Category Archives: Microsoft

How Can IT Teams Catch Incompatibilities Before Systems Are at Risk?

Millions of PCs currently running Windows 10 will lose feature support in 2018 due to incompatible drivers according to ZDNet. The issue affects systems with certain Intel Atom Clover Trail processors that were designed to run Windows 8 or 8.1, but were offered free OS upgrades as part of Microsoft’s Windows 10 push. The support loss is due to incompatibility with the Windows 10 Creators Update and the devices in question will not receive further Windows 10 updates from Microsoft as of the time of this writing. [Update: As reported by The Verge, Microsoft has said that the devices will continue to receive security patches through 2023, but will not be included in feature updates.]

The affected PCs are consumer-level devices and enterprises are therefore unlikely to be impacted by this loss. However, there is no guarantee that other devices won’t lose support due to similar circumstances in the future. The ZDNet article cites Microsoft’s device support policy for Windows 10 that contains a footnote stating, in part, “Not all features in an update will work on all devices. A device may not be able to receive updates if the device hardware is incompatible, lacking current drivers, or otherwise outside of the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (‘OEM’) support period.”

Determining the hardware specifications of a system is easy on the individual level, but how can companies ensure that their employees aren’t at risk of continuing to run unsupported hardware now or with future Windows 10 updates?

A workspace analytics solution, such as Lakeside Software’s SysTrack, collects and analyzes data about systems and user behavior that fast-tracks the discovery process. With this functionality, IT can easily answer questions such as whether any of the unsupported Intel Atom processors are running on their Windows 10 systems.

SysTrack view of Intel processors on different systems in an environment

As we’ve seen with recent ransomware outbreaks, running an unsupported version of an OS puts systems at greater risk of attack. Upgrading incompatible hardware in your environment before it loses support will likely be a critical part of Windows 10 management strategies moving forward.

Assess Your Environment’s Compatibility with Windows 10

How Can I Use Microsoft Data to Optimize My Office 365 Environment?

For IT administrators, gathering data about user experience and application utilization can be a daunting task. There are many sources of user related data available; however, I will focus down on the data concerning a hypothetical organization’s Office 365 subscription and how SysTrack can help both show and give context to this data. The IT administrator of this organization (let’s call her Samantha) is looking to analyze data concerning the usage of each of the Office 365 products that they have licenses for. In doing some searching online, Sam finds that Microsoft has some data available through their Admin center on the Office 365 portal. This data, however, is limited in scope—it doesn’t tell much about the actual licenses that the organization has, and it doesn’t cover user experience with specific products. She also finds in her search that there are Powershell modules that allow access to organization data, but that would require significant setup and some knowledge on how that scripting works, which would require a significant investment of Samantha’s time in order to get data to a format that would be useful to her.

So, how can SysTrack help Sam with this problem? SysTrack’s normal data collection covers some of the things that Samantha wants, namely the general user experience with specific applications through Health and Black Box data, as well as app focus time. However, to gather the data on specific utilization of the Office 365 products, we need to augment the normal collection with collection from some of Microsoft’s cloud based APIs. This gives us the ability to collect daily activity reports for users of the organization, broken down for each Office 365 product, and from this we can generate data trends over time of how the products are used. For example, with the reports Samantha could monitor how many emails a certain user sends and receives each day. Combining this with the data already available about app focus time for Outlook as well as Health data on latency and network connection, gives a big picture look at how a that user generally uses their email.

Example Office 365 monitoring dashboard utilizing data from SysTrack and Microsoft

In addition to collection based on user activity, SysTrack also collects data on active product licenses for each user. This feature gives Samantha the ability to compare a user’s usage of each of Office 365’s products with what they are licensed for to see if the organization is getting the most out of their subscriptions. There is also collection of Service Statuses for each product, directly from Microsoft, so if there are service interruptions that are affecting users, then Samantha can track that as well. Overall, SysTrack gives a very comprehensive coverage of all the available Office 365 data without having to go hunting for it on multiple pages, easing the job of IT administrators looking for this data.

