With Microsoft Technology, Inspiro quickly transformed to empower employees and continue providing the highest standard of service
Inspiro, the outsourcing specialist, recently joined hands with Microsoft to integrate cloud-based desktop services and servers into its operations, providing their remote workforce with innovative tools to continue delivering excellent customer service throughout the pandemic.
With COVID-19, the company was faced with the urgent need of enabling their existing employees to work remotely. In addition, they also needed to expand their workforce by an additional 2,000 to 3,000 agents to meet growing customer needs. But at the time, their IT infrastructure lacked the capacity to support the necessary changes, with most of their machines and devices running on physical servers and lacking a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).
To quickly ensure business continuity, Inspiro looked to other options, such as desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), which would enable their agents to use company-issued devices or personal devices for work.
After evaluating viable scenarios and providers in the market, Inspiro opted to engage Microsoft and their Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) solution, a Microsoft Azure-based remote desktop to enhance operational capacity. In addition, they also chose Microsoft Teams for employee communication, collaboration, and engagement.
Inspiro chose Microsoft after a three-month evaluation of available cloud providers due to the ease of provisioning, operation, and DaaS maintenance.
“We chose Microsoft Azure because it is more cost-effective, offers our company more flexibility and scalability, and provides our agents with more productivity while using WVD,” said Mark Mistal, Chief Information Officer, Inspiro.
“We used Microsoft Teams as the primary communications channel during the deployment and implementation phases of the engagement. Microsoft also provided Teams training and support to Inspiro employees to strengthen remote collaboration”, added Mistal.
“Training was an insightful discussion as it led to a deep dive on how Teams can help in the day-to-day tasks, organizing meetings, and conducting training, among many others,” said Rom Saldivar, Senior Manager for IT Operations.
Since adopting these solutions, Inspiro has enjoyed a successful deployment with approximately 1,900 Windows Virtual Desktop machines provisioned for its agents in the Philippines and the United States. The solution deployed further boosted client confidence as the company met its ramp target. It also resulted in 99.99 percent uptime in reliability.
Microsoft’s solutions are now part of the company’s daily business operations. WVD is utilized to support clients worldwide, with Microsoft Teams as the primary communications platform for collaboration and more.
Inspiro has decided to make their work-from-home arrangement permanent with the company’s successful transformation, even after the pandemic passes. In addition to DaaS and Microsoft Teams, the company is currently looking at other opportunities to streamline operations using Microsoft’s different toolsets.
Microsoft Introduces Microsoft Entra to Help Customers Secure Access for a Connected World
Microsoft today announced a new product family, Microsoft Entra, which encompasses all of Microsoft’s identity and access capabilities. Microsoft Entra includes Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) as well as two new product categories: a Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) solution called Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, and a decentralized identity product offering, Microsoft Entra Verified ID.
Joy Chik Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Identity, said, “We are seeing an increasing need for trust in a hyperconnected world. Through Microsoft Entra, we’re expanding our identity and access solutions so that they can serve as a trust fabric for the entire digital ecosystem—now and long into the future.”
Vasu Jakkal ,Corporate Vice President, Security, Compliance, Identity, and Management at Microsoft, added, “Microsoft Entra embodies our vision for what modern secure access should be. Identity should be an entryway into a world of new possibilities, not a blockade restricting access, creating friction, and holding back innovation. We want people to explore, to collaborate, to experiment—not because they are reckless, but because they are fearless.”
The digital estates of organizations are growing, changing, and becoming boundaryless. Security challenges have become much broader, and there is a need for broader solutions. Organizations need access decisions to be as granular as possible, and to automatically adapt based on real-time assessment of risk. Microsoft Entra is part of Microsoft’s expanded vision for identity and access. It will verify all types of identities and secure, manage, and govern their access to any resource, by:
- Protecting access to any app or resource for any user;
- Securing and verifying every identity across hybrid and multicloud environments;
- Discovering and governing permissions in multicloud environments; and
- Simplifying the user experience with real-time intelligent access decisions.
