Gitex 2018 – Synergy Software Systems

October 15th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

A busy first day got Gitex off to a good start. This leading IT event in the MEA region is showcasing new technologies driving the digital revolution Artificial intelligence Is manifested in the form of robots, and a self driving taxi.

Drop by the Globaiis stand to see Filehold document management or catch up with our staff around the main hall or callus to arrange a meeting, 0097143365589

See this short overview video from Microsoft Gulf https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6457257933087522816

Microsoft is the fastest growing vendor in the enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS)

October 14th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

A recent report from Synergy Research Group, indicates that Microsoft is the fastest growing vendor in the enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) market with annual revenue growth of 45%.

The report, covering the year to Q2 2018, also puts Microsoft at number one in market share with 17% of the global enterprise SaaS market, ahead of: Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and SAP.

The market for SaaS enterprise business applications: customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP), is still relatively small compared to on-premises software deployment accounts for 85% of total enterprise software spending.

Last quarter, the enterprise SaaS market generated $20 billion in revenues, a figure Synergy forecasts will continue to grow strongly “across all SaaS segments and all geographic regions”.

https://www.srgresearch.com/articles

Dynamics 365 with AI and mixed reality on preview

October 14th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft has added intelligent functionality to the Dynamics 365 platform released as previews this month,
This includes,
– three Artificial Intelligence (AI) apps deliver out-of-the-box AI functionality which can be applied, extended and customised without the need of in-house AI experts or writing any –code:.
- two mixed reality apps that use HoloLens.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales
Dynamics 365 AI for Sales offers detailed insights into the sales pipeline and performance of sales teams. Next-step suggestions guide managers and salespeople to optimal outcomes.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service
Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service enables service managers to reduce support costs by taking advantage of natural language understanding and virtual agents powered by machine learning.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights
Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights delivers actionable insights across social media and the internet to enable marketing professionals to identify opportunities and react faster.

Dynamics 365 Remote Assist
Dynamics 365 Remote Assist uses the mixed reality capabilities of Microsoft HoloLens to provide a connection point between first-line workers and remote experts. Service personnel onsite can benefit from the knowledge and guidance of experts anywhere in the world through a holographic interface.

Dynamics 365 Layout
Dynamics 365 Layout allows users wearing HoloLens to walk around and manipulate a physical space overlaid with a holographic representation of design and layout.

Windows 10 and the ‘edge’

October 13th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft recently announced in ablog post. “Windows 10 IoT delivers innovation and intelligence at the edge with the October 2018 Update” The Windows 10 October 2018 update will deliver ‘edge’ intelligence with machine learning, industrial strength security, new silicon options, and additional monetization models for distributors and sellers for enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) projects.

The edge” is a theoretical space where a data center resource may be accessed in the minimum amount of time. The edge, in simple terms, is where you generate, collect, and analyze data i.e. where the data is generate. Edge computing technology is applied to smartphones, tablets, sensor-generated input, robotics, automated machines on manufacturing floors, and distributed analytics servers that are used for “on the spot” computing and analytics.

Traditional datacenter architecture is all about central computing powerhouses, from where information is sent and received across globally spread networks. Here, the larger the distance between the endpoint and the datacenter, the higher the response time. In many applications, this incrementally larger time gap is inconsequential. However, in many others, it’s critical. For example:
• when the computation required for rendering the content is carried out close enough to AR and VR devices.
• Autonomous vehicles require near real-time feedback from external networks to make course corrections and avoid collisions
• In IoT, many analytical actions need to be carried out closed to the devices that generate the source data.
• HD video content, if cached closer to large concentrations of people who’re likely to access it, means that providers can avoid large costs of transmission over networks provisioned by third-party carriers.
• Critical infrastructures such as oil and gas facilities require the highest levels of precautions to avoid system failures that could escalate into catastrophes. Edge computing allows for data from temperature and humidity sensors, IP camera, pressure and moisture sensors, and handheld devices. The data is analyzed, processed, and then sent back to users in near real-time, helping them prevent malfunctions.

Edge computing is all about achieving geographical distribution so that computing power can be taken closer to the endpoints that need it most. So, instead of only relying on a dozen giant datacenters, edge computing provides for the cloud to come closer to places/people/devices where there’s a business case for reducing response times even by a few hundred microseconds.

Critical security and safety systems always need to function on premises. You need these systems to operate or fail in a safe state regardless of what happens to the cloud or the connection. The simplest on-premises approach is a big red shut-off button on each machine. Azure IoT Edge enables a more complex safety system.
Example: You monitor the temperature across a range of machines and if the combined temperature gets too high you need to shut down all machines to prevent damage or risk to human operators. A safety system at the level of the individual machine is not enough, because it can’t track combined temperature across multiple machines. Your safety system needs to be one level higher to monitor and control multiple machines, and you can do this with Azure IoT Edge.

• By 2020, it’s expected that there will be more than 5,600 million smart sensors and connected IoT devices across the globe.
• The data generated by these devices will be to the tune of 5,000+ zettabytes.
• The IoT market size is expected to reach $724 billion by the end of 2023.

Most of this data will be generated at enterprise endpoints located on the “edge” — such as sensors, machines, smartphones, wearable devices, etc. We can consider these to be located on the “edge” because they’re far away from the central datacenter of the organization.

