Windows 10 – Readiness, Transformation, and Operational Success with SysTrack

Lakeside Delivers Valuable Windows 10 Transformation Resources

In this blog post Lakeside Software provides a summary of resources focused towards IT and business decision makers to help with understanding the challenges and approaches for creating successful Windows 10 migration projects. As plans for Windows 10 upgrades begin to take shape there is a much greater need for IT to leverage Lakeside Software’s SysTrack solution. Leveraging SysTrack gives IT the visibility into accurate system readiness, while overcoming transformational barriers to enable easier and faster upgrades. Most importantly SysTrack helps IT to achieve ongoing operational success with Windows 10 and future Windows upgrades and updates moving forward.

Readiness Success with SysTrack

To help get started down the path of Windows 10 readiness it is still admittedly important to look at what software and hardware devices are already compatible and ready for the upgrade. Even though most systems running Window 7 and 8.x, along with the software already installed are expected to be compatible with Windows 10, there is an even greater need to make sure that applications are not causing performance issues. This is an area of high value for Lakeside customers using SysTrack, which helps IT identify poorly performing applications prior to upgrading so that issues are not carried forward to Windows 10.

To help explore readiness even further the Lakeside Software team has created a series of blogs, along with a Windows Readiness report and a Windows 10 whitepaper to help you explore these important topics, while outlining where SysTrack delivers ongoing value before, during and after a Windows 10 migration.

We start here with two Lakeside Software blogs posts that talk to the importance of readiness with SysTrack:

Windows 10 Migration, Motivation and Methodology

July 8, 2015

All indications are that Microsoft’s latest OS will enjoy a high adoption rate.  In Dick Murphy’s blog, he discusses how preparation for the inevitable upgrade to the latest/greatest creation by Microsoft can lead to an orderly, data driven adoption versus a process of estimating and hunches.  See how SysTrack can collect the data you’ll need to migrate to Windows 10 in an optimized manner versus a long iterative approach.

Windows 10 Readiness Made Easier

July 14, 2015

Windows 10 adoptions will be ramping up in the coming months, and Lakeside has all the data you need to help with the migration. Ryan Wood discusses the Windows 10 Assessment Report, which is the latest addition to Lakeside’s MarketPlace program. The dynamic report leverages the SysTrack DataMine to illustrate the state of the environment and provide the needed insight to get your organization ready for Windows 10.

Transformational Success with SysTrack

Achieving Windows 10 transformational success requires accurate project planning. The SysTrack platform goes beyond traditional project planning approaches with Image Planner and Transform; two tools designed specifically to help in these areas. Additionally the traditional approach of identifying hardware and software compatibility is still the first step, with application remediation being the second transformation consideration. For the applications that do not immediately pass the app compatibility check, remediation can be addressed using tools like Citrix® AppDNA, which also has direct integration to SysTrack. Also covered in this area are tools like Dell® Changebase and Flexera Software® which can also be leveraged with SysTrack to provide broader app remediation insight and planning. Further still you need datasets specifically focused on Windows 10 transformation, while not leaving out the backend data center infrastructure your end users depend on to continue having a productive experience with Windows 10. These topics are covered in greater depth in these two Lakeside Software blog posts:

Using SysTrack for Windows 10 Migration Project Management

July 30, 2015

The migration to Windows 10 will be challenging for some project managers. Ray Ross discusses some of the issues project managers will face, as well as the benefits project managers can gain by utilizing SysTrack’s data and tools.

Microsoft Kits – Windows 10 Optimization and Data Center Modernization

July 27, 2015

This month marks an interesting period of transition for Microsoft and the Windows landscape. In his latest blog post, Ben Murphy discusses two SysTrack Kits designed to help with the modernization and optimization of existing Windows environments as IT organizations make the move from Server 2003 and start the roadmap for migration to Windows 10.

Ongoing Operational Success with SysTrack

The release of Windows 10 is a pivotal shift for IT from the perspective of the many beneficial features tied to business value that will help drive migrations. Windows 10 is being touted as the last major Windows upgrade. This means that Windows is shifting to a SaaS-style ongoing automatic patching process. Previously major version releases of Windows were seen roughly every 2-3 years, whereas moving forward, upgrades and updates will be delivered automatically; for the most part outside of IT’s control.

