All posts by Linda Tsao

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.

Software Asset Optimization with SysTrack

Workplace analytics encompasses a vast amount of end user computing related information collected from a variety of sources, and a vital component of the topic is the observation of software assets. Obviously, a broad topic, we’ve chosen to break that further into three key categories: performance, usage and dependencies. Software performance monitoring is driven by the need to understand how well applications are working in the environment. Software usage is predicated on the idea of optimizing licensing and delivery to provide necessary applications. The last category, Dependencies, is vital to understand what pieces are necessary for software to function.

Software performance is itself a complex topic, but broadly the idea is to identify the answer to key questions like “why does my application keep crashing?” and “what applications take the longest time to load?” This incorporates key metrics like resource consumption details (CPU, memory, IOPS, network bandwidth) as well as number and frequency of faults or hangs. In many ways, this is one of the first items thought of in the context of software asset analytics, and it’s often one of the first things an end user notices about the environment. Diagnosing performance issues and understanding the resource consumption for the average user can help steer hardware requisition and delivery methods. Clearly, though, a preliminary question in many cases is exactly what packages belong in the environment.

Accurately observing software usage can be invaluable to a company. The ability to know which applications are used versus installed directly relates to the distribution of licenses, and that’s a direct cost driver. Another consideration is support cost savings made possible by making images less complicated. Intrinsic to rationalization is a host of potential ways to make sure that the delivery of applications to end users is as closely tailored to their needs as possible. There are some technical considerations to this as well, not the least of which is exploring the components or backend connections required for software in the environment.

Gaining insight into the required components a given package needs to function can be very important to choosing appropriate delivery mechanisms and options. Application compatibility concerns driven by incompatible components, fundamentally unsupportable system components, and complex networking requirements are all key to understand. Identifying what applications call on to function on a day to day basis dictates many of the decisions IT need to make to modernize and continually innovate with their delivery options.

We’ll be going into more depth on each of these categories as we release our upcoming Software Asset Analytics Kit. With each area, we’ll expand on some real use cases and provide some real-world examples of how each provides essential information for an environment.

Digital Experience Management and Event Correlation with SysTrack

SysTrack provides the ability to score an environment’s end user experience using digital experience management metrics. The resulting end user experience score provides a clear view of the end user’s experience in that environment and is composed by a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are structured to provide direction to any problems in the environment that may affect the end user. The key to the philosophical approach with SysTrack, though, is the joining of this scoring to event correlation and analysis through the use of proactive alerts. These proactive alerts tie that overarching score to triggered, targeted events to provide a fuller and easier to understand portrait of the IT environment.

This starts with our end user experience score, and it’s best thought of as a simple grade. Basically, the score comes in a range of 0 to 100, with a score of a 100 implying the environment is providing the best end user experience. The score is composed of 13 different KPIs that represent aggregate data points on potential sources of impact. These  roughly fall into the categories of resource issues, networking problems,  system configuration issues, and infrastructure problems. This results in a great, normalized score to understand across a broad set of different systems what kind of performance issues are occurring. Even more importantly, it provides a platform for long-term analysis for trending to see the trajectory and evolution of that experience over time. The image below displays an overall view of the end user’s experience of the environment and the ability to monitor the evolution of those impacts over time. 

For more operational items that require an immediate response the alerting mechanism comes into play. Alerts are an active component that are triggered by events generally correlated with negative impact. Alert items roughly correlate with the end user experience score KPIs to help further IT administrators’ direction towards resolving problems. The image below demonstrates an environment with active alerts.
The key piece is correlating these items to that impact in a meaningful way. So, the big question is this: how do they work with one another?

One of the most common ways alerts and user experience scores are used in conjunction is through a feedback loop.  An administrator determines which KPI is causing the largest source of impact and continues to drill down providing a clear view of placed and potentially triggered correlating alerts. The alerts will direct the administrator towards the underlying causes of the problem and finally to the potential source of impact. After the resolution the administrator can track the increase in user experience as a result of their improvements to see how successful their changes have been.

End user experience scores provide an overall indicator of the quality end users are experiencing, while alerts provide immediate information on the source of impact. The integration of both tools provides an easy and clear way for IT administrators to discover the source of a system’s impact. To learn more on this topic check out our white paper, Utilizing KPIs and Alarm Methods!