Category: Products

Microsoft shows off its new things for the Cloud

banner_220x220Microsoft today announced a plethora of new Internet of Things-focused updates to its Azure cloud computing platform.

Some of today’s announcements are relatively minor. Azure IoT Central, the company’s solution for helping you get started with IoT, is now generally available and there are updates to Microsoft’s IoT provisioning service, IoT hub message routing tools and Map Control API.

Microsoft said that the Azure IoT platform will now support Google’s Android and Android Things platform via its Java SDK.

What’s more interesting, though, is the new services. The highlight here is probably the launch of Azure Digital Twins. Using this new service, enterprises can now build their own digital models of any physical environment.

It is the virtual counterpart to a real-world IoT deployment and the idea is that as IoT deployment in the real world changes, so does the digital model. It will provide developers with a full view of all the devices they have deployed and allows them to run advanced analytics and test scenarios as needed without having to make changes to the actual physical deployment.

Writing in its bog, Vole said: “As the world enters the next wave of innovation in IoT where the connected objects such as buildings, equipment or factory floors need to be understood in the context of their environments, Azure Digital Twins provides a complete picture of the relationships and processes that connect people, places and devices.”

Azure Digital Twins will launch into preview on October 15.

Watchguard releases a product to fill the authentication gap

Insecurity outfit WatchGuard has rolled out a multi-factor authentication product specifically for SMEs after it spotted a gap in the market.

The security player has introduced AuthPoint and has shared findings from CITE Research that indicated that 61 per cent of SMEs felt that the technology was only reserved for larger enterprises.

Alex Cagnoni, director of Authentication at WatchGuard said that a massive portion of data breaches involve lost credentials and since cyber criminals target organisations of any size, MFA is now a prerequisite for all businesses.

“In the absence of MFA, cyber criminals can usea variety of techniques to acquire usernames and passwords, such as spear phishing, social engineering and buying stolen credentials on the dark web, to gain network access and then steal valuable company and customer data”, he added.

Rebecca Fernyhough, account manager at UK channel partner Epic Network Support said that with the launch of AuthPoint, WatchGuard hadextended its product portfolio with a vital security offering that is often overlooked by SMBs and has done so in a way that is easy for the channel to sell, deploy and manage.

The WatchGuard release comes at a time when SMEs are struggling with keeping on top of security threats.


HFX signs a partnership with CIPHR

devil_514SaaS flexitime and workforce management outfit  HFX has signed a partnership agreement with CIPHR.

The partnership includes integration that brings together HFX’s cloud-based workforce and time management solutions with CIPHR’s range of HR, Recruitment and Learning solutions.

Rob Oehlers, head of customer experience at CIPHR said: “HFX’s cloud-based products are a significant extension to our own HR SaaS solutions. HFX’s innovative approach to managing staff working time means their products are flexible, based on real world experience and extremely useable.”

Nicola Smart Chief Operating Officer at HFX said: “CIPHR’s mid-market focus is an important segment for our products and services. We find that the flexibility that we can provide with our cloud-based model works really well in this market where agile companies are keen to maximise use of specialist technology. We are delighted to be working with CIPHR.”

ADVA involved in UK’s first quantum network leap

Wallpaper-quantum-leap-32404651-1280-720ADVA  is playing a key enabling role in the UK’s first quantum network. Built by the University of Cambridge and officially launched this week, the network is based on a metro transport system in the city of Cambridge.

The thing super-encrypts data using quantum key distribution (QKD) for complete and long-term cryptographic data security, it seems.

And here comes the hyperbole. The openness of the ADVA FSP 3000 platform, which can accept keys from third-party systems utilizing standard protocols, is a vital component of the ultra-secure ROADM-based network. For several years, ADVA has worked closely with Toshiba and the Quantum Communications Hub to engineer the groundbreaking data protection system. Quantum cryptography is expected to be an essential tool for securing mission-critical infrastructure as it protects against all forms of cyberattack, including future advances in quantum computing.

Tim Spiller, York University and director of the Quantum Communications Hub said: “As part of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme in the Quantum Communications Hub, we’re bringing together a wide range of universities, public sector bodies and private companies in a unique collaboration. Our shared goal is realizing the potential of QKD technologies to deliver secure communications. Now, alongside key partners such as ADVA, we’ve reached the stage where QKD-based security is ready for live traffic.”

