Archive for December, 2015

Microsoft Bi momentum continues with December 2015 releases.

December 26th, 2015

Microsoft has released the December update of Power BI Desktop and several updates of the Power BI service.
Microsoft is moving quickly to take the cloud market of BI services, which is still relatively unexplored (most companies still keep their data on premises), and is the only mainstream player providing a credible story of integration between cloud and on premises BI services,
Microsoft is leveraging many assets (the Tabular engine, Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, and many other Azure’s based services. Its weak point has always been where other BI vendors focus the “last mile” of data visualization and presentation. That is being addressed with acquisitions like Datazen.
Microsoft SQL Server 2016 will be a huge release for the BI services. SQL Server Analysis Services is a very important release, being the first major upgrade since SQL Server 2012 for Analysis Services Tabular. There are many new features that will make Tabular a more “enterprise ready” platform. The magic key will be “Hybrid BI”.
SSRS will play an important role of the on-premises BI portal. integration between SSRS 2016 and Power BI will allow users to pin SSRS report items to Power BI dashboards. You can test pinning reports items to Power BI with SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0 and later. The newly released CTP 3.2 also features the new sleek SSRS portal. Power BI is has become a focal point for cloud hosting of the main MS report artifacts i.e.: Power BI reports, Excel reports, and SSRS reports.
Last week Microsoft introduced mobile reports along with SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher, a new desktop app to to design and publish reports. You can now download a preview version of Mobile Report Publisher.

SQL Cumulative updates December 2015

December 26th, 2015

SQL Server 2014 SP1 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.

To learn more about the release or servicing model, please visit: CU#4 KB Article:

SQL Server 2014 RTM CU11 is now available for download at the Microsoft Support site.
To learn more about the release or servicing model, please visit:•CU#11 KB Article:

Merry Christmas from Synergy Software Systems

December 25th, 2015

Seasonal Greetings and a Prosperous New Year wishes for all my readers.

A thought for those who struggle to master the Synergy a/c controls.

Critical Outlook patch -December 2015

December 21st, 2015

Outlook “letterbomb” exploit could auto-open attacks in e-mail
Fixed by Microsoft’s latest patches, the bug could be a n “enterprise killer,” .

Flash can open right in Outlook. Ooops

One of a heaping collection of critical bug fixes pushed out by Microsoft on December 8 as part of the company’s monthly “Patch Tuesday” was an update to the Microsoft Office suite designed to close a vulnerability that would allow an attacker to sneak past Outlook’s security features. While the patch addressed multiple vulnerabilities in the way Office manages objects in memory, the most severe of those allows for remote code execution through a “specially crafted Microsoft Office file,” Microsoft reported.

Now more details of just how bad that vulnerability is have been provided by security researcher Haifei Li in a paper entitled “BadWinmail: The ‘Enterprise Killer’ Attack Vector in Microsoft Outlook.” The vulnerability allows a crafted attachment to an e-mail to bypass Outlook’s layers of security by exploiting Office’s Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) capabilities and Outlook’s Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format (TNEF)—the e-mail attachment method associated with Outlook messages’ winmail.dat attachments.

The winmail.dat file includes instructions on how to handle attachments embedded within it. “When the value of the ‘PidTagAttachMethod’ [within winmail.dat] is set to ATTACH_OLE (6),” Haifei wrote, “the ‘attachment file’ (which is another file contained in the winmail.dat file) will be rendered as an OLE object.”

OLE objects are handled differently by Outlook without the new patch—they are rendered within the e-mail and call code from the application they’re based on—breaking out of the “sandbox” that Outlook usually contains documents within to prevent malicious scripts from launching. As a result, an attacker could “‘build’ a TNEF e-mail and send it to the user, when the user reads the e-mail, the embedded OLE object will be loaded automatically,” noted Haifei.

This sort of vulnerability makes for an extremely dangerous phishing attack—the victim doesn’t even have to click on anything within the e-mail for it to execute, as it opens automatically when the e-mail is viewed. And that automatically opened attachment can even be a Flash exploit, as Haifei confirmed in testing. “By packing a Flash exploit in an OLE enabled TNEF e-mail, an attacker can [achieve] full code execution as long as the victim reads the e-mail,” he reported. “We use Flash OLE object as an example since Flash (zero-day) exploits are easy to obtain by attackers, but please note that there are other OLE objects [that] may be abused by [an] attacker.”