What You Need to Know About GPUs for Windows 10

Dedicated GPUs aren’t just for gamers and designers anymore. The modern workspace is experiencing increasingly vivid and interactive software that is challenging entrenched beliefs about the nature of corporate work. Back in the day, IT supplied users with hardware and software that far exceeded anything employees interacted with in their off-time. The field has changed, and now users are the ones setting the pace for technology needs and adoption. Virtual assistants like Cortana have piqued user interest in AI and intuitive software experiences, which users now expect to follow them across locations and devices. Business leaders are looking to harness this evolving demand to accelerate the implementation of technology with the aim of enhancing employee engagement and performance.

We see growing awareness of this shift in conversations with our clients, who are looking for smarter ways to manage hardware and software transformations. One of the most discussed projects in this space is Windows 10 adoption. Many CIOs have yet to upgrade their users to Windows 10, but are gearing up for a transition in hopes of improving end-user experience and productivity. While we’ve been talking to IT professionals about the differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 since the Windows 10 launch in 2015, recently we’ve noticed an uptick in questions specific to graphics requirements. “How will my Windows 7 users be affected by Windows 10 graphics demands?” is a fair question, as is “What can I do to prepare my VDI environment for Windows 10?” We knew that the user-focused features available in Windows 10 would demand increased GPU usage, but to answer the question of degree, we turned to data supplied by our customers to achieve an accurate view of graphics needs in Windows 10. Our analysis of customer data focused on GPU and CPU consumption as well as user experience, which we quantify as the percentage of time a user’s experience is not being degraded by performance issues.

Key findings from our assessment include:

  • The amount of time users are consuming GPU increases 32% from Windows 7 to Windows 10
  • Systems without dedicated GPUs show higher average active CPU usage
  • Windows 10 virtual systems with GPUs consume 30% less CPU than those without

  • Presence of a dedicated GPU improves user experience with either OS on both physical and virtual machines

Overall, we found sufficient evidence to recommend implementation of discrete GPUs in both physical and virtual environments, especially for Windows 10 virtual users. Shared resources make the increased graphics requirements in Windows 10 potentially damaging for VDI because high CPU consumption by one user could degrade performance for everyone; however, we found that implementation of virtual GPU could allow IT to not only avoid CPU-load issues, but actually increase density on a server by 30%. Scaled, increased density means fewer servers to purchase and maintain, potentially freeing up resources to direct towards other IT projects.

Whatever stage you’re at in your Windows 10 transformation or other software projects, SysTrack can help you anticipate your users’ graphical needs. As developers continue to release software that enables users to have greater flexibility and creativity in the way they work, IT teams will need to ensure that users have adequate tools at their disposal to power a tech-charged workforce.

We Know You Don’t WannaCry

By now you likely know that WannaCry is a malicious widely distributed ransomware variant that is wreaking havoc over enterprise IT. The most important thing to know is that Microsoft has issued patches for nearly every flavor of the Windows operating system (including Windows XP) to prevent any further attacks.

Since AV (even next-gen AV) and other security tools have not been very effective at mitigating the WannaCry threat, our advice to our customers is to ensure you have a complete inventory of every Windows instance and its respective patch level. This will enable you to identify which Windows instances in your environment are still vulnerable so you could focus your energies on finding and patching them.

To help you accomplish this, we’re offering Lakeside customers several complimentary dashboards that can help you identify Windows instances that are at risk of being infected by WannaCry or other security threats:

  • Security Patch Details: We’ve developed a new kit, Patch Summary Kit, that provides details on security patches based on operating system. It also provides details for a specific patch if you know the patch’s KB or definition. The details include if the security patch was installed in a system and which patch it was. This kit provides clear and precise data to help users remain safe.
  • Risk Score: SysTrack provides a risk score in Risk Visualizer. The risk score is an uncapped integer that takes into account all potential ways a system may be vulnerable. Risk Visualizer allows you to view the risk scores of all systems in your environment to easily identify systems of concern. A higher risk score implies that your system is at greater risk of attack.

You can use the table below in conjunction with the Patch Summary kit to check whether a security patch has been applied to systems with the corresponding OS. An example of this feature is shown in a screenshot taken of the kit.