The exception to the automatic upgrades fall into the higher end special systems patching options delivered through what’s called a “Long Term Branch” patch management tier. This is not only the most expensive licensing option, but it is targeted towards specific use cases like air traffic control, emergency rooms and other niche use cases. Gartner expects that the majority of enterprises will opt of the less expensive option of “Current Branch for Business”, which automatically installs security patches as they arrive (after being validated in the broader consumer market), while allowing feature updates to be delayed for up to 8 months before you fall out support.

When considering a Windows 10 migration strategy, inevitably IT will need come to terms with and take into consideration the impact of automatic updates to IT systems management processes. As everything but the most expensive patching option plans for Enterprises will be automatic, this new patching paradigm raises questions of control versus security. Security obviously takes precedence, but IT will still need to maintain visibility and control. For example, even if IT is not controlling OS patch management timing and distribution, they will require more visibility than ever into the systems being patched in order to properly support them. This demands even more importance due to patch rollback only being available for 30 days, which means it is critical that any issues be identified faster within that post-patch time period. After 30 days, the patch becomes permanent and cannot be rolled back.

Lakeside Software’s SysTrack solution delivers tremendous value to IT in this area by giving IT the data to know when security patches are pushed out, which systems have received security patches and which haven’t. More importantly is the need to clearly see if patches are in any way affecting the performance of the end point device and in turn impacting the end users productivity. SysTrack does this by continuously assessing the end point and keeping track of the performance over time, showing impact points to the users experience and the root cause(s) of issues from patches, hardware, software, operating system or network dependencies.

Learn more about why SysTrack is the end user computing success platform for Windows 10 upgrades and beyond in Lakeside Software’s Windows 10 whitepaper:

White Paper: Upgrading Windows 10 – Transformation Success with SysTrack

July 28, 2015

In this self-authored whitepaper, I (Jeremy Steinman) dive into Microsoft’s customer focused approach to realizing the value of Windows 10 with easier user adoption and training, along with security and deployment considerations facing businesses exploring the upgrade path to Windows 10. Achieve success by getting answers to key migration questions while measuring the migration and ongoing user experience with SysTrack.

Summary

By reducing efforts and the need for large application and web remediation projects and less need for hardware refreshes, the major inhibitors of past Windows upgrades are no longer prevalent. Even driver update concerns won’t be the dominant delays in business adoption that they once were. Since most applications and hardware are already showing signs of being compatible with Windows 10, along with a robust list of features focused on security, usability and productivity, user acceptance and satisfaction levels are projected to be much higher with Windows 10. Already users are adopting Windows 10 with greater enthusiasm due to the free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.x licensed devices (excluding Windows Enterprise edition). Case in point, in the first 24 hours after the Windows 10 release Microsoft showed a historical and overwhelming response to Windows 10 with over 14 million installs worldwide, with a projected 2 year target of over 1 billion installs: Windows 10 – The First 24 Hours.

Regardless of your Windows 10 upgrade timeline, you can get started now assessing your Windows 10 readiness, while exploring options for planning for a smoother transformation focused on achieving operational success with SysTrack – The End User Computing Success Platform.

SysTrack Use Case: Windows 10 Migration

In June we launched a new blog series called “SysTrack Use Case.” The first post in this brand new series explored how SysTrack could help with investigating user reports of a faulting or crashing application. Each post in the ongoing series will discuss a new use case to help provide a wider perspective on the different IT projects and challenges that can be addressed with SysTrack. The follow up to the first post comes at the same time that Lakeside has released new content around the Windows 10 launch, and that gives us the perfect opportunity to explore the best way to consume that content and get the most of SysTrack before and after your Windows 10 migration. We’ve released several blog posts in the past few weeks dealing with Windows 10, so here we’ll try to take a succinct look at the basic phases of a migration and how SysTrack can help with each.

Going into a large migration project without properly developing a plan first is a recipe for disaster.  Any IT administrator will tell you the same. That’s why gathering data about the environment is so crucial; simply estimating the resources needed or the readiness of the environment for a migration won’t work. You need objective analysis. With Windows 10 hitting the market we wanted to help our customers prepare for the upgrade. A good place to start is understanding the value of Windows 10 and how it could help your organization. We recently released a whitepaper that discusses, in detail, the benefits an upgrade to Windows 10 can provide. Having a solid understanding of why the upgrade is a smart decision can start the whole project off on a good note.

