All posts by Dale Walker

HPE hybrid IT revenue falls 11% triggering share slump


Dale Walker

26 Nov, 2019

HPE missed analyst estimates in its fourth-quarter earnings report on Monday, largely driven by slowing demand for core products and wider economic uncertainty.

Shares slumped 4% in after-hours trading, prompted by a drop of 11% in the company’s Hybrid IT division, by far HPE’s largest unit comprising its servers, storage and data centre products. Revenue for the unit came in at $5.67 billion, just short of the $5.74 billion expected by analysts.

The company’s Intelligence Edge unit, a field that HPE has aggressively targeted, also saw revenue slump by 6.5%, falling from $773 million to $723 million year over year.

In September, HPE CEO Antonio Neri warned that turbulent economic factors, including trade tensions, were creating “uneven demand” and would rattle customer confidence for some time to come.

Commenting on this week’s earnings, he said: “We had a very successful fiscal year, marked by strong and consistent performance. Through our disciplined execution, we improved profitability across the company and significantly exceeded our original non-GAAP earnings and cash flow outlook, while sharpening our focus, transforming our culture and delivering differentiated innovation to our customers as they accelerate their digital transformations.

“I am confident in our ability to drive sustainable, profitable growth as we continue to shift our portfolio to higher-value, software-defined solutions and execute our pivot to offering everything as a service by 2022,” Neri continued. “Our strategy to deliver an edge-to-cloud platform-as-a-service is unmatched in the industry.”

There were some positive signs for the company. Quarterly profit was slightly higher than analyst estimates, earning 49 cents per share compared to the 46 cents per share that was anticipated, as reported by Reuters.

HPE also gave a positive outlook for the year ahead, estimating a $1.01 to $1.17 per share in profits and $1.78 to $1.94 per share in adjusted profits.

The earnings report brings to an end a year marked by a series of strategic acquisitions that will likely serve to further diversify HPE’s earnings in 2020. In May the company acquired supercomputing giant Cray, a deal that came as somewhat of a surprise but will certainly lead to more developments in its high-performance computing division.

HPE also acquired the intellectual property of big data analytics specialist MapR in August. This deal included a bunch of AI technology and expertise that HPE said would be put towards its Intelligent Data Platform.

Microsoft Teams surpasses 20 million daily users


Dale Walker

20 Nov, 2019

Microsoft Teams has surpassed 20 million daily active users, an increase of 7 million since July, the company has revealed.

The collaboration suite, available as part of Microsoft’s premium Office 365 brand or as a free version, exceeded the popular Slack platform as being the most used business chat app earlier this year.

In fact, Teams now only sits behind Microsoft’s other chat platform Skype for Business in terms of popularity. However, the company has made it clear in the past that Teams will eventually supersede Skype as its primary tool.

Although Slack has grown to 12 million daily users as of October, that modest growth has been dwarfed by the successes of Microsoft Teams. Slack shares fell as much as 10% following Microsoft’s announcement on Tuesday, and have fallen 18% since the company’s public launch in June.

Meanwhile, Workplace by Facebook reported in October that it had surpassed 3 million subscribers, up one million since February.

Microsoft announced a batch of updates for Teams at its annual Ignite conference earlier this month, including a simple sign-on mechanism for front line workers, new integrations with Yammer and Skype, an expansion of the Advanced Threat Protection suite to cover messages within Teams, and the general availability of private chats.

Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription gives premium access to the Teams app, alongside its traditional productivity software. Commercial Cloud, the division that Teams falls under, is one of the highest performing areas of the company, making up over one-third of its overall revenue, according to third-quarter figures.

Slack hasn’t spent the year idle, having overhauled the underlying technology of its desktop app in July to help reduce RAM usage by 50% and improving loading times by 33%. The company also added new features in August that help admins manage permissions, and a Workflow Builder in October, that allows users to automate routine functions using custom workflows.

View from the airport: Microsoft Ignite 2019


Dale Walker

12 Nov, 2019

Microsoft’s enormous flagship Ignite conference is now over for another year, but the roadshow has only just started – the company is set to visit a total of 30 different countries between now and mid-April 2020.

It was perhaps the largest conference I had ever attended personally, and featured a massive number of updates across its software and cloud portfolio. Major highlights include a new hybrid cloud platform dubbed Azure Arc, a new strategy and look for its Edge browser, and a raft of updates for its Teams suite.

