All posts by Praharsha Anand

Nokia and Google to co-develop cloud-native 5G solutions

Praharsha Anand

19 Jan, 2021

Google Cloud and Nokia are teaming up to develop cloud-native 5G solutions for communications service providers and enterprise customers.

The new partnership also focuses on modernising network infrastructures and developing network edge as a business services platform for enterprises. Furthermore, the companies will co-innovate solutions to help CSPs deliver 5G connectivity and services at scale.

“Communications service providers have a tremendous opportunity ahead of them to support businesses’ digital transformations at the network edge through both 5G connectivity and cloud-native applications and capabilities,” said George Nazi, VP, telco, media and entertainment industry solutions at Google Cloud. 

“Doing so requires modernized infrastructure, built for a cloud-native 5G core, and we’re proud to partner with Nokia to help the telecommunications industry expand and support these customers.”

As part of their strategic collaboration, Nokia will integrate its voice core, cloud packet core, network exposure function, data management, signalling, and 5G core technologies into Google’s services. Nokia will also include its IMPACT IoT Connected Device Platform, which allows for the remote management of IoT devices, and Converged Charging solution for real-time rating and charging capabilities.

Google Cloud’s Anthos will serve as the platform for deploying applications, enabling CSPs to build services across the network edge, carrier networks, and public or private clouds. What’s more, by delivering cloud-native applications at the edge, businesses can lower network latency and eliminate the need for costly, on-site infrastructure. 

Nokia cloud and network services CTO Ron Haberman adds, “In the past five years, the telecom industry has evolved from physical appliances to virtual network functions and now cloud-native solutions.

“Nokia is excited to work with Google Cloud in service of our customers, both CSPs and enterprise, to provide choice and freedom to run workloads on premise and in the public cloud. Cloud-native network functions and automation will enable new agility and use-cases in the 5G era.”

Google Meet will help troubleshoot a low-quality video conference

Praharsha Anand

14 Jan, 2021

Google has announced the addition of new troubleshooting tools to its video conferencing solution, Meet.

According to Google, the new tools will make it easier for end-users to understand how their desktop and network environments affect Meet’s video quality. Available by default during a call, users can access the tools by selecting “Troubleshooting and Help” in the three-dot menu.  

Under the “Troubleshooting” section, users can browse real-time charts depicting network stability and CPU load. The network stability graph shows any connection delay in milliseconds, and the system load chart lets users track Google Meet’s CPU usage over the last five minutes. Together, the graphs provide greater visibility into how Google Meet, their computer, and their network are performing. 

The menu also provides users with general suggestions to improve call performance and gives real-time feedback on the impact any action the user takes has on the network and processing load. Plus, it offers tips for performing various tasks, such as presenting content and recording meetings. 

“Meet shares processing power and network connections with all other applications and browser tabs running on a computer. When the system is overusing its processing power or suffering from a bad network connection, Meet will try to adjust and maintain performance while consuming fewer resources. Some of those adjustments are less visible, but if resource shortages are severe or persistent, users may notice blurry video, stuttering audio, or other issues,” explained Google

Lastly, Meet’s troubleshooting window highlights time segments, enabling users to know when a local environment likely affected the call quality the most. 

Google Meet’s “Troubleshooting” rollout has started for Google Workspace Essentials, Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, and Enterprise Plus. It’s also available for G Suite Basic, Business, Education, Enterprise for Education, and nonprofit customers. Keep in mind, this is a staged rollout that could take 15 days to reach all users. 

HITRUST partners with AWS and Microsoft to clarify shared responsibility in cloud security

Praharsha Anand

13 Jan, 2021

The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) has announced the release of its new Shared Responsibility Matrix program to help cloud vendors better communicate their security and privacy assurances.

Developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, HITRUST’s Shared Responsibility Matrices clearly define security and privacy responsibilities between cloud service providers and their customers, streamlining processes for risk management programs.

Furthermore, the HITRUST Shared Responsibility Matrix for AWS and the HITRUST Shared Responsibility for Microsoft Azure align perfectly with each cloud service provider’s unique solution offering.

“Leading cloud service providers have long supported shared responsibility models, whereby the provider assumes some security responsibility for hosting applications and systems, while the organization deploying its solutions in the cloud assumes partial or shared responsibility for others,” said HITRUST. 

“The challenge, however, is that many shared responsibility models are loosely defined and vary based on the solution. For businesses deploying solutions in the cloud, this ambiguity creates an added layer of complexity related to achieving broader risk management objectives.”

HITRUST’s new shared responsibility model for cloud security is a part of HITRUST’s Shared Responsibility and Inheritance Program, which was introduced in 2018 to address the many misunderstandings, risks, and complexities organizations face when engaging with their cloud service providers.

“HITRUST launched this Program with the goal of providing greater clarity regarding the ownership and operation of security controls between organizations and their cloud service providers,” said Becky Swain, director of standards and shared responsibility program lead, HITRUST.

Swain continued, “The introduction of the Shared Responsibility Matrix is another HITRUST resource that underscores our ongoing commitment to simplifying and enhancing offerings to address our customers’ most pressing risk management challenges.”