The OLE method can even be used within the content of an e-mail message sent as an attachment. Outlook automatically sees .msg files as “safe” and opens them in an Outlook message view rather than sandboxing them—and as a result, any OLE content within them will also automatically be opened. This makes the vulnerability “wormable,” Haifei noted—an exploit could re-send itself as an attachment from the first victim to others in the victim’s address book, spreading the exploit quickly across whole organizations. In effect, a single e-mail simply read by a targeted individual could result in the compromise of a whole company, as a message forwarded by a colleague would be more likely to be opened.

The vulnerability, identified as CVE-2015-6172, affects Office 2010 and later, as well as Microsoft Word 2007 with Service Pack 3. If you haven’t been able to apply the patches from December 8 yet, Microsoft has recommended turning off the message preview pane for Outlook to prevent malicious messages from being automatically opened and changing settings to view all e-mails as plain text.

Haifei also suggested making registry setting changes with an “Office kill-bit” to block Flash content from automatically opening via OLE, by blocking the CLSID D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000 with Windows Registry Editor:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\Common\COM Compatibility\{D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000}]”Compatibility Flags”=dword:00000400

Changing this setting will prevent OLE-embedded Flash exploits within other Office documents from being executed as well.

Nanotechnology printing

December 21st, 2015

Thanks to a new revolutionary laser printing technology, it is now possible to print this blog article in colour on an area no bigger than a hair. This breakthrough in nanotechnology will be published on 14 December 2015 in an article in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

A nanotechnology breakthrough from DTU revolutionizes laser printing technology, allowing you to print high-resolution data and colour images of unprecedented quality and microscopic dimensions.

DTU researchers from DTU Nanotech and DTU Fotonik reproduced a colour image of Mona Lisa which is less than one pixel on an iPhone Retina display. The laser technology allows printing in a mind-blowing resolution of 127,000 DPI. In comparison, weekly or monthly magazines are normally printed in a resolution equivalent to 300 DPI. She is 50 micrometres long or about 10,000 times smaller than the real Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris.

Printing microscopic images requires a special nanoscale-structured surface of rows with small columns with a diameter of merely 100 nanometres each. This structured surface is overed by 20 nanometres of aluminium.A laser pulse is transmitted from nanocolumn to nanocolumn, and the nanocolumn is heated locally, after which it melts and is deformed. The temperature can reach up to 1,500°C, but only for a few nanoseconds, preventing the extreme heat from spreading.

The intensity of the laser beam determines which colours are printed on the surface, since the extent of column deformation decides which colour is reflected. Low-intensity laser pulses lead to a minor deformation of the nanocolumn, resulting in blue and purple colour tone reflections. Strong laser pulses create a drastic deformation, which gives the reflection from the nanocolumn an orange and yellow colour tone.

Professor N. Asger Mortensen from DTU Fotonik explains: “Every time you make a slight change to the column geometry, you change the way it absorbs light. The light which is not absorbed is the colour that our eyes see. If the column absorbs all the blue light, for example, the red light will remain, making the surface appear red.”

There is considerable scope for application of the new laser printing technology. Professor Anders Kristensen from DTU Nanotech elaborates: “It will be possible to save data invisible to the naked eye. This includes serial numbers or bar codes of products and other information. The technology can also be used to combat fraud and forgery, as the products will be labelled in way that makes them very difficult to reproduce. It will be easier to determine whether the product is an original or a copy.”

The new laser printing technology can be used on a larger scale to personify products such as mobile phones with unique decorations, names, etc. Foreign companies which produce parts for cars, such as instrument panels and buttons, are already taking a keen interest in the technology to simplify production. Today, a large number of different instrument panels must be adapted to the various accessories that the car has, including airconditioning, USB, cigarette lighters, etc.

The technology has been patented, and researchers will now focus on developing the technology, so that it can replace the conventional laser printers .

Windows 10 for 2016

December 21st, 2015

Windows is still Microsoft’s most important product.
The company has managed to fix many of the issues that bugged users, businesses, and anyone else who came across Windows 10. (though it has just pulled the mobile version) The next update to Windows 10 — internally codenamed “Redstone” —will refine many of the features and improvements introduced in 2015.

Release date: Given the time it takes to code, test, and roll-out an entire operating system, a June time frame makes sense. It is rumoured that “Redstone” will be released in two halves: One in June and then one later in November. Microsoft has given no indication of when the update will be introduced beyond a vague 2016 time frame.
A small update in June: According to reports, there will be a small update earlier in 2016 that will include a new Skype app, extensions for Microsoft Edge, and various other smaller — but essential — changes.

Microsoft has worked to make Windows 10 the digital hub for all your activities. The operating system works on almost any device — from the Internet of Things to a PC to a server — and this theme will continue in the “Redstone” update.