What struck me most, however, was Microsoft’s pragmatic attitude to both its investments and long-term goals. Whether the result of shrewd thinking or simply a realisation that the market isn’t where the company wants it to be, Microsoft is looking to compromise.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this was in its security content. Ignite’s security and compliance keynote – the first of its kind for Microsoft – was packed with updates across Microsoft’s portfolio. However, despite the announcements, Microsoft wanted attendees to leave with 3 simple rules to follow: Turn on MFA, stay up to date, and use SecureScore (the company’s built-in compliance tool).

In fact, speaking with executives after the show, I learned that these rules had been baked into every security presentation across the week, some 21 sessions. Every presenter was told to include one last slide that reminded users to turn on MFA.

It’s a self-confessed compromise from a company that has spent a number of years trying to pivot its customers towards passwordless security. In the words of Alex Simmons, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s Identity division, this is “the new Microsoft, it’s a little bit more empathetic”.

Passwordless remains an incredibly important part of Microsoft’s security strategy, but it’s clear that this goal is still some distance away – at least three years according to Simmons. While it’s managed to onboard over 100 million of its users to things like biometric security, it still has around 700 million left to go. It’s clear that customers aren’t quite ready to completely change their own approaches to security. Whether that’s due to the complexity of legacy hardware, or simply a reluctance to change, the company isn’t quite meeting its customers where they are.

It’s clear then why Microsoft is now making its MFA tool free for every user – it’s a reluctant nod to customers, saying: “If you’re going to use passwords, at least do it properly”.

The same can be said for Microsoft’s ambition for its Edge browser. The industry was eager to see what the company would do with its modernised platform, having just moved to the Chromium source code. It was never going to be enough to say that Edge now has parity with Google Chrome over things like compatibility and performance. Microsoft knew that, and from the way Edge is now being sold it seems the company is no longer trying to compete with rivals that are too far ahead in the race.

Instead, the company has taken quite a bold, and potentially innovative, step to try and fuse together the capabilities of a web browser with the data of a company’s intranet. Edge is now pitched as a business companion tool that quite frankly could make the browser relevant again in the market.

Microsoft has had a difficult year, no more so than with a Windows platform that’s been plagued with bugs and shoddy launches. Those experiences, backlash from customers and its growing irrelevance in certain markets seems to have humbled the company, and so it’s now time to start meeting customers where they are, rather than telling them where they need to be.

Here is every major Microsoft Teams update from Ignite 2019


Dale Walker

6 Nov, 2019

Microsoft Ignite has delivered an enormous number of updates across the company’s product portfolio and in particular its collaboration platform, Teams.

To make life a little easier for readers we’ve rounded up the most important changes, some of which are available now, with others being accessible through Microsoft’s preview programme.

Simple sign-in for Microsoft 365

Microsoft has added a bunch of authentication features to its 365 platform that will also filter down to Teams. Most of these are aimed at what the company calls “firstline workers”, defined as those employees who act as the first point of contact for a business, typically retail staff.

Firstly, SMS sign-in is coming to Teams, allowing users to log onto the service with their phone number and an SMS authentication code, effectively removing the need to remember passwords. Likewise, a Global Sign-out feature is also on its way for Android devices that lets workers sign out of all their 365 apps, including Teams, with one click.

Firstline managers will also soon be able to manage user credentials directly. The goal here is to reduce the strain on IT support by allowing managers to, for example, help employees reset passwords without having to turn to support teams.

All of these authentication features are currently in preview but are expected to become generally available before the end of the year.

Content management and Yammer integrations

There are also a bunch of new features designed to make it easier to access and manage files and tasks across its Microsoft 365 portfolio from inside the Teams app.

Aside from a few minor tweaks to permission options, some bigger changes include being able to preview files from 320 different file types, support for relevant People cards and recent files that are now displayed alongside chat windows, and the ability to sync Team files to a PC or Mac.

Customers will also be able to migrate conversations they’ve had in Outlook into the Teams app before the end of this year and in the first quarter of 2020, the company plans to add a new UI for tasks created in Teams, Planner or To Do.

Finally, Yammer, the enterprise communications app that at one time looked like it was going to be scrapped, will be integrated into Teams in a preview state by the end of the year, before rolling out generally in 2020.

The app has received a complete redesign, being the first to be built from the ground up using the Microsoft’s Fluent Design System – Microsoft’s latest design language. For Teams, this means that the app can be accessed directly from the left rail, although this new version is unavailable until its private preview in December, with general availability at some point in 2020.

Emergency calling

Speaking of communications, US customers are now able to use a feature called Dynamic Emergency Calling, which also provides the current location of the user to emergency services. Currently, the feature supports those on Microsoft’s Calling Plan, although Direct Routing users will eventually be supported before the end of the year.

