Archive for the ‘SharePoint and EPM’ category

Microsoft Ignite agenda insights to the future road map

August 14th, 2018

Microsoft recently published the session list for its annual Ignite IT Pro conference happening at the end of the September. Alook at the topcis gives a clue to its roadmap. There sessionson on the next version of SQL Server. Surface Hub 2 and Surface Go with LTE, Intune and Windows Autopilot, Windows Server 2019. New Remote Desktop services.

Last year, Microsoft used Ignite to highlight AI, intelligent edge and its futuristic quantum-computing technologies but overall the listed sessions, look more down to earth. There are two mixed-reality sessions — including “Visio Immersive,” Almost 100 listed sessions touch on AI . At Inspire Microsoft told partners the “AI Accelerate Kit”would be coming in October and include AI use cases, best practices and “Ethical AI” guidance so that seems lilley to be included.

At Ignite Microsoft will again focus on Microsoft 365,- the bundle of Windows 10, Office 365 and Intune security/management technologies.

Expect to a lot of Dynamics 365 CRM and ERP content — because October is when the next feature update will arrive for the suite of Dynamics products.

There seems to be more developer content: . ASP.NET, Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio 2017, Node.js, and sessions on linux and Docket containers, Progressive Web Apps and MSIX, the new Windows 10 application-packaging technology Microsoft is rolling out.

There are 115 sessions listed for SQL Server /Azure SQL. Mayeb we will get an insight into the successor to SQL Server 2017 — codenamed “Aris,” which is currently in private Community Technology Preview testing.

Microsoft wil lalso show the new the Surface Hub 2 and Surface Go.

Expect Windows Server 2019, Microsoft’s next major release of Windows Server, to be a hot topic -it’s due to start roll out before year end.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ignite

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ignite/faq

September 24–28, 2018 | Orlando, Florida

SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU2, SP1 CU10

July 18th, 2018

Fixes and improvements:
• DAG improvement – automatically seed replicas – when you add a database to an existing AG, SQL Server can automatically seed it across the secondary replicas. .
• AGs – configurable session_timeouts
• AGs – slow transactions with 1 sync and 1 async secondary
• AGs – on cross-data-center AG failover, you get a non-yielding scheduler and a crash
• AGs – queries on secondary take twice as long
• AGs – VSS backups fail on secondary replicas in a Basic Availability Group (which technically you’re not supposed to do, but you can still back up the entire secondary VM, and that’s where the problem looks like it’s coming in)
• AGs – fixing error 19432 for duplicate log blocks
• Log shipping – add support for Transparent Data Encryption by configuring MAXTRANSFERSIZE.
• Dynamic data masking doesn’t
• SSAS crashes when Process Full follows Process Clear –“you will notice that the SSAS may crash.” .
• Memory dump when you merge partitioned temporal tables .
• Stats updates can get a “corrupted index” message and a disconnect
• Assertion error when you add a database
• Slow performance when Query Store is enabled
• Non-yielding schedulers require a reboot – not the most informative KB article ever. “Assume that you have a Microsoft SQL Server 2016 installed.” .

See KB articles for more information . Download SQL 2016 SP2 CU2 and/or SP1 CU10.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4341569/cumulative-update-10-for-sql-server-2016-sp1

End of life for SQL 2008 and 2008 r2 is only a year away

July 14th, 2018

On July 9, 2019, Microsoft will end Extended Support, for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2hich means no more updates or support of any kind, potentially leaving you vulnerable to security and compliance issues.
Some considerations:
That is only a year away. So time to start planning and to get it into your 2019 budget.
What applications are affected? With what new SQL version are they compatible?
Will you need to rebuy licenses? The SQL license cost is now core based and it might prove lot higher than last time so take the time to consider all options.
Should any of your applications move to the cloud?
Should you also look at upgrades to Hardware? Windows, Office, Exchange, or Business finance/erp systems in conjunction with SQL?
Is now the time to review your security solutions?
Are you going to expand, or implement heavy new processes like consolidation, budgeting, BI in then next 2-3 years?
Is your mobile network growing?

There are major enhancements at QL 2016 sp1 so we recommend you should not consider any version lower than that. By next year SQL 2017 will also have settled down.

