Creating hybrid cloud deployments with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud just got more compelling for customers interested in connecting to AWS’s new Canada (Central) Region. Cologix, a network neutral interconnection and data centre company, announced today the immediate availability of AWS Direct Connect cloud service in its Montreal data centres. As an AWS Direct Connect Partner, Cologix can offer customers secure and private connections to the AWS Cloud to improve performance and reduce costs compared to onramps via the public Internet.
This deployment with Cologix represents one of the first AWS Direct Connect locations in Montreal and will reside at Cologix’s flagship interconnection hub data centre at 1250 Rene Levesque, where more than 90 network service providers are available in the Meet-Me-Room. In addition to customers at 1250 Rene Leveque, customers across Cologix’s six other Montreal data centres will have access to the Direct Connect service via Cologix’s Metro Connect solution. Cologix also offers its New Jersey and Dallas data center customers network connectivity to AWS Direct Connect locations in the US East (Virginia) Region.
“The AWS Direct Connect node in Montreal represents a huge win for Canadian cloud customers interested in data sovereignty,,” notes Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO, Cologix. “We look forward to delivering in-market, low latency, highly secure connections to AWS that are easy to deploy.”
In an environment where choice offers the ability to evolve with dynamic market forces, Cologix’s Cloud Connect Platform provides more on-ramp solutions to public clouds, more physical connections to best-in-breed cloud service providers and access to more independent Internet exchanges than any other provider across its footprint.
One of the key problems in human-computer interactions is the ability of the computer to understand what a person wants, and to find the pieces of information that are relevant to their intent. For example, in a news-browsing app, you might say “Get news about virtual reality companies,” in which case there is the intention to FindNews, and “virtual reality companies” is the topic. LUIS is designed to enable you to very quickly deploy an http endpoint that will take the sentences you send it, and interpret them in terms of the intention they convey, and the key entities like “virtual reality companies” that are present. LUIS lets you custom design the set of intentions and entities that are relevant to the application, and then guides you through the process of building a language understanding system. According to Microsoft documentation for their Bot Framework,
“Microsoft’s Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) offers a fast and effective way of adding language understanding to applications. With LUIS, you can use pre-existing, world-class, pre-built models from Bing and Cortana whenever they suit your purposes – and when you need specialized models, LUIS guides you through the process of quickly building them.
Bot Builder lets you use LUIS to add natural language understanding to your bot via the LuisDialog class. You can add an instance of a LuisDialog that references your published language model and then add intent handlers to take actions in response to users utterances. To see LUIS in action watch the 10 minute tutorial.”
The Bot Builder SDK Chat Reference Library is here.
The Bot Framework FAQ is here.
Cognitive Services APIs are here.
Microsoft has released a PowerShell script called Net Cease that will harden machines against reconnaissance which is a key stage within the Advanced Attackers kill chain. According to details of the release on Microsoft TechNet, “once attackers have breached a single end-point, they need to discover their next targets within the victim’s corporate network, most notably privileged users.” Typically administrators will target Domain Controllers (DCs) to run the script.
“The NetCease script hardens the access to the NetSessionEnum method by removing the execute permission for Authenticated Users group and adding permissions for interactive, service and batch logon sessions. This will allow any administrator, system operator and power user to remotely call this method, and any interactive/service/batch logon session to call it locally.”
By default, NetSessionEnum method can be executed by any authenticated user, including network connected users, which effectively means that any domain user is able to execute it remotely.
Microsoft has announced the general availability of System Center 2016. Of note the new platform provides more focus on the cloud, “greater heterogeneity and cloud management with broader support for LAMP stack and VMware, including monitoring resources and services in Azure and Amazon Web Services.” Here’s more from the announcement,
“For a full listing of the new capabilities in this latest release of our core management platform, you can visit the System Center 2016 site and read the What’s New in System Center 2016whitepaper. You can also download the System Center 2016 evaluation and see it in action for yourself. Check out the updates to System Center Configuration Manager (version 1606) also released today.”
