Pulse Secure Extends Secure Access Capabilities for Microsoft Azure

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 19, 2018 by itnerd

Pulse Secure today announced an enhancement to its hybrid IT strategy allowing enterprises to flexibly deploy and uniformly manage physical, virtual and cloud-based Pulse Secure Appliances (PSA) now certified for Microsoft Azure and available in the Azure marketplace.

Enterprises are moving a variety of applications and data stores to Hybrid IT environments that leverage both managed data centers alongside public cloud, private cloud and SaaS to expedite new business services, optimize on-demand computing resources and gain improved disaster recovery capabilities. The latest cloud-based PSAs allow enterprises to adapt their secure access framework to support evolving application environments, while maintaining the same user experience, operational intelligence, compliance and performance capabilities.

The Pulse Secure Access portfolio consists of best-in-class, integrated Virtual Private Network (VPN), endpoint compliance, Network Access Control (NAC), mobile security, and virtual Application Delivery Controller (vADC) technologies designed to enable enterprises centralized operation, visibility and policy automation.  Complementing its Amazon Web Services support, the new PSA certified for Microsoft Azure ensures consistent usability, availability and security for a mobile workforce accessing applications and data hosted on Microsoft Azure. PSA’s deployed within Azure offer complete feature parity including:

  • Always-on and application-specific VPN with lockdown
  • Split-VPN tunneling
  • Single-sign on (SSO) interoperability
  • Unified operational visibility
  • Device compliance checking
  • Integrated enterprise mobility management
  • Rich user and device auditing

Pricing and Availability

Pulse Connect Secure in Azure is available today in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace as part of the Microsoft Azure Certified program. Three models are available supporting 200, 2500 and 25000 concurrent sessions respectively. Customers can purchase these PSA cloud-based subscriptions for 1, 3 and 5 years. Pricing and availability varies by regions.

Follow Pulse Secure at @PulseSecure on Twitter or visit us on LinkedIn and Facebook.


US Senate Votes To Ban ZTE…. AGAIN

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 19, 2018 by itnerd

The U.S. Senate has voted to reinstate a ban on ZTE that prevents the Chinese telecom company from buying U.S. components and using U.S. software. As The Verge notes, “it’s still not clear if the reversal will make it into law: it has to clear a conference with the House, and then avoid a veto from President Trump, who advocated for cutting a deal that would lift the ban.” Thus the games aren’t over just yet. But it’s clear that American politicians not named Donald Trump want to take down ZTE over violating sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Not to mention the general consensus that ZTE is a national security risk.

Let the games begin.


NordVPN Launches Android TV App

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 19, 2018 by itnerd

Consumers are canceling traditional pay-TV service at faster rates than expected, causing a transition revolution from cable TV to smart TV and streaming. In the U.S. alone, more than 22 million users have cut the cord on the cable on 2017. The number of smart TV users – such as Android TV –  has doubled in the past year.

However, some of the biggest problems that smart TV users face are streaming limitations and lack of Internet security.

NordVPN, a VPN service provider, is contributing to a solution to these problems by launching a brand new NordVPN app for Android TV. Now FIFA World Cup and Olympics fans or Games of Thrones followers can stream securely and without limitations.

First of all, smart TV users will be able to protect their online security. Since a smart TV is connected to the Internet, it becomes vulnerable to the same cyber threats as one’s computer or smartphone. NordVPN for Android TV uses the OpenVPN security protocol to encrypt a user’s online traffic, so that all sensitive data becomes protected from hackers or snoopers.

In addition, VPN for smart TV provides an opportunity to enjoy all the video apps pre-installed with the Android TV box. Sometimes, living in a specific part of the world might mean lesser selection of online content. A VPN app connects user’s smart TV to a server in any country of choice, so they can watch TV as if they were in that country. NordVPN offers 4000+ servers in 62 countries around the globe.

In the U.S., video streamers might also face bandwidth throttling. Sometimes, American Internet service providers (ISPs) can slow down the Internet speed for specific websites, which can result in video buffering. NordVPN can prevent throttling by redirecting all traffic through an encrypted tunnel.

The native NordVPN app interface makes it very easy to use; everything, from setting it up to connecting to VPN, is straightforward and quick. It offers such features as Quick Connect, which automatically picks the best server in terms of speed, latency, and performance. The CyberSec security suite is integrated into the app to protect an Internet-connected smart TV against malware and cyber-threats, and shield from intrusive ads.

One NordVPN account can be used to secure up to six devices simultaneously. NordVPN also offers applications for Windows, macOS, and iOS.

The app can be downloaded from Google Play store on Android TV.