To discuss options callus o 0097143365589

Sharepoint Updates

July 8th, 2018

Idle-Session Timeout Policy
The general availability release of the new Idle-Session Timeout Policy feature, will help businesses to avoid the risk of data leaks and theft.

When devices are left unattended or are shared among multiple users organizations can set timeout thresholds to automatically sign out users when SharePoint Online remains inactive. The Idle-Session Timeout Policy feature is available for both SharePoint Online and OneDrive, ,
Companies that use SharePoint Online tend to keep some sensitive information on the collaboration platform.

Bill Baer, Senior Technical Product Marketing Manager for SharePoint at Microsoft, in a July 2 announcement said:. “Idle session timeout provides [a way for] an Office 365 administrator to configure a threshold at which a user is warned and subsequently signed out of SharePoint or OneDrive after a period of inactivity.”

SharePoint Migration Tool-compatible cmdlets
Administrators can migrating from on-premise to the cloud can now use PowerShell “cmdlets”, or single-function commands, to create, start and add tasks to a migration session, among other actions. The complete list of new SharePoint Migration Tool-compatible cmdlets is available in the online support document.

Page Diagnostics Tool for SharePoint.
SharePoint content renders well on PCs, smartphones and tablets, but some legacy pages can give problems. The Page Diagnostics Tool for SharePoint runs older pages through a set of baseline rules, and e.g. checks for large image sizes, alerts users when it encounters an issue, and points them to a support page to help solve the issue. The Chrome browser extension helps users get to the bottom of performance problems affecting Classic SharePoint pages hosted in SharePoint Online.

SharePoint 2019 – coming soon ask Synergy Software Systems

July 1st, 2018

Microsoft recently announced SharePoint 2019 with lots of new features and capabilities, which are backed by Azure and Artificial Intelligence.

With the release of SharePoint 2019, the new platform provides features from the SharePoint Online world to on-premises users. SharePoint 2019 supports powerful, integrated hybrid scenarios out-of-the-box, and delivers user interface improvements: modern team sites, communication sites, list and libraries, pages, and news.

the SharePoint Framework eliminates major differences between sites on-premises and in Office 365.

The new SharePoint migration tool supports automated migration using PowerShell.

Any device: SharePoint 2019 helps ensure that you have access to the information regardless of the screen by which you access.

Navigation: The SharePoint 2019 navigation model aligns with Office 365.

New sites: Compelling communication and collaboration experiences for both cloud and on-premises.
- Communication Sites, Team News and modern Team Sites to include lists and libraries with broader data mobility. Use the Next Generation Sync Client support for reliable access to documents anywhere, anytime.

Business process improvements: With InfoPath for customising forms, Microsoft added PowerApps and Flow in the cloud. In SharePoint 2019, Microsoft has further improved support for building business processes with PowerApps and Flow.

SharePoint Home: A user can visit SharePoint Home and find all relevant sites or news in one place. Users in SharePoint 2019 will also be able to utilise this feature.

Prepare for cloud: SharePoint 2019, provides for improved hybrid scenarios and support.

Developers: Microsoft rolled out the SharePoint Framework capabilities from SharePoint 2016 via updates. In SharePoint 2019, expect to have SharePoint Framework web parts and extensions available to enable developers to build solutions aligned with a cloud model. This is the recommended path- especially if you are planning to take the road to the cloud soon.

Availability: SharePoint 2019 will be generally available in the second half of 2018. The new Office 2019 contains the well-known Office apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as the Office server products such as Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business. Previews of the new products will start shipping mid-year 2018, the final release will be late 2018.

The SharePoint Server 2019 on-premises version is built on the foundational release of SharePoint Server 2016. The goal is to bring you closer to the cloud and the cloud closer to you.

What you can expect from SharePoint Server 2019 on-premises:
• NextGen OneDrive Sync Client, no support for SharePoint 2016
• PowerApps integration
• Team News and Communication sites, but no Hub Sites
• Modern UI
• InfoPath is still supported

Apply for the SharePoint Server on-premises TAP: https://aka.ms/sptap (Code: SPT232)

“Meltdown” and “Spectre and azure.”