It will not be called Windows 11: Microsoft skipped on Windows 9 and it looks like it will skip on Windows 11 for the time being, according to ZDNet. The smaller update to Windows 8 was given a “point” name — 8.1 — and its likely that Microsoft will take the same tact for Windows 10.

Windows 10.1 will likely be free: Microsoft has shifted to a “Windows-as-a-Service” model which means the operating system is free and all of the services that come with it — such as the Windows Store — are used to make money. This, in many ways, is similar to how Apple delivers OS X, the operating system for Macs.

Microsoft will likely continue to work on ithenew Windows features, such as Universal Windows Apps and Microsoft Edge, the replacement for Internet Explorer.
HoloLens: Since Microsoft’s futuristic headset is set to launch to developers in 2016 and will runs Windows 10, just like a PC, Microsoft will likely be looking for optimised Windows Holographic apps — which is every app — to work on the headset.

To summarise, the “Redstone” update to Windows will be an attempt by Microsoft to make the operating system better, without changing everything . The Windows 8 and 10 updates both took away and introduced a lof of features but it seems Microsoft has found a formula — part tablet-optimised, part PC-optimised — that it likes.

ERP Project Failures

December 16th, 2015

Reports have appeared of two more high profile SAP project failures, one at Deutsche Post DHL, the other at Dow Chemical.

Deutsche Post DHL Group is struggling with a software upgrade in its DHL Global Forwarding division. The upgrade gone wrong has already led to a write-off of €345 million. Dubbed the New Forwarding Environment (NFE), the upgraded software for DHL’s Global Forwarding division was to enable a variety of new capabilities, including better shipment visibility through improved capture, management and display of operational milestones, and a reduction of paperwork through greater use of a document management system. It was originally used by SAP as a global reference for SAP TM 9.0 when it was released in February 2015, so this failure is particularly embarrassing for SAP.

Dow Chemical Co. spent eight years and $1 billion implementing a new enterprise resource planning system that didn’t deliver value as quickly as hoped and said that another eight year project was ‘unimaginable’.

It is easy to point fingers. There will no doubt be many lessons to learn about the challenges of large scale project management, scope creep, budget, training, partner selection and channel capacity, etc. Another factor that is often overlooked is what can reasonably be expected to work in the real world. Long projects risk more staff changes, more consultant changes, more business changes, more technology changes and the urgency of day to day issues tend to take higher priority.

We don’t live in a perfect world, its easy to dream up automatic processes, detailed field by field segmentation of duties, directed workflows for every step of every process, with hundreds of reports, kpis , dashboards etc
The result is often over engineered and over complex solutions. It takes a long time to build, even longer to test, and by then the user has changed, or the business requirement has changed, a new code version, new database version, new operating system are released, the government changes taxes, etc, etc.

Users resent being micro managed, the project adds more work to their daily load etc.

Does a global solution provide efficiency and standardization, ease of support, and global rollout or or does it stifle local autonomy and agility, and result in inflexible systems that need external workarounds to meet local requirements?

Rethink the rfp – ‘what can I live without for now? “rather than ‘what else can I conceivably demand?’.

be realistic about the team size and effort needed internally – its at least as big as the consulting effort. Who really has the experience to make the policy decisions? – how much time can they sped away from day to day business tasks?.

One of our most successful clients has grown from 100 to 2500 +staff in the last 5 years. What is important is done excellently, but they don’t automate for the sake of it, they understand that complex data structures, and processes and workflows and security provide ongoing maintenance challenges, they don’t reinvent the wheel, They also take ownership of their system.

The difference between success and failure is not always that great. When you firs town a car, ease of use, reliability, proper driving instruction are more important then whether its BMW or a Mercedes. Before worrying about the stereo, and the colour work decide whether it is right for your needs or do you need something else like a Van or a HGV.

Consider why management want the system then consider why the users will use this system – are the reasons aligned?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premises Price Increase December 2015

December 14th, 2015

Note from December 1st, 2015, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server and Device CALs are subject to a 10% price increase and User CALs to a 25% price increase.

CRM 4.0 support for Explorer from Jan 2016

December 14th, 2015

Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.

Because Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 ​relies on Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 when running on Windows 7, it is critical that customers understand the need to migrate to a newer version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in order to remain

C Executive collaboration in erp selection

December 13th, 2015

A Gartner survey last year , “Survey Analysis: Critical CFO Technology Needs: 2014 Gartner FEI Study,” June 23, 2014, http://bit. ly/1Ga5I50 highlighted the importance of C level Executive collaboration when selecting an erp system.