Lastly, HITRUST announced its information risk management platform MyCSF can now inherit controls from AWS and Microsoft Azure. According to the company, the ability to automatically inherit controls helps save time, money, and resources as organizations pursue their risk management and compliance objectives.

Microsoft will soon offer 99.99% uptime for Azure Active Directory

Praharsha Anand

6 Jan, 2021

Starting April 1, Microsoft plans to update its service level agreement (SLA) for Azure AD user authentication to 99.99%. Hitting this four-nine uptime will be an improvement over the current 99.9% SLA.

A multi-tenant identity management service, Azure AD processes tens of billions of authentications per day. To deliver on its ‘99.99% uptime’ promise, Microsoft aims to drop service credit for administrative features and include only vital user authentication and federation features under Azure AD’s new SLA. 

Any period of time when users can’t log in to the service, access applications on the Access Panel and reset passwords, accounts to service downtime. Furthermore, organisations can avail service credits if Azure AD’s uptime drops below the SLA. For instance, Microsoft offers a full-service credit when uptime falls below 95% per month.

Microsoft attributed the enhanced SLA to its ongoing program of resilience investment to improve reliability in all areas of its identity services. 

To increase the reliability of its Azure AD, Microsoft centralised architecture to scope and isolated the impact of failures to a minimum number of users; included a backup authentication service that transparently and automatically handles authentications for participating workloads; integrated Azure infrastructure authentication with regional authentication endpoints; and provided instant enforcement of policy changes with continuous access evaluation (CAE) protocol for critical Microsoft 365 services. 

“In conversations with our customers, we learned that the most critical promise of our service is ensuring that every user can sign in to the apps and services they need without interruption,’’ said Nadim Abdo, vice president of engineering at Microsoft.

“To deliver on this promise, we are updating the definition of Azure AD SLA availability to include only user authentication and federation (and removing administrative features). This focus on critical user authentication scenarios aligns our engineering investments with the vital functions that must stay healthy for customers’ businesses to run.”

Microsoft to offer top-secret cloud platform for classified data

Praharsha Anand

9 Dec, 2020

Microsoft has announced the launch of its newest cloud offering: Azure Government Top Secret.

The new cloud service expands Microsoft’s tactical edge portfolio for the US government, including Azure (public cloud), Azure Government, and Azure Government Secret. Microsoft has tailored Azure Government Top Secret for its US government customers that work with classified information.

“Azure Government Top Secret provides the same capabilities as the commercial version of Azure, Azure Government and Azure Government Secret to enable a continuum of compute from mission cloud to tactical edge,” said Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Azure global.

“The broad range of services will meet the demand for greater agility in the classified space, including the need to gain deeper insights from data sourced from any location as well as the need to enable the rapid expansion of remote work.”

According to reports, Microsoft is working with the US government to secure accreditation for its new cloud. In the meantime, it’s already completed the build out of the Azure Government Top Secret regions. 

This announcement comes amid ongoing court battles over the Department of Defense’s (DOD) $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract. The DOD awarded the whole contract to Microsoft, bypassing Amazon Web Services and spurring the company to launch a lawsuit

Microsoft also announced enhancements to its Azure Government Secret service, authorized and actively used by the US Department of Defense, law enforcement, and other agencies. 

According to Microsoft, Azure Government Secret will now include Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Azure Container Instances. The additions aim to help application developers deploy and manage containerized applications more easily.

Intelligent security analytics services Azure Sentinel and Azure Security Center are also now available in Azure Government Secret, enabling unified security across digital estates and facilitating proactive threat management.

“The consistency between Azure (commercial), Azure Government, and Azure Government Secret is also starting to change the game as software development may happen from anywhere, while the code itself can be promoted to enclaves with higher classification levels. There it can interact with data of higher classification levels. At the end of the day, this means doing more for the mission at a lower overall cost,” said Carroll Moon, CTO of CloudFit Software.

WhatsApp makes it easier for users to free up storage space

Praharsha Anand

5 Nov, 2020

WhatsApp has redesigned its storage management settings, making it easier for users to mass-delete images and large files that have been shared multiple times, including those that take up most of the phone’s storage space.

The new update, which users can find by going to Settings > Storage and Data > Manage Storage, automatically groups content into two categories: those forwarded multiple times and those greater than 5MB. Users can also choose to preview specific media files and sort them by size before deleting them in bulk. Additionally, WhatsApp will display a warning alert when the storage is almost full.

You can then choose which group to review, then click on the files you’d like to delete and click the trash can image to delete them. If you just want to delete the entire group, simply click “Select All,” then click the trash can image.

These are welcome developments, as the current WhatsApp storage usage tool only lists the number of messages, photos, GIFs, and videos in each chat, and the amount of space they take up. The risk of accidental deletion is higher because users don’t have the option to browse or review the content they delete.

With the new storage management tool, users will enjoy greater control over the storage space WhatsApp takes up. According to reports, this new feature will roll out to all users this week.