Here’s some more hyperbole. The ADVA FSP 3000’s open interface was developed to comply with early drafts of the new ETSI quantum-safe cryptography standard currently being developed by an ISG headed by Toshiba. This lets the platform to interoperate with external systems and is crucial to the viability of the new QKD solution as it allows the ADVA FSP 3000 to securely and robustly accept keys. What’s more, ADVA’s WDM platform is able to utilize the same fiber for sending high-speed encrypted data as well as for distributing (or generating) quantum keys. QKD is widely predicted to be fundamental to the future of transport network security, especially for finance and government network applications. Distributing encryption keys by transmitting quantum states guarantees the secrecy of data as any attempt to intercept traffic disturbs photons, introducing coding errors and alerting network operators. This makes QKD the ultimate defence against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Jörg-Peter Elbers, SVP, advanced technology, ADVA said that the launch was a genuine milestone for data protection.

“By working with Toshiba and the Quantum Communications Hub to advance QKD, we’re ushering in a new age of robust security. This technology will provide peace of mind to businesses most at risk from cyberattacks both now and in the future. They and their customers can have confidence that their data will be shielded from all threats including data harvesting for future quantum hacking.

“In recent years, our encryption technology  has earned a formidable reputation for protecting service provider and enterprise networks while ensuring highest capacity, lowest latency and maximum scalability. Our ConnectGuar suite offers the strongest protection possible at Layers 1, 2, 3 and 4. Using our FSP 3000 to enable QKD protection ensures our technology will remain at the forefront of secure data transport, even in the post-quantum era.”

Andrew Shields, assistant managing director of Toshiba Research Europe Limited, Cambridge Research Lab said: “Developing quantum cryptography in fiber optic networks has long been a focus for our team. Over the years, we’ve taken it from PoCs in the lab to real-world demonstrations and we were the first company to achieve a transfer rate of more than 1Mbit/s for quantum communication. Now, through close collaboration with ADVA and the Quantum Communications Hub, we’ve created a fully operational transport network secured by QKD and ready to carry live data..
“At a time of increasingly frequent and severe cyberattacks, this technology will prove vital to enterprises looking to fortify their data security, particularly those in the financial sector. Not only does it offer a new level of protection against intrusion on fibre optic networks, but it also safeguards against the upcoming threat of hacking in a post-quantum world.”

Ian White, van Eck Professor of Engineering, University of Cambridge added: “The development of the UK Quantum Network has already led to a much greater understanding of the potential of this technology in secure applications in a range of fields, in addition to bringing new insights into the operation of the systems in practice,” commented “I have no doubt that the network will bring much benefit in the future to researchers, developers and users.”

You can find more details on your smartphone.

Encoded software enables SMS payments

Surprise Kitten Kittens Cat Money Animals PetEncoded has released its new customer engagement platform that enables contact centres to accept secure customer payments via SMS.

The new platform works with other Encoded payment services enabling a customer’s stored payment details to be accessed from any of the channels being used such as self-service IVR, agent assisted payments or online.

Encoded’s platform has been designed to be PCI DSS and GDPR compliant, ensuring mobile and online security of customer payment data. It also incorporates Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, simulating real agents to handle routine parts of the conversation. “Bots” autonomously engage in client conversations alerting agents only when the conversation falls out of the expected flow, allowing them to pick up with the full conversation history. This enables a small number of contact centre staff to handle a large number of customers.

Businesses can also use SMS chat via Encoded’s platform to promote the use of online services, broadcast releases of their latest mobile App or invite clients to request the latest PDF download. It integrates with other messaging services including Facebook Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

Robert Crutchington, Director of Encoded said: “At Encoded our solutions are designed to reduce contact centre costs by automating processes, offering new channels for fulfilment and transaction processing and increasing ways for agents to improve customer service.

“Enabling customers to pay securely using SMS ticks all of these boxes. Widely accepted as a non-intrusive, convenient method of communication, it is often preferred to emails or voice. It makes it easier for customers to pay and they don’t have to spend time waiting on the phone. It is also a cost effective way for businesses to take payments, saving agents time chasing late or non-payments.”