Operating System (Version Number) Security Patch KB
Windows XP KB4012598
Windows Vista KB4012598
Windows Server 2008 KB4012598
Windows 7 KB4012212
Windows Server 2008 R2 KB4012212
Windows 8 KB4012598
Windows 8.1 KB4012213
Windows Server 2012 KB4012214
Windows Server 2012 R2 KB4012213
Windows 10 (1511) KB4013198
Windows 10 (1607) KB4012606
Windows Server 2016 KB4013429

Our goal at Lakeside is to help keep our customers’ end users productive. We hope that by providing these risk management and compliance dashboards, we can help IT departments continue to improve organizational digital experience.

Expanding SysTrack Desktop Assessment for VMware with AirWatch and Windows 10

VMware Windows 10 Migration and Management Assessment

As a Windows 10 launch partner, Lakeside has had resounding success with helping organizations move from legacy workspace components to more modern Microsoft solutions. Now we’re pleased to announce a next step in this with VMware, specifically targeting customers that are interested in improving their enterprise mobility management (EMM) and security with VMware’s cloud-first technologies. Available today at http://assessment.airwatch.com (http://assessment.vmware.com), the SysTrack Desktop Assessment service has been updated to integrate key metrics for implementation of AirWatch and migration to Windows 10. This means that with a free assessment, organizations can at once get a full analysis of application and user behaviors, mobility needs, and their overall readiness for Windows 10 adoption as well as a fit for VMware solutions.

So, what are the details? With the new update you’re going to get two critical new pieces of functionality:

  1. Windows 10 readiness and hardware analysis for an in place migration. This specifically focuses on how AirWatch can help with management of existing or net new physical assets. One of the key considerations here is whether some physical assets require a hardware refresh either for compatibility or for performance optimization. Below the systems that would require an update are market as “Refresh and AirWatch”.

VMware Solutions

  1. Risk exposure and potential security concerns through our new (and evolving) Risk Visualizer tool.

Risk Scores

Alongside this we’ve updated the core report to reflect the overall readiness of existing physical systems that may need to stay physical (for example, systems that are highly mobile or have offline usage) to migrate directly to Windows 10.

Windows 10 Readiness

This is all available today and absolutely free. To get started just go to http://assessment.airwatch.com (or http://assessment.vmware.com) and sign up now.

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?

SecureBrowserSummary

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.

Lakeside Software Excites At Microsoft’s “Ignite Your Business With Windows 10 And Office 2016” Events

The months of November and early December 2015 offered an incredible learning opportunity for Microsoft customers that took advantage of the US Microsoft hosted 12x city event series, ‘Ignite Your Business with Windows 10 and Office 2016’. This Windows 10 and Office 2016 launch tour was targeted at current Enterprise and Midmarket Microsoft customers and those soon exploring Windows 10 and Office 2016 migration initiatives. The event series was highly attended with hundreds of attendees at each event and was well delivered with keynotes, breakout sessions for IT Pros and Developers alike, and great opportunities for customers to speak with Microsoft’s “Go-To” Launch Partners.

20151118_151724_b

Lakeside Software is excited to be selected by Microsoft as a Platinum Windows 10 & Office 2016 Launch Partner, validating the investment existing and future customers make to achieve operational excellence by choosing SysTrack as their tool of choice for essential IT telemetry. Lakeside Software was in the esteemed company of industry giants like Intel, Dell, HP, Toshiba, CDW, Citrix, and VMware: partners that showcased exciting solutions and Windows 10 enabled devices to help reach new levels of end-user productivity and security.

Windows10LaunchEvents2

The Ignite Your Business event series were well dispersed in key cities throughout the US, offering customers regional opportunities to meet with and discuss Windows and Office migration options.

SF_booth_3b

Crowded Booth Shot

Lakeside Software was a hit at the events with a great presence, receiving high interest in the enablement of customers needing to assess their readiness for Windows 10 and ongoing desktop initiatives.

20151201_130144b

Also as part of the events, customers enjoyed great snacks during breaks, a delicious lunch and a full bar Happy Hour. Customer truly enjoyed the experience and commented repeatedly on the food and drinks.

