Category Archives: SCCM

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.

Getting the most out of Microsoft SCCM with SysTrack

Managing large computing environments can be a real challenge for any IT administrator. Simple tasks such as ensuring every user has the latest version of Microsoft Excel can cause a great deal of headaches. A small company IT staff, with maybe 10 or 20 users, can simply check each employee’s device to see which version of an application they’re running. But what do you do when there are 100 users? Or 1,000 users? Time simply won’t permit physically checking devices and talking with each user (unless you enjoy working around the clock).

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager is a popular choice for the large company IT administrator. SCCM is ideal for managing a large environment of end-points, keeping software up-to-date, setting security policies, deploying configurations and polices, and much more. Of course, just because your software is running the latest version doesn’t mean your environment is efficiently organized and getting the best value it could. Any IT worker worth their salt is looking for areas where cost savings can be realized. A great way to identify IT cost savings is to gain insight into how the environment you manage with SCCM is actually being utilized. Are all of those Microsoft Office instances you deployed actually being used? Does each user have all of the applications they need to be effective at their job? Are there unmanaged applications being used that need to be accounted for and supported? Having a detailed, reliable software inventory can go a long way in the IT world.

Software rationalization based on actual usage data can ensure you’re not wasting money on licenses that are going unused and that each user has exactly the right software. Lakeside Software’s core product, SysTrack, is designed to answer these types of questions for you. Using agent-based methodology SysTrack provides detailed information from the individual user level all the way up to enterprise level trends. The agent-based design allows for an extremely granular view of the data when you need it as well as a broad overview of the enterprise as a whole when you want to look at trends. Don’t bother with setting up perfmon counters or time consuming, complicated monitoring tools – SysTrack is simple to install and set up and will provide you with the IT intelligence you need right out of the box.

Understanding user needs based on how they are interacting with the current environment allows you to rationalize software deployments and create images that make sense and save on unnecessary costs. SysTrack provides a clear understanding of which applications are being used by each user, how much they are using those applications, and even how much productivity is being impacted by poor performance. All of the in-depth information available to you through SysTrack can greatly reduce costs from saving software licenses that may go unused, reduced planning time for image creation, and reduced support time.

There are a lot of options available to today’s IT administrator for monitoring and managing their environment. Lakeside has put a lot of time into making sure SysTrack covers all of your IT intelligence needs and helps reduce the costs associated with and the time required to keep your environment efficient and running smoothly. Find out how to take the guesswork out of IT decisions (and eliminate the headache of parsing log files to troubleshoot) by checking out the SysTrack Product Suite.