Tech Giants join Microsoft’s fight for privacy

by Shijaz Abdulla on 17.12.2014 at 08:40

The below is quoted from an article on MSN News.

Microsoft is getting some reinforcements in its battle with the Justice Department over access to emails stored on servers overseas.

Verizon, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Cisco, eBay, HP, Infor, Salesforce, and Rackspace on Monday all signed on to legal briefs urging a federal appeals court to throw out the Justice Department’s warrant. The companies argued that U.S. prosecutors have no authority to seize the emails, which are stored in Ireland.

Business associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and BSA-the Software Alliance and civil liberties groups including the Center for Democracy & Technology, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation also filed briefs supporting Microsoft. CNN, ABC, Fox News, the Washington Post, and other media outlets also sided with Microsoft in legal briefs.

Since the Snowden leaks last year revealed the vast scope of U.S. surveillance, tech companies have been struggling to convince foreign customers that their information can be kept private.

One brief from Verizon and other companies warned that if the warrant against Microsoft is enforced, it would damage U.S. businesses, violate international agreements, and potentially lead other countries to retaliate by seizing private information of Americans.

"Collectively these briefs make one conclusion unmistakably clear. This case involves not a narrow legal question, but a broad policy issue that is fundamental to the future of global technology," Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote in a blog post applauding the other companies and groups for filing their briefs.

The Justice Department has claimed that any company with operations in the U.S. has to comply with search warrants, even if the actual data is in another country. Microsoft argues that the U.S. has to work through a legal treaty with Ireland to get access to the information. The details of the case are secret.

In July, a federal judge in New York agreed with the government and ordered Microsoft to turn over the emails. Microsoft has now appealed that ruling to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

AT&T and some of the other companies had already weighed in on Microsoft’s side when its case was at the district court level. Smith said that the additional companies and organizations who filed briefs Monday "reflect the continuing growth in concerns" about the Justice Department’s bid for overseas data.

Smith argued that, regardless of the outcome of Microsoft’s legal battle, Congress and the Obama administration should update privacy laws so that people in the U.S. and other countries can trust their information is safe from prying eyes.

Microsoft & Cisco extend cloud partnership

by Shijaz Abdulla on 09.11.2013 at 15:41

Microsoft and Cisco have announced their extended partnership at the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) event in New York on Wednesday.

This is a great example of how a prominent hardware manufacturer like Cisco can take advantage of Microsoft’s proven track record and experience in building and managing some of the largest clouds on the planet and bring the best solutions to our customers.

Through this expanded partnership, we will bring together Microsoft’s Cloud OS and Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure to deliver new integrated solutions that help customers take the next step on their cloud computing journey. These new solutions are designed to improve business agility and reduce cost by driving infrastructure automation in support of core business processes and applications. This next-generation infrastructure will deliver increased application performance, resource pooling, visibility, automation and mobility through:

  • Converged ACI stacks that include fully integrated versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint
  • Optimized application and workload performance through dynamic network policies that automate and simplify deployment
  • Comprehensive management, infrastructure programmability and deep visibility and automation across Cisco UCS/ACI, System Center and Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual and non-virtual environments
  • Complete support for workload mobility using gateway solutions delivered by both companies – delivering on the promise of hybrid clouds

Please read the below post by Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise – Microsoft.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2013/11/06/microsoft-and-cisco-s-application-centric-infrastructure-hello-cloud.aspx

Oracle announces support for Hyper-V, Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 25.06.2013 at 08:07

This has to be the biggest Oracle announcement of the year!

333932-oracle-logoOracle and Microsoft are announcing a partnership today where our joint customers will have increased choice and flexibility for deploying Oracle workloads in Windows Server private clouds, Windows Azure, or a hybrid of both. Just as enterprises have depended on Windows Server for years to run Oracle workloads on premises, they now will be able to run those workloads in Hyper-V virtualized environments or Windows Azure, with full certification and support from Oracle.

What this means:

  • Our customers can run Oracle software on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and in Windows Azure with full support from Oracle.
  • Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to use their existing Oracle licenses to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.
  • This makes Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V the only non-Oracle hypervisor that Oracle supports
  • This also makes Windows Azure the only properly licensed and fully supported public cloud option for Oracle customers.
  • This will give us a huge boost in accelerating the momentum we are already seeing in Hyper-V and Azure, and should be positioned as a significant vote of confidence in our Cloud OS vision of providing a consistent platform across private and public clouds.