Microsoft also announced the general availability of Windows Server 2016 with a focus on hybrid cloud management.
“This release is just one of many reflecting our deep commitment to hybrid cloud. In our long-held view, hybrid cloud is the reality for all enterprise customers, even those with the most ambitious cloud plans. Some applications should and will move quickly to public cloud, while others face technological and regulatory obstacles. Regardless of where these applications run today or will run in the future, Windows Server 2016 provides a rich and secure platform.”
Microsoft has enabled portability to Azure Cloud Services with this latest release of Server 2016. “Windows Server 2016 also offers seamless portability across data center, private and public cloud environments via virtual machine and new container formats that can be reliably deployed wherever the business requires.”
Check to see if your applications are compatible with Windows Server 2016.
Watch Microsoft Ignite video sessions.
Microsoft AppSource is the place to get your new business up and running quickly. It’s also the place to get your existing business focused on cloud based technology. Microsoft AppSource launched in July 2016 and as Ron Huddleston explains that,
“as the responsibility for technology investments moves away from IT and into business units, [Microsoft is] seeing an explosion in the market for SaaS apps. Quick, powerful and cost-effective, SaaS apps allow companies to dial in exactly the functionality they need, without heavy investments in infrastructure or lengthy implementation cycles.”
AppSource is a great place for businesses of all sizes to download and trial new technologies enabling them to compete in the new global economy. It sounds like IT applications management could become less relevant in the coming years with Microsoft’s recent focus. My question is when these independent business units begin to encounter difficulties with these SaaS apps, who are they going to call? Ghostbusters? Nope – you guessed it – IT.
A news release from Accenture has some very good things to say about the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). By pairing man and machine together, Accenture Research predicts that annual economic growth rates will double by 2035.
“Artificial intelligence heralds dramatic potential for growth for both the economy and for humans,” said Mark Purdy, managing director – Economic Research, Accenture Institute for High Performance. “Our research strongly shows that AI can unleash remarkable benefits across countries, countering slow economic growth and lagging productivity. To fulfill the promise of AI, relevant stakeholders must be thoroughly prepared – intellectually, technologically, politically, ethically and socially – to address the benefits and challenges that can arise as artificial intelligence becomes more integrated in our daily lives.”
Accenture states that this man / machine pairing will give people more time to focus on the creative side of business which includes innovation.
Website, Fight for the Future is directing people to delete their Yahoo! accounts after it was found that the company had been redirecting all personal emails to the NSA for analysis. “This is an absolutely unprecedented privacy violation. Surveillance experts and former government officials are saying they have never seen such a broad demand for real-time digital surveillance, never mind one that calls for the creation of a new computer program. This program, essentially a wire-tap on the web, is beyond the scope of any of the already overreaching surveillance laws currently on the books.”
The original story broke via Reuters, which stated that, “[Yahoo!] complied with a classified U.S. government demand, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said three former employees and a fourth person apprised of the events.”
Personally this makes me a little suspicious of any email web service or social media site now. If Yahoo! complied perhaps Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have also complied with the NSA.
Niall C. Brady has a great site called windows-noob.com with tons of great Microsoft deployment tutorials. Now don’t let the name windows-noob.com fool you as there’s some very complex topics covered. Here’s some I’ve been referring to lately.
How to deploy Windows 10 Enterprise using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager. Niall discusses creating and deploying Windows 10 task sequences to workstations.
Niall has published a ton of System Center tutorials that cover a range of topics including:
- Deploying SCCM
- Deploying monthly updates
- Deploying applications
You can also find Niall on Twitter.
J. Decker at Microsoft Windows IT Center recently posted an article explaining the streamlined IT management of Windows 10 workstations and the concept of Windows as a Service. Some of the changes include:
- new features will be delivered to the Windows Insider community as soon as possible — during the development cycle, through a process called flighting — so that organizations can see exactly what Microsoft is developing and start their testing as soon as possible
- most Windows 7–compatible desktop applications will be compatible with Windows 10 straight out of the box. Windows 10 achieved such high compatibility because the changes in the existing Win32 application programming interfaces were minimal
- new hardware is not needed for Windows 10 as any device capable of running Windows 7 or later can run Windows 10
- there are two release types: feature updates that add new functionality two to three times per year, and quality updates that provide security and reliability fixes at least once a month
- the LTSB servicing model prevents Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB devices from receiving the usual feature updates and provides only quality updates to ensure that device security stays up to date.