PhotoEditor-1446598651608_2

Tal Klein (Lakeside’s VP of Strategy) was interviewed by Stephen Rose (Sr. Product Manager for Windows & Devices at Microsoft), which will be showcased in an upcoming video update.

microsoft-band2

At each event one lucky attendee was fortunate enough to win the Lakeside raffled Microsoft Band 2. The Band 2 is synonymous with SysTrack’s core value. With actionable intelligence derived from ongoing telemetry from your endpoints, much like you gather personal health information from wearing a Microsoft Band 2, SysTrack gives IT the incredibly valuable visibility needed when making IT decisions and taking action that ultimately leads to a healthier experience for the end user, raising the standard of IT delivered services to the organization.

win10assessment

In order to help IT professionals plan for Windows 10 transformation, Lakeside has launched Win10assessment.com to coincide with the Microsoft “Ignite Your Business” launch tour. Win10assessment.com provides a no cost Windows 10 readiness assessment offering, providing organizations large and small with an easy to utilize, yet powerful vehicle for test driving a focused set of SysTrack features. The assessment period is 60 days, while analyzing 30 days of end point data that provides visibility into key Windows migration readiness intelligence through intuitive reports and dashboards.

Win10 portal landing page

SysTrack assists customers at all stages of Windows 10 adoption and use, including readiness planning, during a migration, and even post-migration to assure the quality of the migrated users experience meets company expectations. Also key to post migration success is identifying areas that can be targeted to increase user experience health scores and overall end-user productivity. Register at win10assessment.com today for more details.

photo 2

Lakeside Software would like to thank all the attendees, launch partners and especially Microsoft for such a great event series. With the great attendance and the launch of the SysTrack Cloud Edition, Lakeside Software is proud to be a Windows 10 and Office 2016 Launch partner. Visit us at http://www.lakesidesoftware.com/mswin10migration.aspx and register at win10assessment.com to learn more about how SysTrack can assist your organization today.

My Personal Security “Best Practices”

First, let me get some disclaimers out of the way: I won’t describe myself as a security expert and what I am about to share is my personal opinion, which is based on my personal experiences. By no means does this article reflect the opinions of my present or past employers and I have no business relationship (or gain from) any of the products or companies I am mentioning here.

With that out of the way, I would like to share a couple of security related practices that I have adopted over the years. I sometimes get asked questions about these topics, so I hope that you find this article informative.

Let me start with passwords:

We need passwords for a ton of things in our professional or personal lives. Password complexity requirements have gone up and there is no way we can remember all of the passwords we need to use on a regular (or not so regular!) basis. There are several vendors that provide single sign-on (SSO) solutions on the web and they basically work by establishing one master password (that you hopefully CAN remember) and then automatically log you into your web applications or let you look up your passwords. So far so good, except that you have to trust the vendor of this kind of solution 100% to keep your information safe and to have safeguards in place that their employees are not helping themselves to your passwords.

Therefore, I dislike all of these types of solutions and prefer the ones where I can personally control the security and encryption of the password file. And apparently I am right given the recent hack of LastPass (http://www.engadget.com/2015/06/15/lastpass-hacked/). I used different apps over the years – first on the iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/). It was eWallet by a vendor called Ilium Software and I liked the fact that it had a Windows companion app that allowed me to sync the files to the PC. These days I am on a windows phone (http://www.windowsphone.com/en-US/) and use a product called SkyWallet (http://skywallet.net/). It works by having a file on share (I am using OneDrive (https://onedrive.live.com)) and it lets you personally generate and specify the crypto key to secure that master file. It also has a desktop companion application so all your passwords stay in sync between devices. It does not provide SSO, but I am actually fine with that and can simply launch the app, look up what I need, and then log in. The important part is that no third party stores my master key and the password file itself is encrypted.

What about files?

There were the days when all your files, photos, and music resided on your PC and you had to make CD-ROMs or DVDs to back up your stuff every once in a while. That was really painful. I later added secondary hard drives to protect myself from disk failure by establishing a RAID configuration, but that didn’t protect me from the total physical failure of my PC in case of hurricanes, home fires, floods,  or other nasty (yet very unlikely) surprises.

