Category Archives: Windows 10

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.

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.

SysTrack Use Case: Windows 10 Migration

In June we launched a new blog series called “SysTrack Use Case.” The first post in this brand new series explored how SysTrack could help with investigating user reports of a faulting or crashing application. Each post in the ongoing series will discuss a new use case to help provide a wider perspective on the different IT projects and challenges that can be addressed with SysTrack. The follow up to the first post comes at the same time that Lakeside has released new content around the Windows 10 launch, and that gives us the perfect opportunity to explore the best way to consume that content and get the most of SysTrack before and after your Windows 10 migration. We’ve released several blog posts in the past few weeks dealing with Windows 10, so here we’ll try to take a succinct look at the basic phases of a migration and how SysTrack can help with each.

Going into a large migration project without properly developing a plan first is a recipe for disaster.  Any IT administrator will tell you the same. That’s why gathering data about the environment is so crucial; simply estimating the resources needed or the readiness of the environment for a migration won’t work. You need objective analysis. With Windows 10 hitting the market we wanted to help our customers prepare for the upgrade. A good place to start is understanding the value of Windows 10 and how it could help your organization. We recently released a whitepaper that discusses, in detail, the benefits an upgrade to Windows 10 can provide. Having a solid understanding of why the upgrade is a smart decision can start the whole project off on a good note.

The whitepaper serves as a nice initial approach, but where SysTrack really helps out is with providing data-driven insight. The Windows 10 Assessment Report, part of our MarketPlace program, is a great tool for the initial steps of sizing out the project and gathering data about the environment. MarketPlace reports are accessed through Virtual Machine Planner. You’ll just need to create and run a simple model of the environment and SysTrack will feed data gathered for the model into the Windows 10 Assessment Report. The great thing about this report is that you can go back to it after improvements, updates, or changes have been made in the environment and rerun it with SysTrack’s most up-to-date data to see the results of your changes. Maybe an initial run of the report shows Windows XP systems with a low health score, and that leads you to investigate those systems with Site Visualizer and you discovere the cause of the low health score is insufficient memory resources, for example. After implementing a fix to that problem you can execute the report again to get an updated look on your Windows 10 readiness status.

After the migration is completed you’ll want to continue monitoring the systems that received the new OS to make sure they aren’t experiencing any new problems. A great way to do this is to track the health of those systems over time. Create a SysTrack group of Windows 10 systems and use Enterprise Visualizer to graph the health over time, this is a perfect way to visualize the experience of those systems from before the OS upgrade to after the upgrade.

Health Trend

Another great steady-state tool to use is the Resolve Comparative Analytics function. This allows you to compare a selected system to other individual systems, a group of systems, and all systems. You might want to compare the Windows 10 group to systems that have yet to be upgraded, or a system of interest with Windows 10 to the rest of the group to identify if an issue is due to the upgrade itself.

Comp Analytics

From gathering your thoughts about the migration, to preparing for it, to implementing it, and finally, to validating it in the steady-state, SysTrack has the data you’ll need. If your organization is considering Windows 10 make sure to take advantage of data-driven analysis to make better decisions throughout the project that will simplify the task, save time, and minimize the risk.

Using SysTrack for Windows 10 Migration Project Management

The Problem for Companies: Legacy Applications

Many companies that migrated from Windows XP to Windows 7 struggled with transforming both desktops and applications, and often found themselves with budget for one and not the other, forcing them to forklift their application portfolios. As a result, they still have an application inventory that includes multiple versions of applications, as well as seldom used or unused applications. I’ve seen beleaguered IT groups that are supporting an end user application inventory which exceeds 30,000 executables and where they’re maintaining as many as 10 versions of the same application. While companies that opted for a forklift migration saved money on the front end, they are now paying the price in additional support cost, greater complexity and risk, as well as degraded user experience. Migrating to Windows 10 presents an opportunity to right the ship.

The Problem for Transformation Project Managers

As a program office director and program manager for many years for extremely large and complex transformation projects, I constantly struggled with developing a well-conceived, detailed project plan. These types of plans are almost always based on estimates that are overly optimistic and can rarely account for the myriad of unexpected problems that inevitably crop up. To counter this, project managers build assumptions into their project plans. These assumptions can often run on for pages. As Jeff Sutherland points out in his book, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, “The trouble is, once that beautifully elegant plan meets reality, it falls apart.”

Transformation projects involve a massively changing complex and dynamic system. Within that system, there is constant movement and flux – new hires, layoffs, people changing locations, new application releases, patches, changes in business leadership and priorities, external changes. Existing project management tools rely on manual updates that constantly lag behind what’s actually going on. Project managers make decisions based on what they think or hope is the existing state, when the objective reality can be quite different. There is no substitute for accurate, real-time data.

Using SysTrack as a Project Management Tool

SysTrack can be a huge help for transformation project managers leading migrations to Windows 10. SysTrack compliments existing project management tools and allows the project management team and company stakeholders to monitor and audit the project in real-time, making sure it’s tracking in the right direction. SysTrack allows the management team to see problems, often ahead of time, and gives them the real-time and analytical data to make rapid decisions and take corrective action, thus saving time and money.

Understanding how to migrate 50 users may be trivial. Understanding how to migrate 50,000 users in over 100 countries with multiple locations in each country is extremely difficult. Leading a migration with a cluttered application portfolio compounds the complexity and the risk.

In a recent post on the Lakeside blog, Dick Murphy provides a number of examples of how SysTrack can help with a Windows 10 migration. At the outset of a Windows 10 migration, project managers need to do a thorough discovery including a complete hardware inventory by user. This will help identify whether some users require a hardware refresh prior to migration. Because a completely refreshed desktop is typically a dependency for an image migration, they will also to need to know when these users have actually been refreshed.