Reducing access risk across clouds
The adoption of multicloud has led to a massive increase in identities, permissions, and resources across public cloud platforms. Without visibility across cloud providers, or tools that provide a consistent experience, it is become incredibly challenging for identity and security teams to manage permissions and enforce the principle of least privilege across their entire digital estate.
Following the acquisition of CloudKnox Security last year, Microsoft is now the first major cloud provider to offer a CIEM solution—Microsoft Entra Permissions Management. It provides comprehensive visibility into permission for all identities (both user and workload), actions, and resources across multicloud infrastructures. Permissions Management helps detect, right-size, and monitor unused and excessive permissions, and mitigates the risk of data breaches by enforcing the principle of least privilege in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform.
Microsoft Entra Permissions Management will be a standalone offering generally available worldwide in July 2022 and will be integrated within the Defender for Cloud dashboard, extending Microsoft Defender for Cloud’s protection into CIEM.
In addition, the preview of workload identity management in Microsoft Entra will allow Microsoft customers to assign and secure identities for any app or service hosted in Azure, by extending the reach of access control and risk detection capabilities.
Enabling secure digital interactions that respect privacy
Microsoft Entra Verified ID is a new product offering based on decentralized identity standards that implements the industry standards, making portable, self-owned identity possible.
Verified ID represents Microsoft’s commitment to an open, trustworthy, interoperable, and standards-based decentralized identity future for individuals and organizations. Instead of granting broad consent to countless apps and services and spreading identity data across numerous providers, Verified ID allows individuals and organizations to decide what information they share, when they share it, with whom they share it, and—when necessary—take it back.
Microsoft Entra Verified ID will be generally available in early August 2022.
Automating critical Identity Governance scenarios
IT and security teams are facing enormous challenges to provision new users and guest accounts and manage their access rights manually. Using Identity Governance in Azure AD, Microsoft’s existing cloud‑based identity and access management service, businesses can address these challenges with identity lifecycle management, which simplifies the processes for onboarding and offboarding users. Lifecycle workflows automate assigning and managing access rights, and monitoring and tracking access, as user attributes change.
Lifecycle workflows in Identity Governance will enter public preview in July 2022.
Visit the Microsoft Entra website to learn more about how Azure AD, Microsoft Entra Permissions Management, and Microsoft Entra Verified ID deliver secure access for our connected world.
Philippines among APAC winners of Microsoft’s AI for Accessibility Hackathon to accelerate inclusive innovation
Teams from Thailand, Singapore and Philippines are winners of the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon in APAC. In its third year, the AI4A Hackathon features teams who are deeply committed to solving real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities (PwD). The hackathon acts as a springboard for creators and developers to launch their applications, with cash prizes, access to Microsoft Technical experts to co-build their solutions on Microsoft Azure and continued mentoring support to build out their solution.
Drawing on real-life challenges faced by PwDs, 14 non-profit organizations (NPOs) shared problem statements that the 75 teams in the AI4A Hackathon used to build innovative solutions around the themes of transport, wearable devices and language tools.
Team Asclepius from Thailand, Team SWIFT Responders from Singapore and Team EIA from Philippines created solutions to bridge the disability divide, which include building an AI-enabled communication aid for people who are deaf, a smart system that allows people with physical disabilities to live independently, as well as inclusive banking for people who are blind.
In addition to these winners, two additional teams from Indonesia (Arabic Braille Converter) and Singapore (MeetMeHear) will receive coaching by Microsoft and its partners, including access to cloud architects, business consultation guidance to develop their solution, from a proof-of-concept to an application hosted on Microsoft Azure.
“We are inspired to see the continued enthusiasm of submissions this year for the hackathon to improve the lives of PwDs and congratulate the winners who so passionately brought their solutions to fruition,” said Pratima Amonkar, Chair for D&I and Accessibility for Microsoft Asia Pacific. “The month of May will be an important time for us to see the tremendous possibility of the contribution of PwDs as we roll out exciting awareness, training and mentorship programs with our customers, partners and wider community across the region.”