This massive data can’t simply be relayed to the central server because it will overwhelm the entire network. Enterprises will implement edge computing so that massive data doesn’t have to be transported to corporate datacenters. Instead, advanced operational analytics will happen at the remote facilities, to enable site managers and individuals to act in real time on the available information.

Microsoft Windows 10 customers can now commercialize devices with new servicing options:
• A Semi-Annual Servicing Channel, offers two feature update releases per year,
• A Long-Term Servicing Channel, provides security and quality updates without any new features over a 10-year period. The long-term model is ideal for commercial IoT devices, including point-of-sale systems, ATMs, and industrial equipment controllers, which all require strong security and fewer feature updates.

A new cloud service subscription, called Windows 10 IoT Core Services, offers companies the services to commercialize a device on Windows 10 IoT Core, including both long-term OS support, and services to manage device updates and assess device health. This will help device manufacturers to lower support costs, and will help distributors create better business models to create customer value.

Microsoft has added the ability to do more work at the edge, including: machine learning, event processing, and image recognition, “Seamless integration with Azure IoT Edge brings cloud intelligence and analytics securely to Windows 10 IoT devices at scale,”

Windows Machine Learning allows developers to use pre-trained machine learning models in their applications, which can be evaluated and adjusted as needed at the edge.

Microsoft also added support for NXP i.MX 6, 7 and 8M series processors to Windows 10 IoT Core.

Windows 10 IoT also includes turnkey support for both Azure IoT Device Management and Microsoft Intune to provide more scalable device management for enterprise IoT deployments.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-azure-enables-a-new-wave-of-edge-computing-here-s-how/

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/iot-edge/about-iot-edge

https://www.zdnet.com/article/where-the-edge-is-in-edge-computing-why-it-matters-and-how-we-use-it/

The acatech Industrie 4.0 Maturity Index is a six-stage maturity model that analyses the capabilities in the areas of resources, information systems, culture and organisational structure that are required by companies operating in a digitalised industrial environment.

https://www.acatech.de/Publikation/industrie-4-0-maturity-index-managing-the-digital-transformation-of-companies/

Windows 10 Oct update – pulled.

October 9th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Microsoft has stopped distributing its latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
it was rolling out the update during the company’s Surface event earlier this week, when some Windows 10 users noticed their documents were being deleted. from the C:/Users/[username]/Documents/ folder.
“We have paused the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) for all users as we investigate isolated reports of users missing some files after updating,” says Microsoft on its support site for Windows Update.

Microsoft recommends that affected users contact the company directly – , and if you’ve manually downloaded the October update then “please don’t install it and wait until new media is available.”

Other Windows 10 users have complained that the Microsoft Edge browser and other store apps were unable to connect to the internet after the October 2018 Update, and the update was even blocked on certain PCs due to Intel driver incompatibilities.

Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Enterprise- ask Synergy Software Systems

October 2nd, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

With D365 for Finance and Operations, organizations are able to automate their supply chain and make informed decisions while maintaining accuracy throughout financial reporting. Contact the UAE’s oldest Dynamics Partner to find out hpw why Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations can help your organization to making timely, informed, smarter decisions.

D365 for Finance and Operations has many features that improve and streamline business processes, therefore making the lives of accounting and finance professionals’ easier. With outstanding security, there is no reason to worry that your information will not be safe. D365 for Finance and Operations also provides easy integration between other D365 applications like D365 for Talent or D365 for Sales. D365 for Finance and Operations is also available on-premise and cloud based so you can choose what works for your organization. Here’s more information on why Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is right for you:

Outstanding Security

Running a business can be extremely overwhelming so it’s best to know that your data is safe. With Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations there are a few features that ensure you are as stress-free as possible regarding security. D365 for Finance and Operations includes out-of-box security reports to help manage security roles. D365 for Finance and Operations uses role-based security in which users are assigned individual security roles. Role-based security restricts access for users therefore keeping information safe and reliable.

Effortless Integration

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations integrates beautifully with Office 365 and other Dynamics 365 applications. For example, with the CRM tracking option in Office 365, you can track the customer data within an email. Also, with a cloud-based solution, you have easy access to information anywhere at any time, making integration as easy as possible.

On-Premise & Cloud Based Options

D365 for Finance and Operations is available with an on-premise option or cloud based option. This way, you can decide what is best for your organization financially. With both options, there are pros and cons so being able to choose what deployment option works best for you is a plus when it comes to D365 for Finance and Operations.

Lots of new features coming in the October 2018 update.

Ask us about:
Synergy Software Systems D365 localised Payroll – already live in the the U.A.E.
Our Advanced Power BI reporting models.

AI why will it make any difference?

October 1st, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

For all the talk around the rise of AI, or Artificial Intelligence, the technology isn’t new. We use AI in our daily lives.

Predictive text is the most visible example.Google searches, Word spellcheck are examples. You frequently text a friend to meet at the mall. You type: “Meet me at the …” Your phone suggests “park” or another common place to meet. Over time, your phone learns, and the suggestions start to prioritize “mall” over other words.

