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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft shows IT how to get bigger bang from Windows Analytics

New documentation, still in draft form, details how companies can craft specialized reports and custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data and integrate the data with other info.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld | Apr 10, 2018 9:19 AM PT

 big data analytics analysis thinkstock 673266772 100749739 large

Microsoft has published preliminary documentation that enterprise IT can use to customize reports generated by the free Windows Analytics service.

The documentation, emblazoned with "Draft," spelled out how internal staff - or Microsoft partners in the business of producing custom solutions - can craft specialized reports and build custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data, and integrate its data with other information for more in-depth analysis.

Windows Analytics is the umbrella label for three separate services - Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Heath - which each pull from the telemetry Microsoft collects from Windows PCs. Windows Analytics is a benefit of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education licensing, and so is available only to customers running those editions.

The services offer insights for devices powered by an Enterprise or Education SKU (stock-selling unit), such as Windows 10 Education or Windows 7 Enterprise.

Of the trio, only Upgrade Readiness harvests data from Windows editions other than Windows 10. As its name implies, that service identifies the Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs most likely to successfully migrate to Windows 10. Upgrade Readiness also pinpoints Windows 10 systems that have the best shot at moving to the next feature upgrade, like this year's 1803 or 1809.

The remaining two services, Update Compliance and Device Health, report the update deployment status of Windows 10 PCs, and monitor and report on some of the most common problems on an organization's devices, respectively.

While IT administrators can generate reports from the Windows Analytics dashboard, the advanced functionality can be accessed using the now-documented APIs (application programming interfaces) and called with the ready-to-use examples (or PowerBI templates). Or the examples and templates can be rigged to do custom jobs.

"There is also an underlying data platform that can be used by IT admins, partners and ISVs [independent software vendors] to extend the built-in functionality and unlock additional value," the documentation says.

Because Windows Analytics' data is stored in Azure Log Analytics, using the API requires knowledge of the underlying Analytics data schema, and knowing how to retrieve that data from Azure Log Analytics, Microsoft said.

Customers who do create custom reports or alerts, or merge Windows Analytics' data with their own, will have to redo that work down the road, Microsoft noted. "Disclaimer: This [data] schema is subject to change as breaking changes will be introduced in the next year, so any queries you create will need to be forward ported at that time," the documentation said.

 

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Zanni: World Backup Day, GDPR, Race Cars!

I’m a guy and of course delay going to the dentist and so on. Over morning coffee, today March 31, 2018, I realized I can’t avoid it any longer. Today is World Backup Day! Darn it,  I’m making a couple special backups just to honor the holiday.

I spoke with John Zanni, well-known in the SMB partner channel for his work as a Microsoft general manager back in the day plus his tenure at Parallels. Today he is the president of Acronis, a leading backup solution ISV. Later in this blog I’ll do a “where is John Zanni now?” commentary. 

World Backup Day

"This is of course an international event, not an Acronis event. It is to remind people that many attacks happen on April 1st as it’s April Fool’s Day. You want to make sure you are fully-protected on March 31st.” Zanni shared. “The important part is that backup isn’t good enough anymore. You need to have ‘secure backup’ which means making sure your system is up-to-date. You need have the latest anti-virus, anti-spam solution and you have a strong anti-ransomware solution. The good news is that all of our of products come with Acronis active protection that is AI-based anti-ransomware.”

But wait! There is even more good news. Even if you don’t have the Acronis backup solution, you can get just the active protection piece for free from the Acronis website. 

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John Zanni, president of Acronis

Earlier this month, Acronis completed a consumer survey regarding data protection, polling the general internet population in seven different countries, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, Spain, France and Japan. Additional results include:

Nearly 39 percent of the respondents have four or more devices in their household, meaning more end points and data to protect

Over 29 percent of the respondents experienced data loss

A prediction on the future of secure backups? Zanni offered that the quantity of data being generated by the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) segment will require a focus on secure backups. “The trick is how do you have IoT data backed up locally, in transit and at rest in the cloud so it can be analyzed.” Zanni offered. “An example of extensive amounts of IoT data relates to our race car sponsorship with Williams Martini Racing.” 

I’d add that it’s this back-office function that makes data visualization tools rock. 

GDPR

For those living in a cave and don’t know, there is a European Union data privacy protection regulation coming in late May 2018 called the “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR) that will impact MSPs.  “It’s coming fast but it’s not as complex as you think; but it’s important you understand the GDPR requirements. We have a webcast that tries to bring GDPR to the masses.” Zanni said. “With a good backup system, you are already 80-to-90 percent of the way there towards GDPR compliance. But the responsibility of “process” rests with the MSP and the client. Acronis cannot help there. That said, we are adding some features in May to cover some of the secure data backup storage GDPR scenarios that we can impact.”