I started using a product called HandyBackup (http://www.handybackup.com/), which I liked, because I could simply backup my stuff. I had some $5 per month web hosting service with virtually unlimited storage that I used for the purpose and handybackup allowed me to use my own encryption of the data using the blowfish algorithm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowfish_(cipher)) . This worked reasonably well, but had two major shortcomings: because I chose to encrypt the data, handybackup did not allow me to configure actual file synchronization and I could not simply get to my files from a public terminal or mobile device. Well, it was a backup solution and a fine one at that. I used it for several years, but never had to actually restore anything during that time frame.

I finally got to like online file storage (I happen to use OneDrive, but there many other solutions available as well). My problem here was again that I really don’t trust any company to keep my personal data safe from prying eyes, so encryption is key to me. Initially, I started by just storing photos and personal videos on the service and kept my financials and tax returns between my local machine and the handybackup solution. Then I discovered BoxCryptor (https://www.boxcryptor.com/en), a software solution from a German provider that allows you to automatically encrypt all your stuff in a cloud data solution. What I like about it that it also allows you to create your personal key file, which is never stored on any third party cloud service. This suits me just fine and now all of my personal data is 100% encrypted by BoxCryptor and stored (and sync’ed) on OneDrive. The boxcryptor client is available for all my mobile devices, so now I am enjoying insta-access of all my stuff with a high degree of privacy. Note that there is an option to store the crypto key with the vendor’s cloud service, but I chose to manage it myself. Should I ever lose it, it won’t be recoverable, so there is an added level of personal responsibility involved here.

What about my PC?

Not much to say here. Windows 8.1 / Windows 10 with BitLocker (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/bitlocker). Enough said. If someone steals the laptop or gets hold of my desktop PC, have fun decrypting that stuff. I have no idea if some has tried to hack BitLocker by using brute force techniques, but I don’t think that there is another alternative that would also be seamless to the user experience. Then again, all the files I have are still encrypted by BoxCryptor, even at rest on the local machine, so I think I am good.

I personally can’t wait until the general availability of Intel’s RealSense and Windows Hello technology to simply use my pretty self as a password 🙂

What about corporate BYO things?

This could very well turn into a soapbox, so I will try to keep it brief. Some companies adopted BYO policies under which employees are allowed to bring their own mobile devices, laptops, and PCs to work. The idea was that employees could simply choose the device they like and in some cases the employer would provide a stipend to help cover the cost. I always thought that this was a terrific idea, and as an employer, I would basically use centralized application hosting with terminal servers, citrix (www.citrix.com), vmware(www.vmware.com), etc. and virtual desktops. I would configure things in a way that none of the corporate data could be copied to the user owned device. These technologies are so mature these days and internet access is so ubiquitous that this can easily be achieved without compromising the end user experience. The old philosophy was that everything inside a building was considered secure (because the building had access controls and physical security. I think that the new philosophy needs to be that anything in an office space is considered not secure and only things inside the actually data center are considered to be secure.)

The reality is sometimes a bit different though. One group I met during my days as a Citrix consultant erred far on the side of user convenience and let employees use any device on the network without any restrictions whatsoever. People could install corporate and personal  applications and also freely download all the corporate data to their personal devices. Trust over draconian security measures was the word! This worked until the day an employee quit and basically took all of her work data with her (no chance for the rest of team to continue her projects.) This is also problematic from the point of view that people sometimes join competitors and having them keep access to critical internal data is just inviting trouble. That group also allowed departing employees to often keep their laptops that the company had paid for (especially if they were 2 years or older as those could not really be given to new employees either). Again with all the data , email archives etc. Interestingly, one day my counterpart there told me that one of his team members resigned and joined a competitor. He did the right thing and turned in his (corporate owned) laptop and was honest and upfront about his move. The manager notified HR and IT, access was revoked and all seemed well until IT started tracking the person’s manager down and demanded a complete forensic analysis (to be performed by the manager, mind you) as to which files may have been copied off the device or emailed to a personal account etc. Insane. Especially given the otherwise wide open policies.

So, security is never really free, but there is always a tradeoff between security and convenience. Luckily, many vendors really make our lives convenient and enterprises have good practices and tools at their disposal to strike the right balance – if they choose to.

