The SysTrack Office 365 Planning Kit

Office 365 is Microsoft’s latest cloud-based group of software and service subscriptions. Due to its features and monthly/yearly licensing plan, many businesses choose a single license for their entire company. After all, selecting the same license for everyone seems like the easiest choice–why go through the hassle of fitting users to their optimal licenses?

Generically assigning Office 365 licenses may be convenient, but doing so is ultimately a poor business decision. A poorly fit license can lead to clutter in the environment as some applications go unused while other various applications are installed to make up for the license fit. Different job roles within a company likely have different application needs, and it is worthwhile for a business to investigate the unique needs of users to avoid overspending on licenses. SysTrack’s Office 365 Planning Kit makes it easy to identify the best license for each user in an environment while providing a clear picture of potential savings (displayed below).

The table above shows how moving users to reduced licenses would result in costs savings. If a user with an E3 or E5 license is found to only require E1-level functionality, dropping the user down to the more basic license would result in a savings of at least $12/month. Over an entire company, this kind of movement could result in significant savings on licensing costs alone. You may have noticed that there are suggested licenses that are not actual license options for Office 365. We built the “E3 to E1” and “E3 or E5” options into the SysTrack Kit to allow administrators to make the call on determining the best licenses are for edge users that fall into these categories. If a user is suggested an E3 to E1 license it simply means they use some applications (word processor, spreadsheet, or email) that are included in the E3 licensing. However, the applications that they are using are also included in the E1 license as  web-based applications instead of locally installed applications. Switching from E3 to E1 can save money at the infrastructure level since web-based applications and light bandwidth use for the applications can be cheaper and easier to maintain than locally installed instances. The locally installed applications are also more difficult to update and deploy and can introduce versioning issues and a whole slew of other problems into the environment. If a user is suggested an E3 or E5 license, this means the user uses applications that only the E5 license can provide. However, based on how they use the applications (editing versus viewing the documents), the user may still fit within the E3 license.

Since each job role will only have the applications that they need with their newly fitted license, their environment will be less cluttered. This leads to a less impacted and overall faster environment allowing IT to work on more valuable projects. Needing less IT help lets the company potentially save even more money. Having a condensed application portfolio also allows IT to learn and troubleshoot faster because they will be able to get a deeper understanding of the applications.

Provisioning optimal licenses to each user can appear as an unnecessary, tedious task. However, due to potential savings, a more organized environment and less burden on IT, the company will benefit greatly. Still don’t feel like undertaking the task? SysTrack’s Office 365 Planning Kit greatly simplifies the process by providing automated suggestions of license assignments based on real user needs. In future posts, we will discuss our new kit in further detail to show how easy it can be to harness the benefits of fitting users to their ideal Office 365 subscription license.

SysTrack Use Case: What’s Impacting My System?

One of SysTrack’s many uses includes providing insight on negative sources of impact in an end user’s environment. Specifically, it can be used by an IT administrator to find out what the source of issues are that cause user experience problems. This helps the IT organization find underlying causes for common user complaints like “my system is running slow” or “I just can’t open my email!”

Because there are numerous reasons a system could be having issues, it can be difficult for an IT administrator to know where to start. Let’s take a concrete example with a user that calls into the help desk with a generic complaint.

The IT administrator receives a complaint from a user who says his system is running too slow. The administrator begins by targeting the user’s system in SysTrack Resolve. They start searching for the user in the General: Change Focus tab and selecting the appropriate system. The user can potentially have multiple systems, however, the online system is most relevant because it’s the system they are currently using. The administrator continues on to Analytics Overview, where they notice some applications and events in critical state. However, due to the immense amount of time that has passed since they were stated as critical, they can be reasonably ignored for this situation. The administrator decides to check the health of the system under the Health tab of Resolve because it will provide a summary on any source of impact on the system. They notice the Total Impact graph (displayed below) in the summary section highlighting how many minutes of impact each category has on this system.

The administrator takes note that the network category has the highest total impact on the system but they decide to continue to look at the Quality Trend graph. It displays the quality of the environment per day compared with the average quality. This allows them to be able to see how the system was performing for the end user compared to how it performs on most days. They notice that it begins to go towards a downward trend on the day that the user started to notice the poor performance.

The administrator notices that the network seems to have the highest total impact overall, but decides to check out the daily impact chart to see the day that the user started noticing a slower performance. As displayed below, the administrator notices that the day the user started noticing a poor performance shows a high network impact and continues to show a high network impact.

The administrator now knows the source of what is causing the largest impact in the user’s system and can use that knowledge to fix the decreasing quality of the user’s system and the environment overall. They continue further into Resolve’s Black Box and looks closer at the network system data. They choose to switch the filter in the System Data panel from System to Network since this is the category they are most concerned with (displayed below). This reveals further details on the network interface cards such as a high retransmit rate resulting in the large network impact.

The IT administrator discovered the source of the impact for that specific user, but is wondering if other users are also having this same problem. They dive into Visualizer Enterprise and look at the health for the overall environment. The health appears to have good user experience across the board and the administrator concludes that this situation was only applicable to that one user. Finding the largest source of impact for an environment is just one of SysTrack’s many uses to promote a successful environment.