There were also a number of smaller announcements for the calling function. Music on Hold is a fairly self-explanatory new feature, offering the option to play music for any caller placed on hold or put into a queue. Location Based Routing allows customers to control the routing of calls between VoIP and PSTN endpoints. And finally, larger organisations with a global footprint can now choose the nearest Microsoft media processor to handle their calls, which should improve overall performance.

Upgrade to Microsoft Teams Rooms

Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR), the successor to Skype Room Systems, also received a handful of updates, the biggest of which is compatibility with Cisco WebEx and Zoom, allowing Teams users to connect to these services directly. This should be available starting in early 2020, beginning with WebEx.

The second big announcement is the launch of a new managed service called Managed Meeting Rooms. This will provide cloud-based IT management and security monitoring for meetings, as well as support onsite services through a partner network. This service is available now in private preview and is expected to launch generally during spring 2020.

Enhanced security

There have also been a tonne of security and compliance updates for IT admins.

Firstly, Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection has been extended to messages within Teams, offering real-time protection against malware and malicious scripts. Similarly, the option to apply policies that block groups from sharing files with each other now also covers files stored within SharePoint.

Admins have also been given more options concerning the length of data policies, with the option to enforce restrictions for a single day, as well as new PowerShell functions designed to make it easier to assign policies across larger Teams groups. It will also soon be possible to manage device usage and deployments through a single management portal.

Private chat and customised conversations

The option to chat privately inside a Team is now generally available to all users, allowing customers to create separate chat windows that can be viewed and accessed by a select few of the team’s members.

The multiwindow feature is also coming to Teams from the first quarter of 2020, allowing users to pop out chats and meetings into a separate window. Users will also be able to pin specific channels to the left rail, allowing them to keep track of most-commonly used conversations.

Finally, the Teams client is also heading to Linux, with a public preview being made available before the end of 2019.

Virtual consultations

A new feature called Virtual Consults is available in private preview, designed to make it easier for organisations that rely on sensitive consultations with their customers, such as healthcare professionals or customer service agencies, to arrange calls. The feature brings with it built-in meeting transcriptions, cloud-recording and the option to blur out backgrounds if they are in a location that would otherwise distract from the meeting.

Developer tools

A healthy chunk of upgrades were also reserved for the Teams developer community.

Firstly, Microsoft has made the tools available as part of its Power Platform more accessible in the Teams environment. Power Apps developers are now able to publish their creations as Teams apps directly to the company’s app library, making it easier for users to find them. The whole process of adding apps has also been made easier. As for users, they will eventually be able to pin these custom apps to the left rail, once this comes into play before the end of 2019.

Power BI is also receiving some updates that will translate to Teams next year, including the ability to create interactive cards within Teams conversations for users to engage with. The Power BI tab in Teams will also be given an upgrade, making it easier to select the right reports.

Meet Azure Arc, a Microsoft platform for those that want a bit of everything


Dale Walker

5 Nov, 2019

Microsoft kicked off its Ignite conference this week with the reveal of its Azure Arc platform, a set of tools designed to simplify the management of deployments across multiple clouds, on-premises, and edge.

The platform also allows for Azure services and management tools to be expanded to new infrastructures, including Linux and Windows Server, as well as all Kubernetes clusters spread across multiple cloud types.

The idea is to create a single, centralised hub so that users can apply existing tools, such as Azure Resource Manager, Azure Shell, Azure Portal, Azure API, as well as its policy and security protocols, across all deployments. This effectively allows customers to run Azure services irrespective of where the deployment resides.

The move symbolises Microsoft’s effort to accommodate customers that are reluctant, or unable, to become entirely hybrid by allowing them to be more flexible in how they use Azure tools. It also extends many of the benefits of cloud to those parts of a business still reliant on on-premises infrastructure or private data centres, which can now be plugged into Azure.

Specifically, the Azure Portal tool within Arc will give customers a unified view of all Azure data services running across all on-premises and cloud deployments, and the Azure Kubernetes Service can be used to spin up new clusters if they run out of on-premise capacity, the company claims.

What will perhaps matter most is that this expanded availability will also allow customers to make use of all the security and compliance tools integrated into Azure, including controlled access and company policy enforcement.