February 10th, 2018

Last month as reported on this blog, Intel revealed two critical vulnerabilities they found in Intel chips. These vulnerabilities allow cyber-attackers to steal data from the memory of running apps. This data can include passwords, emails, photos, or documents. Intel dubbed these as: “Meltdown” and “Spectre.”

Microsoft released a patch for Azure the very next day. Just as well because Microsoft Azure is a shared-computing environment by default. One server hosts applications and development of applications, and various Virtual Machines tap into the server to allow employees to and others to access these applications. As such, the Meltdown vulnerability allows an attacker to compromise the host and read all the data from every operating system tapping into it. Around 3-10 million physical servers host Azure, and these servers in turn host tens of millions of Virtual Machines. So impressively Microsoft developed deployed a patch for these vulnerabilities in less than a week’s time. Azure is a cloud-based application and so Microsoft could focus their security team to work on the cloud servers and only the cloud servers. This way, these millions of servers and users had a patch and all applications hosted on the Azure cloud-platform were immediately protected.

A good business case example for business to move to Azure cloud services.

Malware developers are still out there. German antivirus testing firm AV-Test reported 139 samples of malware trying to attack the Meltdown vulnerability in January to exploit those who have not patched.

Microsoft patched their cloud servers, but non-Azure users (as well as all Windows users, period) still need to apply their operating system patches to ensure complete protection. This is one vulnerability you definitely don’t want cyber-attackers to exploit, whether it’s your personal computer or your business’s server.

SQL version – when should you upgrade – ask your Dynamics U.A.E. Partner, Synergy Software Systems

December 23rd, 2017

SQL Server for many years on a two-year release cycle. SQL Server 2017 arrived less than 18 months after SQL Server 2016 became available.

Since 2005 each release of SQL Server brings exciting new features and improvements to existing capabilities. Many organizations are running instances that are several versions of SQL Server behind.

To keep up with the latest SQL Server versions is a challenge, but risks losing mainstream support and missing out on beneficial features. Often database administrators must support multiple versions at once, and consultants face an even greater range of versions across their customers.

Microsoft has not committed to any specific release cadence for ersions of SQL Server. Many clients it seems are still running SQL Server 2008 R2. One reason why companies are hesitant to make the move off 2008 R2 is because of the change to per core licensing. The effort to test and to upgrade is discouraging, but it is best to do this on a planned basis than a reaction to a crisis..

It was a painful experience to upgrade from SQL Server 2000, but the compatibility gap between versions is much narrower once past 2005. To make upgrading easier, provides a tool called The Upgrade Advisor for each new version that will spot issues and provide a chance to resolve them before starting the upgrade process. Virtualization also makes setting up testing environments much simpler and quicker.

With each new version there are enhancements to T-SQL, improved availability and disaster recovery functionality, more security options, and additional ways to get better performance. 2016 service pack 1, was a game change – many previously Enterprise only features were ported down to more affordable editions.

Another consideration is support. It doesn’t take long to reach the end of mainstream support. SQL Server 2008 R2, for example, has been out of mainstream support since 2014. While it’s still in extended support, which will ensure security hotfixes, other support features are available only on a paid basis.

When you look at erp upgrades it makes sense to also review your SQL upgrade plans.

Inside a Microsoft cloud data centre with Synergy Software Systems

November 22nd, 2017

Get the reach and local presence you need with Microsoft’s global datacenters – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/regions/ Azure is generally available in 36 regions around the world, with plans announced for 6 additional regions.

Go beyond the limits of your on-premises datacenter using the scalable, reliable infrastructure that powers the Microsoft Cloud.

Transform your business and reduce maintenance costs with an energy-efficient infrastructure spanning more than 100 highly secure facilities worldwide, linked by one of the largest networks on earth.

The engine that powers Microsoft’s cloud services, the is designed to support smart growth, high reliability, operational excellence, cost-effectiveness, environmental sustainability, and a trustworthy online experience for customers and partners worldwide.

Microsoft deliver the core infrastructure and foundational technologies for Microsoft’s over numerous online businesses including: Dynamics 365, Power Bi, Cortana analytics, IoT, Bing, MSN, Office 365, Xbox Live, Skype, OneDrive and the Windows Azure platform.

