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ITPro SnapShot: What Else Happened This Week? (Feb. 9 - 16, 2018)

ITPro SnapShot offers a short and snappy round-up on the week's industry-related announcements and news around the globe. Here's what happened in the last week.

There's a lot of product announcements every week -- and sooner or later, something gets announced that you'll want to know. Every Friday, we'll connect some of these newsy little dots and draw a picture as to what's going on with tech vendors and industry trends.


New Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console (Beta) Streamlines Development Process

At CES 2018 last month in Las Vegas, voice control seemed to rule the show floor this year. Amazon wants to give developers even more tools to create skills for the Alexa platform.

This week, they announced a beta for their Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console, which will provide developers with an interface that allows for the creation, management, and publication of Alexa skills. Amazon says the new console has more intuitive navigation controls, along with a new UI that brings in updates previously made to the company's Skill Builder and Test Simulator.

Developers can use the new Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console to edit existing skills or begin building new ones.

Support for Automatic OS Image Updates in Virtual Machine Scale Sets

Microsoft's Azure cloud service uses scale sets to manage virtual machines that users have running on Azure. In order to help companies with large numbers of VMs, a new feature to enable automatic guest OS image updates in these scale sets has gone into preview this week.

Once enabled, this new capability will automatically push out the latest features, security patches, and performance improvements to all the VMs in your scale sets. This means no more individual system updates are necessary and your network of systems will always be current.

Get the Most Out of Google Kubernetes Engine With Priority and Preemption

Google announced a new priority and preemption feature, currently in alpha testing, that will make sure your critical workloads in Kubernetes clusters on the the company's cloud platform get access to resources before other workloads in your cluster.

Prior to this new prioritization option, the Kubernetes pods simply access to resources on a first-come-first-served basis until the job was done. Under the first-come-first-served approach, less critical workloads could preempt more important work because those lower-ranked workloads got access to the resources first.

This new priority and preemption feature allows you to rank the critical nature of your workloads, so you can better manage your resources.

Windows Server Insider Preview Build 17093 and Windows 10 SDK Build 17095 Released

The march towards the release of the fifth feature update for Windows 10 continues: A new Windows Insider Preview build for Windows Server, which allows IT Pros and System Administrators early access to Project Honolulu Technical Preview 1802, has dropped. This latest build does not add any new features but focuses on improving performance, accessibility, and support for high-availability deployments.

The new software development kit for Build 17095 of the Redstone 4 development branch of Windows 10 allows developers to continue working on their various apps so they can add new features that will be available when this feature update is made available in the March/April 2018 timeframe.

Both of the above resource links have information on how to join these Insider programs so that you can test these pre-release builds as they are being developed by Microsoft and before your company deploys them after release.

GPUs in Kubernetes Engine Now Available in Beta

Google provided GPUs for their Kubernetes engines as an alpha feature last year, and now they're ready to expand to the beta stage of testing for customers that need to add more compute for resource-intensive computing scenarios such as machine learning, image processing, and financial models.

This implementation means you do not have to worry about managing hardware or VMs to take advantage of this increased computer capability through these GPUs.

Currently the NVIDIA Tesla P100 and K80 GPUs are available in the beta. This feature along with the recently announced preemptible GPUs and lower related prices mean more return on your financial investment as well.

Grow, Build and Connect With Microsoft for Startups

Over the next two years, Microsoft is committing $500 million as part of a new effort to help start ups through joint sales engagements with access to Microsoft technolog, plus community spaces that enable collaboration on local and global scales.

The premise behind this new program is to connect these startups with potential customers and channel partners. The program will have dedicated resources from within Microsoft's sales organization that will help the start up with marketing and sales to these potential customers.

Of course, these start ups need to be ready to embrace the Microsoft ecosystem of resources as part of this program, because ultimately that is the focus and goal -- to build companies that market and sale Microsoft services.

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