“With Azure Arc, and with it, the arrival of multi-cloud management in Azure, we are now seeing perhaps the biggest shift yet in Azure’s strategic evolution,” argues Nick McQuire, VP and head of Enterprise and Artificial Intelligence Research at CCS. “It means that Microsoft is becoming more attentive to customer needs, but it is also an indication that battlelines of competition in cloud are shifting towards managing the control pane.”

“In embracing hybrid multi-cloud, Azure Arc also validates the big investments made by key competitors over the past 12-18 months most notably IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat and Google Cloud’s Anthos. The stage is set for AWS to follow suit next month at reinvent.”

Microsoft just redesigned its Edge browser to be an essential business tool


Dale Walker

5 Nov, 2019

Microsoft has released a major update for its Edge browser, which introduces a new logo and a host of business-focused features designed to fuse together intranet and internet search.

It’s arguably the first major change of direction for Edge since it migrated to the Chromium source code late last year, and is a clear attempt to reassert itself as a relevant browser.

Currently in preview, the new update introduces the ability to access company intranet directories from within the Edge browser. For example, entering the name ‘Sofia’ into the Edge search bar will bring up the details colleagues that the user is likely to be searching for, based on previous interactions or similar projects.

Another example Microsoft gave was an employee searching for how many days they are allowed to take off for jury duty, with the top result being the company’s own policy taken directly from the organisation’s intranet.

Given that the new version of Edge is built on the Chromium source code, it’s unsurprising to hear that Edge now has performance parity with Google’s Chrome and is now a perfect match in terms of website compatibility. However, the company explained that it was keen to innovate beyond that to remain competitive.

“We see a unique opportunity to bridge the tradeoffs of today’s web search with more complete solutions that Microsoft can uniquely address,” explained Yusef Mehdi, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Modern Life & Devices division. “The irony is that it is easier to find an obscure piece of information on the much larger internet, than it is to find a simple document on your company’s intranet such as a paystub portal, a pet at work policy, or the office location of a fellow employee.”

Employees will be able to use natural language search to find colleague titles, team names, office locations, floor plans, definitions for company acronyms, and a wide set of internal company information, Microsoft explained.

“As company information continues to expand to terabytes, petabytes and zettabytes of information, this will only get more complex,” added Medhi. “We will unite the internet with your intranet with Microsoft Search in Bing so that you can increasingly access more of your important data in a single browse and search experience.”

Drag and drop search

Another feature, known as Collections, allows workers, such as those involved in procurement, to drag and drop items from search results into a list that can be shared to others, complete with all the appropriate images and metadata for those items. It’s also possible to export this list into Excel, which will automatically input the metadata into a spreadsheet.

A product demo also revealed that each user will be given a personalised homepage, which was largely influenced by their account being logged into the Azure Directory. This meant that links and data from the company’s intranet could be displayed in the place of trending news stories.

InPrivate and baseline cookie blocking

Alongside the business update, the company was also keen to showcase its new privacy protections, including default anti-tracking filters, which it has been working on since June, and an incognito mode dubbed InPrivate, which the company claims offers the most effective protection on the market.

“We’re taking a new, more protective stance to help you on the web. ‘Balanced’, which is what we do by default… gives you more protections than any other browser. If you really want to have your data and privacy secure, you’re going to want to with Microsoft Edge.”

These options can be tweaked in the Edge settings. By default, Edge will block all trackers originating from sites you haven’t actually visited, but a ‘Strict’ option is also available, which will block the “majority of trackers from all sites”, and potentially break some website functions that rely on cookies.

The second feature, the InPrivate mode, is pitched as being a more robust version of Chrome’s Incognito. Medhi explained that Chrome’s version “keeps your browsing safe and private, but what you don’t know is that you can be accidentally logged in on Gmail and your search is not private”, referencing this story from earlier in the year.

“When you navigate to a page (in Edge), we will actually prevent you from being accidentally logged in, and all those searches are kept on the machine, they don’t go back to the server.”

Release schedule

A handful of smaller announcements also accompanied the new Edge launch, including an expansion to the App Assure program to cover the new browser, as well as an expansion of the FastTrack deployment program to rollout Edge in Q1 of 2020.

The release candidate for the new Edge browser is available to download now for both Windows and macOS, with the company aiming for general availability by 15th January.

Schneider Electric launches wall-mounted micro data centre for those tricky edge deployments


Dale Walker

3 Oct, 2019

Schneider Electric has launched a first of its kind wall-mounted micro data centre designed to support large edge servers in smaller environments or those without robust physical security measures.

The 6U unit is the latest in the company’s EcoStruxure Data Centre range and is designed as a self-contained single-rack enclosure that incorporates remote monitoring, management services, an uninterrupted power supply, and cooling systems inside a low profile cabinet.

