Ever since the introduction of Microsoft's Windows Analytics service, Microsoft has been working hard to convince enterprise IT admins to manage their Windows 10 migration and later service upgrades using this free service. But while the idea sounds appealing (and who doesn't like a free lunch), there are many questions and concerns IT admins have, such as:
- Will Upgrade Readiness give me the level of information I need, in the way I need it, to make an informed decision?
- How can I best leverage insights from Upgrade Readiness to fuel my automated scheduling and rollout?
- Is this data suitable for other stakeholders and business unit managers to offer sufficient transparency?
These are just three of many questions we often hear from our customers, and today I am thrilled to announce that Juriba is announcing a new Dashworks Connector for Upgrade Readiness.
By using this robust Dashworks data connector, you can now:
- Integrate and manipulate the data easily without having to hire a partner to custom rig something up for you,
- Use Upgrade Readiness to augment existing data to have the best insights into your IT transformation process,
and much more. So let's have a closer look.
What Is Windows Analytics & Upgrade Readiness
Windows Analytics serves as the umbrella term for three separate services, Upgrade Readiness, Update Compliance and Device Heath, and is only available to customers with Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education licensing.
Screenshot: Upgrade Analytics Readiness Dashboard
While Update Compliance and Device Health only harvest data from Windows 10 machines for analysis, Upgrade Readiness also gathers computer, application, and driver data from Windows editions other than Windows 10, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This data is then used to pinpoint potential compatibility issues known to Microsoft when performing an upgrade. It can also be used to identify the Windows 10 version impact for an upcoming feature upgrade.
Screenshot: Upgrade Analytics Application Categorization
Microsoft has put a lot of effort, money, and time into Windows Analytics by investing in man power as well as marketing efforts to ensure that its long-term Windows-as-a-Service strategy can take root. Skyrocketing IT complexity, resulting compatibility issues and their impact on application readiness are proving to be a massive obstacle in establishing a much faster cadence of Windows 10 updates. Providing free Windows Analytics services, Upgrade Readiness in particular, is Microsoft's way of helping large organizations manage this required velocity.
But Upgrade Readiness isn't for everyone. For starters, all the data is hosted in the cloud in Azure Log Analytics, which some organizations are not comfortable with. In addition, the solution only contains raw hardware and software inventory and cannot provide organizational views on the data, making it more suitable as a 'layer' of additional data than a complete upgrade command and control solution.
Custom Reports & Alerts Require Specialized Azure Log Analytics Expertise
Recently published Microsoft documentation (in draft form) illustrates how Microsoft employees or specialized Microsoft partners can create "specialized reports and build custom alerts from Windows Analytics' data, and integrate its data with other information for more in-depth analysis". This insight is generated by leveraging telemetry data from Enterprise or Education SKU devices running, for example, on Windows 10 Education or Windows 7 Enterprise.
However, since the Upgrade Readiness data is stored in Azure Log Analytics, one must have extensive knowledge of the underlying Analytics data schema in order to use the APIs to retrieve the data and customize reports and alerts, The documentation also comes with another disclaimer: "This [data] schema is subject to change as breaking changes will be introduced in the next year, so any queries you create will need to be forward ported at that time".
Managing Your Evergreen IT & WaaS Strategy With Dashworks
As you might know, Juriba has been one of the first to introduce a seamless and efficient project management approach to managing Windows-as-a-Service in enterprises: Evergreen IT. As a former Technology Infrastructure executive responsible for massive IT Transformations, I can relate to the frustrations and struggles this new velocity of change brings — but I also believe that keeping up-to-date with Windows-as-a-Service is the safest and most productive strategy for enterprises.
Because of that belief, Juriba has been working with Microsoft on a joint integration strategy for Microsoft's Upgrade Readiness and Juriba's IT Transformation management platform, Dashworks, since the initial beta. Over the past nine months, Juriba has actively been consuming Upgrade Readiness data in multiple beta customers representing over 400,000 seats.
While at first glance both products might seem like they overlap, they actually are complementing each other.
Upgrade Readiness brings the richness of enterprise-grade telemetry data harvested from hundreds of thousands or even millions of devices. Essentially, organizations gain access to telemetry data, such as full application information (including compatibility and usage data) and limited hardware information, based on a worldwide data analysis. It is important to understand that it will not provide user-related information. It also has limited functionality, its custom reports and alerts require specialized Microsoft or partner knowledge to rig together, and it does not help you automate your migration scheduling, communications or rollout management.
Dashworks, on the other hand, can consume Upgrade Readiness data, augment it with other existing data, and make it much more accessible to you and your organization. In addition, it gives you full project control and so much more.
[For a full side-by-side comparison, read our Upgrade Readiness vs Juriba Dashworks comparison blog post and refer to our Evergreen IT product section.]
Introducing The Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector
Since the very beginning, our customers have asked us how they can leverage the Upgrade Readiness data while managing their transformation with Dashworks. Until now, this required custom work through our Services team. But now, customers can use a special data connector, called the Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector, which is a set of scripts designed to consume Upgrade Readiness data for your organization on a scheduled refresh from the Microsoft cloud.
It comes with three data options:
- Upgrade Readiness for all available hardware and software data (hardware detail is limited within UR)
- Native Dashworks SCCM for Hardware and Upgrade Readiness for Software
- Native Dashworks SCCM for Hardware and Software with Upgrade Readiness compatibility and usage layered on
With the new Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector, you now:
- Can add all other Upgrade Readiness data to Dashworks application objects (impact, prioritization, type, etc.).
- Have the option to let the connector automatically set the application compatibility status based on the ‘Upgrade Assessment’ rating in Upgrade Readiness.
- Can combine this data to show user, location and business unit compatibility in a full Dashworks implementation.
- Can use this data to scope and form a project to onboard the assets into, and get them ready and scheduled for their upgrade. The upgrade itself is then triggered via SCCM or other desktop management mechanisms.
Here are some screenshots:
Screenshot: Upgrade Readiness - Data In Dashworks (Drivers)
Screenshot: Upgrade Readiness - Data In Dashworks (Computer Information)
Screenshot: Upgrade Readiness Data in Dashworks (Device Application & Driver List)
Screenshot: Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector - Application Project Readiness
Screenshot: Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector - Application Information
Screenshot: Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness - Data In Dashworks (Incompatible Driver Distribution)
Next Steps & Outlook
To sum it all up, we are thrilled to release this new connector as it not only further solidifies our partnership with Microsoft, but even more importantly, solves a huge customer pain point! We intend to keep this data connector in permanent development, so you don't have to worry about changing data schemas or custom developing any further updates. In addition, we are looking forward to including data from both Device Health as well as Performance Analytics in the near term future.
The Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector is available now to all customers with a valid maintenance and support agreement. If you would like to see the Dashworks Windows Analytics Upgrade Readiness Connector in action, please feel free to contact me or our sales team to schedule a demo.