The whitepaper serves as a nice initial approach, but where SysTrack really helps out is with providing data-driven insight. The Windows 10 Assessment Report, part of our MarketPlace program, is a great tool for the initial steps of sizing out the project and gathering data about the environment. MarketPlace reports are accessed through Virtual Machine Planner. You’ll just need to create and run a simple model of the environment and SysTrack will feed data gathered for the model into the Windows 10 Assessment Report. The great thing about this report is that you can go back to it after improvements, updates, or changes have been made in the environment and rerun it with SysTrack’s most up-to-date data to see the results of your changes. Maybe an initial run of the report shows Windows XP systems with a low health score, and that leads you to investigate those systems with Site Visualizer and you discovere the cause of the low health score is insufficient memory resources, for example. After implementing a fix to that problem you can execute the report again to get an updated look on your Windows 10 readiness status.

After the migration is completed you’ll want to continue monitoring the systems that received the new OS to make sure they aren’t experiencing any new problems. A great way to do this is to track the health of those systems over time. Create a SysTrack group of Windows 10 systems and use Enterprise Visualizer to graph the health over time, this is a perfect way to visualize the experience of those systems from before the OS upgrade to after the upgrade.

Health Trend

Another great steady-state tool to use is the Resolve Comparative Analytics function. This allows you to compare a selected system to other individual systems, a group of systems, and all systems. You might want to compare the Windows 10 group to systems that have yet to be upgraded, or a system of interest with Windows 10 to the rest of the group to identify if an issue is due to the upgrade itself.

Comp Analytics

From gathering your thoughts about the migration, to preparing for it, to implementing it, and finally, to validating it in the steady-state, SysTrack has the data you’ll need. If your organization is considering Windows 10 make sure to take advantage of data-driven analysis to make better decisions throughout the project that will simplify the task, save time, and minimize the risk.

Using SysTrack for Windows 10 Migration Project Management

The Problem for Companies: Legacy Applications

Many companies that migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7 struggled with transforming both desktops and applications, and often found themselves with budget for one and not the other, forcing them to forklift their application portfolios. As a result, they still have an application inventory that includes multiple versions of applications, as well as seldom used or unused applications. I’ve seen beleaguered IT groups that are supporting an end user application inventory which exceeds 30,000 executables and where they’re maintaining as many as 10 versions of the same application. While companies that opted for a forklift migration saved money on the front end, they are now paying the price in additional support cost, greater complexity and risk, as well as degraded user experience. Migrating to Windows 10 presents an opportunity to right the ship.

The Problem for Transformation Project Managers

As a program office director and program manager for many years for extremely large and complex transformation projects, I constantly struggled with developing a well-conceived, detailed project plan. These types of plans are almost always based on estimates that are overly optimistic and can rarely account for the myriad of unexpected problems that inevitably crop up. To counter this, project managers build assumptions into their project plans. These assumptions can often run on for pages. As Jeff Sutherland points out in his book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, “The trouble is, once that beautifully elegant plan meets reality, it falls apart.”

Transformation projects involve a massively changing complex and dynamic system. Within that system, there is constant movement and flux – new hires, layoffs, people changing locations, new application releases, patches, changes in business leadership and priorities, external changes. Existing project management tools rely on manual updates that constantly lag behind what’s actually going on. Project managers make decisions based on what they think or hope is the existing state, when the objective reality can be quite different. There is no substitute for accurate, real-time data.

Using SysTrack as a Project Management Tool

SysTrack can be a huge help for transformation project managers leading migrations to Windows 10. SysTrack compliments existing project management tools and allows the project management team and company stakeholders to monitor and audit the project in real-time, making sure it’s tracking in the right direction. SysTrack allows the management team to see problems, often ahead of time, and gives them the real-time and analytical data to make rapid decisions and take corrective action, thus saving time and money.

Understanding how to migrate 50 users may be trivial. Understanding how to migrate 50,000 users in over 100 countries with multiple locations in each country is extremely difficult. Leading a migration with a cluttered application portfolio compounds the complexity and the risk.

In a recent post on the Lakeside blog, Dick Murphy provides a number of examples of how SysTrack can help with a Windows 10 migration. At the outset of a Windows 10 migration, project managers need to do a thorough discovery including a complete hardware inventory by user. This will help identify whether some users require a hardware refresh prior to migration. Because a completely refreshed desktop is typically a dependency for an image migration, they will also to need to know when these users have actually been refreshed.