A basic case is that AI:
• takes data,
• analyzes it,
• implements a solution (suggesting the next word),
• evaluates the results (recognizing that you almost always type “bar” with that friend),
• and then repeats the process with improved recommendations based on data.
• Over time, the system grows smarter.

Typically ‘triggers’ to execute a ‘script’ were ways to automate processes. A log fiel is mintored and akey word triggers a support ticket, or runs a script.Over time thje system learns and can predict and run checks before the error happens.
Other examples of AI in everyday life include pricing on ridesharing apps, facial recognition in social media and even non-player characters in video games.

Until recently, the technology was available to a few companies with deep pockets. To take advantage of AI, you had to have a big data center, specialized software and data scientists in house. We’ve reached a tipping point. With cloud-based technology, companies of all sizes can more easily plug into AI-infused applications at a much lower entry cost.
AI is the next big disrupter in many industries.

Let’s look at the wholesale trading industry. Here are two ways you can leverage AI to benefit a business:
Optimize where a team spends their time.
- Imagine the ability to direct your Accounts Receivable team to the late-paying customers that are most likely to respond.
– AI can help distributors differentiate between those who aren’t going to pay and need to be turned over to collections, and those who are more likely to pay with just one phone call.
- AI could also direct a call centre team to focus on certain times of day to increase the likelihood someone picks up the phone. Given the importance of cashflow to distributors, this is a powerful application of the technology.
- The same idea goes for a sales team. With which customers should they be spending more time? AI can identify the data points that influence purchasing, such as whether a prospect downloaded a whitepaper, they have an account exec assigned to them, or they have previously purchased related products.

It could even be something you can’t control, like the weather forecast. If it’s going to be 110 degrees, you can expect an uptick in sales of air conditioning units or parts to fix them in certain geographies. AI can identify these opportunities for salespeople. AI then adjusts those recommendations based on how customers respond, and the cycle continues.

Grow sales and margin with existing customers.
When a customer is checking out on a website, via your call center, at the counter or through another channel, how can you engage them more? Enter AI. For example, let’s say that data show that electrical contractor customers of a particular size regularly buy red, green, white and black 10-gauge copper wire at the same time. So when an electrical contractor of that size selects just red, green and white, a salesperson should be prompted to ask: “Are you forgetting black?” Chances are, the customer will add black wire to the basket.

To identify those relationships, however, and to code them into your system is a lot of work. We can do much of this already with BI analysis and on screen prompts.Add to that the evaluation of whether the offers were effective – how often they were accepted, how often they weren’t (and why) – and adjusting for that on the next sale, or updating sales scripts and offers. It becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible to do that manually across thousands of products.
AI can do this far more quickly and effectively than a human can, and can have a big impact on the top line. A foodservice distributor grew sales volume by 5% nearly overnight after turning on an AI-powered cross-sell and upsell recommendation engine on their website.

This is not just about selling online. Sure Distributors use cross-sell/upsell technology to grow share across their channels. However, they can also provide more meaningful, targeted content to make the customer’s selection process smoother and better informed, to draw his attention to designs or offers that are likely to be of interest, and so on. The ROI can be huge, and it requires very little upfront work by humans.

Pricing software is a more mature application of AI-based technology, determining the optimal price for a particular item based on lost sales, historical sales volume, competitor pricing, and potential for up sell or cross sell or repeat sell. and other data points. Hotels and airlines use revenue yield management. If it’s a business trip they may feel you will spend more in their restaurant on an expense account. I may only book when rates are cheap but I might always eat in house use, pay tv, and order wine with my meal and be a more profitable customer. If my rooms for tonight or my airline seats are less than 50% sold then I might discount heavily to ensure I sell enough to cover costs, but once past 80% I may charge a premium price because you may be desperate with little choice and a few high value sales will make up for the one or two I lose.

If a product has excess stock and is nearing the end of its shelf life, or a cinema is going to be half empty then AI can auto trigger instant sms sales promotions or happy hours but can it learn and predict and better tune the films shown in a given cinema, and whether average clothes sizes are trending bigger, or whether some colours and sizes will sell better in one branch than another and how that correlates with other data, How much is spent on marketing, what other sales are happening nearby, are temperatures going to rise, what si te epxcted change on the exchange rate or inflation rate or oil price and will that affect the number of tourist, and will revised parking fees affect who shows where and when?

is this a Big Brother nightmare, or does it mean that we are going to get better service because what we need to buy is going to be in stock even before we realise we need it.

As new younger generation z employees are hired into purchasing roles, they expect the kind of customer experience that AI-powered technology can deliver. This technology is here now. It’s not just a technical decision. There are real business benefits to using AI, including growing average order size, boosting margins and tightening customer relationships.

Filehold latest features

September 30th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

There was a new elease of FileHold- version 16, in August 2108. For a FileCare customer on support the cost of upgrading the server is automatically included with your FileCare agreement.

The new release fetures both new features and enhancements which willowe rthe cost of owenrship. A key feature is improved viewing technology which adds inot the web client the popular page manipulation features previously only available in the desktop client. Move around pages in a document, move pages from document to document, or remove pages altogether.

The g viewer functionality also has enhanced DOCX rendering fidelity for the level 1 version and best rendering for the level 2 viewer.

A long list of image formats and some more document formats are added to the level 1 viewer with several more document formats added to the level 2 viewer.

