Monthly Archives: October 2019

brio technologies

10 new ways for everyone to achieve more in the modern workplace

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It’s been over a year since we introduced Microsoft 365, the complete, intelligent, and secure solution that empowers employees to drive their organizations to future growth. Customers are seeking to transform and support a workforce that is more diverse and mobile than ever before, and they are relying on the latest advancements in technology to do so. Customers such as Goodyear, Eli Lilly, and Fruit of the Loom use Microsoft 365 to empower their employees.

Microsoft 365 is growing quickly, built on the strength of more than 135 million commercial monthly Office 365 users. Windows 10 has approximately 200 million commercial devices in use, and there is an install base of over 82 million for Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Today, at the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Orlando, Florida, we are introducing new capabilities in Microsoft 365 that make it possible for every person to do their best work.

1. Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history

After less than two years in the market, more than 329,000 organizations worldwide use Microsoft Teams, including 87 of the Fortune 100 companies. In fact, 54 customers now have more than 10,000 active users of Teams, and Accenture just crossed the 100,000 active-user marks in Teams. Further growth has been spurred by the recently announced free version of Teams.

We continue to add powerful new capabilities to foster teamwork and collaboration. New artificial intelligence (AI) powered meeting features are now generally available—including background blur and meeting recording. Background blur uses facial detection to blur your background during video meetings, and meeting recording allows you to playback recorded meeting content at any time with captions and a searchable, timecoded transcript.

General availability of new live event capabilities will begin to roll out worldwide in Microsoft 365 later this year. These new tools allow customers to create and stream live and on-demand events in Teams, Yammer and Microsoft Stream to inform and engage customers and employees, wherever they are. Beginning in October, employees can watch videos on the go with the Stream mobile app for iOS and Android, with support for offline viewing. And we’re working with our ecosystem of device partners to deliver new devices optimized for Teams meetings and calling, including the new Surface Hub 2. Surface Hub 2 is perfect for dynamic teamwork and features a light, sleek, and intelligent design that’s easy to move around and fit in any workspace. The first phase of Surface Hub 2, Surface Hub 2 S, will start shipping in the second quarter of 2019.

2. Extend the power of Teams to empower workers in all roles and across industries

We are extending the power of Teams with new experiences that are tailored to industry-specific and role-based workflows. For example, new capabilities in Teams help empower Firstline Workers to do their best work. With new schedule management tools, managers can now create and share schedules, and employees can easily swap shifts, request time off, and see who else is working as well as important announcements. These new features will now be available in November. As an example of how Teams can enable secure workflows for regulated industries, we’re delivering a new care coordination solution, now available in private preview, that gives healthcare teams a secure hub for coordinating care across multiple patients. It provides for integration with electronic health records (EHR) systems and enables care providers to communicate about patient care in real-time within the Teams’ secure platform. We are also releasing two new secure messaging features with particular relevance in healthcare settings—image annotation, now generally available, and priority notifications, which will roll out by the end of this year to all Teams commercial customers. These capabilities support HIPAA compliance and enable doctors, nurses, and other clinicians to communicate about patients while avoiding the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps.

3. Find what you need faster with Microsoft Search

Microsoft Search, a new cohesive search capability, makes it easier for you to find what you need without leaving the flow of your work. We’re putting the search box in a consistent, prominent place across Edge, Bing, Windows, and Office apps, so that search is always one click away. We’re also supercharging the search box so you can not only quickly find people and related content, but you can also access commands for apps and navigate to other content wherever you need to get work done—even before you start typing in the search box. Recognizing that you work in an ecosystem of information, we’re extending Microsoft Search to connect across your organization’s data, inside and outside of Microsoft 365. Learning from your everyday work patterns and acting as a brain for your organization, the Microsoft Graph personalizes your experiences everywhere. We’re pulling together the power of the Microsoft Graph and AI technology from Bing to deliver future experiences that are more relevant to what you are working on. This will include automatically answering questions such as “Can I bring my wife and kids on a work trip?” by using machine reading comprehension that takes knowledge of the world and pairs it with the understanding of your organization’s documents. Preview the Microsoft Search capability it as it rolls out to,, and in the SharePoint mobile app today, with many more experiences to come in Edge, Windows, and Office.