Just as important as knowing that the application was launched by a user is the knowledge of knowing that the application was in-focus and actually being used versus running idly in the background. In addition, having an accurate application inventory by actual usage versus installed and/or idly running applications delivers a much deeper understanding of what applications are seldom used or not used. Tying this data to how many versions of each application are being used, versus those being maintained in an outdated application library, ultimately leads to rationalization and better support moving forward. Spending the time now to go through your application portfolio, and investing in a rationalization exercise with SysTrack will help to rapidly determine which applications should remain, or be replaced, rewritten or retired.

SysTrack Image Planner (IP) is a decision making engine that helps consolidate down to the optimal number of images. It can do that automatically but most teams will use a combination of IP recommendations and their own analysis. IP speeds the application rationalization process, and the resulting images with all of their associated software packages can be imported into SysTrack Transform or the tool of your choice.

SysTrack Image Planner
SysTrack Image Planner

Projects can then be created in SysTrack Transform. Projects are typically created around a use case: for example, the set of users using an image or a set of images. SysTrack allows the project manager to wait until the last minute to lock down users to a particular project. This allows for last minute changes where someone might change roles or move to a different location.

Transform monitors the readiness of images, software packages and users, and it automatically updates projects based on application and usage changes. For each of these, project management and stakeholders can monitor what’s planned, when each is ready for packaging, what’s in progress, and when packaging has been completed. Once users are ready, images can be created using Microsoft MDT, SCCM or 3rd party Image management tools and deployed. Once deployed SysTrack can monitor the applications usage tied to the users experience and also provide a health scoring. Transform manages the planning of delivery mechanisms for entitled applications. Delivery mechanisms are completely configurable and include Citrix XenApp, Microsoft SCCM and App-V and VMware ThinApp.

SysTrack Transform
SysTrack Transform

The SysTrack Transform Overview Dashboard above shows the status of all projects in a given program, a list of all the program’s project and the status of the various delivery mechanisms being used. You can drill down on each project and see an overview of that project, as well as see a wide range of up-to-date status reports that cover everything from the readiness of every user associated with the project to what applications have been retargeted.

Summary

Traditional project management approaches are not optimized for desktop transformation. Project plans fall apart as soon as they hit reality. Undertaking a Windows 10 migration, especially if the portfolio needs rationalization, can be particularly challenging. SysTrack complements existing project management tools by providing objective data, real-time updates, reports and visualizations of the critical path components needed for a successful migration. This enables better decisions and more accurate planning, while keeping the project on track, reducing cost and minimizing risk.

Microsoft Kits – Windows 10 Optimization and Data Center Modernization

With the launch of Windows 10 imminent, and the end of support for Windows Server 2003 official, we’ve launched two SysTrack Kits targeted at helping enterprise environments characterize and modernize their Windows desktops and servers. They each focus on different aspects of executing those transformational exercises as well as steady state monitoring for the EUC estate and data center.

Making Windows 10 a Painless Transition

First, the Windows 10 Kit comes along with the official launch of the Windows 10 Migration MarketPlace report. This provides two ways to explore your environment’s readiness for a move to a more modern EUC OS experience, and also has some interesting stats on current usage. It starts with an analysis of key information like your system fits with the core upgrade requirements and the current age of your existing hardware.

Windows 10 ReadinessThe Windows 10 Readiness Summary provides an overview of how many systems in the environment are ready for a migration at the moment.

Taking advantage of a targeted hardware refresh to avoid unnecessary over-expenditure can make the investment to update the enterprise computing environment much lower. It can also help expose where existing users may have difficulty with older hardware, helping to make the case that updating their devices can have a concrete impact and help increase their productivity.

Planning the EUC Software Portfolio

An OS migration also provides a great opportunity to rationalize the software portfolio in use in the environment. This begins by first taking a full inventory of all of the applications distributed throughout the environment, something that’s easily done in existing SysTrack tools. The next step then requires analysis of user interaction and demand for that software, and this is where Kits can provide easier ways of visualizing that data. In a previous post on motivations and strategy for Windows 10 Migrations the concept of using user interaction as a method of prioritizing what software is most key for the enterprise was discussed. The Windows 10 Optimization kit includes an application focus time planning dashboard that helps find the key applications in use enterprise wide.

Application Focus PlanningThe Application Focus Planning dashboard shows how many users are fully covered for their core application needs with a small set of key applications.

The key is finding packages that have the maximum impact, basically items that constitute the core of what most people use on a day-to-day basis. By finding the shortlist of key applications it’s possible to uncover users that can be easy and early migration targets, those “fully handled” with the core portfolio. Try the Application Focus Planning dashboard out for an example of how to use this day.