Hitachi Solutions Announced as a 2018 Partner of the Year Finalist

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

Hitachi Solutions Co., Ltd. a leading provider of global industry solutions powered by the Microsoft Cloud, is pleased to announce it is a finalist for two Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards: Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, and Dynamics 365 for Field Service.

The annual awards recognize top Microsoft partners demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology. Award winners and finalists from around the world will be recognized at Microsoft Inspire taking place July 15–19, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This year, Microsoft acknowledged partners in 39 categories celebrating each of the solution areas, industries and many more. The award finalists and winners were selected from more than 2,600 nominations collected from 115 different countries worldwide based on their commitment to customers, their solution’s impact on the market and exemplary use of Microsoft technologies.



Avaya Introduces New Workforce Optimization Suite

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

Avaya today introduced a new version of the Avaya Workforce Optimization suite, which improves service quality, operational and employee productivity and data privacy with a series of new features and tools. This major software release helps companies transform 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 a better customer experience. While optimizing the customer experience and service delivery is critical to winning and keeping business, only 28 percent of companies believe they integrate customer communications with fulfillment and delivery extremely well.  

Avaya Workforce Optimization 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’ personal data to reach compliance goals.

Other notable features included in the latest Avaya Workforce Optimization 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.

 Read the HomeChoice case study here.

My High Tech Road Bike: The 2018 Edition

Posted in Commentary on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

Last year I bought a new road bike which I used all season long to not only ride in Newfoundland, but take part in the GTA Epic Tour last year. This year, I’ve decided to amp it up a notch. I’ve made two significant changes to the bike which will make it faster than it already is.


As you can see, I have new wheels installed thanks to the fine folks at Chain Reaction Bicycles in Toronto. I decided to move away from aluminum wheels to carbon fibre wheels because carbon fibre is not only light, strong and stiff but is also perfect for creating aerodynamic shapes. Seeing as I ride an aero bike, that means that in theory I can get some extra speed via these wheels. Thus I made the move to Giant’s SLR 1 Aero front and rear wheels. These carbon fibre wheels are 55 mm in depth which allows one to cut through the air more efficiently. I was toying with going with a shallower depth wheel like 40mm or 30mm because I was was afraid of crosswinds blowing me all over the road. But I’ve ridden in some windy conditions over the last couple of weeks and the winds are a non issue thus far. When it comes to weight, carbon fibre can be lighter than aluminium. But these wheels only weigh 60 grams less than the ones that they are replacing. I went that route because I am willing to take a bit of a weight penalty to get some extra durability. In terms of if they live up to the speed promise, the answer is yes. I’ve set some personal records on Strava since getting these wheels on roads where I can spin up to 40 Kph or faster which is where the advantage of having these wheels comes into play.

To add to the wheels, I got Mavic Yksion Pro UST tires which are tubeless tires. To explain what tubeless tires are, let me take a step back an explain the other tire technologies that bikes use:

Tubular: These are tires that have an inner tube sewn into them thus it makes up a single unit. Then the tire is glued to a compatible rim. The advantage is that this setup has low rolling resistance and great stability because it’s a complete unit. The downside is cost. Some of these tires cost upwards of $400 or $500. Which is why only racers tend to use these tires.

Clincher: This is what you commonly see on bikes which is a tire with a completely separate inner tube inside which are mounted to a compatible rim. While the cost is much, much lower. Rolling Resistance is higher than tubular tires. Which means you have to put in some extra work to get up to the same speed. You also have to run them at high pressures to avoid “pinch flats” which is what happens where a clincher tire with lower than normal pressure pinches the inner tube and creates a hole which causes the tire to deflate.

Tubeless tires changes things by being a tire that does not use an inner tube at all. Thus you’re eliminating the weight of the tube along with the rolling resistance that the tube creates by rubbing against the tire. The tire and the rim must be compatible because the tire has to create an air tight seal along the edge of the rim. But assuming that they are, it brings out a second advantage. You can run these tires with lower pressures which increases comfort if you’re doing something like the famous Belgian cobbled climbs used in races like the Tour Of Flanders or the pave of northern France that is used in the famous Paris Roubaix bike race. Another addition is the introduction of liquid sealant inside the tire which can fill in small holes on the fly. Meaning that the chances of getting flats while you ride should be greatly reduced. The final advantage is price. You’re basically getting performance approaching tubular tire levels for slightly more than the price of a clincher tire. I’ve been using these tires for a few weeks now and they live up to their promise. I even had something puncture the tire on my most recent ride and the sealant kept me rolling.