This can then be either mounted onto a wall out of the reach of potential interference or placed on the ground, depending on the size and requirements of a room. With this, the company said  smaller businesses, or those with offices and factory floors that are generally not optimised for IT equipment, are still able to put their networking technology nearer to their employees or customers.

The 6U wall-mounted unit also comes with a security camera to monitor for physical security threats

“With the EcoStruxure Micro Data Center 6U Wall Mount’s creative design and functionality, we are able to open up new possibilities to deploy resilient IT at the edge, making digital transformation a reality,” Jim Simonelli, SVP of Emerging Businesses at Schneider Electric’s Secure Power division, told delegates at the company’s Innovation Summit.

Schneider said it’s best used in those environments that want to deploy modern digital systems closer to their customer base, such as a supermarket using the unit to power its point of sale systems.

“No one else can provide the full, standardised IT infrastructure solutions that Schneider can along with the partner ecosystem to ensure simplified deployment and compatibility. A fully integrated EcoStruxure Data Center Solution, including EcoStruxure IT and Asset Advisor 24/7 remote monitoring and services, ensures resiliency in the cloud and at the edge.”

The unit designed to be self-contained and requires very little maintenance once deployed

The 6U Micro Data Centre unit also comes with pre-installed dust filters and fan ventilation, making it suitable for light industrial environments, the company explained. It’s also shock-resistant and can, therefore, be safely shipped to multiple partners who can then install components before it reaches the end customer. This means that businesses are able to use pre-configured units to standardise the rollout of edge technology tailored to their specific requirements.

Although it is sold as a 6U unit, the company explained to IT Pro that it could be deployed as a modular system, provided the wall that they are attached to can support the weight. It’s possible to route cables into multiple units to share power and network traffic, therefore potentially doubling or tripling the available rack space.

The unit is also yet to make use of any liquid cooling, although the company suggested that it would be compatible with its next-gen liquid cooling system, currently in development, once it becomes available.

S-Series, C-Series and R-Series versions of the unit are available offering varying configuration options.

Alongside the new unit, the company also revealed its Device Security Vulnerability Assessment tool, available as part of the EcoStruxure IT Expert cloud software suite. The assessment tool is designed to help with the rollout of edge networks by helping administrators monitor the various devices connected to the network and reduce the possibility of data loss or downtime. Vulnerabilities, security policies, ongoing regulatory compliance checks, firmware versions, device age and device performance can all be monitored from a single dashboard.

Schneider Electric partnership to develop liquid cooling for power-hungry data centres


Dale Walker

2 Oct, 2019

Schneider Electric has said it has entered into a strategic partnership that will see the company collaborate on the development of cutting-edge data centre liquid cooling technology.

The energy and automation giant will work alongside Iceotope, a company known for its chassis-level liquid cooling technology, and Avnet, a global technology services provider that will help deliver the products to market.

The aim is to produce chassis-level liquid cooling that’s able to keep pace with the increased use of high-power graphical processing units within data centres, which are by far the most efficient processors for powering AI, IoT and big data analytics but often overheat when paired with traditional air cooling systems.

“Compute intensive applications like AI and IoT are driving the need for better chip performance,” explained Kevin Brown, CTO and SVP of Innovation in Schneider Electric’s Secure Power division.

“Our quantitative analysis and testing of liquid cooling approaches shows significant benefits to the market. This partnership is the next step in solution development and we are excited to be working with Avnet and Iceotope.”

In closed testing, early analysis of the proposed liquid cooling technologies produced CapEx savings of around 15% and energy savings of at least 10%, when compared with traditional air-cooled systems. If deployed, this would lead to total cost of ownership savings of over 11% over a 20-year period, the company claimed.

Schneider has invested directly into Iceotope through its SE Ventures investment arm, which historically has overseen agreements with Habiteo, Element Analytics, Sense and Qmerit. The agreement will essentially see Iceotopes’ current liquid cooling technology, which is already in use across the IT stack, including cloud and edge deployments, brought to the data centre environment for the first time.

Schneider said it was increasingly finding that the sort of GPU chips required for AI and edge deployments often came with thermal design power ratings of 400 watts or more, making air cooling too expensive and inefficient to use extensively.

To combat this, Schneider said it would work towards creating systems capable of being partially submerged in a dielectric fluid. This, it claims, will make cooling systems entirely silent and drastically reduce the form factor, making it also suitable for less power-intensive systems, although it’s unclear how much up-front investment will be required to make this feasible.