The infrastructure is comprised of a large global portfolio of more than 100 datacenters and 1 million servers, content distribution networks, edge computing nodes, and fiber optic networks.

The portfolio is built and managed by a team of subject matter experts working 24x7x365 to support services for more than 1 billion customers and 20 million businesses in over 90 countries worldwide

Those are 2014 figures and the Microsoft cloud has expanded greatly since then for example the acquisition of Linked in and the launch of Dynamics 365.

To help you comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of individuals’ data, Microsoft offers the most comprehensive set of compliance offerings of any cloud service provider. Microsoft business cloud services operate with a cloud control framework, which aligns controls with multiple regulatory standards (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/trustcenter/guidance/risk-assessment#Audit-reports)

Argentina PDPA – Microsoft has implemented the security measures in the Argentina Personal Data Protection Act.

BIR 2012 – Agencies operating in the Netherlands government sector must comply with the Baseline Informatiebeveiliging Rijksdienst standard.

Canadian Privacy Laws – Microsoft contractually commits to implementing security that helps protect individuals’ privacy.

CCSL (IRAP) – Microsoft is accredited for the Australian Certified Cloud Services List based on an IRAP assessment.

CDSA – Azure is certified to the Content Delivery and Security Assoc. Content Protection and Security standard.

China DJCP – Azure and Office 365 operated by 21Vianet are rated at Level 3 for information security protection.

China GB 18030 – Azure and Office 365 operated by 21Vianet are certified as compliant with the Chinese character standard.

China TRUCS – Azure and Office 365 operated by 21Vianet obtained Trusted Cloud Service certification.

CJIS – Microsoft government cloud services adhere to the US Criminal Justice Information Services Security Policy.

CS Mark (Gold) – Microsoft received the CS Gold Mark in Japan for Azure (IaaS and PaaS) and Office 365 (SaaS).

CSA STAR Attestation -Azure and Intune were awarded Cloud Security Alliance STAR Attestation based on an independent audit.

CSA STAR Certification – Azure, Intune, and Power BI were awarded Cloud Security Alliance STAR Certification at the Gold level.

CSA STAR Self-Assessment – Microsoft STAR Self-Assessment details how cloud services fulfill Cloud Security Alliance requirements.

DFARS – Microsoft Azure Government supports Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation (DFARS) requirements.

DoD – Microsoft received Department of Defense (DoD) Provisional Authorizations at Impact Levels 5, 4, and 2.

EN 301 549 – Microsoft meets EU accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services.

ENISA IAF – Azure aligns with the ENISA framework requirements through the CSA CCM version 3.0.1.

EU Model Clauses – Microsoft offers EU Standard Contractual Clauses, guarantees for transfers of personal data.

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield – Microsoft complies with this framework for protecting personal data transferred from the EU to the US.

FACT – Microsoft Azure achieved certification from the Federation Against Copyright Theft in the UK.

FDA CFR Title 21 Part 11 – Microsoft helps customers comply with these US Food and Drug Administration regulations.

FedRAMP – Microsoft was granted US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program P-ATOs and ATOs.

FERPA – Microsoft aligns with the requirements of the US Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

FIPS 140-2 – Microsoft certifies that its cryptographic modules comply with the US Federal Info Processing Standard.

FISC – Microsoft meets the requirements of the Financial Industry Information Systems v8 standard in Japan.

GxP – Microsoft cloud services adhere to Good Clinical, Laboratory, and Manufacturing Practices (GxP).

HIPAA/HITECH – Microsoft offers Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).

HITRUST – Azure is certified to the Health Information Trust Alliance Common Security Framework.

IRS 1075 – Microsoft has controls that meet the requirements of US Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075.

ISO 9001 – Microsoft is certified for its implementation of these quality management standards.

ISO 20000-1:2011 – Microsoft is certified for its implementation of these service management standards.

ISO 22301 – Microsoft is certified for its implementation of these business continuity management standards.

ISO 27001 – Microsoft is certified for its implementation of these information security management standards.

ISO 27017 – Microsoft cloud services have implemented this Code of Practice for Information Security Controls.

ISO 27018 – Microsoft was the first cloud provider to adhere to this code of practice for cloud privacy.