Just as important as knowing that the application was launched by a user is the knowledge of knowing that the application was in-focus and actually being used versus running idly in the background. In addition, having an accurate application inventory by actual usage versus installed and/or idly running applications delivers a much deeper understanding of what applications are seldom used or not used. Tying this data to how many versions of each application are being used, versus those being maintained in an outdated application library, ultimately leads to rationalization and better support moving forward. Spending the time now to go through your application portfolio, and investing in a rationalization exercise with SysTrack will help to rapidly determine which applications should remain, or be replaced, rewritten or retired.

SysTrack Image Planner (IP) is a decision making engine that helps consolidate down to the optimal number of images. It can do that automatically but most teams will use a combination of IP recommendations and their own analysis. IP speeds the application rationalization process, and the resulting images with all of their associated software packages can be imported into SysTrack Transform or the tool of your choice.

SysTrack Image Planner
SysTrack Image Planner

Projects can then be created in SysTrack Transform. Projects are typically created around a use case: for example, the set of users using an image or a set of images. SysTrack allows the project manager to wait until the last minute to lock down users to a particular project. This allows for last minute changes where someone might change roles or move to a different location.

Transform monitors the readiness of images, software packages and users, and it automatically updates projects based on application and usage changes. For each of these, project management and stakeholders can monitor what’s planned, when each is ready for packaging, what’s in progress, and when packaging has been completed. Once users are ready, images can be created using Microsoft MDT, SCCM or 3rd party Image management tools and deployed. Once deployed SysTrack can monitor the applications usage tied to the users experience and also provide a health scoring. Transform manages the planning of delivery mechanisms for entitled applications. Delivery mechanisms are completely configurable and include Citrix XenApp, Microsoft SCCM and App-V and VMware ThinApp.

SysTrack Transform
SysTrack Transform

The SysTrack Transform Overview Dashboard above shows the status of all projects in a given program, a list of all the program’s project and the status of the various delivery mechanisms being used. You can drill down on each project and see an overview of that project, as well as see a wide range of up-to-date status reports that cover everything from the readiness of every user associated with the project to what applications have been retargeted.

Summary

Traditional project management approaches are not optimized for desktop transformation. Project plans fall apart as soon as they hit reality. Undertaking a Windows 10 migration, especially if the portfolio needs rationalization, can be particularly challenging. SysTrack complements existing project management tools by providing objective data, real-time updates, reports and visualizations of the critical path components needed for a successful migration. This enables better decisions and more accurate planning, while keeping the project on track, reducing cost and minimizing risk.

Microsoft Kits – Windows 10 Optimization and Data Center Modernization

With the launch of Windows 10 imminent, and the end of support for Windows Server 2003 official, we’ve launched two SysTrack Kits targeted at helping enterprise environments characterize and modernize their Windows desktops and servers. They each focus on different aspects of executing those transformational exercises as well as steady state monitoring for the EUC estate and data center.

Making Windows 10 a Painless Transition

First, the Windows 10 Kit comes along with the official launch of the Windows 10 Migration MarketPlace report. This provides two ways to explore your environment’s readiness for a move to a more modern EUC OS experience, and also has some interesting stats on current usage. It starts with an analysis of key information like your system fits with the core upgrade requirements and the current age of your existing hardware.

Windows 10 ReadinessThe Windows 10 Readiness Summary provides an overview of how many systems in the environment are ready for a migration at the moment.

Taking advantage of a targeted hardware refresh to avoid unnecessary over-expenditure can make the investment to update the enterprise computing environment much lower. It can also help expose where existing users may have difficulty with older hardware, helping to make the case that updating their devices can have a concrete impact and help increase their productivity.

Planning the EUC Software Portfolio

An OS migration also provides a great opportunity to rationalize the software portfolio in use in the environment. This begins by first taking a full inventory of all of the applications distributed throughout the environment, something that’s easily done in existing SysTrack tools. The next step then requires analysis of user interaction and demand for that software, and this is where Kits can provide easier ways of visualizing that data. In a previous post on motivations and strategy for Windows 10 Migrations the concept of using user interaction as a method of prioritizing what software is most key for the enterprise was discussed. The Windows 10 Optimization kit includes an application focus time planning dashboard that helps find the key applications in use enterprise wide.

Application Focus PlanningThe Application Focus Planning dashboard shows how many users are fully covered for their core application needs with a small set of key applications.

The key is finding packages that have the maximum impact, basically items that constitute the core of what most people use on a day-to-day basis. By finding the shortlist of key applications it’s possible to uncover users that can be easy and early migration targets, those “fully handled” with the core portfolio. Try the Application Focus Planning dashboard out for an example of how to use this day.

Understanding the Data Center

The second Windows modernization kit is based around understanding activity, configuration, and system demands in the data center. This includes things like enabled features and roles, SQL instance provisioning, IIS inventory, and even application connectivity requirements.

Application ConnectionsA summary of the application connections in the environment. 

There’s also a set of pre-configured inventory reports targeted at providing a thorough overview of all of the important characteristics of legacy systems.

DCM Reporting ContentThe DCM Kit contains a complete set of exportable inventory and provisioning reports.

Operational Management

Of course, after the migration it’s essential to accomplish two key goals: demonstrating the success of the modernization by showing the end user experience improvements and maintaining the service quality of the environment. With both kits there are several operational tracking dashboards that are intended to provide the insight to track user impacting problems.

Alarm BreakoutThis dashboard provides a live refreshing breakout of the active alarms on each system in a selected group.

Keep watching for more Kits updates. We’ve got even more coming soon, and we’ll keep you posted here.