Jul 21, 2016 Thomas McGrath

Developing Software Intelligence

Developing Software Intelligence

Thomas McGrath: Hi Susan. Tell us about the origins of 1E’s latest free tool, Software Intelligence?

Susan Trapp: The original idea for Software Intelligence came out of a strategy forum, which was a series of workshops in April 2015. The idea was that we would create a useful, premium product that could give insight into where people could make savings throughout the software automation lifecycle.

The idea is it’s for potential customers to pick up and use to see A: where they’ve got problems in their software lifecycle management, and, B: where 1E can help.

Somebody had already written some SQL queries that would pull information out of Configuration Manager about the frequency that people were updating their patches and various other security concerns which made them vulnerable to cyber-attack.

We re-purposed these, adding more attractive dashboard designs (which also made it much easier to use), and some additional information on software usage – as well as how much money they could save by reclaiming unused software –  too. More recently we’ve added a Windows 10 Readiness dashboard.

How has the Software Intelligence tool evolved since it was first launched?

It was always intended that it would be upgraded from time to time. This was the plan, that we would release dashboards as we created them, and we would just add to it.

We had a revamp in May, and now we’ve just released an additional function, which is a printing function. The information on the dashboards are the same, but it just formats it for printing or PDF creation.

Now we’re working on another revamp on the design, so the third revamp, but we will be adding more information into some of the dashboards, things that tell a better story to the customers.

What’s the aim of the distinct dashboards?

Each of the dashboards has a slightly different target audience. For example, the Windows 10 Readiness is aimed at someone whose job it would be to implement migration to Windows 10, be that an IT manager, an end-user computer manager, and so forth.

The software usage function would be aimed at the SAM manager, someone whose job it is to manage software assets and manage the budget. The security dashboard, again, is probably aimed at a computer manager, someone responsible for ensuring the environment is secure and that individual machines are not exposed to an attack.

It sounds like such crucial information. Why don’t vendors themselves make it available, do you think?

What 1E is particularly good at is looking at a mass of information and interpreting it, and concluding that all this information is telling us such and such. 1E is very good at providing an analysis of masses of data held in the Configuration Manager database. A lot of organisations don’t provide particularly good reporting on Configuration Manager.

Tell us a bit more about the development of the Windows 10 Readiness dashboard?

Some of our Configuration Manager experts – including Dave Fuller and Troy Martin –  specified some queries we need to run, and we took those and built them into a dashboard design, looked at what information would be useful and could be pulled out to tell customers what their current state is and how much work would be involved to do the migration.

And what is Windows 10 Readiness all about? How do people need to be prepared and what does the tool tell them?

As a starting point, we look at which operating systems are installed across the organization.  This gives a good overview of the current state, and starts to define the potential upgrade paths.  Next we delve deeper into these upgrade paths to look at the methods required to reach ‘secure’ Windows 10.

For many organizations, the appeal of Windows 10 comes from the new security features available, such as Secure Boot, Credential Guard and Device Guard.  What most organizations don’t realize, however, is that devices must meet certain requirements to be able to run these features, and in most cases the machine will need to be rebuilt to meet these requirements.  We therefore examine the organization’s estate to see how many devices will require a ‘wipe-and-load’ approach, which will have a massive impact on the time it takes to complete the upgrade.

Finally, we then use data from hundreds of customer installations to provide an indication of the time it will take to complete the migration using SCCM, and how much time can be saved by enhancing SCCM with 1E’s solutions.