The new secure customer engagement platform is already in use at one of Encoded’s big brand customers and is available immediately.

Avaya introduces a new workforce optimisation suite

avaya logoAvaya has introduced a new version of the Avaya Workforce Optimisation suite, which improves service quality, operational and employee productivity and data privacy with a series of new features and tools.

The major software release should help customer engagement and comply with existing and emerging industry regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

IDC research commissioned by Avaya found that employee productivity is a key driver of digital transformation – a necessary step that sets the groundwork through which enterprises are better prepared to achieve the higher revenue growth associated with better customer experience.1 While optimising the customer experience and service delivery is critical to winning and keeping business, only 28 percent of companies believe they integrate customer communications with fulfilment and distribution extremely well.

Chris McGugan, Avaya SVP, Solutions and Technologies said that while more and more companies understand that providing a great customer experience is good business, many have a long way to go to bring all the parts together that make that a reality.

“Customer experience is a function of fully integrated, customer-facing, efficient and effective workforce support and back office processes. Avaya Workforce Optimisation helps ensure that the employees engaged in service delivery meet the standard of excellence that customers expect and deserve, and helps drive business profitability and growth.”

Avaya Workforce Optimisation also addresses a key concern of enterprises and customers around the world today: securing personal data and keeping it private. Driven by the European GDPR requirements, Avaya strengthened data privacy with the newest features to help securely record, process, archive, and protect customers’ data to reach compliance goals.

Other features included in the latest Avaya Workforce Optimisation release enable enterprises to:

· Improve operational effectiveness and accuracy with real-time speech analytics – Calls can be monitored in real-time to detect words and phrases of interest and to drive interactions to better outcomes.

· Improve customer and employee satisfaction – Supervisors and quality managers become better coaches and improve employee engagement through automated quality management, speeding scoring for some or all questions on evaluation forms.

·  Improve data privacy and regulatory compliance – Enterprises can safely record, archive and protect personal data through advanced, 256-compliant encryption, Payment Card Industry Security (PCI), data identification and tagging and identify consent/no consent situations to help ensure GDPR compliance.

Michael Lazarus, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Manager at HomeChoice said his outfit’s quality assurance staff can now quickly adjust to customer needs.

“If people struggle to access something on our website or think that a feature is not user-friendly, we hear about it immediately from calls, surveys, and quality assurance scores, and can start to implement the desired changes straightaway. Because we can provide better service, our customers are even more satisfied than before.”

Avaya releases IP Office

avaya logoAvaya has announced the global release of the new version of Avaya IP Office which is a UC platform.

The latest version adds support for Avaya Equinox and new capabilities that provide an enterprise-level experience with the ease of use and management that small and midsize businesses require.

Chris McGugan, SVP, Solutions and Technologies, Avaya. said that by providing a single app to access all the tools they need to efficiently communicate and collaborate “we’re truly enabling teams to work smarter, not harder”.

The company said the product was a huge market opportunity for Avaya and its partners.

“IP Office serves an enormous base – 26 million users and growing. The new release is the most scalable solution in the market today and the only one that offers contact centre-like features to any size of business, embedded in one solution package. Users now have the richness of enterprise UC solutions, all in a single application, on premise or in the cloud”, McGugan said.

Solution provider and Avaya  partner Derek Gray, Carousel Cloud Solutions said that it’s important that it had a record of live conversations to ensure that it had a reference point of critical elements affecting a client’s satisfaction.

“Chronicall with IP Office logs everything that happens on the call, providing us with call history, recording and real-time reporting, with a clean, easy to use interface. This not only provides us with what we need, but is also a perfect fit for our customers.”

Partners using Avaya’s Powered by IP Office cloud platform also benefit from these new capabilities and can offer them to new or existing customers in either a full cloud or hybrid cloud deployment delivery model. Partners will also have new installation wizards and management tools to make it even easier and faster to deploy and manage both premises-based and cloud options. For example, the new Cloud Operations Manager simplifies administration of large multi-customer cloud deployments, upgrades, patching and application inventory with role-based administration that helps ensure security.




HPE spruces up its Nimble Storage range

CnCMnP7VUAA-Qp_HPE has made improvements to its Nimble Storage range to offer all-flash and large performance gains.