Understanding the Data Center

The second Windows modernization kit is based around understanding activity, configuration, and system demands in the data center. This includes things like enabled features and roles, SQL instance provisioning, IIS inventory, and even application connectivity requirements.

Application ConnectionsA summary of the application connections in the environment. 

There’s also a set of pre-configured inventory reports targeted at providing a thorough overview of all of the important characteristics of legacy systems.

DCM Reporting ContentThe DCM Kit contains a complete set of exportable inventory and provisioning reports.

Operational Management

Of course, after the migration it’s essential to accomplish two key goals: demonstrating the success of the modernization by showing the end user experience improvements and maintaining the service quality of the environment. With both kits there are several operational tracking dashboards that are intended to provide the insight to track user impacting problems.

Alarm BreakoutThis dashboard provides a live refreshing breakout of the active alarms on each system in a selected group.

Keep watching for more Kits updates. We’ve got even more coming soon, and we’ll keep you posted here.

Windows 10 Readiness Made Easier

The impending release of Windows 10 is certainly generating plenty of coverage. Consumers and IT administrators alike will have a lot to consider when they’re deciding if it’s the right time for an upgrade to this newest iteration of Microsoft’s popular OS. Consumers using Windows 7 or 8 will be treated to a free upgrade, and with only their personal devices to worry about the choice is made much simpler. But what about the IT admin who’s responsible for thousands of devices? Preparing for and executing a large-scale migration is no simple task. Simply trying to figure out which applications are critical and need to be compatible in the new OS is enough to make your head spin when there’s thousands of users, most of them with different sets of apps, along with unique cases like apps developed in house. Luckily SysTrack has all the data you need to help you through the process.

There’s a great overview of how SysTrack fits into the migration process in this blog post. It covers some examples of how the different SysTrack tools can help paint the picture of the current state of the environment to help minimize issues that may arise with upgrading the OS. In addition to that type of insight available throughout the product suite we’ve also released a Windows 10 report through our MarketPlace program. With one click you’ll get a Word format report filled with SysTrack data observed in your environment that answers those initial questions you might have when you’re beginning a Windows 10 upgrade project: What’s the current OS breakdown?  What’s the age of the systems in the environment? What kind of third-party apps are being supported that may no longer be necessary? All of these types of questions get answered along with some discussion of the key features of Windows 10 as they relate to the enterprise customer.

The case of the mobile worker is a good example of a dataset covered in the report. A lot of modern workers will use multiple devices from multiple locations. This is great for the worker and the business, but it can create challenges for the IT staff. It introduces issues like security of corporate data or devices and apps that require additional support. Windows 10 is designed with these types of scenarios in mind. Built-in features like two-factor authentication and Enterprise Data Protection help to keep everything secure. The mobile worker is an ideal candidate for an upgrade to Windows 10, but simply figuring out what portion of the workforce is mobile is a challenge in and of itself. A simple pie chart in the Windows 10 MarketPlace report breaks this down so you can easily visualize how many users stand to benefit from a mobility perspective.

Whether you plan to upgrade to Windows 10 this year or wait and see how the market reacts and then upgrade in a couple years you’ll inevitably have to go through a long planning process. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be – having the right data available can save a lot headaches.

Citrix Guest Blog: SysTrack and XenApp/XenDesktop

My name is Mayunk Jain and I manage Technical Marketing for HDX technologies at Citrix Systems, Inc. I am excited to author my first guest article on the Lakeside Software’s blog today and would like to talk about the Citrix – Lakeside Partnership and specifically about our joint value in the XenApp and XenDesktop space.

Citrix and Lakeside Software have been working together for almost two decades now and our relationship goes back to the roots of Resource Manager Services in MetaFrame and maybe even back in the WinFrame days.

Today, Lakeside Software markets and sells its SysTrack product, which is certified by the Citrix Ready partner program.

Here at Citrix on the Windows App Delivery side, we’re focused on the development of the XenApp and XenDesktop product lines and many of our customers are thinking about upgrading their IMA based XenApp farms to the latest and greatest FMA based architecture. In order to make this process as easy as possible, we developed Project Serenity (try the tech preview here), which helps customers automate the replication of published applications, policies, and settings from XenApp 6.5 environments to a new deployment running XenApp 7.6 or XenDesktop 7.6.

