Tag Archives: asset management

End Users Are People Too

Companies are finding that the traditional approach of a four-year, one-size-fits-all technology refresh cycle no longer works for today’s tech-charged workforce. For some employees, that cycle is too long and limits their ability to be productive by keeping them from the latest hardware and applications that they’re accustomed to in their personal lives. Other workers are less demanding, and a refresh may arrive years too early for them, resulting in unnecessary system downtime and wasteful spending.

In theory, surveying employees about what technology they use and need to be most productive would result in harmonious unions between people and technologies. However, this ideal scenario breaks down pretty quickly when you consider the time it would take to process that feedback at the enterprise level. And, even if you could, does the user really know best? The average user isn’t going to be able to name every application they’ve interacted with, provide an unbiased portrayal of their system performance, or be willing to disclose their use of Shadow IT. Not to mention that people change job roles and leave companies frequently, which immediately nullifies the project of matching resources to those individuals.

Thankfully, there is a better approach that will allow you to make purchasing and provisioning decisions based on facts rather than user perception. While the basic concept behind this approach may sound familiar to you, the addition of collection and analysis of real user data makes all the difference between a time-intensive effort with minimal returns and an ongoing way of tailoring end-user experience improvements to employee workstyles.

A Personalized Approach to IT

Continuous user segmentation, also known as personas, is a way of grouping users based on their job roles, patterns, behaviors, and technology. Personas provide a meaningful lens for IT to understand what different types of users need to be productive, allowing IT to optimize assets accordingly.

Workspace analytics software for IT automates the segmentation process and continues to assess user characteristics and experiences to update groupings based on quantitative metrics. As a result, once persona groupings are defined, IT can focus on addressing the needs of different groups and let the software do the work of updating the populations within each persona. This functionality is key to any Digital Experience Monitoring strategy.

It Pays to Segment Users Right

Overlooking personas can lead to over- or under-provisioning assets to a job role. This can be costly to a company in several ways. Over-provisioning licenses can be wasteful of a company’s money while under-provisioning can become a nightmare for IT administrators. Under-provisioning encourages users to install their own applications and allows their user profiles to be personally optimized. However, all the miscellaneous applications can burden IT administrators with the multitude of unique problems for each user and application. Applications that users installed might also not be compatible with each other. Additionally, users may use applications not compatible within the workspace, disabling the ease of sharing files.

Optimizing assets for a company with the aid of personas can enable an increase in productivity. With the use of personas, job roles can be catered to uniquely, but with the provisioning remaining consistent. Each job role, based on real user data, can be provisioned unique licenses and applications that cater to their needs. This prevents users from feeling the need to install their own versions of missing applications, ultimately allowing IT administrators to limit any potential application or license errors.

Segmenting Users in Practice

Using common persona categories, a company may have deskbound users who are provisioned with expensive laptops when a desktop would do, or they may have knowledge workers with expensive i7 CPUs when a PC with an i5 or i3 makes more sense. We have also had customers report that they found that their power users needed to be refreshed every year because of the productivity improvement, while their task workers didn’t need a refresh for as long as five years.

Using personas to segment the end-user environment for a targeted refresh allows an enterprise to provide the right end-user device for a given end user based on their CPU consumption, critical application usage, network usage, and other key metrics. The benefits are numerous and include reduced cost, higher end-user productivity, better security, and a device custom-fit to the end user’s needs.

Learn more about Enterprise Personas

Software Asset Optimization with SysTrack

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Business Intelligence for Cost Savings in IT

One of the most expensive mistakes anyone can make in life is ignoring the details. Whether it’s that stack of parking tickets piling up on the dining room table or your crippling addiction to Steam sales, the possibility of being overwhelmed by the small costs in life is very real. Even worse is the fact that those expenses are difficult to keep track of by the very nature of how little attention they bring to themselves. When you get hit with massive, expected costs it’s easy to keep up because they hurt and there’s no ignoring it, but the slow bleed of a minor hit is easy to miss. Unfortunately, in real life and the IT world, these can be the items that topple everything when they build up (and lead to some serious finger pointing).

Luckily for IT (but not for your personal life, sorry), Lakeside Software has put some serious thought into how these individually small impacts can be automatically analyzed and used to predict areas of savings to take the manual effort away from managing costs to the business. Now Lakeside’s SysTrack software provides a quick, automated analysis of the current state of any environment to provide a summary of where savings can be realized. Through the use of the new SysTrack Business Intelligence Impact Report (part of the MarketPlace program), a detailed breakdown of utilization and potential savings target can be created with any assessment across numerous cost categories.

One of the principle cost drivers in any environment is underutilization of assets, both for physical hardware and licensed software. Identifying where software assets can be rationalized out of the environment or licenses can be reclaimed can make a huge impact on the operational budget available to an enterprise, and it can be extremely difficult to arrive at an accurate picture of what users actually depend on. SysTrack automatically captures the granular information necessary to observe utilization for software down to the individual usage of executables per user and dynamically determine what’s being used where and who’s using it. Similarly, identifying when and where a targeted hardware refresh can be used (or avoided) can prevent unnecessary expenditure and avoid extra costs associated with additional support needs. SysTrack collects the performance metrics and hardware details necessary to make clear recommendations about which systems are ready to retire and which can remain in place.

Decreasing the TCO of end-user devices is something that we’ve built numerous solutions around, and some knowledge on the subject of how to maximize the returns on your IT investments with SysTrack is available to cover the finer points of cost savings. Much of this is based around aggregating the end-user experience and assigning some real, quantitative value to the time that users lose due to shortcomings in the tools that are available to them. Categorized, actionable data on what areas of the infrastructure and the computing platforms in use in the environment are causing problems can drastically cut down on support costs while increasing end-user productivity and satisfaction.

Of course there are numerous other avenues for cost prevention or reduction as well, and SysTrack has an incredible amount of analytical power dedicated to automating the triage and presentation of potential problems that can help any environment save money and perform better. To explore the value of SysTrack visit our solutions page for some interesting use cases.