4. Create content that stands out with Microsoft 365

Three new features in Microsoft 365 use the power of AI to help you create content that shines. Ideas is a new feature that follows along as you create a document and makes intelligent suggestions. In PowerPoint, Ideas recommends designs, layouts, and images. In Excel, Ideas recognize trends, suggest charts, and identifies outliers in your data. Ideas will be generally available in Excel soon and will also begin rolling out in preview to the other apps starting with PowerPoint Online. Additionally, new data types in Excel turn references to stocks and geographies into rich entities that can be used to build powerful, interactive spreadsheets. The Stocks and Geography data types—generally available soon—make it easy to get updated stock prices, company information, population, area, and more. Finally, new image recognition capabilities in Excel take a picture of a hand-drawn or printed data table and turn it into an Excel spreadsheet, making data entry as easy as taking a picture.

5. Office loves the Mac

Office empowers everyone to achieve more on any device. And Office loves the Mac. We’re committed to the Mac as a first-class endpoint and have made significant investments in the platform over the past year—including moving the Mac and Windows versions of the apps onto a single code base and releasing new features for the Mac every month. We also tailored new experiences for the Mac, like the new Touch Bar integration.

we’re announcing OneDrive Files On-Demand for Mac, a way to access all your personal and work files from the cloud in Finder without using storage space and only download them when you need them. Files On-Demand gives the Mac an intelligent connection to the cloud and is just one more example of the power of Office on the Mac platform.

6. Work together with your entire network with LinkedIn in Outlook and Office web apps

We’re announcing two new ways to use the power of the LinkedIn network within your daily workflow. Soon, when you connect your LinkedIn account to Office 365, you’ll be able to co-author documents with people in your LinkedIn network in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and send emails to them directly from Outlook. This brings your corporate directory and your LinkedIn network together, so you never lose touch with the contacts who can help you succeed, inside or outside your organization. You’ll also see LinkedIn highlights about the people in your meeting invites, providing you with insights about attendees, so you can prep for important meetings quickly and easily. These features help you focus on what’s important by providing information and connections directly in your flow of work and will be coming soon in a staged rollout.

7. Deliver a modern desktop with Azure

For many companies, the specific needs of their business demand a virtualized desktop experience. Today, we are introducing Windows Virtual Desktop, the only cloud-based service that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience, which is optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes with built-in security and compliance.

8. Manage your environment with the Microsoft 365 admin center

Following our recent release of the new Microsoft 365 admin center, we’re announcing new features to help you to monitor and manage applications, services, data, devices, and users across your Microsoft 365 subscriptions, including Office 365, Windows 10, and EMS. The Microsoft 365 admin center has several new capabilities to help you better manage your environment, including insight-based recommendations, a more consistent UI, and customized views for each of your admins. The public preview of these features is rolling out now to targeted release admins and soon to all admins. To get started, visit


9. Achieve modern compliance easily for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and more

In the world of complex regulations and evolving privacy standards, customers consistently tell us they need the built-in, intelligent capabilities of Microsoft 365 to proactively achieve compliance in their organizations. We’ve expanded Compliance Manager to now include 12 assessments across different industries. The unified labeling experience is also now available in the Security & Compliance Center as a single destination where you can create, configure, and automatically apply policies to ensure protection and governance of sensitive data.


10. Advancing security for IT professionals

The work we do in security at Microsoft gives us the broadest perspective on the challenges and a unique ability to help. We focus on three areas: running security operations that work for you, building enterprise-class technology, and driving partnerships for a heterogeneous world. Today, we’re announcing several new enterprise-class capabilities that leverage the Microsoft intelligent cloud and operational learnings to help organizations secure their people, devices, and data.