Users licensed for the level 2 viewer also get a bonus “Assemble” feature for the user to merge multiple files of different types into a single PDF.

It enables the special field tags introduced with the workflow ‘convert to PDF’ feature to be used for any of the documents or template documents that will be added either to the beginning. or the end. A wider range of document formats are available for conversion and tag replacement than in convert to PDF. Fill your documents with metadata and workflow signoff sheets.

A document search feature that was previously only available a third-party viewer is added. Automatically search inside the document based on a simple search in the document library or type your own search term. A column of matches automatically appears for the user to quickly jump to many places in the document.

The self-service (anonymous, formerly “guest”) portal is matches the way users are configured in the system to give one simple dialog to configure a portal. This simplified the user interface for the self-service portal users removes several elements that do not apply to them.

A new style report and management page for user management.User mass edits also got a big makeover.

Administrators now have lots of options to configure the columns and filters they use and to save different configurations for easy reuse.

Workflow:

Integration with Adobe Sign has been available for a while as an add-on. Now that Adobe Sign is a part of workflow the integration also includes Adobe’s latest OAuth authentication and REST API. Any main documents you add to a workflow can be sent to be signed by the Adobe technology and when the signing is complete the documents are automatically returned as new versions to FileHold.

The workflow status report, signoff sheet, and the document usage log all reflect the Adobe signature and provide convenient links to all the details that Adobe stores about the signature. All you need is an Adobe account and a license for the optional Adobe workflow activity feature.

Starting with 16.0 Filhold has converted all applications and there is now a single application pool to manage and support for TLS 1.2 that does not require any special setup for Windows Server 2012R2 or later. It willsimplify life for IT managers getting excited ahrden the secuirty of the FileHold server.

Multi-factor authentication is now integrated into the product as an optional feature, with www.duo.com as the authentication provider.Filhold has implemented multi-factor authentication in such a way that existing applications should work unchanged until you decide to enable multi-factor.

There are many minor improvements to FileHold like: a result count for folder views just like we have always done for searches, unlimited upload and download sizes for the desktop client, removing the requirement to save Office documents before adding to FileHold, and adding comments to Courier notifications and many more.

Schema lookups and unlimited database dropdown menu fields were added to version 14, and are now configured in nearly every new system we deliver and used in many new ways. Use cases from the field have inspired big enhancements which increase the flexibility of these features. For schema lookups we can now use the custom query method to use up to five metadata fields as runtime parameters instead of just one. This opens up a lot of possibilities for creative SQL to enhance the ability for users to get the correct metadata onto a document with minimum effort.

Dropdown menu fields are great – until you have 100,000 id values to choose from. Then they are a challenge. Filehold has enabled “search” fields for the dropdown. Configure up to five additional fields to be used for user selection and provide end users with a little popup and a new style list interface to filter and to group the configured options to easily choose the exact value, or many values to be selected.

for moe information contact us 0097143365589

Gitex 2018- See Filehold DMS with Synergy Software Systems

September 30th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Meet us with Globalis to see how advanced cheque scanners and a modern DMS solution work together.

Talk to us about how repetitive automation can help you match hundreds of thousands of invoices, or to reconcile claims, or to reconcile multiple bank accounts.

Let us show you how easy it is to drillback from any key field in any application, back to the source doument and all related documents in Filehold.

RPA solutions from Synergy Software Systems

September 30th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software robots to perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as data entry or certain employee onboarding tasks. Unlike AI, RPA cannot make judgments about future scenarios.

Organizations often deploy RPA bots in place of an ERP system or use them in conjunction with an existing ERP system. While ERP systems automate many business processes, these don’t automate all processes. This is where bots become useful. Usually, a bot does not have to be directly integrated into an ERP system to interface with it.

When RPA technology came on the market, it was primarily adopted by the financial services industry. Now, it is popular across all industries, and organizations have a variety of software vendors from which to choose. A few software startups rule the RPA market most founded in 2005 or earlier, but they didn’t become successful until they entered the RPA market.

However, for a complete solution other features like OCR document scanning, electronic form capture, document drill back from any application, document absed workflows also come, into the picture. Synergy Software Systems provides a complete solution with proven tools like Filehold for DMS, and Abbyy for advanced document scanning (inlcuidng support for Arabic). We also provide the application knolwdge to interface to major erp and financial sytems like SunSytems, or Dynamics 365.

Why is the RPA Market Growing so Quickly?
Using bots to complete repetitive tasks saves organizations time and money and reduces errors. Bots also allow employees to focus on higher-level work instead of mundane tasks. In other words, the return on investment is huge. Every organization wanting to compete in the digital era is considering RPA technology. Strategic marketing has also contributed to the growth of the RPA market. The use of the word “robotic” in conjunction with “process automation” evolved into the concept of Artifical Intelligence (AI). Taking advantage of the popularity of AI, the RPA market skyrocketed.

Another reason for the market’s growth is that RPA technology is often relatively low cost, in a market of skill shortage and rising employment costs. Initial implementation typically doe’t require extensive customization or deep systems integration. Filehold for example can be deployed quickly and deliver signifcant operational benefit even before an RPA project is underway.