IT Grundschutz Compliance Workbook – Azure Germany published this Workbook to help our clients achieve IT Grundschutz certification.

ITAR – Azure Government supports customers building US International Traffic in Arms Regs-capable systems.

MARS-E – Microsoft complies with the US Minimum Acceptable Risk Standards for Exchanges (MARS-E).

MeitY – The Ministry of Electronics and Info Technology in India awarded Microsoft a Provisional Accreditation.

MPAA – Azure successfully completed a formal assessment by the Motion Picture Association of America.

MTCS – Microsoft received certification for the Multi-Tier Cloud Security Standard for Singapore.

My Number (Japan) – Microsoft does not have standing access to My Number data, a number unique to each resident of Japan.

NEN 7510:2011 – Organizations in the Netherlands must demonstrate control over patient health data in accordance with the NEN 7510 standard.

NHS IG Toolkit – Azure is certified to the Health Information Trust Alliance Common Security Framework.

NIST 800-171 – Microsoft DoD certifications address and exceed US NIST 800-171 security requirements.

NIST CSF – Microsoft Cloud Services meet the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)

NZ CC Framework – Microsoft NZ addresses the questions published in the New Zealand cloud computing framework.

PCI DSS – Azure complies with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards Level 1 version 3.1.

Section 508 – Microsoft cloud services offer Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates.

Shared Assessments – Microsoft demonstrates alignment of Azure with this program through the CSA CCM version 3.0.1.

SOC 1- Microsoft cloud services comply with Service Organization Controls standards for operational security.

SOC 2 – Microsoft cloud services comply with Service Organization Controls standards for operational security.

SOC 3 – Microsoft cloud services comply with Service Organization Controls standards for operational security.

Spain ENS – Microsoft received Spain’s Esquema Nacional de Seguridad (National Security Framework) certification.

UK Cyber Essentials PLUS – Cyber Essentials PLUS is a UK government-defined scheme to help organizations protect against common cyber-security threats.

UK G-Cloud – The Crown Commercial Service renewed the Microsoft cloud services classification to Government Cloud v6.

WCAG 2.0 – Microsoft cloud services comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 4 (SP4) is available

October 16th, 2017

SQL Server 2012 Service Packs, Service Pack 4 (SP4). This release of SQL 2012 Service Pack has 20+ improvements centered around performance, scalability and diagnostics to enable SQL Server 2012 to perform faster and scale out of the box on modern hardware design.

SQL Server 2012 SP4 includes all the fixes up to and including SQL Server 2012 SP3 CU10

Security security security

September 26th, 2017

You never know when some item that queries or alters data in SQL Server will cause issues.

Bruce Schneier recently commented on FaceID and Bluetooth security, the latter of which has a vulnerability issue. I was amazed to see his piece on infrared camera hacking. A POC on using light to jump air gaps is truly frightening. It seems that truly anywhere that we are processing data, we need to be thinking (see https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/09/attackers-can-use-surveillance-cameras-to-grab-data-from-air-gapped-networks/)

Airborne attacks, unfortunately, provide a number of opportunities for the attacker. First, spreading through the air renders the attack much more contagious, and allows it to spread with minimum effort. Second, it allows the attack to bypass current security measures and remain undetected, as traditional methods do not protect from airborne threats. Airborne attacks can also allow hackers to penetrate secure internal networks which are “air gapped,” meaning they are disconnected from any other network for protection. This can endanger industrial systems, government agencies, and critical infrastructure. With BlueBorne, attackers can gain full control right from the start. Moreover, Bluetooth offers a wider attacker surface than WiFi, almost entirely unexplored by the research community and hence contains far more vulnerabilities

Finally, unlike traditional malware or attacks, the user does not have to click on a link or download a questionable file. No action by the user is necessary to enable the attack.

Fully patched Windows and iOS systems are protected

– the Equifax breach for example must worry everyone who has ever had credit in the USA. (Hackers broke into Equifax’s computer systems in March, which is two months earlier than the company had previously disclosed, according to a Wall Street Journal report.)

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. In a statement posted on the SEC’s website, Chairman Jay Clayton said a review of the agency’s cybersecurity risk profile determined that the previously detected “incident” was caused by “a software vulnerability” in its EDGAR filing system (which processes over 1.7 million electronic filings in any given year.) The agency also discovered instances in which its personnel used private, unsecured email accounts to transmit confidential information.

