Lakeside SysTrack 9 asks the question: How is automation changing your helpdesk?

Lakeside is building on their analytics and AI strategy with more reactive and proactive monitoring and healing capabilities in Lakeside SysTrack 9, which is new and GA today.

We’ve been following Lakeside Software’s monitoring products for years, and the trend recently has been towards more analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities.

For example, last year at VMworld we covered Lakeside SysTrack 8.4 with AIOps, which used AI to correlate different events. Plus, there are other existing features, like Resolve (which compares processes on misbehaving machines with known good machines), Community (benchmarking), Security Visualizer (alerts), and Surveys.

Today, Lakeside is introducing SysTrack 9.0 (bucking their usual trend of timing big releases at VMworld), and I talked to CEO Mike Schumacher to learn all about it. The on-premises version of SysTrack 9.0 is generally available today, and the Cloud edition will be GA on July 29.

New features in Lakeside SysTrack 9

SysTrack 9 builds on the analytics strategy, and brings in new automation features. The bigger theme is around automating your helpdesk, but first, here’s what caught my eye.

SysTrack Self Help: This actually surfaces potential fixes directly to end users. Obviously, you have to keep it pretty simple, but it could be something like “Your machine is slow, so try closing some of the 50 Chrome tabs you have open” or “You’re running out of space, and you your recycle bin is huge, so try emptying that.” These are surfaced from the SysTrack app in the system tray, which also has other cool things like end user-facing surveys. (I think we did a video about this at BriForum or VMworld one year, and Brian and Gabe were excited, but I can’t seem to find it.) Now, it can also proactively tell users about issues, like “IT is aware of this issue and working to resolve it, so don’t bother filing a ticket.”

SysTrack Assisted Heal: The helpdesk can kick off a script to fix issues. Lakeside built lot of governance features around these scripts and actions. There are also a lot of updates for SysTrack Resolve to help surface diagnostic information and these scripts, and Mike also told me that Resolve runs faster now.

SysTrack Mass Heal: This is pretty self-explanatory: an admin can run a script on a bunch of machines that have the same problem.

SysTrack Auto Heal: This takes the steps above and automates them based on monitored metrics. It’s easy to see why building a strong governance model was a really important part of SysTrack 9.

For AIOps, which we looked at last year at VMworld, SysTrack 9 has a bunch of new features under the umbrella of Advanced Analytics. For example, there’s an anomaly trend detection dashboard, a dashboard for root cause analysis, and a dashboard to analyse the effect of changes. For years, Gabe wrote that SysTrack was great at figuring out new things to do with all the data they collect, and clearly they’ve done it again. 

The infrastructure for SysTrack has also been updated. Everything is fully stateless, so you can scale it just by adding more servers. And all the communication uses TLS over port 443, so you don’t need any other ports open anymore.

Last (but certainly not least in my book!), SysTrack has an Android agent now. This will be great for kiosks, ruggedized devices, and the like.

Has helpdesk automation arrived?

In the desktop and VDI world, automated remediation based on monitoring platforms is clearly a thing now (look at ControlUp for another recent example), part of a larger automation trend.

I like the sound of this, with the caveat that I don’t write about helpdesk and support processes that often (except for when I wrote about how MDM could potentially save a lot of time with basic mobile helpdesk tasks). But since SysTrack 9 is bringing these questions to light, I wanted to ask some open questions about how automation is affecting your helpdesk.

So far, I haven’t been hearing too many anecdotes one way or another (or it could just be that the EMM and desktop virtualization circles I travel in are different from the frontline helpdesk world), but over all, I’m curious: Have you automated any of these types of desktop helpdesk tasks? If not, do you plan to? Do you “trust” automated remediation on desktops? After all, we spent years talking about how desktops are way more unpredictable than servers. If you have started these types of automations, have they gotten to the point where they’re freeing up personnel to work on other tasks?

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