Zanni extolled that “by no means should anyone ignore GDPR; the government(s) will be going after violators such as businesses who are not GDPR compliant. Individuals clearly understand that they have a right to control their data and will insist on the GDPR-type protection.” More on GDPR over the next several weeks – I promise. 

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ZANNI?!?!?

So here is the net-net on Zanni and Acronis. 

Moved to Europe (Acronis HQ in Switzerland from Boston.

Zanni is overseeing the 15th anniversary of Acronis.

Acronis – has now moved its full product stack to the hybrid cloud architecture, folly scalable to run in your data center and/or our cloud. 

MSPs adore the multi-tier, multi-tenant Acronis approach, according to Zanni.

Growth – core business (on premises sold through distribution); is growing at low double digits.MSP business is growing over 100% year over year with 5,000 transacting partners and heading to 12k+ by 2020.

MSPs like the model we have both in terms ease of onboarding/getting started and as well as the commercial terms (which are very simple – mostly per gigabyte per month).

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Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

PowerPoint has long been the tool of choice for creating business presentations, but Google Slides is worth a second look. We compare their strengths and weaknesses.

By Preston Gralla

Contributing Editor, Computerworld | MAR 27, 2018 3:00 AM PT

If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known MS vs Googlepresentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known presentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.

To help you choose, I put them through their paces by building a presentation that many business professionals might create: announcing a new product or service line. In each program I started by looking for suitable templates, then created a new presentation; added slides; juiced them up with graphics, video and animations; collaborated with others on it; and finally, gave presentation itself.

It’s a multiplatform world, so I worked on it using a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPad, an Android tablet and an iPhone. I used the local clients and the online version of Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as the mobile versions. Google Slides is web-based but also has client versions for Android and iOS, so I tested those as well.

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On Blockchain and the Internet of Things

Calvin Price

Strengths, Weaknesses, and the Likely Road Ahead

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting paradigms in emerging technology. The principle of connecting billions of devices to automate networks is absolutely thrilling and has considerable applications in agriculture, manufacturing, consumer tech, and virtually all mechanically intensive industries. It also has a big problem: at its current stage, IoT is objectively infeasible and dangerous.

IoT connects a web of devices that typically operate with minimal computational power and are embedded with chips for the purpose of connectivity and little else. This is a major security flaw. Thus far, researchers have demonstrated horrifying capability and creativity in breaching IoT devices. Hackers have thus far managed to control implanted cardiac devices, entirely disable cars remotely, and launch the world’s largest DDoS attack.

BlockChain

 

The Case for Blockchain in IoT

IoT security flaws typically revolve around three areas: authentication, connection, and transaction. Devices improperly verifying, improperly connecting, or improperly spending with other devices are all major security concerns. (These are all software/protocol issues. Although is not the focus of this article, it is worth noting that IoT suffers from physical and hardware security flaws, too). A blockchain can alleviate all of these areas. Distributed ledgers seem like such a minor change to IoT networks considering how physically distributed the systems are, but the blockchain brings several killer apps with it.

Trustless: Fully operational IoT devices interact with known and (ideally) unknown devices. For example, autonomous machine repair is a big goal for the autonomous industry: when a mechanical failure or signs of deterioration is detected, the network responds by ordering new parts. In a trusted environment, such issues do not pose as a problem; in the real world, this is a major attack vector against the IoT network. But this otherwise thorny problem is solved by the trustless, consensus protocols of the blockchain, protecting from all but the most extreme malicious actors.

Auditable: Tracking the actions of network components and provably verifying that record is another big goal for IoT. Such auditability improves analytics, network performance, legal compliance, and safety. The blockchain’s immutable record is ideal for creating reliable networks histories.

 

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The Ultimate Comparison: Data Science vs Analytics

Data Science vs Analytics

 

Depending on how much you know about big data, you may be surprised to learn that a data scientist and a business analyst don’t provide the same results. If that’s the case, then you’re not alone—since these two professions are often confused with one another. That’s why Analytics@American, a masters in business analytics, created this infographic to help clear the data science fog.

Both business analysts and data scientists are experts in the use of data, but they use their expertise in different ways—as is evidenced by the current job outlook with business analysts in much higher demand than data scientists.

Typically with educational backgrounds in specialties like business and humanities, business analysts tap into the data within a variety of sources to evaluate past, present and future business performance. Then they explain those results to the business users who need them with the analytical models and approaches that are most effective for that situation.

In contrast—with a strong educational background in computer science, mathematics and technology— data scientists use statistical programming to actually develop the framework for gathering and using the data by creating and implementing algorithms that support their efforts. Such algorithms help with decision-making, data management, and the creation of visualizations to help explain the data that’s gathered.

To learn more about the differences between data scientists and business analysts, check out the infographic to make sure you’re hiring the right type of professional to meet your unique business needs.

analytics skills infographic lg

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