SysTrack can actually add tremendous value to this process and Lakeside Software describes the process and the methodology in their latest XenApp migration whitepaper.

In a nutshell, organizations can leverage SysTrack to determine detailed statistics about the existing XenApp deployment. Think about it as deep insights into  the daily operational items. What applications are being launched? What other processes and applications are executed as part of that initial session? Which backend application resources does the XenApp server connect to? What resources does each user consume over the course of a session, a week, a month? What is the user experience like? The answer to all these questions can contribute to optimize the environment when implementing XenApp 7.6.

More importantly, SysTrack adds value as an on-going assessment tool. Many organizations think of IT assessment as a one-time event. However, the truth is that visibility into every operational parameter, alarm, alert, dashboard, or trend is an on-going assessment of the day-to-day situation that triggers certain actions. One example of this is the integration Lakeside has been working on with the Citrix HDX protocol and NVIDIA GRID cards, which enable virtual delivery of complex and high-fidelity visual computing and 3D graphics use cases when GPUs are used. SysTrack can uncover the applications that benefit from this technology, providing guidance on the sizing, segmentation, and health monitoring of user sessions and their GPU-specific parameters.

Another example is SysTrack’s ability to consume, process, and analyze additional data from the Citrix Director and provide a single pane of glass reporting across all end user computing systems.

While I can’t give away the details quite yet, I fully expect us to deepen the relationship and SysTrack adding more functionality and value to our joint customers. Watch this space, and follow me on @mayunkj for more information as it becomes available.

We recently released a joint solution brief for Citrix and Lakeside technologies. If you are interested, download a 90-day free trial for XenApp and contact Lakeside Software for more information on SysTrack.

I am excited about the possibilities for our customers and hope to back on these pages soon.

Mayunk

Windows 10 Migration, Motivation and Methodology

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” At the risk of being presumptuous I’d like to add OS upgrades to that list. In my more than 36 years of IT experience this is a truism. Love them, hate them, tolerate them, or accommodate them: it’s inevitable that “thou shalt upgrade”. I don’t know if this is an 11th commandment kind of issue or just a real world fact, but the bottom line is Windows 10 is in your future. Perhaps this upgrade isn’t imminent; in fact it may be 2 years down the road. But, planning for an enterprise wide migration should be on your radar, and if done properly the experience can be a smoother transition than the recent move to Windows 7/8.

Why Upgrade to Windows 10?

Upgrades to Windows 10 will usually fall into one of the following justification buckets:

To take advantage of some cool new features such as:

Common look and feel across PCs, tablets, mobile devices, and Xbox. Run your favorite apps wherever, whenever, and whatever, you choose. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) just got a lot simpler.

  1. Siri and Google Now like personal assistant, i.e. a voice search tool called Cortana.
  2. New Office package (including a new Word based Outlook engine).
  3. New browser experience; yep, goodbye IE, hello, Edge!
  4. UI with a number of cosmetic improvements.
  5. Improved set of built-in security features.
  6. Return of the Start Menu.
  7. Overall performance improvement… faster startup, quicker resume.
  8. Virtual desktop experience; an easy way to keep a busy desktop organized by having multiple desktops.
  9. Feature to allow switching between touch vs. keyboard and mouse interaction.
  10. Option to deliver updates via the P2P protocol, resulting in a more efficient distribution. This feature provides the potential for any PC to become, in effect, an SCCM delivery device. Imagine branch offices with unreliable WAN connections; pick a target, update it and distribute to other PCs at the branch from the original target… pretty cool!
  11. Application compatibility. Not a big deal now, but if history repeats itself, within the next 2 years most COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) applications will require Windows 10.
  12. End of Window 7 support. Not an immediate concern, according Microsoft’s Lifecycle page, “Mainstream Support” ended for Win7 on January 15, 2015 with “Extended Support” due to end January 14, 2020.
  13. All the cool kids are doing it. There is a certain allure to having the latest/greatest… you can’t deny it!

How to Prepare for the Inevitable?

Too often OS upgrades are thrust upon an unprepared enterprise. In this case “unprepared” usually means too little knowledge of what the end users need. Perhaps you are one of the many within IT with lingering and perhaps uncomfortable memories of the extreme efforts that your migration to Win7/8 may have required.  Remember the many spreadsheets, the end user surveys, the interviews, and, finally, the guessing?  And that was just the prep work for creating an actionable plan; the heavy lifting hadn’t even started yet. All in an effort to best determine who is using what applications and what the prerequisites/dependencies were for your business critical apps so the upgrade could be completed with as little end user down time an productivity losses as possible. That was the goal at least.