RPA Implementation Challenges
The RPA market continues to grow despite rampant implementation failures. One reason that organizations think because RPA is often quick and easy to implement they can rush through implementation without proper planning or a long-term roadmap. Design your system with a vision of where your business is headed in the next two to five years, and then you can configure bots to fit your future business model.

When evaluating RPA vendors, look for a flexible solution that aligns a culture of flexible, agile, continuous improvement.

The Future of RPA
RPA technology will become more sophisticated as software companies move beyond the automation of simple tasks and begin automating more advanced processes. Eventually, ERP vendors may acquire RPA (soon to be AI) companies to extend their own AI functionality. However, if you are to inteegrate across applications and platforms then your won tools may be a better option.

Organizations implementing RPA are getting even more creative byintegrating RPA with cognitive technologies, such as machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing, to automate processesthat previously required human judgment. Many organizations are putting this type intelligent automation, on their strategic agendas for the next year.

Automation technology has eliminated jobs in the past, so its reasonable to expect that more advanced automation will eliminate just as many, if not more, jobs. In response to this fear, organizations are developing reskilling plans, to maximize employee retention and to sue them for higher value, judgement based tasks rather than to do repetitive work best done by automation.

Why Consider RPA?
In this digital era, organizations have to contiuously redefine the way they work. While the need for new technology is urgent, first focus on aligning your people and processes with your digital strategy. An RPA implementation should be part of a holistic digital transformation initiative. Build a strong foundation, and your organization can realize numerous benefits from RPA technology, not only cost savings, but reduced cycle time and improved customer serviceand staff satisfaction.

Windows 10 October 2018 Update – Synergy Software Systems review

September 26th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Windows 10 known as version 1809 and codenamed Redstone 5 during its development process,continues to add new features and improve existing ones. Some expected changes didn;t make it like adding tabs to applications with Sets.

The control panel lives but the Fluent Design System is applied to more Windows elements.

The snipping feature is changed (again). The new Snip & Sketch tool lets you draw on it and add annotations, including arrows and highlights. This clipping tool appears when you press Windows+Shift+S to open it. However, there’s a setting under Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard that makes the new tool appear when you press the Print Screen key on your keyboard

This major upgrade includes a clipboard history that syncs between your devices and a dark theme for File Explorer. access by pressing Windows+V. Optionally synchronize this clipboard history between your devices, i.e.a clipboard that synchronizes itself between your PCs or click an icon in the clipboard popup to psync manually, and prevent Windows from synchronizing potentially sensitive data like passwords and credit card numbers. In future, Microsoft will likely add support for the cloud clipboard to its SwiftKey keyboard for Android, iPhone, and iPad to copy and paste between your phone or tablet and your Windows PC.

As Microsoft puts it, “SwiftKey gives you more accurate autocorrections and predictions by learning your writing style.” It also offers swipe-to-type support, letting you type by swiping your finger from letter to letter rather than tapping each letter.”

A key feature is integration with Android devices to quickly access recent phone photos and to view and nd reply to text messages, which is powered by services included in the October 2018 Update, However, its delivered via the separate Your Phone app, which needed much more development according to ZDNet. The “Your Phone” app will bring Windows 10’s smartphone integration features together and make these easier to set up. Microsoft has put a shortcut to this app on the default desktop. For Android phone users running Android 7.0 or newer, the Your Phone app lets you text from your PC and instantly access photos from your phone on your PC. In the future, Microsoft plans to add syncing notifications from your Android phone, which is already available in the Cortana app,

iPhone users get fewer features due to Apple’s platform restrictions. The “Continue on PC” feature is available for both iPhone and Android users to use a smartphone’s share sheet to send a link viewed on a phone to a PC, to quickly go from the small screen to the big screen. This feature existed on Windows 10, and the Your Phone app makes these easier to discover and set up.

The Start menu’s search feature, also known as the Cortana search feature, now has search previews. When you start typing to search for something, Windows will show you a preview pane with more information about your result.
If the Start menu decides a web search is the best result for your search, hen you’ll see the Bing search results in the Start menu. When you search for an application, you’ll see options like “Pin to Start” for that application, and a document preview when Windows decides a particular document on your PC is the best result. When you search for an application, you’ll see a “Go To Download” button in the search preview pane that will take you straight to its download page.
Along with this change, it’s no longer possible to disable web search in the Start menu via Group Policy.

(i’m probably going to hate that change!, I don’t appreciate Windows and Office trying to second guess what I want to do, but i am sure many will see the benefits of this feature.)

There are also a lot ot tweaks to Edge i don;t have time to cover.
Many other geeky changes for example

• Bluetooth Battery Levels in Settings: see Bluetooth battery percentages on the Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & Other Devices screen. This works with devices that support this feature—like Microsoft’s Surface Pen. You will see a notification when one of these devices is low on battery power.
• Privacy Notifications: If your privacy settings block access to your microphone in an app, you’ll see a pop-up notification informing you the first time an app is stopped from accessing your microphone.
• Focus Assist Improvements: Focus Assist now turns on automatically to reduce your interruptions when you’re playing any full-screen game. Previously, this feature only supported full-screen DirectX games.
• Adjust Video Based on Lighting: There’s a new “Adjust video based on lighting” option under Apps > Video Playback. When enabled, Windows 10 uses your device’s brightness sensor to automatically adjust video playback to make it more visible based on the lighting around you. For example, it may make dark scenes brighter if you’re watching in a very bright room.

