With thousands of people now working from home for the first time due to the coronavirus, many IT teams are under immense pressure to keep the business running. In addition to providing the right tools for remote work, ongoing performance monitoring and end-user experience analysis will be essential for enabling productivity.
Here's a summary of what we'll cover in this post:
- Considerations for remote monitoring and management
- Benefits of using a cloud-hosted solution to support remote workers
- An overview of the SysTrack Remote Work Performance Monitoring Kit
- Other ways SysTrack can help support your remote workforce
- How to get started with a free trial of SysTrack
Last week, Lakeside announced free access to our digital experience monitoring solution, SysTrack, to aid organizations planning for a large-scale shift to work-from-home. However, with the pace of the virus’s progression, we recognize that many organizations have already been forced to make this shift, ready or not.
So, it’s time to focus on what comes next. And for IT that means adapting tools and processes to support employees’ technology needs through these unprecedented times.
To help, Lakeside has released additional dashboards and training materials to support those leveraging our free trial or existing SysTrack instances. For those currently using the free Remote Work Planning offer, this content will automatically appear in a new tab within your tenant. Existing customers can download the Remote Work Performance Monitoring Kit within SysTrack Kits. These dashboards highlight which areas of SysTrack contain information relevant to supporting remote workers and provide high-level analysis for immediate insight.
We recently held a webinar covering how to use these new resources. The recording is available below for on-demand viewing.
How to Monitor and Support Remote Work with SysTrack
Remote Monitoring and Management Considerations
A sudden shift to fully remote IT support presents new challenges to many IT teams and end users. Employees are used to being able to receive in-person support if needed and some IT tasks may need to be done remotely for the first time. Many are experiencing the challenges of social distancing and being homebound as well. By monitoring the endpoint, IT teams can help ensure that staff doesn't get lost in the noise without access or ability to use their system.
As employees experience their first days and weeks of remote working, we are already hearing from customers using SysTrack to diagnose the root cause of problems. For one software client, an immediate roadblock for users was “slowness.” While users suspected their virtual desktops were the culprit, the IT team investigated the problem with SysTrack and discovered that it was the connecting users’ latency that was the issue, not the VDI service. The visibility provided by SysTrack prevented the team from wasting time pursuing a non-issue and allowed them to focus their efforts on taking meaningful actions to address true productivity impacts.
Latency is one key consideration when providing IT support to remote workers. Other areas to evaluate with remote monitoring and management tools include:
- Where are the bottlenecks?
- Is the VPN oversaturated?
- Are users accessing secure connections?
- Critical apps
- Are communication tools, such as Microsoft Teams, providing reliable service?
- What is Office 365 usage like? Are there performance problems such as faults or high latency?
- End-user experience
- What quality of end-user experience are users receiving?
- How does experience vary by group?
- Is experience improving or declining over time?
- Are users feeling comfortable and accounted for now that they’re working from home?
- General troubleshooting
- When a user calls or submits a ticket, how can IT diagnose the problem remotely without disrupting the user?
- What are the top performance impacts and negative conditions affecting a given system and why?
This video provides an example walkthrough of how to diagnose the root cause of a common application performance issue for a remote worker:
Benefits of Leveraging a Cloud-Hosted Solution
If you don't already have a solution in place for monitoring remote endpoints, you may want to consider deploying one that is hosted in the cloud.
- No data center infrastructure during your lockdown period
- Instant start-up – measured in minutes
- Highly scalable from 100 – 50,000 systems
- No dev-ops staff needed (or related training) to keep it running
- Works with endpoints that are not domain-joined (like an employee’s home computer)
Remote Work Performance Monitoring Kit Overview
SysTrack Kits are customized sets of dashboards and/or reports tailored to a specific use case. The SysTrack Remote Work Performance Monitoring Kit is designed to help IT address key areas of concern for remote workers, including the considerations outlined above.
At a high level, the Remote Work Performance Monitoring Kit provides the following:
- Application latency service mapping – This dashboard provides a group-based summary of application dependencies organized by domain and subnet to help trace potential issues with routing or latency.
- Application network performance overview – This dashboard summarizes application network consumption and performance for a selected group of devices. This can help illustrate potential sources of high bandwidth usage that may be problematic in scenarios with limited connectivity.
- Asset management and location summary – This dashboard summarizes the location of devices (using egress IP detection) with some asset details. This can help keep track of the physical location of distributed devices.
- End-user experience trend by group – This dashboard provides visibility into the health trend over the past 30 days with a focus on providing an analysis of the key impact sources over that period. Selection of an individual day will provide a review of user experience impacts for systems on that day.
- Executive group comparison – This dashboard provides a quick, group-based summary of user experience and performance for devices.
- Office 365 application performance overview – This dashboard provides an overview of Office suite usage and performance characteristics for the enterprise. Note that this dashboard does not require connection to the Office 365 API.
- Target application network performance – This dashboard identifies application network consumption and performance for a selected application for a group of devices. This can help illustrate potential sources of high bandwidth usage that may be problematic in scenarios with limited connectivity.
- Work-from-home performance impact – Compare performance across multiple systems before and during remote work.
- Workforce connectivity habits – This dashboard summarizes the security characteristics of connections made by a selected group of devices.
Other Areas Where SysTrack Helps Support a Remote Workforce
Technology Partnerships and Integrations
From determining what devices are suitable for which users to deploying VDI and DaaS, SysTrack enables your IT team to make the best decisions for your business and employees. Through partnerships with leading end-user computing vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, IGEL, and more, SysTrack supplies the visibility and insights needed to reduce IT costs and improve productivity.
"Managing and securing endpoints which are being used by remote workers introduces new challenges for IT as they continue to provide updates, security patches and ensure users can be productive. SysTrack provides complete endpoint visibility and measures user experience regardless of how the desktop and applications are deployed. To overcome challenges with limited bandwidth, out of date operating systems, constant Windows updates and security patches, many organizations are utilizing or scaling out their VDI and DaaS environments to rapidly deploy secure, performing desktops and applications to remote employees. To complement, accelerate, and secure the VDI/DaaS deployment, the IGEL UD Pocket can be utilized to turn any x86 device into a fully functional, secure and managed endpoint specifically designed to connect to any cloud workspace or web-based applications. Utilizing a secure, read-only IGEL OS, the UD Pocket comes with the SysTrack agent built into the operating system, further providing complete end-to-end visibility.” – Simon Townsend, IGEL CMO
Remote User Feedback
The subjective elements of working from home can be interesting to understand in addition to the quantitative elements that SysTrack will provide full details on. Making sure your end users are feeling comfortable and accounted for can be helpful, and SysTrack can make use of scheduled user engagement to ask relevant questions about performance and applications when conditions are observed that may impact an end user.
How to Get Started with Remote Work Performance Monitoring
Visit our remote work page to get started with our free solution, which is cloud-hosted and requires minimal set-up with no additional infrastructure components. SysTrack scales seamlessly and is used by customers to support remote environments from a few endpoints to tens of thousands of endpoints.
Visit the remote work planning and performance monitoring page to get started.
Heather Bicknell is the product marketing manager at Lakeside and host of the Lifeguard IT podcast.