Microsoft and Dell have together announced a new partnership between themselves to deliver the full VMware cloud infrastructure natively in Microsoft Azure.
The partnership will allow customers to deploy and mansage VMware’s “Cloud Foundation”technology natively in Azure. Customers will be able to migrate and manage their on-premise workloads to Azure without needing to reconfigure any of their their applications or services.
What is unique and really impressive here is that unlike VMware’s partnership with Amazon, known simply as “VMware on AWS”, the Azure/VMware service will be fully managed by Microsoft.
Thsi partnership will also allow VMware to extend the capabilities of Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop leveraging VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure just like Microsoft have already done with Citrix.
Why would Microsoft be promoting VMware on Azure?
Despite the market share gains and traction Microsoft has with Hyper-V, there is no denying that VMware has an incredible install base which is still growing at an impressive rate. VMware customers are loyal and its customers know their products well. Brining the complete on-premise solution of virtualised compute, storage and network into Azure will not only help drive Azure consumption and growth but it does so on the customer’s terms without them having to compromise their investment and experience of VMware.
Is it available now?
Not yet, initial capabilities are expected to be available as a technical preview by the end of CY 2019.
With the plethora of new information circling around the hugely Microsoft Surface Hub 2 since their New York event and annoucnment of availability and pricing back on the 17th April. While we are still waiting for UK pricing and availablity, I wanted to try to summarise everything about the new Surface Hub is currently “public” into a blog post.
Release date and pricing
Whilst initially announced as ‘Hub 2’ in May last year, the evolution of the product into Hub 2S and Hub 2X (more on that later) means a staggered release, with the 2S variant becoming available in the North American market in June 2019, and other regions – including UK and other countries to follow “very” shortly after.
Pricing for Surface Hub 2S in North America has been confirmed at $8,999, and as per the offical launch date into other markets, as well as UK pricing is expected to confirmed (expected on 2nd May 2019).
Surface Hub 2S: The key specs
Taking it’s key desgn pricipals from the hugely successful Microsoft Surface “product family”, the Surface Hub 2 model comprises of a lighter (about 40%), thinner device in contrast to Surface Hub V1. The from the ground-up redesign introduces (as it did first time round) a new collaboration product category that I am sure the competition will quickly copy/immitate.
At just 27.9 kg , combined with the big reduction in bezel size, removing of built-in (non upgradable) cameras, inclusion of edge-side connectors and repositioning speakers to the rear, introduces the future option (coming in 2020) of tiling multiple devices together for greater options in both use, agility, and room design. On the subject of audio, the new speaker configuration in Hub 2 includes a subwoofer, and vastly superior quality speakers with ambient noise cancelling and active speaker tracking.
The significantly smaller, more agile and lighter design is where the Surface Hub 2 has yet again created itself new space in the market. Whilst Surface Hub 1 could be used in a mobile environment (when used with the Microsoft Rolling Stand), the recent announcement of the APC Charge Mobile Battery which is designed to slot into the Steelcase Roam Mobile Stand, the Hub 2 takes this flexibilty even further with 2 hours of completely cable-free use.
I personally can’t wait to see this feature in our customers meeting spaces and to see how it creates even greater meeting & collaboration experiences for users in literally any space.
Aside from being massively impressed by the slick Microsoft launch (ok teaser) last year, the Hub 2’s mobility is truely genius – the beautifully engineered rolling stand deserves to win prizes as it really will set Hub 2 free and make collaboration truley possible in any space without the need for cumbersome cables or power one of the biggest blockers in creating agile teaching or collaboration spaces.
Surface Hub 2’s Partner in Crime – Whiteboard
In short, the Microsoft Whiteboard app is not confined (anymore) to Surface Hub. After already making is debut on Hub 1, it is a simple, clean yet vastly powerful and AI driven app that makes it easy to collaborate with multiple other people virtually using images, sticky notes, unlimited canvass, intelligent search and image services and of course …the digital pen. The app works across all Windows 10 devices, Apple Tablets and Android devices (very soon) and of course works seemlessly on all Surface devices including Surface Hub 1 and 2, Surface Studio, Surface Book, Surface Laptop and of course Surface Pro.
Whiteboard app if you havent tried it is simply awesome. I wont say much more on this blog – try it you’ll love it… what ever touch enabled device you use!
What Else is Coming?
Surface Hub 2X– When Hub 2X comes out next year, you’ll be able to easily upgrade a Surface Hub 2S to 2X through removable processor cartridge, unlocking upgraded operating system features, multiple device tiling, and the dynamic tilting screen.
Surface Hub 2S 85″ – The initial announcement/rumour of an 85″ Surface Hub version was made during the April 17 event, with product testing to commence early 2020, and anticipated for late 2020.
Surface Hub 2 Display only – Microsoft continues to build momentum in the Windows Collaboration Device product category with a display-only Hub 2 format that is pen and touch-back enabled, also expected later this calendar year.
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“Files Restore is now available for SharePoint document libraries, protecting your shared files in SharePoint, Teams, Outlook groups, and Yammer groups connected to Office 365 groups and uses the same recovery capabilities that protect your individual files in OneDrive for Business,”.
Files shared on Microsoft Teams also leverage SharePoint Document libraries, which means that IT administrators don’t have to deal with separate storage containers and can quickly restore data.
Two new cloud-based technologies, Microsoft Azure Sentinel and Microsoft Threat Experts, have recently been unveiled in efforts to reduce the “…noise, false alarms, time consuming tasks and complexity…” to empower security operations teams. Check out the articles below to find out more information.
Yesterday, after months of “preview testing”, Microsoft announced the “General Availability” (GA) of their Azure Information Protection (AIP) unified labeling client.
Sorry remind me – what is AIP?
Azure Information Protection (AIP) is a Microsoft 365 cloud-based solution that helps organisations to protect their data and information through the classification, labeling and (optionally), encryption of the data. AIP applies to a vast range of document types and emails data. Labels can be applied automatically by administrators or SecOps who define rules and conditions, manually by your users, or a combination where users are given recommendations as to what labels to apply.
So what has changed in this update?
If you’ve been using labelling in Office 365 for things like DLP in the past you’ll know that this labelling has always been different to the labelling and classification service which is part of Azure Information Protection causing some pain and potential conflict between deifferent data and information labelling across the two services.
This GA release has now brought these together resulting in a completely integrated and unified labeling platform to eliminate managing labels in both the Azure portal and the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.
The AIP unified labeling client gets its configuration (labels and polices) from the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center like all other Microsoft Information Protection workloads, including built in labeling in across the Office applications for Mac, iOS, and Android.
Microsoft say that this new release contains substantial new features from the original AIP client, including the manual and automatic labeling and exciting new features that are supported only for unified labeling, such as custom sensitive information types, dictionaries and complex conditions (AND/OR) that dramatically improve automation capabilities and reduce false positive rates.
Microsoft’s advice is that for any organisation just starting their deployment and use of AIP are advised to start with the new unified labeling client and the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center to “enjoy” the unified client and admin experience.
From here on, new features will only be made available in the AIP unified labeling client.
But there is a but….. Since the new Unfied Client is not currently at full “feature parity” with old AIP client, organisations that require any of the features that are still not supported in the new AIP unified labeling client, for example “user defined permissions”, should start with the AIP client and upgrade these clients to the unified labeling client once the required features are released.
Microsoft does support “mixed environments” on the same environment which means you can run the AIP client and scanner, and the AIP unified labeling client on different devices at the same time. Additionally, Microsoft promises that the AIP unified labeling supports a seamless upgrade from the old AIP client.