Tag Archives: Microsoft

GE; Microsoft Announce New Developments in Healthcare

Need more proof that the cloud is the future of healthcare?  How about this:  General Electric and Microsoft – two big names in cloud-based healthcare technology — have recently announced plans to create a joint healthcare venture designed to address important changes in the healthcare industry.

The new company, which has not been named yet, will enable doctors and healthcare facilities to share patient information, streamline and manage new payment models, and shift focus from single-patient care to continuous population management, said Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE.

“The global healthcare challenges of access, cost and quality of care delivery are creating a new focus on the performance and accountability of healthcare delivery systems — in every country, at every level of care,” Immelt said in a joint press release issued by GE and Microsoft.  “This venture will demonstrate what is possible when leading companies with complementary capabilities work together to meet a common goal.”

GE and Microsoft are both known for producing a wide range of products and services related to healthcare.  The new joint venture will give users in the healthcare industry the option to mix-and-match some of each company’s most popular and widely-used products, including electronic data-sharing platforms like Microsoft Amalga and GE Healthcare eHealth, as well as Microsoft expreSSO, Microsoft Vergence, and GE Healthcare Qualibria.

“Combining Microsoft’s open, interoperable health platforms and software expertise with GE’s experience and healthcare solutions will create exciting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers alike. Working together, GE and Microsoft can help make healthcare systems more intelligent and cost efficient while improving patient care,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

In addition to streamlining communication and making it easier to access patient data, the new company – which is still awaiting regulatory approval before it launches early this year –  is expected to cut down on healthcare-related infections by helping medical professionals more quickly identify patients who are especially at risk.  Additionally, the new venture should make it easier for patients and their doctors to co-manage diseases and chronic conditions by sharing and tracking home testing devices.

What do you think of this announcement?  What’s your take on healthcare and the cloud?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Microsoft’s YouTube Channel Hijacked

On Saturday, a hacker hijacked Microsoft’s official YouTube channel and removed all the videos that were hosted on it. The hacker replaced the videos with others claiming that Microsoft was holding a contest.

The channel’s description was changed to “Wish to Become Sponsored? Message me.” Meanwhile the titles of two videos that the hacker published were “We are sponsoring” and “Make us a Background to Get Subbox!!!”

A message that was posted by the alleged hacker read “I DID NOTHING WRONG I SIMPLY SIGNED INTO MY ACCOUNT THAT I MADE IN 2006 :/” It is thought that the reasoning of such a statement being written is that the hijacker had registered during the early days of the website and that the account was claimed by Microsoft. If this is what happened, the major error made was that the original email retained access to the account.

This whole incident may have occurred due to YouTube making users link their old accounts with their Google accounts. It is believed that this mandatory action could be the reason how the previous owner gained access to the current account.

It is thought that the user’s email address was linked with the Google Account used by Microsoft on YouTube. If this is what happened, the hijacker may have been able to reset the password and therefore gain access to the account. Upon hearing such news, this may well cause a large amount of concern amongst other brands that use the website to promote their business.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos states “If that’s true, then it’s a colossal foul-up by YouTube that may concern other well-known brands who have established presences on the video network.”

Microsoft so far has refused to comment about this incident and how the account was hacked. They have now regained full control of the account and reinstalled all of the videos that had been deleted by the hijacker. The YouTube account of the user who it is believed conducted the hack has been terminated.

This is the second high profile incident of YouTube accounts being hijacked over the last two weeks. Last week, Sesame Street’s YouTube channel was hijacked and used to show videos of an adult nature.

To reduce the chances of your account being hijacked, it has been recommended to use strong and unique passwords and to ensure that no unwanted email addresses have access to your Google account.

U S Patriot Act Dampens Microsoft Cloud Services

Organisations should be wary when entrusting their data to Cloud providers based in the U.S.

Microsoft, one of the first Cloud providers to come clean, have revealed that the U.S. authorities have the right to access any data stored by them, even if that data resides within the EU.

This isn’t the first time that the U.S. Patriot Act has come under fire.  After the Act was passed 2001 because of Sept 11 terrorist attacks, students and staff from a Canadian university campaigned against their emails being routed through the States.

This will make firms more wary of utilising the new Microsoft roll-out as the software giant cannot guarantee data will not leave its place of origin.

In addition, Gordon Frazer CEO of Microsoft admitted that customers would only be informed “whenever possible” with respect to authorities extracting data.

Such an example is where the FBI has the ability to issue a ‘National Security Letter’ demanding a company’s data. Frazer stated that in this case he wouldn’t even be able to admit he had received such an order.

“In a limited number of circumstances, Microsoft may need to disclose data without your prior consent, including as needed to satisfy legal requirements or to protect the rights or property of Microsoft or others (including the enforcement of agreements or policies governing the use of the service)” said Frazer.

The head of Independent State Centre for Data protection in the German state of Schleswig Holstein, Thilo Weichert claimed that the sharing of data outside of the EU conflicts with EU laws. He argues that at the very least under such a service agreement companies should have the opportunity to terminate contracts with immediate effect.

So in summary, the best recommendation would be to use service providers who can ensure your data will remain in Europe.


Fighting for dominance in the cloud

Cloud Computing is quickly becoming an incredibly disruptive force within the world of enterprise software. Such services have manifested in three forms, Software as a Service (SaaS) such as Dropbox, Platform as a service (PaaS) such as Heroku and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) i.e. Amazon EC2.

