We are excited to announce the start of the Skype for Business Mac Public Preview. Commercial customers can request an invite to test the Mac client at www.SkypePreview.com. We’ll start by issuing invites to IT administrators to download the client and gradually expand the preview to everyone in the coming weeks.
The preview will release in three cumulative stages leading to public availability, planned for the third quarter of 2016. Today’s initial release lets you see and join your meetings. Let’s take a look at the functionality rolling out today and what’s coming in the future.
Preview phase one—Once you sign in, you’ll see your meetings for today and tomorrow, based on your Outlook calendar, displayed in the Skype for Business client.
View your meetings schedule.
Join any meeting with just one click and enjoy full screen video, content viewing, in-meeting chat and the ability to invite others to the meeting.


View your video meeting in full screen.
Preview phase two—We’ll be adding instant messaging, presence and contacts in the next preview release coming in early summer. You can continue to use Lync for Mac 2011 side-by-side with Skype for Mac Preview, giving you continued access to messaging and voice features.
Preview phase three—We will add telephony and related features later in the summer.

What to expect at the Skype for Business Preview site

To get started, IT administrators can sign up their organization by visiting the Skype for Business Preview site. Each day, we will issue invitations to IT administrators, with the goal of extending invitations to everyone in the coming weeks. Once an IT administrator downloads the preview client, they can manage its distribution to end users within their organization.
To learn more and see the new experiences in action, watch this demonstration of the Skype for Business Mac Public Preview.

Article Link: https://blogs.office.com/2016/04/26/skype-for-business-mac-preview-is-here/


Announcing SQL Server on Linux

By Scott Guthrie - Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft
It’s been an incredible year for the data business at Microsoft and an incredible year for data across the industry. At the March Data Driven event in New York, we kicked off a wave of launch activities for SQL Server 2016 with general availability. This is the most significant release of SQL Server that we have ever done, and brings with it some fantastic new capabilities.

SQL Server 2016 delivers:

  • Groundbreaking security encryption capabilities that enable data to always be encrypted at rest, in motion and in-memory to deliver maximum security protection
  • In-memory database support for every workload with performance increases up to 30-100x
  • Incredible Data Warehousing performance with the #1, #2 and #3 TPC-H 10 Terabyte benchmarks for non-clustered performance, and as of March 7, the #1 SAP SD Two-Tier performance benchmark on Windows1
  • Business Intelligence for every employee on every device – including new mobile BI support for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices
  • Advanced analytics using our new R support that enables customers to do real-time predictive analytics on both operational and analytic data
  • Unique cloud capabilities that enable customers to deploy hybrid architectures that partition data workloads across on-premises and cloud based systems to save costs and increase agility
These improvements, and many more, are all built into SQL Server and bring you not just a new database but a complete platform for data management, business analytics and intelligent apps – one that can be used in a consistent way across both on-premises and the cloud. In fact, over the last year we’ve been using the SQL Server 2016 code-base to run in production more than 1.4 million SQL Databases in the cloud using our Azure SQL Database as a Service offering, and this real-world experience has made SQL Server 2016 an incredibly robust and battle-hardened data platform.
Gartner recently named Microsoft as leading the industry in their Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems in both execution and vision. We’re also a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics, and Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, as well as leading in vision in the Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms.


Extending SQL Server to Also Now Run on Linux

Today I’m excited to announce our plans to bring SQL Server to Linux as well. This will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud. We are bringing the core relational database capabilities to preview today, and are targeting availability in mid-2017.
SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution. One with mission-critical performance, industry-leading TCO, best-in-class security, and hybrid cloud innovations – like Stretch Database which lets customers access their data on-premises and in the cloud whenever they want at low cost – all built in.
“This is an enormously important decision for Microsoft, allowing it to offer its well-known and trusted database to an expanded set of customers”, said Al Gillen, group vice president, enterprise infrastructure, at IDC. “By taking this key product to Linux Microsoft is proving its commitment to being a cross platform solution provider. This gives customers choice and reduces the concerns for lock-in. We would expect this will also accelerate the overall adoption of SQL Server.”
“SQL Server’s proven enterprise experience and capabilities offer a valuable asset to enterprise Linux customers around the world,” said Paul Cormier, President, Products and Technologies, Red Hat. “We believe our customers will welcome this news and are happy to see Microsoft further increasing its investment in Linux. As we build upon our deep hybrid cloud partnership, spanning not only Linux, but also middleware, and PaaS, we’re excited to now extend that collaboration to SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, bringing enterprise customers increased database choice.”
“We are delighted to be working with Microsoft as it brings SQL Server to Linux,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. “Customers are already taking advantage of Azure Data Lake services on Ubuntu, and now developers will be able to build modern applications that utilize SQL Server’s enterprise capabilities.”
Bringing SQL Server to Linux is another way we are making our products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users and meeting them where they are. Just last week, we announced our agreement to acquire Xamarin. Recently, we also announced Microsoft R Server , our technologies based on our acquisition of Revolution Analytics, with support for Hadoop and Teradata.
The private preview of SQL Server on Linux is available starting today and we look forward to working with the community, our customers and our partners to bring it to market.
Please join me Satya Nadella, Joseph Sirosh and Judson Althoff at our Data Driven event on Thursday to hear more about this news and how Microsoft is helping customers transform their business using data.