Typically there were three exposure areas (security, compliance, and performance) that presented issues that you had to deal with in the middle of an already full plate of migration activities. Perhaps you found out too late that several applications had some nasty application faults that didn’t improve when you moved to a new OS; in fact, some may have gotten worse. Some of you may even recall the surprising discovery of unsupported, unlicensed, and misbehaving applications within the enterprise.

Doesn’t it make sense to take the time now to do it right the next time? Wouldn’t it be great to have all the data you need at your fingertips, without a major project to collect the data? Also, while you are collecting the data in preparation for the big Win10 upgrade, why not improve your current end user experience? That’s right, you can “kill two birds with one stone” as it were. You can monitor your current environment, observe issues you need to resolve and simultaneously collect important data for your next OS upgrade.

How can SysTrack Help?

Tools within SysTrack can be exploited to make your upgrade progress smoothly. Let’s step through a few examples:

Example #1:

SysTrack is excellent at answering the “5 W’s of EUC”: the who, what, when, where, and why of EUC. In short, SysTrack answers the important question(s) – Who used what applications, when did they use them, from where were they used, and why was the end user’s experience less than perfect?

The “5 W’s of EUC” are answered by the ongoing collection of data from every end user who accesses a system on which SysTrack has been deployed. These “child” systems can be PCs, (virtual or physical), servers (virtual or physical), and/or mobile devices (with a supported OS). Data is collected, arranged, aggregated, and visualized automatically making the IT Professional’s job much easier and resulting in far more accurate results.

Below are a few default, “out of the box” data visualizations:

Win10 Migration 1Software Package Usage by system and by end user. This is an easy way to determine who’s launching what and for how long.

Win 10 Migration 2

Application communications to other systems and the latency of those connections can be easily displayed for all applications with dependent resources.

Win 10 Migration 3

Fast, accurate identification of an enterprise’s “power users” and the applications that drive high resource footprints is as simple as the click of a button.

Win 10 Migration 4

Benchmarking the current health of the End User experience via up to 21 KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) provides an easy and accurate way to establish before and after migration user acceptance criteria. It also helps answer the question, “why is a user having less than a perfect experience?”

Example #2

Frequently, details about an application’s prerequisite modules and/or runtime dependencies can help avoid conflicts with other applications which require the same resources.

Win 10 Migration 5SysTrack discovers “out of the box”, module and runtime dependencies for all observed applications.

 Example #3

To more fully appreciate the usage of an application, simply knowing how many times it has been launched is not sufficient.   One extreme example of this is my personal use of Skype. I have four desktops which I use throughout the week. Two of those are virtual and two are physical. Skype is installed on all four, though I use it primarily on only one of the four systems.   Skype launches each time I restart one of the desktops, but frequently I end the process if I need the resources it is consuming. In my case, a simple count of launches of Skype would suggest I use the application constantly. In reality, I have it “in focus” very infrequently.

Many applications fall into this category of being launched at startup or being called by other applications. In other cases, end users launch applications, use them lightly and leave them running in the background, while their focus is on their business critical apps. If the question being asked is, “What are the most important applications in our environment based on real use?” simply counting the number of application launches can be very misleading.

What if you were able to normalize the overall active use of applications based on “in focus” (active user interaction) time? Now, if you could rank applications based on which ones were observed to have been actively used, i.e. “in focus” the most you would have a way to know which applications are used the most, not just launched the most.

While the process described above is not a default data view, SysTrack has the data, and, through the use of the Dashboard Builder tool, it’s possible to create a customized view of “in focus” time. One possible example of this output appears below:

Win 10 Migration 7Application focus, where 100% represents the total amount of “in focus” event time, across the enterprise. Applications are ranked by their individual contribution to the total enterprise “in focus” time.

By creating an interactive dashboard it is also possible to quickly determine what set of applications combine to consume a targeted amount of total use. For example, it is frequently possible to show that as few as five applications account for over 75% of the total “in focus” use in an enterprise. That’s a quick way to get to a very accurate base image… you’ll need to know that when you get around to migrating to Win10, right?

Plan for success

Regardless of when your Win10 project is scheduled to occur, now is the time to start planning for it. SysTrack is a great tool to help you understand and improve your current environment while simultaneously collecting the data you’ll need for a smooth Win10 migration.