A critical component of any successful technology integration project is teamwork—especially among those with decision-making power and departmental oversight. In the case of ERP, the CIO and CFO should work hand-in-hand to determine which solution is best positioned to support the business and technology requirements of teams across the enterprise. They also need to jointly provide the highest value for the technology dollar—affordable to purchase and implement, economical to operate (low total cost of ownership), and capable of facilitating long-term financial stability and growth.

While an organization’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) may have differing perspectives on a host of issues, common ground can must be found between them to select and implement an appropriate ERP solution. Because both CIO and CFO are driven by role-specific ambitions and targets, reaching a mutual decision can prove challenging. To mitigate against differing points of view leading to a project delay or cancellation, the following recommendations are hints for CFOs and CIOs on how to reach a common ERP selection and implementation strategy:

1. Determine how each ERP option supports overall organizational strategy. According to the 2014 Gartner Financial Executives International CFO Technology Study, out of a survey sample of 210 executives, the CFO authorized 29 percent of IT investments. This surpassed even the CEO for decision-making in this space. CFOs are clearly interested in ERP costs in both the near and long term. The issues around how well each solution supports the company’s comprehensive goals for current and future operations are just as critical,. Analysis requires input from, and partnership with, the CIO ad other C Executives.

The CIO has to worry about wider issues such as compatibility, support, upgrade path, security, connectivity, reporting features and the day to operational costs, such as a/c/ energy support contracts, IT training and so on. There is also a strategic role to play to keep abreast of, and to leverage new technology to better leverage the deployment and use of the erp functionality e.g. mobility, predictive analytics, IoT Executives should eb able to articulate clearly how each proposed solution /functionality /feature either does or does not supports strategic growth.

To crystallise thoughts identify a realistic solution ROI.
That will help to set a budget early and help in priosiritising requirements, and must have vs nice to have features. It also helps to understand what is a sensible level of investment to drive the system in top gear rather than in 1st gear.

As CFOs take a more hands-on approach to technology decision-making, they are strategically prioritizing their options, and placing ERP software high on their list of potentially transformative tools. In the Gartner study, 47 percent cited enterprise business applications in the top three most important technology investments, with 23 percent putting them at the very top of the list. Forty-two percent of CFOs cited these applications as their most important technology investment over the next three years. Similar results are seen in surveys of CPM software, and the bottom line results also show that leaders in bottom line performance measures are those with the right systems.

CIOs and CFOs should both be looking for the same thing—ERP software that delivers the highest possible return on investment (ROI) with minimum risk, maximum agility, and scaleablity. A system that not only helps to compete today but that can adapt and grow with the business. Determining the required ROI for the business as well as the likely ROI of competing solutions goes a long way toward clarifying the value of available options. Similarly, a budget helps to narrow the software choices to those most likely to drive and sustain long-term growth and profitability or to ensure that additional investment in more features enhance rather than undermines the strategy. Budgets are not tablets of stone -they are acceptable benchamarks- that does not mean they cannot be changed if you have good reason. The key is to how will you decide and ROI is a good test.

3. Consider a solution with built-in Business Intelligence (BI) capability: When executives in the Gartner study were asked to identify the business priority they believed most required technology support, 62 percent indicated “facilitating analysis and decision making.” To this end, executives are increasingly looking to BI tools to capture insights across the enterprise, and realizing that ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics AX provide this critical capability as a built-in feature. For both the CIO and CFO then, it will be paramount both to understand which software options include this functionality (and how deep that functionality goes) and to require vertically-focused expertise from potential vendor partners to determine which tool best supports the organization’s use case.

4. Schedule your ERP rollout to maximize the functionality that will provide the foundation to grow and to control costs: Given the potential disruption as major systems are implemented and adopted, CIOs and CFOs should bring together relevant information from their respective areas of expertise and influence to carefully plan a timeline for project planning, implementation, and support that protects against financial risks, system downtime, and process changeover lag. Gartner suggests a “pace-layered strategy” to minimize these types of integration risks, reduce costs, and maximize security. Under such an approach, companies can categorize each business application (including ERP) as a system of record, differentiation, or innovation, then apply differentiated management processes for each, driving more thoughtful, collaborative, and high-value integrations.

The Value of Executive Partnership in Driving Technology Investment

It comes as no surprise that a successful ERP deployment hinges on partnership—and that synergy among department leaders is essential to securing the executive approval, team unity, and partner relationships required to implement a successful and even transformative long-term software solution. By working together to identify common goals and arbitrate diverging viewpoints, CIOs and CFOs can ensure the final selected system is one that not only meets their individual needs, but is also optimally positioned to meet business requirements and operational objectives enterprise-wide, securing sustainable growth and profitability.