Source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/03/07/announcing-sql-server-on-linux/

Managed Solution’s Team has the experience and expertise to architect SQL database and reporting systems tailored for your environment. Contact us for more information 800-307-0296


Why Microsoft for your business intelligence and analytics platforms?

Industry analysts have taken note of our efforts and we are excited to share Gartner has positioned Microsoft as a Leader, for the ninth consecutive year, in the Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.* For the first time, Microsoft is placed furthest in vision within the Leaders quadrant.


In a market that is rapidly evolving with new innovation being introduced constantly, leaders in the BI market must demonstrate that they are focused not only on current execution but have a robust roadmap that will solidify its position as a future market leader, protecting the investment of today’s buyers. For this reason, we are proud to be ranked as a Leader in Gartner’s evaluation of the BI and analytics market.
Learn more about Gartner’s assessment of Microsoft Power BI and how the company’s offerings stack up against the rest.

*Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

power bi case study managed solution

Othaim Markets Company, a leading food retailer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, chose Microsoft Power BI to gain immediate insight into the business and to improve everything across operations from stock distribution to category management. The result is a tangible revenue growth with the help of BI and accurate data informing its business strategy.

Business needs

Othaim Markets Company is a leading food retailer within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Founded in 1956 as a wholesaler in Riyadh, the company has grown into a large retailer with more than 130 outlets including hypermarkets, supermarkets, wholesalers, and convenience stores.
To obtain information on its operations, the company was using SharePoint Server 2007 and analytical services from SQL Servers, both of which had been in use for a long time. Mohammed Al-Fraih, VP - Information Technology, Othaim Markets Company, says, “It was an old and limited platform in terms of mobility and access control.
“People within the business couldn’t really depend 100% on the reports generated by the system due to the limitation in the BI data sources, and at the same time, many data elements were fragmented on other systems. They were relying on judgment and Excel sheets.”
The company clearly needed to upgrade the platform and began exploring the market for business intelligence options.


Because Othaim Markets Company has an infrastructure built around Microsoft technologies and plans to invest in Azure and Office 365 in the near future, it opted for Microsoft Power BI and upgrade to SQL Server 2014.
Abdullah Edris, Head of BI, Othaim Markets Company, explains, “Microsoft BI has a number of strong tools with compelling features. And given that we have a large Microsoft estate, we can consolidate and integrate data much easier. For these reasons, the company built a new data warehouse running on SQL Server 2014 with Power BI providing business insight.”

The key advantages of Power BI include:

• accessibility of business data from smart dashboards and availability on mobile devices via mobile app;
• ability to build robust, reusable models to provide consistency in reporting and analysis; and
• embedded visuals designed to generate visual format reports for quick and easy comprehension.


Othaim Company has gained a reputation for innovation given that the Power BI implementation is the first in Saudi Arabia and only the second in the Middle East.
Also, the company can now monitor business performance from any location, at any time. There are continuous, near real-time updates ensuring the latest business performance information is always available.
The benefits to decision-makers, staff members, and customers are numerous. Some of these are listed below.
• Automated KPI notifications alert staff immediately when stock sells quickly, thus enabling timely stock transfers.
• The platform also allows suppliers to monitor their products’ performance and stock availability through a web app directly connected to the BI.
• Staff members are able to quickly work with the data and identify trends. This empowers them to shape strategies within stores and radically improve category management.
• Information provides insight into customer buying habits, depending on demographics. This shapes much more accurate and targeted marketing campaigns. Moreover, the information allows for tailored SMS messaging to different customer groups rather than blanket messaging to all customers.
• The data also informs strategic planning by revealing individual store performance and has the ability to take into account the location of rival stores.
• The platform has become an essential strategic tool guiding executive level planning and strategy. The CEO is able to monitor business performance in smart ways, and this results in more accurate and strategic decisions.
Overall, Othaim has tangible revenue growth and efficient operations with the help of BI platform.
Read customer success stories to learn how Managed Solution helps businesses implement technology productivity solutions.

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