California Privacy Act, EU eprivacy, GDPR….

September 17th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 still doesn’t have either the public awareness nor the multi-year time to prepare as the EU’s GDPR.
Nonetheless, it will have a similarly huge significant impact on organizations that do business in the state of California.

Why should you care? Well California is the world’s fifth-largest economy, so that means it affects pretty much everyone.
Businesses – including yours- have less than two years until the January 2020 compliant deadline

Organizations are constantly at risk of paying a hefty penalty for not complying with rules and regulations that dictate how they should operate and do business.
A recent research by the Ponemon Institute and GlobalScape entitled, “The True Cost of Compliance with Data Protection Regulations” concluded that the average cost of non-compliance is now $14.82 million annually (a 45 percent increase from 2011) and is 2.71 times higher than the cost of compliance.

This means organizations are better off making the necessary investments on people, process and technology to comply with Data Protection regulations than incurring the cost of non-compliance. It’s clear that the topic of compliance is broader than just Data Protection regulations and covers other global and regional regulations, industry-specific mandates and trading partner specific contracts.

The worry is conflicting standards and how to stay abreast of everything. Colorado is also bringing out similar legislation. The UAE has also signalled that it may follow GDPR. This major implications for companies in areas of contract, insurance of liability, training, master data management, software security, encyrption, back up, policies, administration …… and a lot more cost. This not going away and it easier to start now – a plan t0 shut the stable door only after the horse has bolted is not a strategy,

An even stricter privacy law, known as ePrivacy Regulation, is currently pending abroad. The law, was approved in the last quarter of 2017 by the European Parliament and is currently under review by the Council of the European Union. While the policymakers had hoped that the ePrivacy Regulation would enter into force on GDPR Day, this obviously didn’t happened. In a nutshell, the ePrivacy Regulation is lex specialis to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). While the GDPR applies to all categories of personal data—hard copy and electronic—the ePrivacy Regulation will typically only apply to electronic communications data, a subset. The Regulation, if adopted, would cover not only traditional telecommunications operators and providers of electronic communication services but also “over-the-top” communications services

It requires explicit consent from users for all messaging services—things like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook’s WhatsApp, and Microsoft’s Skype—before companies can place tracking codes on their devices or collect data about their electronic communications. In other words, a company could only collect data or metadata about users’ communications online when they get their explicit consent to use it for a specific purpose. When someone declines to share their data, companies will be required to provide them with the same service as someone who consents. The law was scheduled to go into effect this year, but has been held up by negotiations. https://iapp.org/resources/article/eprivacy-regulation-may-2018-draft/

The ePrivacy regulation is an update to the standing ePrivacy Directive, which was originally put into place to guarantee “right to privacy in the electronic communication sector,” according to the directive. The directive originally focused mainly on email and SMS messages, but the proposed regulation would also address data privacy in services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype, along with Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Additionally, the ePrivacy regulation will also protect metadata associated with electronic communications .

ePrivacy includes non-personal data. GDPR is laser-focused on the protection of personal data, but the ePrivacy regulation is focused more broadly on the confidentiality of communications, “which may also contain non-personal data and data related to a legal person,” the proposal states. The original ePrivacy Directive is often referred to as the “cookie law” because it imposed the need for informed consent before a firm could track an internet user with cookies. The regulation will add new clarifications and simplifications for the consent rule, along with other new tools for protecting against unwanted communication tracking and more.

Both GDPR and the proposed ePrivacy regulation reflect similar aspects of privacy, but they do so from the perspective of different legal charters. The basis for the ePrivacy regulation are Article 16 and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. However, it also reflects part of Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights: “Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications.” GDPR, on the other hand, is based on Article 8 of the European Charter of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” However, for ePrivacy, the proposal notes that the meaning and scope of Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights shall be regarded in the same way as Article 8 from the European Charter of Human Rights

Consent is just one of six lawful grounds for processing data under GDPR. If one of the other five grounds applies, consent might not be required.

The other five legal grounds are:
•Processing being required to fulfil a contract with a data subject.
•Having a legal obligation, the fulfilment of which requires you to process user data.
•Needing to process data to protect someone’s life.
•Processing being required to carry out a task in the public interest.
•Requiring data processing in order to protect your legitimate interests, or those of a third party (unless those interests clash with a good reason to protect user data).

If none of these other grounds applies then, clear consent must be given to process personal data for each specific purpose.

How you ask for consent forms a big part of the regulation. It must be presented with these features:
• Unbundled: No lumping consent for one usage of data in with another. This is particularly relevant to collecting data for marketing.
• Active opt-in: No pre-ticked boxes, with binary in/out options given the same prominence.
• Granular: Each type of data usage needs to be consented to separately.
• Named: All organisations involved in handling the data being collected must be listed by name, especially third-parties.
• Easy to withdraw: Withdrawing consent needs to be at least as easy as giving it.

Why you should plan now to upgrade you SQL server

September 16th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

Developments in software, hardware, and storage technology make the next twelve to eighteen months an ideal time to migrate from a legacy version of SQL Server to a modern version of SQL Server.