It claims that the platform comes with a “Store More Guarantee” that will see the hardware store more data per raw terabyte of storage than any other vendor’s all-flash array. It added that the guarantee means that if the Nimble hardware is not able to meet the storage efficiency of an all-flash competitor, it will offer the extra storage for free.

The range takes advantage of storage class memory and NVMe to support “performance-intensive” applications like web analytics, business intelligence, real-time trading, and other applications that require instant results.

The new HPE Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash arrays merge hybrid and secondary flash technology into a single array and also support inline variable deduplication. It is aimed at mixed, primary workloads where cost-efficient flash performance is important. It also works as a secondary flash array for backup and disaster recovery while also allowing customers to run workloads such as quality assurance, test-dev and reporting, HPE said.

The vendor added that the arrays deliver all-flash like performance with up to 150% greater price-performance than previous arrays.

HPE’s storage GM Milan Shetti said: “We know from our customers that storage capacity efficiency is important to them, so we’re proud to be the first vendor to offer a guarantee. This guarantee further differentiates the HPE storage offering, which already includes HPE InfoSight, an industry-leading predictive analytics platform that prevents infrastructure problems before they happen, and is available for HPE Nimble and 3PAR storage customers.”

Oracle creates “self-driving” cloud services

two-clouds-1385018843_27_contentfullwidthOracle released three more autonomous cloud services which it is calling “self-driving” database and development platforms – which we assume cannot crash into any cyclists on a dark night.

The three new products are Oracle Autonomous Analytics Cloud; Oracle  Autonomous Integration Cloud and Oracle Autonomous Visual Builder Cloud. The trio of products comes two months after Oracle unleashed its Autonomous Data Warehouse

The batch of autonomous services all uses machine learning to provide intelligent patching, upgrading, tuning, and resource scaling, which Oracle sees as a cunning plan to beat Amazon Web Services.

Amit Zavery, executive vice president for Oracle Cloud Platform, told the assembled throngs at a media launch that all three new services “give customers the ability to build applications as well as get analysis inside the data quickly and easily”.

The analytic cloud service provides customers with pre-built models they can use to drive deeper analysis of their data and better optimisations, Zavery said.

The integration cloud service recognises the proliferation of SaaS across the enterprise, and the challenges in connecting diverse platforms and solutions, Zavery said. That product uses machine learning to understand different elements inside an integration flow and quickly connect them. It comes with pre-packaged connectors to products from Salesforce, Workday and SAP, he said.

Oracle’s visual builder service is geared for would-be developers without much, if any, coding skills. The autonomous functionality will make the low-code platform even easier for them to rapidly create and extend desktop and mobile apps, Zavery said.

In June, Oracle is expected to release another significant database offering—the OLTP database—as an independent cloud service.

The company has said by the end of summer customers will see Express and NoSQL autonomous databases, along with a layer of other autonomous services pairing databases with analytics, data management and visualisation tools.

GFI Software launches different type of subscription model

GFI_Corporate_SignGFI Software has launched GFI Unlimited which is a different type of subscription model that provides small and medium-sized businesses access to the network security and communications software in a single subscription.

The big idea is that it will help GFI channel partners become irreplaceable technology allies to their customers while growing their businesses with consistent and predictable revenue.

GFI Software CEO Scott Brighton said that companies were challenged by increasingly tight budgets, and have to navigate through a complex vendor landscape to acquire the technology they need to run their businesses.

“We’re tackling this challenge head-on with GFI Unlimited – investing millions on growing a catalogue of software products, and making them readily available for one flat fee.”

GFI Unlimited’s single, subscription unlocks access to the entire GFI Unlimited software portfolio. Today, this includes more than a dozen network security and communications tools.

GFI Unlimited is available now and currently includes GFI OneGuard, GFI OneConnect, GFI LanGuard, GFI WebMonitor, GFI Archiver, GFI MailEssentials, GFI FaxMaker, GFI EndPointSecurity, GFI EventsManager, Kerio Connect, Kerio Control and Kerio Operator. Pricing starts at £19.20 per user for a one-year subscription, including technical support for all products. Further information is available at Yeah, you’ll have to type it in.