New support for passwordless sign-in via the Microsoft Authenticator app is now available for the hundreds of thousands of Azure Active Directory connected apps that businesses use every day. Nearly all data loss starts with compromised passwords. Today, we are declaring an end to the era of passwords. No company lets enterprises eliminate more passwords than Microsoft.

Microsoft Secure Score is the only enterprise-class dynamic report card for cybersecurity. By using it, organizations get assessments and recommendations that typically reduce their chance of a breach by 30-fold. It guides you to take steps like securing admin accounts with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), securing user accounts with MFA, and turning off client-side email forwarding rules. Starting today, we’re expanding Secure Score to cover all of Microsoft 365. We are also introducing Secure Score for your hybrid cloud workloads in the Azure Security Center, so you have full visibility across your estate.

Finally, we are announcing Microsoft Threat Protection, integrated experience for detection, investigation, and remediation across endpoints, email, documents, identity, and infrastructure in the Microsoft 365 admin console. This will save analysts thousands of hours as they automate the more mundane security tasks.


A new way for small and midsize businesses to stay secure and current

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Small and midsize businesses face many challenges in today’s economy. From engaging customers in new and different ways to attracting and retaining talent to remaining secure amid evolving threats, it’s not easy to stay ahead of the curve. The right tools help you meet those challenges, ensuring employees can be innovative and productive while your assets stay secure. They also save you time and money and help you continue to earn the trust and loyalty of your customers. With Microsoft 365, we are building the tools to help our customers stay secure and current, setting them up for success now and in years to come. And today, we’re announcing a new offer that makes it easier than ever for small and midsize businesses to take advantage of these tools.

At Microsoft, we want to make sure you always have the right tools to set your business up for success. Following close behind in October, we have a new offer that will keep your employees productive and secure. Working with a modern device and Microsoft 365 Business—which includes Windows 10, Office 365, and the latest security features—you can do just that.

While many of you are well on your way to deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process. With that in mind, today we are announcing that, through January 2023, we will extend the availability of paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) to businesses of all sizes. (Previously, Windows 7 ESU was only available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing.) The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis with the price increasing each year.

Starting on December 1, 2019, businesses of any size can purchase ESU through the cloud solution provider (CSP) program. This means that customers can work with their partners to get the security they need while they make their way to Windows 10.

Partners within the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program can go to the Microsoft Partner Center to learn more. Meanwhile, Windows 7 customers looking to take advantage of the paid Extended Security Updates once they are available on December 1 can find out more by visiting our FAQ page. Finally, if you’d like to learn more about the end of Windows 7 support and the Office 365 Business, head to our support page.

We’re committed to always building the right tools for today’s businesses, big and small, so you and your employees are always set up for success—no matter what new challenges arise.

Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide

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Today, we’re excited to announce that Windows Virtual Desktop is now generally available worldwide. Windows Virtual Desktop is the only service that delivers simplified management, a multi-session Windows 10 experience, optimizations for Office 365 ProPlus, and support for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services (RDS) desktops and apps. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale your Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes.

Since we announced Windows Virtual Desktop last September, and through the public preview announced in March, thousands of customers have piloted the service and taken advantage of the Windows 10 multi-session capability—validating the importance of this feature as a core part of the service. Customers also represented all major industries and geographies, helping us get feedback from different customer types and locations. As a result, as of today, the service is now available in all geographies. In addition, the Windows Virtual Desktop client is available across Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, and HTML 5.

With the end of extended support for Windows 7 coming in January 2020, we also understand some customers need to continue to support Windows 7 legacy applications as they migrate to Windows 10. To support this need, you can use Windows Virtual Desktop to virtualize Windows 7 desktops with free Extended Security Updates (ESU) until January 2023. If you’re in the process of migrating to Windows 10 and need app compatibility assistance, read more about how we can help with the Desktop App Assure program.

To help increase productivity, we invested heavily in the Office experience in a virtualized environment with native improvements, as well as through the acquisition of FSLogix. In July, we made the FSLogix technology available to Microsoft 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and RDS customers. Today, all FSLogix tools are fully integrated into Windows Virtual Desktop, enabling you to have the smoothest, most performant Office virtualization experience available today.