Consider that any version of SQL Server prior to SQL Server 2016 is already a legacy version of SQL Server.
- SQL Server 2014 will fall out of mainstream support on July 9, 2019
- (the same date that SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 will fall out of extended support).
- SQL Server 2012 fell out of mainstream support on July 11, 2017.

Customers on those platforms, should be budgeting for what to do before the support expires.
Many new features were introduced at SQL 2016 and 2017. SQL Server 2017 is a clearly better upgrade choice than SQL Server 2016 right now. (SQL 2014 is best forgotten!)

Options:
Keep using the software and accept that it won’t receive any more security updates. This leaves you unprotected and is not a recommended course of action in the current era of malware, phasing attacks and GDPR compliance. Potentially the most expensive option ..and you will in any case need to upgrade sooner than later.
• Upgrade to newer software versions that are still supported . Update your on-prem SQL Server 2017 and Windows Server 2016 to get the necessary security, innovation, performance and efficiency. Resource intensive and maybe an expensive option.
Pay Microsoft for a custom support contract - If you have Software Assurance or Subscription licenses under an Enterprise Agreement, then get extended security updates for 3 years by paying 75% of the full license fee for SQL Server or Windows Server. Most expensive option.
Migrate your SQL 2008 workloads onto the Azure platform. Pay nothing for 3 years for support –maybe the least risky option • This choice gets you the necessary critical patches and allows you to keep data safe for >3 years. This give you the time and flexibility to prepare for a next move with SQL. Worth considering. Eligible customers can use Azure Hybrid Benefit and take advantage of existing on-premises licenses for Windows Server and SQL Server to save on Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS) or Azure SQL Database Managed Instance (PaaS) charges. Azure SQL Database reserved capacity is also available and enables you to save up to 33 percent when pre-paid SQL database vCores are taken for a one or three-year term.

Moving to the Cloud is a challenging project for many organisations. Consider booking our Cloud Migration workshop half day session to investigate and define a path for moving workloads, including SQL databases, into Azure. The workshop includes:
• Review of Azure Services.
• Identity the infrastructure required to get started.
• Review of existing workloads and migration paths.
• Administration, Maintenance and Controls.
• Security and Privacy.
• Developing a Cloud Adoption Roadmap.
• Planning a proof-of-concept to begin the journey.

SQL Server Developments

The modern versions of SQL Server are SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, and the upcoming release of SQL Server

When the next version of SQL Server is released (perhaps in Q4 this year ) it is likely to have useful new features and enhancements that will make it a superior upgrade choice to SQL Server 2017. Regardless of new features, the next version of SQL Server will be in mainstream support for a longer period than SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2017.

Operating System Developments
Microsoft will release Windows Server 2019 sometime later in 2018. There are a number of improvements in Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), including deduplication and compression in ReFS:
- Another improvement is True Two-Node quorum for two-node S2D clusters using a USB thumb drive as a file share in a router.
- Windows Server 2019 S2D will let you have up to 4PB of raw storage capacity per S2D cluster, which is a 4X improvement over Windows Server 2016.
- There is a new PoSH cmdlet called Get-PhysicalDiskIoReport that lets you view much more granular performance information for individual physical disks, that allows you to manually monitor drive latency, and can be used to automatically detect drive latency outliers.
- Windows Server 2019 fully supports existing NV-DIMM persistent memory, along with Intel Optane 3D XPoint memory and storage. There are also improvements in the free Windows Admin Center management utility that is a great dashboard for hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) deployments.
- VMware vSphere 6.7 supports vSphere Persistent Memory, which will let you take advantage of persistent memory in a VMware virtualized environment.

Hardware Developments
Both Intel and AMD are scheduled to release new generations of server processors during the next three to six months, both of which will work in existing model servers.
The Intel, 14nm Intel Xeon Scalable Processor “Cascade Lake-SP” is rumored to be due in Q4 of 2018. These processors will support “Apache Pass” DIMMs (meaning Intel Optane 3D XPoint persistent memory) and they are socket compatible with current Intel Xeon Scalable Processor “Skylake-SP” processors, which means that they will work in existing server models. More important for many customers is the fact that Cascade Lake-SP will have hardware-level protection for most side-channel attacks (such as Spectre/Meltdown), which will have less performance impact than software-based mitigation techniques. The Cascade Lake-SP processors will be followed by 14nm “Cooper Lake-SP” in 2019, and then 10nm “Ice Lake-SP” server processors in 2020.

Intel’s continued struggles with 10nm manufacturing are definitely going to hurt their competitive position compared to AMD in 2019/2020 so AMD stands to gain significant market share from Intel in the server space during this period.
AMD will have the 2nd generation, 7nm “Zen2” EPYC “Rome” family processors in early-mid 2019. These processors are supposed to be socket compatible with existing server models and have up to 48 cores/ 96 threads per processor. These processors are also rumored to have PCIe 4.0 support, which will give them double the bandwidth per lane compared to PCIe 3.0.

Looking further out, AMD is planning a3rd generation 7nm+ “Zen3” EPYC “Milan” family of processors sometime in 2020.