So let me suggest take a good look at your systems and be honest – do you feel safe?

Microsoft has released Microsoft 365, a complete, intelligent solution, including Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, that empowers everyone to be creative and work together, securely. Watch Satya introduce it.

What about your websites?
Although acts of vandalism such as defacing corporate websites are still commonplace, hackers prefer to gain access to the sensitive data residing on the database server and then to sell the data.

The costs of not giving due attention to your web security are extensive and apart form direct financial burden and inconvenience also risks:
• Loss of customer confidence, trust and reputation with the consequent harm to brand equity
• Negative impact on revenues and profits arising e.g. from falsified transactions, or from
employee downtime
• Website downtime – is in effect the closure of one of the most important sales and marketing channels
especially for an e-business
• Legal battles and related implications from Web application attacks and poor security
measures including fines and damages to be paid to victims.

Web Security Weaknesses
Hackers will attempt to gain access to your database server through any way they can e.g. out of date protocols on a router. Two main targets are :
• Web and database servers.
• Web applications.

Information about such exploits are readily available on the Internet, and many have been reported on this blog previously.

Web Security Scanning
So no surprise that Web security should contain two important components: web and database server security, and web application security.

Addressing web application security is as critical as addressing server security.

Firewalls and similar intrusion detection mechanisms provide little defense against full-scale web
attacks.
Since your website needs to be public, security mechanisms allow public web traffic to
communicate with your web and databases servers (i.e. over port 80).

It is of paramount importance to scan the security of these web assets on the network for possible vulnerabilities. For example, modern database systems (e.g. Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL) may be
accessed through specific ports and so anyone can attempt direct connections to the databases to try and bypass the security mechanisms used by the operating system. These ports remain open to allow communication with legitimate traffic and therefore constitute a major vulnerability.

Other weaknesses relate to the database application itself and the use of weak or default passwords by
administrators. Vendors patch their products regularly, and equally regularly find new ways of
attack.

75% of cyber attacks target weaknesses within web applications rather than directly at the
servers. Hackers launch web application attacks on port 80 . Web applications are more open to uncovered vulnerabilities since these are generally custom-built and therefore pass through a lesser degree of
testing than off-the-shelf software.

Some hackers, for example, maliciously inject code within vulnerable web applications to trick users
and redirect them towards phishing sites. This technique is called Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and may
be used even though the web and database servers contain no vulnerability themselves.

Hence, any web security audit must answer the questions “which elements of our network
infrastructure are open to hack attacks?”,
“which parts of a website are open to hack attacks?”, and “what data can we throw at an application to cause it to perform something it shouldn’t do?”

Ask us about Acunetix and Web Security
Acunetix ensures web site security by automatically checking for SQL Injection, Cross Site Scripting,
and other vulnerabilities. It checks password strength on authentication pages and automatically
audits shopping carts, forms, dynamic content and other web applications. As the scan is being
completed, the software produces detailed reports that pinpoint where vulnerabilities exist

SQL Server 2014 SP2 CU7

September 3rd, 2017

The 7th cumulative update release for SQL Server 2014 SP2 is available for download at the Microsoft Downloads site.
Registration is no longer required to download Cumulative updates.

• CU#7 KB Article: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4032541/cumulative-update-7-for-sql-server-2014-sp2
• Microsoft® SQL Server® 2014 SP2 Latest Cumulative Update: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=53592
• Update Center for Microsoft SQL Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/sqlserver/ff803383.aspx

GDPR Affects All European Businesses – What about the G.C.C. and U.A.E.?

August 19th, 2017

See our previous article on this topic for why your company may be affected if you are a branch of a European company, or have branches in Europe, or trade with a European company.

From May 25, 2018, companies with business operations inside the European Union must follow the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to safeguard how they process personal data “wholly or partly by automated means and to the processing other than by automated means of personal data which form part of a filing system or are intended to form part of a filing system.”

The penalties set for breaches of GDPR are up to 4% of a company’s annual global turnover.
For large companies like Microsoft that have operations within the EU, making sure that IT systems do not contravene GDPR is critical. As we saw on August 3, even the largest software operations like Office 365 can have a data breach.

