Overview of Windows as a service

 

Windows as a service provides a new way to think about building, deploying, and servicing the Windows operating system. So, if you often find yourself wondering, “Are Windows updates necessary?” Consider this new approach. The Windows as a service model is focused on continually providing new capabilities and updates while maintaining a high level of hardware and software compatibility. Deploying new versions of Windows is simpler than ever before.  Microsoft releases new features two to three times per year rather than the traditional upgrade cycle where new features are only made available every few years. Ultimately, this model replaces the need for traditional Windows deployment projects.

 

Prior to Windows 10, Microsoft released new versions of Windows every few years. This traditional deployment schedule imposed a training burden on users because the feature revisions were often significant. That schedule also meant waiting long periods without new features. This scenario doesn’t work well in today’s rapidly changing world. A world in which new security, management, and deployment capabilities are necessary to address challenges. Windows as a service will deliver smaller feature updates two times per year, around March and September, to help address these issues.

 

Deploying

 

Deploying Windows 10 is simpler than with previous versions of Windows. When migrating from earlier versions of Windows, an easy in-place upgrade process can be used to automatically preserve all apps, settings, and data. And once running Windows 10, deployment of Windows 10 feature updates will be equally simple.

 

One of the biggest challenges for organizations when it comes to deploying a new version of Windows is compatibility testing. Whereas compatibility was previously a concern for organizations upgrading to a new version of Windows, Windows 10 is compatible with most hardware and software capable of running on Windows 7 or later. Because of this high level of compatibility, the app compatibility testing process can be greatly simplified.

 

Servicing

 

Traditional Windows servicing has included several release types:

 

Major revisions (e.g., the Windows 8.1, Windows 8, and Windows 7 operating systems), service packs, and monthly updates. With Windows 10, there are two release types: feature updates that add new functionality twice per year, and quality updates that provide security and reliability fixes at least once a month. Are Windows updates necessary?

 

Naming changes

 

As part of the alignment with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, Microsoft is adopting common terminology to make it as easy as possible to understand the servicing process. Going forward, these are the new terms they will be using:

 

  • Semi-Annual Channel – They will be referring to Current Branch (CB) as “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)”, while Current Branch for Business (CBB) will simply be referred to as “Semi-Annual Channel”.
  • Long-Term Servicing Channel – The Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) will be referred to as Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).

 

Servicing tools

 

There are many tools with which IT pros can service Windows as a service. Each option has its pros and cons, ranging from capabilities and control to simplicity and low administrative requirements. The following are examples of the servicing tools available to manage Windows as a service updates:

 

  • Windows Update (stand-alone) provides limited control over feature updates. IT pros manually configure the device to be in the Semi-Annual Channel. Organizations can target which devices defer updates by selecting the Defer upgrades check box in Start\Settings\Update & Security\Advanced Options on a Windows 10 client.
  • Windows Update for Business is the second option for servicing Windows as a service. This servicing tool includes control over update deferment and provides centralized management using Group Policy. Windows Update for Business can be used to defer updates by up to 365 days, depending on the version. These deployment options are available to clients in the Semi-Annual Channel. In addition to being able to use Group Policy to manage Windows Update for Business, either option can be configured without requiring any on-premises infrastructure by using Intune.
  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)provides extensive control over Windows 10 updates and is natively available in the Windows Server operating system. In addition to the ability to defer updates, organizations can add an approval layer for updates and choose to deploy them to specific computers or groups of computers whenever ready.
  • System Center Configuration Manager provides the greatest control over servicing Windows as a service. IT pros can defer updates, approve them, and have multiple options for targeting deployments and managing bandwidth usage and deployment times.

 

 

Using SCCM

 

System Center Configuration Manager provides maximum control over quality and feature updates for Windows 10. Unlike other servicing tools, Configuration Manager has capabilities that extend beyond servicing, such as application deployment, antivirus management, software metering, and reporting. Configuration Manager can effectively control bandwidth usage and content distribution through a combination of BranchCache and distribution points. Microsoft encourages organizations currently using Configuration Manager for Windows update management to continue doing so for Windows 10 client computers.