For additional information:

Cisco FlexPod validated with Microsoft Private Cloud

by Shijaz Abdulla on 25.02.2012 at 20:33

clip_image001[4]The Cisco FlexPod data center solution is now validated with a Microsoft Private Cloud Deployment Guide.

The FlexPod is a physical product built on Cisco server (UCS), Cisco networking, NetApp storage and Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track architecture with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft System Center. It can be optimized to fit a variety of mixed application workloads and use cases as the customer moves to virtualization and private or public cloud environments.

The FlexPod is built on:

  • Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus data center switches
  • NetApp FAS storage components
  • A range of third-party software

Download the deployment guide on the Cisco FlexPod DesignZone.

On another note, Cisco has also published documentation indicating the extension of their Nexus switches to work with Windows Server 8 Hyper-V, making use of the open extensible switch coming in Windows Server 8 Hyper-V – which allows networking vendors to support network virtualization capabilities with Hyper-V.

Microsoft Datacenter Tour: Where is the Microsoft Cloud?

by Shijaz Abdulla on 10.08.2011 at 16:35

Microsoft & Mada announce “Imkaan” to bring technology to the disabled

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.06.2011 at 12:11

Microsoft booth-7432

Microsoft and MADA Assistive Technology Centre have together formed "Imkaan", a program that brings the benefits of information technology to disabled people in Qatar.

The joint collaboration, named after the Arabic word for “possibility”, will facilitate greater digital inclusion to people with disabilities through provision, education and innovation. The initiative will also aim to raise awareness around the potential of technology in creating opportunities for people with disabilities at work, school, and in social settings.

Mr. Mohammad Hammoudi, Country Manager, Microsoft Qatar, said: "Empowering people through the use of technology and providing the opportunity to do so is something Microsoft is committed to, and by joining up with MADA Assistive Technology Centre we are able to better empower disabled people in the country. With the Centre’s extensive work in Qatar and the organization’s relationship with the disabled community, we have been able to place the technology that will provide new opportunities for maximum accessibility. Training of IT professionals on ensuring access to ICT for all is also core to aiding the initiative to reach the largest number of people."

The project is set to comprise four essential pillars to achieve its goal:

  • Community Support: Placement of technologies, such as Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Lync, Microsoft SharePoint, Kinect and Windows Live Messenger in various environments including the MADA Assistive Technology Centre resource centre and Hamad Medical Corporation facilities to connect people with disabilities to the world of ICT.
  • Capacity Building: Providing digital literacy materials to the disabled community while training the IT community in Qatar on accessibility standards.
  • Empowerment: Addressing the personal technological needs of disabled individuals by providing Microsoft software to people with disabilities in Qatar, providing technical support and encouraging the disabled to embrace technology without the concerns of financial barriers.
  • Innovation: Applying research and development initiatives within Qatar in the field of assistive technologies while opening new areas of capacity development for the student and workforce community in Qatar.

It’s Official: Microsoft to acquire Skype

by Shijaz Abdulla on 10.05.2011 at 19:18

DSC_0190

Microsoft today released a press release confirming that they will acquire Skype.

The interesting bits, quoted below:

The acquisition will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities. The combination will extend Skype’s world-class brand and the reach of its networked platform, while enhancing Microsoft’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services.

With 170 million connected users and over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010, Skype has been a pioneer in creating rich, meaningful connections among friends, families and business colleagues globally. Microsoft has a long-standing focus and investment in real-time communications across its various platforms, including Lync (which saw 30 percent revenue growth in Q3), Outlook, Messenger, Hotmail and Xbox LIVE.

Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division, reporting directly to Steve Ballmer.

I believe that this is a very strategic decision and will invariably have a positive impact on the way businesses and consumers communicate. The Skype acquisition is undoubtedly a prominent milestone in our continued success as a company that looks into the world and sees opportunities to do more with technology – technology that will empower and enable people.

Microsoft wins “Most Ethical” Award

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.05.2011 at 05:34

wme-logo

Microsoft made it to the list of the 2011 World’s Most Ethical Companies ranking by Ethisphere in March 2011.

The ranking covered companies from various industries. In the computer software industry only Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce, Symantec and Teradata made it to the list.

Interesting to note that companies like Apple, Facebook and “don’t be evil” Google did not make it to the list.

Ethical. And Social too.

