
•SQL Server 2014 – July 9, 2024
•SQL Server 2016 – July 14, 2026
•SQL Server 2017 – October 12, 2027