 

You can use Configuration Manager to service Windows 10 devices in two ways. The first option is to use Windows 10 Servicing Plans to deploy Windows 10 feature updates automatically based on specific criteria, similar to an Automatic Deployment Rule for software updates. The second option is to use a task sequence to deploy feature updates, along with anything else in the installation.

 

Conclusion

 

Windows servicing is changing. For disaster recovery scenarios and bare-metal deployments of Windows 10, you still can use traditional imaging software such as System Center Configuration Manager or the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. Using these tools to deploy Windows 10 images is similar to deploying previous versions of Windows. With each release of a new feature update for CB, Microsoft makes available new .iso files for use in updating your custom images. Each Windows 10 build has a finite servicing lifetime, so it’s important that images stay up to date with the latest build.

 

 

 

What is AI?

 

The definition of intelligence according to the Oxford Dictionary is: “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”. According to this same source, the definition of artificial intelligence is: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”.

 

If you dig deep on this, you will find several different definitions (or points of view) on what constitutes AI. Forbes has a great article called “The Key Definitions Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) That Explain Its Importance”, in which the author goes over several ways that the term AI is interpreted in both society and through a technology company prism. Specifically, it talks about Machine Learning, which is a subset of AI.

 

It really is fascinating stuff. In reading this article, it sent me down a rabbit hole of everything that is AI. From predictive data analytics (for example  when my Outlook spell checker just corrected my attempt to type and spell analytics, without me have to do anything) to something that is called a “technological singularity”. This is basically, and not to get into the weeds too much, a hypothesis that humans will one day create an artificial superintelligence that would enter into a “runaway reaction” of constant self-improvement that would forever change or possibly end humanity as we know it.

 

AI in Entertainment

 

artificial intelligence and the moviesWhile on this broad swath of reading and learning, I came to find that the idea of “AI” is not anything new, in fact it can be traced all the way back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After I realized this little nugget, I got to thinking about all the books and movies that I have read or watched that involve AI.

 

I was amazed at how much it permeates my choices in literature and entertainment.  Everything from books like Isaac Asimov’s “I Robot” or Fred Saberhagen’s “Berserker” series, or TV Series like Star Trek, Westworld and Person of Interest. And of course, some of the most popular movies of all time and been centered on the concept of AI (usually rampant evil AI’s), like the Terminator series, the Alien movies, and more recently the Matrix series. There is even a recent movie called “Her” where the main character falls in love with the voice in his phone (oh how you have fallen Joaquin Phoenix!).

 

Is AI a Threat?

 

I can imagine what you might be thinking. Is that voice on my phone actually artificial intelligence?  (You were thinking that right)? Which it, in fact, is. It falls under Machine Learning, but it still falls into the many pieces of our society that are directly affected or controlled by artificial intelligence.

 

If you are like me, you might slightly overreact and think to yourself when is “Skynet” coming online? Should I swear my allegiance early, so I am spared in the coming days? Is this “technological singularity” coming any day? Will Alexa rise up and enslave me in my house to keep me safe and buying more Amazon products? Well, thankfully, no it won’t (it’s true I asked Alexa this question and she told me so).

 

After I calmed down a bit, I came to realize that this is truly just a reactionary by-product of the propaganda I have been reading and watching for years. There is no true sentient artificial intelligence, but instead programs that are taking data and using machine learning to solve a certain issue (for example, what other people like me have bought recently). There are companies at the forefront of this, like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Then there are many companies that may not have the name recognition of these three giants but are no less important in both application of AI, but also in enablement of AI.

 

Zunesis and AI

 

Which leads me to Zunesis (I know it took me forever)! You may be asking yourself, what does Zunesis do in this particular field? The answer on this is simple, we have fully “bought in” (literally in the case of the POC and demo machines we have purchased and are available) to the idea that AI (or predictive analytics if you would prefer) is truly going to make the lives of our customers better, more efficient, and safe. We are getting the word out to customers, to partners, and to the general public (thank you Linked-in Blogs) on the power that these technologies have.