Here’s a little more information about Quality Updates which will replace the Monthly Updates from previous versions of Windows.
“In Windows 10, rather than receiving several updates each month and trying to figure out which the organization needs, which ultimately causes platform fragmentation, administrators will see one cumulative monthly update that supersedes the previous month’s update, containing both security and nonsecurity fixes. This approach makes patching simpler and ensures that customers’ devices are more closely aligned with the testing done at Microsoft, reducing unexpected issues resulting from patching. The left side of Figure 1 provides an example of Windows 7 machines in an enterprise and what their current patch level might look like. On the right is what Microsoft’s test environment PCs contain. This drastic difference is the basis for many compatibility issues and system anomalies related to Windows updates.”
According to Ms. Decker, “[the] improvements focus on maximizing customer involvement in Windows development, simplifying the deployment and servicing of Windows client computers, and leveling out the resources needed to deploy and maintain Windows over time.”
You can read the full post here.
The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has released a bulletin with warnings for Network Infrastructure teams related to Cisco ASA devices. These network devices provide firewall and Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality and are often deployed at the edge of a network to protect a site’s network infrastructure, and to give remote users access to protected local resources.
In June 2016, NCCIC received several reports of compromised Cisco ASA devices that were modified in an unauthorized way. The ASA devices directed users to a location where malicious actors tried to socially engineer the users into divulging their credentials.
It is suspected that malicious actors leveraged CVE-2014-3393 to inject malicious code into the affected devices. The malicious actor would then be able to modify the contents of the Random Access Memory Filing System (RAMFS) cache file system and inject the malicious code into the appliance’s configuration. Refer to the Cisco Security Advisory Multiple Vulnerabilities in Cisco ASA Software (link is external)for more information and for remediation details.
US-CERT goes on to explain that Cisco released an update to address an SNMP vulnerability (CVE-2016-6366).
You can read the full bulletin here.
There’s plans in the works to create a tech corridor between Seattle and Vancouver. A report from the New York Times found ideas being thrown around for a dedicated lane for self-driving vehicles.
“A group of Seattle techies proposed … a dedicated lane for autonomous vehicles on Interstate 5, the highway connecting Seattle to the Canadian border. The plan — which relies on autonomous vehicles that still need a lot of work — would not shave much time off the commute between the cities, but could make the ride less tedious by letting travelers work or watch a movie, said Tom Alberg, a managing director at Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle venture capital firm, and an author of the proposal.”
Other ideas may include a high speed rail line. It was stated in the report that the housing costs in Vancouver are higher than San Francisco while the average tech Salary in Vancouver at $49,000 is about half the salary paid in San Francisco.
Microsoft announced some updates to Skype for Business this week. According to a blog post from Gurdeep Singh Pall at Microsoft Office Blogs there is a big focus on Mac integration.
“… the new Skype for Business for Mac will be available in October. The new client has been written from the ground up using the modern Mac programming language, Swift. It provides high-definition audio and video, in addition to features like one-click join for meetings and edge-to-edge video and desktop sharing to make full use of a screen.”
Gurdeep goes on to explain how Skype for Business calls on iOS will work exactly like any other cellular call on an iPhone.
“As part of our efforts to build deeper native integration on iOS and Android, we’re also pleased to be rolling out enhancements to the Skype for Business experience on iPhone staring in October. Using the Apple CallKit framework, Skype for Business calls now work just like a cellular call on your iPhone. You can accept a call via the lock screen or put a Skype for Business call on hold to take a cellular phone call—it works just like a phone. Both clients deliver a first-class Skype for Business experience to Mac and iOS users.”
Read the full article here.