David Craig, CEO of Iceotope, said his company was eager to work with Schneider and Avnet to create a product that is able to deliver on the promise of liquid cooling for the data centre.

“Working with great partners that share the same passion for innovation, solution-focused thinking and quality is a pleasure,” said Craig. “Our ability to bring our IP to combined solutions that manage the pressing challenges of chip density, energy and water consumption, space and location challenges and the ever more complex issues relating to harsh environment and climate will be game-changing in the industry.”

Schneider Electric revealed the news at its annual Innovation Summit, held this year in Barcelona.

Oracle to appeal “unlawful” decision on JEDI contract lawsuit


Dale Walker

27 Aug, 2019

Oracle said it plans to appeal a recent court decision that saw the dismissal of its challenge against the US’ JEDI cloud contract, the company confirmed on Monday.

Oracle has consistently argued that the procurement process of the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, awarded by the US Department of Defence, contravened federal laws and unfairly favoured AWS over other providers.

The company filed a lawsuit against the DoD in December last year, arguing that there were conflicts of interest between former Pentagon and AWS employees. Before a ruling was made on that lawsuit, Oracle was removed from the bidding process in April when it failed to meet the requirement of having three data centres with FedRAMP Moderate ‘Authorised’ support.

The Federal Claims Court ruled in July that because Oracle was unable to qualify for the bid criteria, it lacked the legal standing to challenge the procurement process and therefore dismissed its lawsuit.

Oracle believes the latest dismissal fails to address federal laws that prohibit the awarding of contracts to a single provider.

“Federal procurement laws specifically bar single award procurements such as JEDI absent satisfying specific, mandatory requirements, and the Court in its opinion clearly found DoD did not satisfy these requirements,” said Dorian Daley, general counsel for Oracle.

“The opinion also acknowledges that the procurement suffers from many significant conflicts of interest. These conflicts violate the law and undermine the public trust. As a threshold matter, we believe that the determination of no standing is wrong as a matter of law, and the very analysis in the opinion compels a determination that the procurement was unlawful on several grounds.”

JEDI, a contract said to be worth up to $10 billion, will see the winning bidder take charge of hosting and distributing DoD workloads, including those related to classified military operations. Currently, Microsoft and AWS are the only providers being considered for the contract – Google dropped out of the running early after an employee protest claimed the deal would contravene company ethics.

Earlier this month the DoD announced it would suspend the awarding of the contract while it investigates allegations of bias towards AWS.

Mozilla, Google move to block Kazakhstan’s attempts to spy on its citizens


Dale Walker

21 Aug, 2019

Google and Firefox developer Mozilla will block attempts by the government of Kazakhstan to intercept the web traffic of its citizens, the companies announced on Wednesday.

The joint action follows reports in July that the Kazakh regime had started forcing internet service providers to adopt custom web certificates, allowing officials to decrypt HTTPS internet traffic.

Despite claiming the certificate would provide greater protection for users against fraud and hacking attempts, the decision sparked widespread condemnation, with many arguing it severely undermines privacy.

Google and Mozilla have both said they distrust this certificate and as such have introduced “technical solutions” that will prevent traffic from being intercepted. For Mozilla’s part, it has revoked the certificate using OneCRL, said to be a “non-bypassable block”.

Google has said it will also block the certificate the government required users to install and added it to the list of those blocked inside Chromium’s source code.

Mozilla, known for its staunch support of user privacy, described Kazakhstan’s methods as an “attack” on user privacy.

“People around the world trust Firefox to protect them as they navigate the internet, especially when it comes to keeping them safe from attacks like this that undermine their security,” said Marshall Erwin, senior director of Trust and Security at Mozilla. “We don’t take actions like this lightly, but protecting our users and the integrity of the web is the reason Firefox exists.”

Google’s senior engineering director Parisa Tabriz said her company would “never tolerate any attempt, by any organisation – government or otherwise – to compromise Chrome user’s data”.

“We have implemented protections from this specific issue, and will always take action to secure our users around the world.”

This marks the second time Mozilla has worked actively against the Kazakh government. In 2015 government agencies asked to have its root certificate included in Mozilla’s root store program, its list of approved certificates that can be used with its browsers. However, the request was eventually denied after it was discovered the certificate would be used to intercept user data.

Further government attempts then ended in failure after a number of organisations took legal action against the administration.

Mozilla is known for taking a stand against state surveillance attempts, maintaining a section on its company website showcasing its latest investigations and providing support for those concerned about privacy.