SysTrack Skype for Business Assessment

The modern enterprise has many pillars upon which it is established and which are necessary for it to function. None of them however, are quite as crucial as the enterprises need for collaboration and communication. Every organization from the one-man freelance team to the multinational corporation has people who need to communicate with other people to complete the daily tasks required of them. As technology continues to develop and diffuse throughout every facet of business, the ways in which these organizations are required to communicate change as well. Small teams who routinely work with one another are no longer housed within the same physical workspace while the meetings and presentations that occur between companies require far fewer in person encounters. Currently leading the way for and promoting this digital-centric communication is Skype for Business, a unified platform for real-time chat, voice, video, and screen sharing. Unfortunately, every technology is bound to experience some growing pains. We here at Lakeside Software are offering a SysTrack Citrix Skype for Business Assessment that will help alleviate some these pains and is described below.

The traditional method of deploying the Skype for Business client is to locally deploy it to each of the hundreds if not thousands of endpoints that require it and ensure that it is correctly configured for each user. Not only is this approach exceedingly difficult to manage but it also lacks the control, security, and visibility required by the same enterprises that need the features provided by Skype for Business the most. Citrix has stepped up and chosen to address these concerns with their HDX RealTime Optimization Pack (RTOP). Developed with and endorsed by Microsoft, the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack allows Skype for Business to be published as a virtualized application or within a virtual desktop with the same performance as a local installation.

This optimization technology is the only Microsoft-endorsed solution for delivering Skype for Business in a virtual environment as the architecture of the HDX RTOP ensures integration with other Microsoft office products is maintained. The audio-video quality continues to be “local-like” while the accessories and interfaces to which user have grown accustomed to are as they would be on a locally installed client. Any solution, no matter how powerful or simple still needs ample consideration before it can be to be implemented and utilized.

The SysTrack Citrix Skype for Business Usage Assessment can be used to explore the current environment and summarize the data that is most relevant for determining the benefits of adopting the HDX RTOP. Such areas include the number of different versions present in the environment as well as the how many of them are actually being used. Supporting multiple versions, many of which are no longer current, puts undue strain on a company’s helpdesk and other support resources. It’s also worth observing the usage patterns of the users. Heavy and moderate users of Skype for Business will drive most of the resource demands associated with supporting it while the light users must still be provisioned properly to fill their roles. Finally, one of the most significant motivating factors for centrally delivering and managing Skype for Business for users is the ability to more closely control potentially problematic end user behaviors, like caching conversations locally in an insecure way. Each of these areas of importance can be examined with the SysTrack Skype for Business Usage Assessment.

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These new products from Citrix are excellent and continue to provide remote application and desktop experiences to end users, but it’s essential to maintain visibility into consumption and user service quality to understand how best to develop a robust IT environment while also satisfying the needs of the users. Some of the tools granted by the SysTrack Cloud Edition have been used to create a snapshot of that performance but no environment is static. Be prepared to tackle this inevitable change with SysTrack and leverage the data in your favor.

Citrix Secure Browser Assessment with SysTrack Cloud Edition

The web browser has come into its own as an indispensable part of the enterprise software portfolio. With web based apps an amazing amount of flexibility can be achieved, but paradoxically one of the ubiquitous and useful applications can also be the most frustrating. For an end user that has to interact with potentially dozens of web portals with numerous plugin dependencies they can often find themselves moving experiencing browser hangs or crashes with great frequency or having to switch between different browsers to just complete different business functions. More critically IT has to support any number of different browser types with any combination of required plugins, user added extra components, and possibly dozens (or hundreds) of different versions. The reality of the situation is that the component that’s supposed to be “platform independent” or give a uniform user experience can create headaches for everyone involved.

There’s another side to this problem, too: how do you make sure that users get the most straightforward pathway to their applications? With internal web apps especially there’s frequently a need for a user to either be connected directly to the network or use a VPN to broker a connection. This introduces yet another component that can fail or make basic user interaction a hassle. Worse, in some scenarios, especially when users are highly mobile, this also potentially exposes data to loss.