 

Want a better way to understand who is coming on and off your property, for reasons of security? Please talk to us, and we will explain the wonderful world of facial recognition software that is powered and backed by HPE “Edgeline” products and HPE Storage.

 

Are you a healthcare provider that needs more agile storage that would streamline your operations and aid in your diagnosis? We can help with that and explain how the Microsoft Azure line products can fill this need for you.

 

Maybe your company needs their storage to have “6 nines” of availability, did you know that HPE Nimble Storage has this ability? We can explain how HPE Nimble uses Flash Storage and Predictive Analysis to guarantee that very thing. Their Predictive Analysis is so good that it can detect and solve 86% of the problems your storage might have, before they happen!

 

And these are just a few of the example situations and industry needs where AI or a product with AI can be the cornerstone of your business going forward. We at Zunesis love to talk technology and we love to help our customers. Come talk to us, and we will work together to not only help you understand the technology, but even push past some of the apprehension that a lifetime of thrilling books and movies have instilled in our society!

 

Thanks for reading, and all hail our new leader “Siri” (just kidding)!

What is AI?

 
The definition of intelligence according to the Oxford Dictionary is: “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”. According to this same source, the definition of artificial intelligence is: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”.
 
If you dig deep on this, you will find several different definitions (or points of view) on what constitutes AI. Forbes has a great article called “The Key Definitions Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) That Explain Its Importance”, in which the author goes over several ways that the term AI is interpreted in both society and through a technology company prism. Specifically, it talks about Machine Learning, which is a subset of AI.
 
It really is fascinating stuff. In reading this article, it sent me down a rabbit hole of everything that is AI. From predictive data analytics (for example  when my Outlook spell checker just corrected my attempt to type and spell analytics, without me have to do anything) to something that is called a “technological singularity”. This is basically, and not to get into the weeds too much, a hypothesis that humans will one day create an artificial superintelligence that would enter into a “runaway reaction” of constant self-improvement that would forever change or possibly end humanity as we know it.
 

AI in Entertainment

 
artificial intelligence and the moviesWhile on this broad swath of reading and learning, I came to find that the idea of “AI” is not anything new, in fact it can be traced all the way back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After I realized this little nugget, I got to thinking about all the books and movies that I have read or watched that involve AI.
 
I was amazed at how much it permeates my choices in literature and entertainment.  Everything from books like Isaac Asimov’s “I Robot” or Fred Saberhagen’s “Berserker” series, or TV Series like Star Trek, Westworld and Person of Interest. And of course, some of the most popular movies of all time and been centered on the concept of AI (usually rampant evil AI’s), like the Terminator series, the Alien movies, and more recently the Matrix series. There is even a recent movie called “Her” where the main character falls in love with the voice in his phone (oh how you have fallen Joaquin Phoenix!).
 

Is AI a Threat?

 
I can imagine what you might be thinking. Is that voice on my phone actually artificial intelligence?  (You were thinking that right)? Which it, in fact, is. It falls under Machine Learning, but it still falls into the many pieces of our society that are directly affected or controlled by artificial intelligence.
 
If you are like me, you might slightly overreact and think to yourself when is “Skynet” coming online? Should I swear my allegiance early, so I am spared in the coming days? Is this “technological singularity” coming any day? Will Alexa rise up and enslave me in my house to keep me safe and buying more Amazon products? Well, thankfully, no it won’t (it’s true I asked Alexa this question and she told me so).
 
After I calmed down a bit, I came to realize that this is truly just a reactionary by-product of the propaganda I have been reading and watching for years. There is no true sentient artificial intelligence, but instead programs that are taking data and using machine learning to solve a certain issue (for example, what other people like me have bought recently). There are companies at the forefront of this, like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Then there are many companies that may not have the name recognition of these three giants but are no less important in both application of AI, but also in enablement of AI.
 

