Category Archives: Office 365

Using SysTrack to Resolve User Issues with SaaS

Cloud services have fundamentally shifted the landscape for the average consumer of IT resources, and too often this leaves the support organization stuck as the discoverer of the root cause of issues that span the endpoint, the network, and the supporting service providers. Our own organization is in a similar situation, having adopted Office 365 services for all users. However, because we’re consumers of our own dog food (figuratively—I only have a guinea pig), we’ve got the ability to pinpoint the real source of user-impacting problems. As an example, we recently had a user experience trouble with making and receiving calls with Skype for Business.

Our investigation starts at the point of interaction for the user. In Resolve, we’ve got the ability to look up the user in question and immediately start reviewing the context surrounding their performance issue.

The RAG analysis provided in the overview indicates a handful of issues, but nothing directly related to Skype performance on the client itself. Further, there’s nothing impacting the network for the user or their NIC. That means we need to dig in a little deeper. This leads us to the Black Box area, which allows us to focus on the particulars of what was happening when the user had their issue.

Selecting the time interval where they first started having an issue we notice something interesting: the Skype for Business app (lync.exe) shows essentially no network traffic. Kind of a curious turn of events, and it’s something we wanted to investigate further. Luckily, we’ve been doing some internal auditing work with service status reporting from Office 365.

Here we find the cause: A/V components of Skype for Business were degraded for that user in the time interval where he was having the problem. A little bit of patience and some conversations with the Skype Online team had the service back up and running shortly. In fact, you can see the normal call traffic resume in the Black Box record above, and there you have it.

With SysTrack, we could find that the underlying cause for this specific user’s problem was not related to a client problem, a local network problem, or any service centrally provided by IT. Instead, there was a temporary service degradation that was resolved in short order. As essential software moves to the cloud, it is increasingly important to have the ability to gain detailed insights at the endpoint in order to identify whether the root cause of an issue can be traced back to the service provider.

Key Considerations for Office 365 Planning

This blog post is a continuation of our Office 365 series on license provisioning. In this post, we’ll cover the metrics relevant to this discussion. By focusing on specific characteristics of user behavior, you can make better informed decisions when assigning Office 365 licenses. Choosing the right metrics to examine is crucial, as we all know that user application activity is complex and that not all data tells the full story.

In the previous post, “Office 365 Planning Kit: The Method Overview,” we covered  how we organized each license based on application category. The table below displays a clear breakdown of categories for each license. In order to fit users with licenses, you have to find out how users are interacting with their applications.

To determine what each user requires to fulfill their job role, it is important to understand a user’s current application needs. The categories make it easier to visualize what kind of applications each user uses and which applications can potentially be replaced based on the frequency of usage. While Office 365 applications work best together, other applications in the category can be just as compatible and ultimately save the company money. We have sorted usage based on 3 tiers: None, Low, and High (displayed below) with each tier determined by the amount of focus time and active time a user has with an application.

 

SysTrack collects a unique metric, “focus time”, that offers the most insight into the quality of a user’s engagement with an application. Compared to active time, which is simply the amount of time that a user has an application open, SysTrack collects focus time only when a user is actually interacting with an application. For example, it’s common for users to open applications, such as Skype, and leave it open while they work on their report in Word resulting in Word have a greater focus time than Skype, but with Skype having a greater active time than Word.  This metric provides further optimization for suggesting a license to each user, because it not only takes into account which applications they use, but also considers how they may use the application.

Perhaps a user fits the criteria for an E3 license, but the frequency of usage for the Presentation, Document Sharing, and Meeting applications are categorized as low. While they will use all the applications provided with an E3 license, the best fit for them would be an E1 license with the other applications being replaced. For a more specific user, perhaps one suggested an E3 or E5 license, IT administrators have the ability to look into the specific users and observe the users active time, focus time, and the ratio of active to focus time (displayed below). This will allow the administrators to determine if they are viewing (shorter focus time) vs editing (longer focus time).

The table also provides more data such as the application names that users are already using. This can help determine if all users are using the same compatible applications or if they are all choosing their own versions. This knowledge allows IT administrators to continue to suggest the same compatible application to users to further promote a clean environment.

Having to keep all these considerations in mind may seem like a headache; luckily, our Office 365 Planning Kit simplifies the process. In a future post, we will further discuss the various ways companies can continue to benefit from optimal provisioned licensing in detail along with real world use cases.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.