Storage Developments
Intel released its first 3D XPoint storage product, the 375GB Intel Optane DC P4800X SSD in Q1 2017. These use a PCIe 3.0 x4 link along with the NVMe protocol, and they have roughly 10X lower latency and 5-8X better throughput at low queue depths compared to the fastest PCIe NVMe NAND-based SSDs.
They also have 2-4X better write endurance than enterprise NAND-based SSDs.
These are relatively inexpensive and offer the fastest currently available type of traditional block mode storage. These are transparent to SQL Server and will work in any system that supports PCIe 3.0 x4 slots as HHHL add-in cards or U.2 connected drives.

Expected in the very near future the Intel 3D XPoint-based DIMMs (“Apache Pass”) that use a traditional low-latency DDR4 memory interface and form factor. These DIMMs will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, and they will fit in DDR4 memory slots. They will be addressable in a lower performance block mode that uses the entire storage stack, or a much higher performance direct access (DAX) mode that is byte addressable and bypasses the storage stack.

Both Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 already have DAX support, and SQL Server 2016 SP1 has the persistent log buffer feature that lets you leverage a DAX storage volume that is built on persistent memory to create a small additional 20MB transaction log file that is used to greatly reduce latency writing to the transaction log. It seems probable that the next release of SQL Server will improve this feature.

Windows Server 2019 will have even better support for persistent memory. New two-socket servers with Intel Xeon “Cascade Lake-SP” processors will support up to 6TB of 3D XPoint DIMMs, which can be combined with traditional DDR4 memory in other memory slots.

Security GDPR and BA

September 16th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

British Airways disclosed on Sept. 7 that it was the victim of a data breach that exposed details on 380,000 customers. The breach involved data from British Airways’ mobile application and website at ba.com. The airline noted in its advisory that stolen data did not include customers’ passport information or travel details. However, hackers stole names, addresses and payment card details of customers who used the British Airways website or mobile app between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5. To its credit BA respond promptly and apologized.

We are investigating, as a matter of urgency, the theft of customer data from our website and our mobile app, The airline has guaranteed that financial losses suffered by customers directly because of the theft of this data from British Airways will be reimbursed, and is recommending that customers contact their bank or card provider if they made a booking or change to their booking between 22:58 BST August 21 2018 and 21:45 BST September 5 2018.” British Airways wrote in an advisory post.

The British Airways breach is the second in as many weeks that has involved a major international airline. On Aug. 29, Air Canada reported that its mobile app was breached, potentially exposing 1.7 million accounts to risk. Air Canada, however, estimated that information on only 20,000 customers accounts was stolen in the breach, which is thought to have taken place between Aug. 22-24.

The British Airways breach is potentially the first major test for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has strict requirements on disclosure of breaches, and non-compliance that could result in costly financial penalties.

RiskIQ detected the use of a script associated with a “threat group” RiskIQ calls Magecart. the same set of actors believed to be behind a recent credit card breach at Ticketmaster UK. The Ticketmaster UK breach was the result of JavaScript injected through a third-party service used by the Ticketmaster website, but the British Airways breach was actually the result of a compromise of BA’s own Web server, according to the RiskIQ analysis.
This skimmer is attuned to how British Airways’ payment page is set up, which tells us that the attackers carefully considered how to target this site in particular.
The suspect scripts were detected based on a daily crawl of websites conducted by RiskIQ, which gathers data on more than two billion pages a day. Focusing on how the scripts on the BA site changed over time, the RiskIQ researchers found a modified script within the BA site. Code added to a JavaScript library utilized by the BA site called an API on a malicious Web server at baways.com—a virtual private server hosted by a provider in Lithuania, using a TS certificate registered through Comodo (apparently to raise its appearance of legitimacy) on August 15.

The 22 lines of code are targeted to export the data entered in the BA website’s payment form to the malicious server when the “submit” button was clicked by a customer, with the data being sent as a JSON object. As a result, the transaction would go through for the customer without any errors, while the attackers received a full copy of the customer’s payment information despite the payment apparently being over a secure session. The attackers also added a “touchend” callback to the script, which made the attack functional for users of BA’s mobile app—which called the same, modified script.

While the modified script file’s timestamp matches with the beginning of the attack reported by British Airways, the registration date for the malicious site’s certificate, indicates that the attacker] likely had access to the British Airways site before the reported start date of the attack on August 21st—possibly long before. Without visibility into its Internet-facing web assets, British Airways were not able to detect this compromise before it was too late.

British Airways did not comment on the RiskIQ report, as a criminal investigation is still underway.

GDPR- Relevant Certifications for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

August 29th, 2018 by Stephen Jones No comments »

ISO 27001(Secure) – ISO 27001 certification confirms that the service complies with the controls and specifications outlined in the information security management system (ISMS).
Achieving ISO 27001, helps to ensure that this is a secure service on which to run your business. This further helps to support efforts to certify your own business, by reassuring your auditors that you are running your business on an ISO27001 certified service.

ISO 27018 (Protects personal data) – When you use the service to manage your business, your personal and sensitive data is safe and protected in the cloud. Additionally, to gain your own ISO 27018 certification for your business, your auditors will appreciate that Finance and Operations business system already has ISO 27108 certification.

SOC-1/Type-2 and SOC-2/Type-2 – The service organization controls report (SOC) helps to confirm that a cloud service has appropriate controls in place to ensure that financial data is secure and protected. .