Many applications can store data that might come under the scope of GDPR. the regulation has a considerable influence over how tenants deal with personal data. The definition of personal data is “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.”
GDPR goes on to define processing of personal data to be “any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.”

That means that individuals have the right to ask companies to tell them what of their personal data a company holds, and to correct errors in their personal data, or to erase that data completely.

Companies therefore need to:
- review and know what personal data they hold,
- make sure that they obtain consents from people to store that data,
– protect the data,
- and notify authorities when data breaches occur.

On first reading, this might sound like what companies do – or at least try to do – today. The difference lies in the strength of the regulation and the weight of the penalties should anything go wrong.

GDPR deserves your attention.

The definitions used by GDPR are broad. To move from the theoretical to the real world an organization first needs to understand what personal data it currently holds for its business operations, and where they use the data within software applications.

It is easy to hold personal information outside of business applications like finance and erp and crm e.g. inside Office 365 applications, including:
• Annual reviews written about employees stored in a SharePoint or OneDrive for Business site.
• A list of applicants for a position in an Excel worksheet attached to an email message.
• Tables holding data (names, employee numbers, hire dates, salaries) about employees in SharePoint sites.
• Outlook contacts, and emails. Skype business,
• Social media sites
• Loyalty programmes
• T@A systems
• E commerce sites
• Mobile apps e.g. What’s App

Other examples might include contract documentation, project files that includes someone’s personal information, and so on.

What backups do you have of the customer’s data?
What business data do your staff hold on BYOD devices e.g. in What’s App?

Data Governance Helps
Fortunately, the work done inside Office 365 in the areas of data governance and compliance help tenants to satisfy the requirements of GDPR. These features include:
• Classification labels and policies to mark content that holds personal data.
• Auto-label policies to find and classify personal data as defined by GDPR. Retention processing can then remove items stamped with the GDPR label from mailboxes and sites after a defined period, perhaps after going through a manual disposition process.
• Content searches to find personal data marked as coming under the scope of GDPR.
• Alert policies to detect actions that might be violations of the GDPR such as someone downloading multiple documents over a brief period from a SharePoint site that holds confidential documentation.
• Searches of the Office 365 audit log to discover and report potential GDPR issues.
• Azure Information Protection labels to encrypt documents and spreadsheets holding personal data by applying RMS templates so that unauthorized parties cannot read the documents even if they leak outside the organization.

Technology that exists today within Office 365 that can help with GDPR.

Classification Labels
Create a classification label to mark personal data coming under the scope of GDPR and then apply that label to relevant content. When you have Office 365 E5 licenses, create an auto-label policy to stamp the label on content in Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business found because documents and messages hold sensitive data types known to Office 365.

GDPR sensitive data types

Select from the set of sensitive data types available in Office 365.
The set is growing steadily as Microsoft adds new definitions.
At the time of writing, 82 types are available, 31 of which are obvious candidates to use in a policy because those are for sensitive data types such as country-specific identity cards or passports.

Figure 1: Selecting personal data types for an auto-label policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

GDPR Policy

The screenshot in Figure 2 shows a set of sensitive data types selected for the policy. The policy applies a label called “GDPR personal data” to any content found in the selected locations that matches any of the 31 data types.

Auto-apply policies can cover all Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint and OneDrive for Business sites in a tenant – or a selected sub-set of these locations.


Figure 2: The full set of personal data types for a GDPR policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

Use classification labels to mark GDPR content so that you can search for this content using the ComplianceTag keyword (for instance, ComplianceTag:”GDPR personal data”).

Caveats:
It may take 1-2 week before auto-label policies apply to all locations.
An auto-label policy will not overwrite a label that already exists on an item.

A problem is that classification labels only cover some of Office 365. Some examples of popular applications where you cannot yet use labels are:
• Teams.
• Planner.
• Yammer.

Microsoft plans to expand the Office 365 data governance framework to other locations (applications) over time.
Master data management
What about all the applications running on SQL or other databases?
Master Data Management MDM is a feature of SQL since SQL 2012. However, when you have many data sources then you are relay into an ETL process and even with MDM tools the work is still significant.