In addition to the significant architectural improvements for deployment and management, we’re also simplifying app delivery by supporting MSIX packaged apps to be dynamically “attached” to a virtual machine instead of installing it permanently. This is important because it significantly decreases storage and makes it easier for the admin to manage and update the apps while creating a seamless experience for the user.

Check out the new video from Scott Manchester, Principal Engineering Lead for Windows Virtual Desktop, where he does a great job of walking you through the app “attach” experience.

Extending Windows Virtual Desktop

We also worked closely with our partner ecosystem to help our customers extend Windows Virtual Desktop and get the most out of existing virtualization investments.

  • Starting today, Citrix can extend Windows Virtual Desktop worldwide, including support for Windows 10 multi-session, Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years, and support for Windows Server 2008 R2 with free Extended Security Updates on Azure.
  • Later this year, VMware Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure will extend Windows Virtual Desktop and its benefits, such as Windows 10 Enterprise multi-session and support for Windows 7 with free Extended Security Updates for up to three years. Preview will be available by the end of the calendar year.
  • We also engaged with hardware partners, system integrators (SI), who provide turnkey desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings, and value-added solution providers, who add capabilities such as printing, application layering, assessment, and monitoring on Azure Marketplace. Learn more about Windows Virtual Desktop partners on the documentation page.

The general availability of Windows Virtual Desktop is just the beginning. We’ll continue to rapidly innovate and invest in desktop and app virtualization. We look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months. In the meantime, learn more on our product page and get started with Windows Virtual Desktop today.

If you’re a partner and want to learn more about Windows Virtual Desktop, visit the Brio Technologies


6 strategies for scaling your serverless applications

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A core promise of a serverless compute platform like Cloud Functions is that you don’t need to worry about infrastructure: write your code, deploy it and watch your service scale automatically. It’s a beautiful thing.

That works great when your whole stack auto-scales. But what if your service depends on APIs or databases with rate or connection limits? A spike of traffic might cause your service to scale (yay!) and quickly overrun those limits (ouch!). In this post, we’ll show you features of Cloud Functions, Google Cloud’s event-driven serverless compute service, and products like Cloud Tasks that can help serverless services play nice with the rest of your stack.

Serverless scaling basics


Let’s review the basic way in which serverless functions scale as you take a function from your laptop to the cloud.

  1. At a basic level, a function takes input and provides an output response.
  2. That function can be repeated with many inputs, providing many outputs.
  3. A serverless platform like Cloud Functions manages elastic, horizontal scaling of function instances.
  4. Because Google Cloud can provide a near-infinite scale, that can have consequences for other systems with which your serverless function interacts.

Most scale-related problems are the result of limits on infrastructure resources and time. Not all things scale the same way, and not all serverless workloads have the same expected behaviors in terms of how they get work done. For example, whether or not the result of a function is returned to the caller or is only directed elsewhere, can change how you handle increasing scale in your function. Different situations may call for one or more different strategies to manage challenges scale can introduce.

Luckily, you have lots of different tools and techniques at your disposal to help ensure that your serverless applications scale effectively. Let’s take a look.

1. Use Max Instances to manage connection limits
Because serverless compute products like Cloud Functions and Cloud Run are stateless, many functions use a database like Cloud SQL for stateful data. But this database might only be able to handle 100 concurrent connections. Under modest load (e.g., fewer than 100 queries per second), this works fine. But a sudden spike can result in hundreds of concurrent connections from your functions, leading to degraded performance or outages.

One way to mitigate this is to configure instance scaling limits on your functions. Cloud Functions offers the max instances setting. This feature limits how many concurrent instances of your function are running and attempting to establish database connections. So if your database can only handle 100 concurrent connections, you might set max instances to a lower value, say 75. Since each instance of a function can only handle a single request at a time, this effectively means that you can only handle 75 concurrent requests at any given time.

