With Windows 10 updates slowing down to once a year and going end-of-life in 2025 plus Windows 11 being in full swing with it already taking ten percent of the market share since its launch, adapting to the Modern Desktop world is more important than ever. That is why we are constantly adding functionality and upgrading our product lineup so that you can continue to seamlessly automate your IT tasks, such as migrating to a new/updated OS, fixing issues, etc.
Access Symphony has been upgraded to not only gather more information than ever before, but weave that data throughout an organization to provide insight into its users’ needs.
For every single machine in an organization, Access Symphony can database the payload of every application, whether it is an MSI, EXE, or other formats that are installed. From there, Symphony will look at each executable process that is running and map that executable back to the payload.
For instance, when our agent finds BLPmain.exe, it will map it back to the Bloomberg app, as well as which version is running and how many machines it exists on. The agent will also record how often the users, as a group and individually, open the app (daily, weekly, never) to get a true gauge for the usage of the app.
Not only can this tell us if we have too many or too few licenses, but also if there are users who should be utilizing this product but aren’t.
Symphony can also detect open source and 3rd party libraries, which besides the cataloging function, is extremely useful from a cybersecurity/risk analysis viewpoint. For example, when an exploit becomes known, like the Log4j issue, which most enterprises are affected by.
Another way we have improved Symphony is by expanding the agent’s ability to collect pertinent data regarding your employees’ internet use. Symphony detects and collects website history across all browsers such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox, IE 10, 11, etc. Symphony can catalog any website a user has either clicked on or navigated through and can document historic web usage based on frequency — daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
With this data, your organization can determine if your employees were on internal or external sites, streaming services, or other sites that they shouldn’t be on, how frequently they were on, and how long they were on.
Another advantage to this data is that it allows you to see which browser(s) are being used most often. Has there been a directive to use Edge but IE11 is still being utilized? The reason could be as simple as not updating a desktop icon, but no matter the reason, the issue needs to be discovered and fixed so that everyone is using an approved browser with the latest in security features.
Application Performance & Process Performance
Similar to app usage, application performance and process performance measure the impact of an application while cataloging its use. Every time an app is launched, the date and timestamp are recorded to see how often that app is used and when it is used (i.e., only in the mornings, only at the end of the month, etc.).
Also recorded is the effect an application has on the processes of the machine. Is it leaking memory? Is it spiking the CPU? How long is the start-up time? Each application can be gauged based on how it affects the device it is on. This information could be used to compare applications with similar functionality, like time tracking software, to see which one causes the least amount of drain on resources.
Machine Performance & Benchmarking
Machine performance entails looking at how the device reacts to and handles all the applications that it runs on an hourly, daily, monthly, etc., basis. Our agent looks at items like the actual memory being consumed, the amount of time that has passed since the last reboot, and/or the CPU usage based on the app(s) being used. Based on this collection of existing physical attributes, we can determine if this is the right machine for the right person.
All of this collected data enables Symphony to create a machine benchmark by way of score reporting. This allows for the shuffling of current machines so that the needs of employees are met. This determination is important for t-shirt sizing, which we describe below.
While Symphony is collecting all this data, it is also recording the asset information, i.e., make, model, amount of RAM, etc. This information on the asset estate of an enterprise is essential when it comes time to implement new apps, do a hardware refresh, or begin IT migration projects — like upgrading to Windows 11 — for which the hardware must meet certain requirements (i.e., TPM version) to be eligible.
Much like the asset inventory, the software inventory catalogs data about the software not only by utilizing existing services such as SCCM and Intune, but also by searching for MSIs, MSIXs, EXEs, etc. Symphony records data such as manufacturer name, app name, app version, etc.
An often overlooked issue when updating to the latest apps, OS versions, and hardware is the fact that users’ personalized settings aren’t valued until they aren’t there. When simple things such as Outlook signatures, drive mappings, IE/Edge favorites and history are carried over to the new machine/VDI, they make the transition experience a positive one for the user.
If these personalization settings and data are not carried over, a bottleneck can occur as the employees attempt to do some of the work themselves (not always correctly) or create help desk tickets, clogging up an already overburdened department.
With so many machines and users in any department of an enterprise, it is easy for things to become jumbled and lost. That is why Symphony can also track who is logging into each machine. For instance, if the listed owner of a machine is barely logging into it, but their developer is logging in all the time, wouldn’t you want to know why? Is this developer internal or a third-party? How much time does the developer spend logged in?
Even when the user logging in is the registered owner of that device, how often are they logging in? For how long? Is it at the proper start time or two hours later? Are they logging out too early?
User T-shirt Sizing
By gathering all of the data mentioned above, Symphony generates a score for both the machine and the user, and the score is used by the organization to determine how they should move the user forward onto a modern desktop. Is this user able to move to VDI? How powerful (i.e., which t-shirt size) does their VDI need to be — low, medium, or high spec? For employees that need a new device, can their old one be shuffled to a different employee?
All of this data is taken into consideration so that when a user is moved onto a Modern Desktop experience, there is no loss of performance. Instead, the experience is either as good as before the move or even better.
Access Symphony collects millions upon millions of rows of data — ranging from how much memory and CPU is being used by apps and machines to user mapping and favorites — and it creates scoring algorithms based on your IT landscape and users. With all of this collected data and the scores that are generated, an organization is better equipped to choose their path forward to a Modern Desktop. This Modern Desktop will not only be safer from cyber attacks than ever before, but it will also allow users to have a positive experience, which will lead to more efficient and less distracted workers.