Florian

twitter: @florianbecker

 

 

Microsoft Guest Blog: SysTrack and Windows Modernization Planning

Hi, I’m Divy Sharma with Microsoft Services, and I’ve been working with Lakeside Software’s SysTrack product for quite some time. SysTrack has proved to be extremely valuable for Data Center Modernization assessments and now for Windows 10 planning. Personally I’ve had the most experience helping customers understand their enterprise infrastructure and application portfolios, and assisting them with the complex process of determining what platforms and pathways forward are available to them to optimize their core infrastructure.

Legacy data center systems and workloads are a massive problem in the enterprise. Because these systems have a tendency to evolve naturally over time without centrally structured planning it can be difficult to determine some of the basic needs these systems are addressing. The key for all of the decisions necessary to migrate workloads and users is context. This requires answers to questions such as: What application connections are necessary? What resource consumption do we expect for applications? What kind of user experience do people get today? How many backend dependencies does this application require?

These questions led us to conclude that we really needed a robust way of collecting detailed, continuous operating metrics and usage details to understand how best to help our customers with their pathway forward. With numerous black box servers, unknown assets, and supporting systems distributed geographically across numerous physical locations it would be a difficult proposition to get a complete inventory, much less understand the characteristics of the existing workload and plan how to migrate it. With some of the existing tools in our portfolio we were able to get pieces of the information we needed, but what was missing was the actual activity and capacity analysis for forecasting costs and understanding the purpose of the systems. This is where SysTrack reporting filled in the gaps for us.

The addition of the Kits concept has greatly streamlined the process of gearing up for a DCM project; because the DCM content that was co-developed with Lakeside is made up of a large number of reports and dashboard content this makes reporting of the data as straightforward as the collection.

With Windows 10, Microsoft has started providing the next level of enterprise productivity, security, manageability and advanced threat detection. Solutions such as Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) offer leading-edge capabilities for identity management, device management, application management and provides enterprise-grade security. Additionally, new Windows 10 features such as Device Guard, Enterprise Data Protection and Microsoft Passport disrupts modern cyber-threats with revolutionary security. I have found SysTrack extremely valuable in assessing an organization’s current state of readiness for adopting these features. We have been able to get answers to questions such as – which devices are ready for Windows 10 migrations, which devices have TPM chips for using Windows 10’s advanced features, which devices are capable of supporting virtualization through Hyper-V to protect system memory and kernel-mode apps/drivers from malicious tampering, what is the device profile (desktops/laptops/tablets/touch-enabled devices/VDIs), and, what desktop/web applications are used in the enterprise, by whom, how often and what’s the performance portfolio of these workloads.

I really like the fact that SysTrack can work either as an on-premise solution or purely via Azure cloud. It can work on machines on your Active Directory Domain or on BYOD devices that contingent staff may bring in. It can easily help develop a workload’s profile – CPU loads, memory utilization, disk I/Os, network interaction with other servers – all with minimal impact to host performance. Moreover, it can help aggregate data over thousands of devices, laying a strong foundation to develop data-driven models for multiple scenarios, such as, Windows 10 deployment planning, Application Workload Assessment and Migration planning, Azure migration assessment and cost planning, etc.

For us the real mark of success is what happens after the migration is completed, and this is where the SysTrack data makes the largest difference. Previously it was difficult to really come up with a proof point to demonstrate that the user experience in the environment is quantitatively better than what end users used to get. With the comprehensive reporting in tools like Enterprise Visualizer it’s now possible to connect the starting user experience before the improvements with the steady state experience after all of the optimization and workload migration has taken place, proving success.

Really this gets to the heart of a broader key for ensuring that end users get the best possible experience: point of interaction telemetry. As IT’s role evolves it’s critical to have measures in place to track the performance of the various services that make up the EUC environment. By allowing SysTrack to track things like Office 365 adoption, system performance, and application consumption it’s now possible to track delivered services in a unified way. This makes Lakeside an ideal partner as Microsoft grows its incredible portfolio of traditional and cloud based services. Windows 10 in many ways is the start of a transformation for Microsoft’s offerings, and I think the more service driven direction for IT in the enterprise will benefit from it and Azure offerings tremendously.

Keep an eye out for more posts on Windows modernization and how Microsoft can help deliver the best possible end user experience to your environment.

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.