That means there are really two problems: making sure that users get access to a browser that always works and making sure they can connect securely and minimize breach potential. This is where Citrix Secure Browser introduces a really interesting resolution. By publishing a known good browser that can be embedded into any modern browser seamlessly existing XenApp customers can provide their end users with a great experience and minimize their support needs.

The SysTrack Citrix Secure Browser Analysis assesses the current state of browser usage in the environment to try and articulate the net advantage of moving to Secure Browser. How many different web applications are currently used? How many internal web applications are interacted with? How frequently do browsers hang or crash? What plugins are the most common in the enterprise?

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The lead in summary from the Citrix Secure Browser Analysis establishes the massive number of different browsers in active usage in most environments, and the numerous plugins that are employed. From there we break out more interesting pieces of information like the monumental number of application faults associated with browsing apps that users interact with daily. Throughout the report we expand on all of the details that are critical in determining what kind of impact implementation of Secure Browser may have in an enterprise. Brett Waldman covers some of the key details on Secure Browser in a blog entry, but essentially imagine taking all of the aforementioned concerns and eliminating by publishing a browser that always works with business critical web applications and is, by nature, secure.
The SysTrack Cloud Edition for Citrix is a free service that allows you to assess your environment for Citrix solution fit, including another report focused on Skype for Business and how Citrix can optimize delivery of Microsoft collaboration tools. Check it out here.

Introducing the Citrix Health Assessment

We’re seeing a never ending IT scenario – the landscape of how applications and workstations are delivered – continue to play itself out right before our eyes. BYOD and mobile workstyles are becoming more and more common as we march towards web based applications, published apps, and fully featured virtual desktops rapidly displacing more traditional IT infrastructure. Administrators are relying heavily on Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, among other Citrix products, to meet their user’s needs and deliver the performance they expect. Of course, actually delivering the performance they expect can be easier said than done, in most cases. Tracking down problems with published apps, without the right data, is like trying to put together a puzzle in the dark. That’s why so many of our customers who manage Citrix environments rely on SysTrack – it provides the insight they need to make smart, data-driven decisions and keep their users happy and productive.

Our traditional SysTrack setup requires an on-premises server to act as the master system. And while this works perfectly well for long term deployments, it can be a bit burdensome for short term assessments. Some of the admins we speak to want a quick look at the state of their Citrix environment, or to get an idea of how they might benefit from investing in XenApp and XenDesktop. In order to make sure those needs were met we streamlined the process of setting up SysTrack and moved the main infrastructure to the cloud, enabling customers to simply register, download and the deploy the data collection agent, and then login to our assessment website to get immediate access to dashboards, data visualizers, and SSRS style reports telling them exactly what’s going on in their environment.

The Citrix Health Assessment is a free, cloud based service that delivers SysTrack’s unparalleled data to help admins manage and plan for Citrix environments. Utilizing SysTrack’s patented distributed database architecture and SSL connections for data transfer, users get the data they’ve come to expect from SysTrack with the security to make sure it’s kept safe. The assessment was designed, in part, to answer specific questions like what quality of service the users have, what level of demand exists, and what are the best delivery options, while also providing the platforms for doing ad-hoc investigations and deep dives into the data to discover a variety of other insights.

Outside of XenApp and XenDesktop, which are standard virtualization solutions, Citrix has introduced Secure Browser and the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack, which allows for Skype for Business to be delivered as a virtualized application or within a virtual desktop. These new products fit well with the philosophy of XenApp and XenDesktop – centralize the management of the application or desktop to reduce costs and overhead. Before investing in new products it’s always a good idea to look at some data in order to get an idea of what type of benefit you’ll see from that investment. We’ve developed reports as a part of the Citrix Health Assessment that analyze the data collected by SysTrack and present detailed analysis of the browser and Skype usage in the environment so you’ll know exactly how Secure Browser or the HDX RealTime Optimization Pack would fit into your enterprise.

Don’t make guess work a part of your IT planning or management strategy. If you’re already utilizing Citrix solutions, or if you’re planning on them, check out our Citrix Health Assessment. This free, cloud based service lets you know things like the health of the environment, detailed session information, XenDesktop readiness, latency summaries, software usage, and a variety of other useful data. It’s simple to setup and use, and you’ll never have to make an IT decision that isn’t data driven and fit for your environment.