Zoom gets a rush from Big Blue’s Watson

Sherlock-Holmes-and-WatsonZoom Video Communications has announced that IBM has embedded Zoom video meetings into IBM Watson Workspace Plus.

Zoom has worked with IBM to develop the ability for any Workspace Plus user to escalate their chats to Zoom video meetings with a single click to the Workspace interface. IBM will embed and sell Zoom’s video communications service as the video component of Watson Workspace.

The first collaboration solution of its kind built with Artificial Intelligence at its core, Watson Workspace Plus is designed to reduce the noise around communication through natural language processing and machine learning.

This collaboration platform is enhanced by Zoom’s video meetings. By using Zoom with IBM Watson Workspace Plus, enterprise knowledge workers gain:

  • HD video conferencing and screen sharing with integrated audio1:
  • 1 to up to 200 video participants (several meeting capacity options available)
  • Cross-platform collaboration across mobile, desktop, and conference room devices via Zoom
  • Collaboration features such as co-annotation, whiteboarding, and remote control
  • Watson Workspace Plus, featuring the Zoom SDK integration, will soon be available to IBM customers.

Zoom product manager head  Oded Gal said that  Zoom is focused on creating smarter, frictionless meetings for its customers.

“We’ve found a kindred spirit in IBM, with their focus on intelligent collaboration. The combination of our two services allows users to chat, meet, and collaborate with their teams faster and more effectively than ever before.”

IBM Collaboration Solutions general manager Bob Schultz said that to create a full digital workplace for users: “IBM and Zoom are joining efforts to simplify collaboration around the world. From having a quick text chat to engaging in a video conversation, Watson Workspace Plus capabilities allow everyday tasks to be consolidated into one platform so employees can focus on business priorities.”


Target takes vow of Xilence

fra_angelico_peter_silence770x570Distributor Target Components has become the exclusive UK distributor for power and cooling solutions manufacturer, Xilence.

This means it has Xilence’s entire portfolio of laptop and desktop gaming power supplies, CPU coolers, case fans and notebook accessories to flog.

The German manufacturer most recently launched its 80+ Gold Performance X semi-modular gaming power supplies.

Martyn Kirby, Target’s head of purchasing, explained the appointment: “With a 10-year pedigree, Xilence is a recognisable and trusted brand, a great fit for our growing range. Customers are increasingly demanding efficient and reliable power supplies and cooling but without ridiculous price tags – and Xilence delivers just that.”

He added that the range of laptop chargers was impressive – up to 85 percent efficiency, slim design, stable power delivery – for a vast majority of notebooks on the market. And the notebook coolers help get the best from the laptops themselves.

“We’re excited to be working with a manufacturer with such dedication to value without compromising on quality.”

Xilence’s West European sales manager, Ines Windisch, commented: “Target is a great fit for Xilence – their large, broad customer base of independent resellers, retailers, etailers and system builders gives us excellent access to the UK market. With our focus on providing high-quality, efficient and reliable products and Target’s access to such a wealth of customers, it’s an exciting time to be in the UK channel.”


Sophos trains for Phishes

imagesSecurity outfit Sophos has announced the expansion of its Sophos Phish Threat phishing attack simulator and training software to Europe and Asia which will be made available through its partners.

It has enhanced dashboards and new analytics to track organisational risk and employee performance and is alleged to simplify a key part of an organisations security strategy – employee awareness and training.  It can choose from hosting locations in Ireland, Germany or the US – organisations worldwide can now access multi-language, interactive security training from within the Sophos Central security management platform.

More than 41 percent of organisations see a phishing attack daily, and  employee training remains critical to maintaining efficient security.

Sophos Phish Threat automates the entire training process and provides visual analytics for identifying vulnerable employees. As the only security awareness training program from a leader in IT security, it can be managed alongside email, endpoint, and network security from one console for improved, risk management and incident response.

Senior vice president and general manager for the Sophos Messaging Security Group Bill Lucchini, said that human behaviour is a critical element of cybersecurity yet 62 percent of companies don’t train employees to recognise phishing attempts.