2. Use Cloud Tasks to limit the rate of work done
Sometimes the limit you are worried about isn’t the number of concurrent connections, but the rate at which work is performed. For example, imagine you need to call an external API for which you have a limited per-minute quota. Cloud Tasks gives you options in managing the way in which work gets done. It allows you to perform the work outside of the serverless handler in one or more work queues. Cloud Tasks supports rate and concurrency limits, making sure that regardless of the rate work arrives, it is performed with rates applied.

3. Use stateful storage to defer results from long-running operations
Sometimes you want your function to be capable of deferring the requested work until after you provide an initial response. But you still want to make the result of the work available to the caller eventually. For example, it may not make sense to try to encode a large video file inside a serverless instance. You could use Cloud Tasks if the caller of your workload only needs to know that the request was submitted. But if you want the caller to be able to retrieve some status or eventual result, you need an additional stateful system to track the job. In Google APIs, this pattern is referred to as a long-running operation. There are several ways you can achieve this with serverless infrastructure on Google Cloud, such as using a combination of Cloud Functions, Cloud Pub/Sub, and Firestore.

4. Use Redis to rate limit usage
Sometimes you need to perform rate-limiting in the context of the HTTP request. This may be because you are performing per-user rate limits, or need to provide a back-pressure signal to the caller of your serverless workload. Because each serverless instance is stateless and has no knowledge of how many other instances may also be serving requests, you need a high-performance shared counter mechanism. Redis is a common choice for rate-limiting implementations. Read more about rate limiting and GCP, and see this tutorial for how to use serverless VPC access to reach a private Redis instance and perform rate-limiting for serverless instances.

5. Use Cloud Pub/Sub to process work in batches
When dealing with a large number of messages, you may not want to process every message individually. A common pattern is to wait until a sufficient number of messages have accumulated before handling all of them in one batch. Cloud Functions integrates seamlessly with Cloud Pub/Sub as a trigger source, but serverless workloads can also use Cloud Pub/Sub as a place to accumulate batches of work, as the service will store messages for up to seven days.

Then, you can use Cloud Scheduler to handle these accumulated items on a regular schedule, triggering a function that processes all the accumulated messages in one batch run.

You can also trigger the batch process more dynamically based on the number and age of accumulated messages. Check out this tutorial, which uses Cloud Pub/Sub, Stackdriver Alerting, and Cloud Functions to process a batch of messages.

6. Use Cloud Run for heavily I/O-bound work
One of the more expensive components of many infrastructure products is computed cycles. This is reflected in the pricing of many managed services which include how many time-units of CPU you use. When your serverless workload is just waiting around for a remote API call it may make to return, or waiting for a file to read, these are moments where you are not using the CPU, but are still “occupying it” so will be billed.  Cloud Run, which lets you run fully managed serverless containers, allows your workload to specify how many concurrent requests it can handle. This can lead to significant increases in efficiency for I/O bound workloads.

For example, if the work being done spends most of its time waiting for replies from slow remote API calls, Cloud Run supports up to 80 requests concurrently on the same serverless instance which shares the use of the same CPU allocation. Learn more about tuning this capability for your service.

When to use which strategy

After reading the above, it may be clear which strategy might help your current project. But if you are looking a little more guidance, here’s a handy flow-chart.


Of course, you might choose to use more than one strategy together if you are facing multiple challenges.

Just let it scale

Even if you don’t have any scaling problems with your serverless workload, you may still be uneasy, especially if this is your first time building software in a serverless environment—what if you’re about to hit some limit, for example? Rest easy, the default limits for Google Cloud serverless infrastructure are high enough to accommodate most workloads without having to do anything. And if you do find yourself approaching those limits, we are happy to work with you to keep things running at any scale. When your serverless workload is doing something useful, more instances is a good thing!

Serverless compute solutions like Cloud Functions and Cloud Run are a great way to build highly scalable applications—even ones that depend on external services. To get started,

visit to learn more.