The prevalence of such Cloud based services has caused Microsoft to re-think it’s corporate strategy. Ballmer has changed his focus from his renowned phrase of ‘three screens and a cloud,’ meaning software plus web based applications. Ballmer revealed recently that 70% of Microsoft employees are now working on Cloud related projects and that this is expected to rise to 90% within just a year. You only have to look at the Windows phone 7 to realise that Microsoft is now much more focused on the Cloud.

With so many huge players now fighting for niche markets within the Cloud it is difficult to appreciate the scale of the war going on between the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft. The interesting element is that it is not simply the long established titans such as Microsoft and Apple which are dominating the Cloud. Google has demonstrated how quickly a competitor can emerge and has established itself as perhaps the most dominant company on the web.

The most prominent market to arise from Cloud Computing is PaaS. IaaS still requires a developer to setup, configure as well as manage an infrastructure. PaaS however handles much of this administration.

Although still under the radar for many traditional vendors such as Cisco, EMC, IBM and Oracle, significant investment has come from companies such as Microsoft, VMware, Amazon and Google.

Microsoft launched Azure last year having invested $2 billion dollars in infrastructure in addition to deploying thousands of servers. Google App Engine is a platform on Google’s own infrastructure, serving millions of page views each day. Amazon has been consistently adding services such as database, auto-scaling and monitoring to its EC2 service.

Each company establishing itself within the Cloud has found an important strategic value in the market. Microsoft must act to protect core customer and enterprise software businesses. Google has to retain its dominance within the online marketing and advertising markets. Amazon is predominantly a consumer internet company however it’s enormous success through EC2 is pushing it’s focus toward developers and enterprises. In addition Amazon now realises that it’s main income from DVDs and games may begin to dwindle as more and more people start to stream from the Cloud.

A familiar scenario is developing within the market. The big players will fight it out for dominance while other smaller companies sneak under the radar. Without the burden of reputation such companies have nothing to loose, building solutions from the ground upward which are optimized for the new world.

Adoption of virtualisation is set to increase in 2011

Experts in the field have predicted a big rise in both server and Desktop Virtualisation technologies in coming years as businesses try to gain efficiency and optimise their computing facilities. Gartner in particular predict that Server Virtualisation will have a comparable impact on business to that of the advent of e-commerce, and that the concept is completely re-forging IT operations.

According to research tech firm IDC, 2010 has been was the first year whereby over half of all applications were installed on a virtual machine. Despite this 2010 is seen by many as the pilot period, while 2011 is predicted to be the year of mass implementation. By 2014 it is thought that 23% of all servers shipped worldwide will support Virtualisation upon installation.

All in all Virtualisation applications will amount to a $19.3 billion industry by 2014.  Despite the global economic down turn creating havoc within the majority of IT markets, demand continues to rise for Virtualisation technologies. Desktop virtualisation is becoming increasingly recognised as a superb way to reduce IT cost, empower employees and increase enterprise productivity. With few servers requiring maintenance IT teams can now concentrate on innovation rather then maintenance.

The advantages of Virtualisation are clear and as Microsoft emphasise adopters in the mid-market can benefit from the same economies of scale that the big players can. An added benefit is that Data centre and storage Virtualisation allows clients to take advantage of geographical variations in energy pricing.

Soaring VMware profits are testament to the uptake of Virtualisation and in their last quarter report the company claimed a 46% increase in revenue. Furthermore VMware is making additional revenue from rising sales in areas such as Cloud Computing

When considering the future of Desktop virtualisation it is crucial to consider the impact that personalised devices such as the Ipad are having. IT service providers are increasingly being forced to cater for such devices, providing a huge boost to the Desktop Virtualisation market. It is now becoming a reality to manage a secure corporate environment on a personal device and this is a trend we continue to observe in the New Year.

Microsoft reports data loss dip in 2010

A new study from software giant Microsoft, has found that the number of data loss incidents which have occurred in 2010 is considerably lower than those registered in 2009. This suggests that businesses and organisations are gradually reducing their chances of becoming the victims of scandalous security breaches or the misplacement of private information.

In the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (MSIR), a small section was dedicated to data loss. Figures from industry analysts were quoted, showing that between 2008 and 2010, the number of data loss incidents made public, fell consistently over each intervening period of six months.

In the first half of this year, 232 data losses were reported, compared to 414 during the same period two years previously.

Microsoft used the MSIR to explain that there is one likely influence on these declining figures – the continued slowdown of activity caused by the global recession which coincides with this period.

While data loss is still largely facilitated by portable storage devices, mobile phones and laptops being lost, in 2010, the decline in the number of such incidents was at a significant 46 per cent.

A spokesperson for Microsoft, said that a greater awareness amongst the general public was allowing businesses and organisations from around the world to better protect the data for which they are responsible.

The spokesperson also indentified that security firms and businesses have to think creatively and continually ‘up their game’ in order to keep on a level footing with the cybercriminals who are intent on stealing data or benefitting from its accidental loss.

Despite the apparent decrease in data loss incidents, Microsoft used the MSIR to publish statistics which suggest that the proliferation of malware is on the rise. 6.5 million computers had harmful software removed via the Malicious Software Removal Tool, which represents a total increase of 100 per cent compared to 2009 levels.

Any data loss statistics need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as most believe that there is a discrepancy between the number of businesses which suffer from data loss and those which are then able to detect them and subsequently alert the proper authorities.

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