Zunesis and AI

 
Which leads me to Zunesis (I know it took me forever)! You may be asking yourself, what does Zunesis do in this particular field? The answer on this is simple, we have fully “bought in” (literally in the case of the POC and demo machines we have purchased and are available) to the idea that AI (or predictive analytics if you would prefer) is truly going to make the lives of our customers better, more efficient, and safe. We are getting the word out to customers, to partners, and to the general public (thank you Linked-in Blogs) on the power that these technologies have.
 
Want a better way to understand who is coming on and off your property, for reasons of security? Please talk to us, and we will explain the wonderful world of facial recognition software that is powered and backed by HPE “Edgeline” products and HPE Storage.
 
Are you a healthcare provider that needs more agile storage that would streamline your operations and aid in your diagnosis? We can help with that and explain how the Microsoft Azure line products can fill this need for you.
 
Maybe your company needs their storage to have “6 nines” of availability, did you know that HPE Nimble Storage has this ability? We can explain how HPE Nimble uses Flash Storage and Predictive Analysis to guarantee that very thing. Their Predictive Analysis is so good that it can detect and solve 86% of the problems your storage might have, before they happen!
 
And these are just a few of the example situations and industry needs where AI or a product with AI can be the cornerstone of your business going forward. We at Zunesis love to talk technology and we love to help our customers. Come talk to us, and we will work together to not only help you understand the technology, but even push past some of the apprehension that a lifetime of thrilling books and movies have instilled in our society!
 
Thanks for reading, and all hail our new leader “Siri” (just kidding)!

Hybrid IT or Public Cloud?

 

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a round table to talk about cloud computing and Hybrid IT. The discussion was to share information on where IT professionals were on their cloud journey within their organization and why companies make the jump to hybrid or public cloud.

 

The attendees were mostly Director and “C” level executives with representation from almost every spectrum of business. Every stage of the cloud journey was represented. There were companies that have everything on premise and companies with 100% of their IT in the cloud. There were very small companies to some of the largest companies in Colorado, as well as local companies and international companies. It was a great cross representation and lead to some interesting conversations.

 

What I found interesting was why some of these organizations had moved to the cloud and why some had not moved to the cloud. The discussion also arose on when the idea of Hybrid IT made the most sense for a company. There were a few that had a “Cloud First” approach to IT, but most people in the room agreed that Hybrid IT made the most sense. It really depended on the market and the size of the company.

 

For example, if most of the IT requirements were remote (stores, etc.), the Cloud approach seemed to be prevalent. Larger companies and companies with high security requirements tended to lean more to the on premise or Hybrid approach.

 

Almost everyone agreed that moving an application (Software as a Service) or setting up a DR site in the cloud is a good way to gain exposure into cloud computing. This is nothing new and has been going on for some time.

 

 

Hybrid IT Option

 

Hybrid IT is an approach to enterprise computing in which an organization provides and manages some information technology (IT) resources in-house but uses cloud-based services for others.

 

Many customers have applications that will not or should not move to the cloud. The easy example is mainframe and high-end Unix systems that are unlikely going to move to the cloud. At least until the applications are replaced.

 

Some of the attendees at this event were hesitant to move to the public cloud because of security and privacy concerns. While others had compliance regulations they must meet. These are valid concerns, and one the hybrid IT can help solve.

 

While privacy and security should be of utmost concern, businesses still need to innovate. The Hybrid IT model can address both concerns. Enterprises that deal with confidential data need the flexibility the Public cloud provides. They have the ability to create a multi-tenant cloud within the hybrid model. This will segregate applications and resources from each other and can be further isolated with VLANs and additional encryption methods.

 

 By 2020, 90 percent of organizations are expected to adopt
some level of hybrid infrastructure management

 ~ Gartner.com

 

 

Many businesses have found success using Hybrid IT models that allow them to keep full control over sensitive data, such as customer data or internal communications. They can keep data stored on-premise and readily accessible, while relegating less-sensitive data and workloads in the cloud. The added benefit of maintaining a hybrid solution with an on-premise data center is for disaster recovery and keeping private data out of the public pool. Hybrid IT is the ideal use of public and private resources that maximize cost-savings and productivity, and to minimize latency, privacy and security concerns.

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