With more than 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, and 650 million in Asia, Microsoft believes that accessibility is essential to delivering on our mission to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Accessibility is the vehicle to enable inclusion of people with disabilities. To highlight how technology can unlock solutions that empower people with disabilities and enable transformative change within communities in APAC, Microsoft has dedicated the month of May in 2022 to Accessibility Awareness Month, with a series of workshops, trainings and events as well as awarding and celebrating winners of the AI for Accessibility Hackathon winners.
Thailand: Team Asclepius
To help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Team Asclepius from Thailand, developed a sign-to-text application that uses AI deep learning models to capture movement sequences and body postures that predicts alphabets, words and numbers based on American Sign Language. This group of passionate high school students from Thailand have ambitious plans to include other commonly used sign languages such as British and French Sign Language and enhance it for wider tech applications such as live web events.
Singapore: Team SWIFT Responders
From Singapore, Team SWIFT Responders designed an AI-enabled solution that supports the independent living of adult persons with muscular dystrophy who use motorized wheelchairs for mobility. The Support Wheelchair-user Independence Fall Tracker (SWIFT) smart system that they have developed renders immediate assistance to a wheelchair user who falls off-balance from their functional position. This inspires confidence for wheelchair users, and assures their caretakers, that they can live independently and engage in meaningful activity as their safety is assured.
Philippines: Team EIA
To build a more inclusive banking experience for the blind and the elderly, Team EIA from the Philippines developed an Accessibility and Vision Assistant (AVA), powered by AI and machine learning, that works as a smart financial assistant and mobile wallet for the blind and elderly that makes digital banking accessible and clear. This drives financial inclusion for these groups of people and enables them to access payments and banking services quickly and securely.
Two additional outstanding teams have won coaching by Microsoft and its partners to bring their projects into fully running applications hosted on Microsoft Azure:
Arabic Braille Converter (Indonesia): an app that could scan and convert Arabic text or graphics into Indonesian Braille format which can be read by screen readers or braille displays. It also has the function to back-translate from Arabic Braille into Arabic text.
- MeetMeHear (Singapore): an app to assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing to better communicate with others during physical meetings, through the use of AI for speech recognition to provide more accurate live captions.
Microsoft introduces Microsoft Security Experts to help organizations achieve more secure, compliant, and productive outcomes
Microsoft today announced that it is offering new and expanded services for security under a new service category, Microsoft Security Experts. Security Experts includes three new managed services—Microsoft Defender Experts for Hunting, Microsoft Defender Experts for extended detection and response (XDR), Microsoft Security Services for Enterprise—as well as two existing services, Microsoft Security Experts for Modernization, and Microsoft Security Experts for Incident Response.
The security landscape has become increasingly challenging and complex for all customers. Threats have grown at an alarming rate over the last year, and cybercrime is now expected to cost the world US$10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from US$3 trillion a decade ago and US$6 trillion in 2021.[i]
Last year, Microsoft Security blocked over 9.6 billion malware threats and more than 35.7 billion phishing and other malicious emails. Microsoft Security is actively tracking more than 35 ransomware families and 250 unique threat actors across observed nation-state, ransomware, and criminal activities, and its technology has blocked more than 900 brute force password theft attempts every second.
Vasu Jakkal, Corporate Vice President, Security, Compliance and Identity at Microsoft, said: “As attacks increase in scale, so must our defenses. It’s getting harder every day for organizations to build and maintain a full security team, let alone one with the ever-expanding skillset required to meet the range of today’s security demands. This is why we are launching Microsoft Security Experts, which combines expert-trained technology with human-led services to help organizations achieve more secure, compliant, and productive outcomes. It is our vision of delivering this category of services end-to-end, across security, compliance, identity, management, and privacy.”
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