“SophosLabs sees malware on up to 77 percent of blocked mail. Creating a culture of security and data protection awareness has risen in priority with the greater risk of email born ransomware and the planned introduction of new legislation such as GDPR. Employees have to be responsible for the way they handle data and how to spot a phishing attack should be part of their training. Phish Threat builds greater employee awareness by creating suspicious emails using known techniques, successful spoofs, and contemporary examples. In fact, after just four Phish Threat simulation training emails, the average organisation reports a 31 percent reduction in employee susceptibility.”

Phish Threat enables IT managers to identify susceptible employees and manage relevant real-world phishing email simulations to deliver more efficient training sessions from within Sophos Central. Attack templates and training are available in nine languages and continuously updated based on Sophos’s global awareness of current threats. When errors are made, individuals are automatically given corrective training to learn from their mistakes. Phish Threat also provides the analytics and reporting metrics to allow tracking and measurement of overall business risk and security posture at an organisation or individual level. With benchmark data available on employee phishing susceptibility against global norms, training can be fully tailored, and data can be used to enhance security policy across Sophos Central to deliver a multi-layered security strategy against phishing and social engineering attacks.

Pricing and availability details have been passed to Sophos Partners.

Exertis signs deal with CAT

indexB2B distributor Exertis has inked an agreement with Bullitt for the CAT phones range of rugged smart and mobile phones.

The CAT brand provides tough equipment often deployed in harsh environments, and these features are equally applicable to their mobile devices.

Rik Hubbard, Exertis mobile commercial and services director, said:  “By their very nature, certain vertical markets such as the military, blue light services, manufacturing and construction require more durability and reliability for their mobile devices. Phones, with their smaller form factor, are more suitable for some workers operating in hazardous areas. The CAT brand is strongly associated with resilience and robustness and these devices offer a great solution at affordable prices for our resellers that sell into industrial and public-sector markets.”

Exertis will be supplying the Cat S31, Cat S41, Cat S30 and Cat S60 smartphones and the Cat B25 and Cat B30 mobile phones.

Ross Jeffries, Sales Director at Bullitt Group, global mobile device licensee for Caterpillar, said: “Exertis has been educating resellers in the opportunities in the rugged market which continues to grow. Their pedigree in providing mobile solutions in the B2B sector make them an ideal choice to distribute our range of devices and broaden our breadth of customers. We look forward to working together and meeting with customers at their Plug in to Exertis event in April.”

Microsoft creates the UK’s most powerful cloud service

PAY-Lion-King-cloud-MAINSoftware king of the world Microsoft thinks that it has created the UK’s most powerful cloud.

The M-Series virtual machines (VMs) in Azure can handle large workloads that involve a lot of data and Vole claims to be the only outfit offering this level of cloud computing power in this country.

The M-series supports up to 128 virtual central processing units (vCPU) and between one and 3.8 tebibytes of RAM – a tebibyte is equal to 1,024 gigabytes – on a single VM. It also offers up to 20 terabytes of memory which is huge for a public cloud.

Data can also be transferred between VMs at up to 30 gigabytes per second, making it easy for companies to back up files or replicate their databases.

The VMs are the only ones in the UK able to handle large workloads on the SAP HANA platform. Microsoft has also announced Dv3 VMs in UK data centres. These are built using new technology, so can perform better and more efficiently, enabling Microsoft to pass these savings on to customers who store data and run apps in the cloud for their businesses.

Microsoft Principle Programme Manager Jon Beck said that ny unlocking more power from the underlying hardware, Vole could harness better performance and efficiency, resulting in cost savings. They will cost up to 28 per cent less than the previous VMs – Dv2.

The Dv3 VMs use “hyper-threading technology” on Intel processors, which allows users to run several processes at once. Along with the new Ev3 VMs, they are some of the first to run on Windows Server 2016 hosts, and also boast nested virtualization – the ability to run a VM inside another VM.

The Dv3s offer up to 64 vCPUs and 256 gigabytes of RAM, while Ev3s offer 432GB of RAM, giving customers more computer memory to run larger workloads.

Vole has announced B-series VMs, a new low-cost range that offers customers flexibility in how much Azure computer power they use.

UK data centres will get a Notification Hub service which lets users send push notifications (information in a pop-up box) to their customers regardless of which platform they are using – Windows, iOS, Android, Kindle or Baidu.

Notification Hubs can send messages to millions of mobile devices with one single process, and can be tailored to specific customers or everyone in a group, in their language.