If you have extensive requirements then ask us about Profisee our specialist, productized MDM solution built on top of SQL MDM that allows you to do much of the work by configuration.

Right of Erasure
Finding GDPR data is only part of the problem. Article 17 of GDPR (the “right of erasure”), says: “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay.” In other words, someone has the right to demand that an organization should erase any of their personal data that exists within the company’s records.

Content searches can find information about someone using their name, employee number, or other identifiers as search keywords, but erasing the information is something that probably also needs manual processing to ensure that the tenant removes the right data, and only that data.

You can find and remove documents and other items that hold someone’s name or other identifier belonging to them by using tools such as Exchange’s v Search-Mailbox cmdlet, or Office 365 content searches.
What if the the data ahs to be retained because the company needs to keep items for regulatory or legal purposes, can you then go ahead and remove the items?
The purpose of placing content on-hold is to ensure that no-one, including administrators, can remove that information from Exchange or SharePoint.

The GDPR requirement to erase data on request means that administrators might have to release holds placed on Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business locations to remove the specified data. Once you release a hold, you weaken the argument that held data is immutable. The danger exists that background processes or users can then either remove or edit previously-held data and so undermine a company’s data governance strategy.

The strict reading of GDPR is that organizations must process requests to erase personal data upon request.
What if the company needs to keep some of the data to satisfy regulations governing financial transactions, taxation, employment claims, or other interactions? This is a dilemma for IT. Lawyers will undoubtedly have to interpret requests and understand the consequences before making decisions and it is likely that judges will have to decide some test cases in different jurisdictions before full clarity exists.

Hybrid is even More Difficult

Microsoft is working to help Office 365 tenants with GDPR. However, I don’t see the same effort going to help on-premises customers. Some documentation exists to deal with certain circumstances (like how to remove messages held in Recoverable Items), but it seems that on-premises customers have to figure out a lot things for themselves.

This is understandable. Each on-premises deployment differs slightly and exists inside specific IT environments. Compared to the certainty of Office 365, developing software for on-premises deployment must accommodate the vertical and company specific requirements with integrations and bespoke developments.

On-premises software is more flexible, but it is also more complicated.
Solutions to help on-premises customers deal with GDPR are more of a challenge than Microsoft or other software vendors wants to take on especially given the industry focus of moving everything to the cloud.

Solutions like auto-label policies are unavailable for on-premises servers. Those running on-premises SharePoint and Exchange systems must find their own ways to help the businesses that they serve deal with personal data in a manner that respects GDPR. Easier said than done and needs to start sooner than later.

SharePoint Online GitHub Hub

If you work with SharePoint Online, you might be interested in the SharePoint GDPR Activity Hub. At present, work is only starting, but it is a nway to share information and code with similarly-liked people.

ISV Initiatives

There many ISV-sponsored white papers on GDPR and how their technology can help companies cope with the new regulations. There is no doubt that these white papers are valuable, if only for the introduction and commentary by experts that the papers usually feature. But before you resort to an expensive investment, ask yourself whether the functionality available in Office 365 or SQL is enough.

Technology Only Part of the Solution

GDPR will effect Office 365 because it will make any organization operating in the European Union aware of new responsibilities to protect personal data. Deploy Office 365 features to support users in their work, but do not expect Office 365 to be a silver bullet for GDPR. Technology seldom solves problems on its own. The nature of regulations like GDPR is that training and preparation are as important if not more important than technology to ensure that users recognize and properly deal with personal data in their day-to-day activities.

Docs.com – New Microsoft documentation portal

August 6th, 2017

Microsoft Corporation has provisioned a new portal for all their application/framework documentation and are also placing the ability to add to that content.

The new docs.microsoft.com rolled out recently for their documentation for each of the following topic groups arranged by product line/focus:
• SQL
• Windows
• Microsoft Azure
• Visual Studio
• Office
• .NET
• ASP.NET
• Dynamics 365
• Enterprise Mobility + Security
• nuget
• Xamarin

So no longer navigate to msdn.microsoft.com. The central portal leads to additional functionality and information sharing not previously offered.

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

Azure infographic

April 3rd, 2017

What can you do on the azure cloud?
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