Last year, Microsoft also topped the list of the world’s “most social” companies, thanks to the hundreds of Microsoft employees that reach out to the public through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

Click to enlarge

What is a cloud? (and why should I care)

by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.01.2011 at 22:57

The ‘cloud’ is definitely an often used (and misused) buzz word in today’s technology industry. So what exactly is a cloud? What is a cloud made of? Is it any different from hosting? These are some of the matters that I will address in this post.

So what is a cloud?

Wikipedia defines Cloud Computing as “internet-based computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand, as with the electricity grid. Cloud computing is a natural evolution of the widespread adoption of virtualization, service-oriented architecture and utility computing. Details are abstracted from consumers, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them.” (retrieved Jan 6, 2011)

Let’s take a closer look and break it down a bit.

“…shared servers provide resources…”

So the cloud is made of shared servers working together in a manner that results in the abstraction of the underlying infrastructure from the user or the consumer.

“…on demand…”

The cloud is elastic, which means, it can scale to any extent to help you manage utilization “spikes”, just like an electricity grid. If your business application or website suddenly requires more resources or above normal utilization due to that marketing campaign you just launched, the cloud will be able to provision and make available resources to you “on the fly” during your time of need and then “de-provision” these resources when utilization is back to normal. Because the cloud abstracts the underlying infrastructure, this entire process is invisible to the consumer.

“…a natural evolution of the widespread adoption of virtualization, service-oriented architecture and utility computing.”

By now, you would have realized it. If you need shared servers working together, abstracted from the user, dynamically scalable to any business demand – you need virtualization. But, does simply having the leanest, meanest hypervisor in the market help you implement the cloud? No. It is as important that you have a robust management solution. If your abstracted infrastructure cannot understand how a utilization spike on your application looks like, how will you be able to provide “on demand” services to your users? If your cloud infrastructure does not have visibility on the health of your ‘service’, how can it predict or understand a need to scale up dynamically?

Without doubt, management is an indispensable component of the cloud. I explained this in greater detail in an earlier post.

This is why System Center, with components like Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager and Opalis are key players in your journey to hosting your own ‘private’ cloud.

image

“Details are abstracted from consumers, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure ‘in the cloud’ that supports them”

This re-affirms the abstraction of the underlying infrastructure. The business does not need to know what hardware, operating environment or hypervisor you’re running on. All the business cares about is the ‘service’. To be able to ensure availability the ‘service’ at any scale that the business requires dynamically, abstracting everything else is a key characteristic of the cloud.

Hosting vs. Cloud:
So is the cloud what my hosting provider offers me?

Well, it depends. Many hosting providers today state that they bring you the cloud. In reality, some of them actually do, others don’t. The key message here is that mere server hosting is not cloud. Only when the benefits I discussed above are realized, then behold — we have a cloud.

If your “cloud” hosting provider states something like they will give you a ‘dedicated’ HP blade server with 2.5GHz Processor, 4 GB RAM, 80 GB SAN storage, 80 GB backup storage, a dedicated Cisco firewall and a 1 TB monthly traffic included – chances are they have missed the cloud by a mile!

Why? Because they are simply not providing you a cloud – shared servers that provision resources on demand. Instead, they are just giving you a hosted server. There is no elasticity, no dynamic resource provision and no abstraction. In a real cloud, you wouldn’t know what hardware spec you’re running on, simply because it doesn’t remain constantjust as your business doesn’t remain constant.

Interesting. So why should I care about the cloud?

My colleague Michael Mansour lists out top 10 reasons why the cloud is changing the consumer and business landscape. His post is definitely worth a read.

***

‘Stop Press’ Humor: Wikipedia also defines ‘cloud’ as a visible mass of water droplets or frozen ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. Certainly not the cloud we’re talking about!

Craig Mundie at Doha, Qatar

by Shijaz Abdulla on 22.04.2010 at 14:12

Craig Mundie, Chief Research & Strategy Officer at Microsoft was in Qatar yesterday and spoke to customers at a TechTalk jointly organized by Microsoft QSTP and the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday evening.

Craig Mundie provided great insight into the current research being done at Microsoft, the “client+cloud” strategy, and the trends in modern computing. He discussed how these trends will create a startling transformation in how humans and computers interact, and how computers will increasingly work on our behalf, rather than at our command.

Earlier in the day, he spoke on similar lines to students and faculty at Qatar University.

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