One other change that I’ve made for 2018 is not on the bike, but with my helmet. I have acquired the Mavic Ksyrium Pro MIPS Helmet. Every cyclist regardless of age, ability or where they ride should wear a helmet as it is entirely possible to crack your skull riding a bike at walking speed. The key reason why I went with this specific helmet is that it has the MIPS system in it. This is system that is designed to protect your head, brain and neck from the rotational forces of a crash. In short, the helmet takes those forces so that you’re likely to have a brain, neck, or head injury. Or reduce the severity of those injuries. I got mine in day glo yellow to ensure that I am seen at all times by motorists when I cycle as every little bit of safety helps. If you look closely at the picture above, you may notice that I am also using lights to add to my safety on the road. I am using this combination of front and rear lights because they blink to alert motorists to your presence both in the daytime and at dusk. Another reason is that the cycling club that I belong to requires the use of lights on all club rides to ensure the safety of all who participate.

I’ll be riding this bike in at least two events this year. I’ll be doing the 65K event at the Gran Fondo Ottawa in July, and the 80K event at the PWC Epic Tour in September. I may add a third event this year. But we’ll see. In the meantime, I am out riding multiple times a week putting in the miles to make sure I am in shape for those events. If you have any questions about this bike and what’s on it, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer it. Right now, I think I’ll go out for a ride.





Guest Post: Top Social Media Trends of 2018

Posted in Commentary on June 18, 2018 by itnerd

By Kristina Skindelyte, Co-Founder of Blue Oceans PR

Social media waits for no brand. And just like everything internet-related, it changes fast. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg’s Congress hearings, and the General Data Protection Regulation might have shaken the social media world recently, but the process continues. Social media has developed – and is still developing – in interesting ways. Here are the top 5 trends shaping the social media landscape in 2018.

1. Stories Replace Feeds

With the rise of smartphone adoption and mobile video came a serious change to content production: stories are now replacing feeds. These vertical video montages are easy to make and consume on mobile devices. And while the format was first popularized by Snapchat, currently Instagram and Facebook are taking the lead. Gen Z especially prefers stories since they are often sent through more private channels and don’t stay up permanently like feed posts on Facebook or Twitter.

In this new era that’s moving away from desktop-oriented feeds, brands have to use stories to their fullest. This involves increased use of emoji and stickers, which are popular with Gen Z. Instagram is capitalizing on that by adding click-to-buy links on stories.

2. Messaging Is Rising

Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, WeChat and other messaging platforms are rising fast. With an ever-wider spread of mobile internet and wifi, they are replacing such traditional modes of communication as SMS and calls. The quick growth of mobile video can also be tied to these trends.

For brands, this means an increased focus on chatbots. The Golden State Warriors Facebook Messenger bot served info on the 2017 NBA Playoffs – which led to 4.3 million messages being exchanged in the first two months.  53% of people claim that they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message directly, so the utility of bots is obvious.

3. Brand participation revived

One of the top trends is brand participation, moving away from Facebook’s inefficient brand contests. It can be as simple as Wendy’s famously snarky Twitter account. Or as complex as SWACE, a new platform that allows brands to design simple games for their audiences – not just as a gimmick; SWACE actually uses blockchain-based tokens. The tokens are used to enter these games – and they’re also the reward. They can later be exchanged for various brand-related prizes.

The games, meanwhile, are a  mix of AR, ephemeral content, messaging, video, photography and voting for community-produced content.

4. Video is trendy and trending

In short, the future of social media seems to be exciting. From AR to gaming and video, the online communication world is ready to enchant and capture the attention of users, helping build deeper social bonds offline as well.

The closing of Vine did not impede the spread of video.  Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all great for sharing short promotional videos. Inspirational stories  make for impactful, easy-to-consume content. That’s what the new Facebook Watch Parties – where you watch videos with friends to see their reactions – are aimed at.

The live streaming part of it is important, too. Two billion people have seen Facebook Live streams, and brands are taking notice of its efficacy. Even sports events are moving to Facebook streaming. Meanwhile, companies targeting the more tech-savvy gaming audience are hosting Twitch streams for their Q&A sessions. This sort of raw, unedited content feels a lot more real and genuine than marketing clips. In addition, the “live” aspect of video triggers that sense of urgency in the same way that ephemeral content does.

5. Augmented Reality is improving your interactivity

Interaction between the real world and things previously limited to computer screens is no longer a sci-fi fantasy. When the world saw Kim Kardashian first use a Snapchat filter, we knew this technology was here to stay. Facebook and even Apple are working on similar developments.

But AR is more than just inserting your Bitmoji into a video or hunting Pokemon in Pokemon Go. For example, the IKEA Place app allows you to preview furniture you want to buy, visualized in your own room. And using the aforementioned SWACE, a company can get consumers to take hilarious holiday photos with the brand’s avatars.