For many of my clients, the work of ensuring the health and compliance of the devices in their organization represents a significant portion of their daily IT task load. The sneaky problem with repetitive, low priority tasks is that they’re usually improperly executed – over and over again. The result is only about 85% of SCCM clients are healthy at any given moment.
SupTool can eliminate compliance fatigue and significantly improve performance and security across your organization while working in the background to maintain near 100% SCCM client health.
For those of you just hearing about it, SupTool is an advanced network monitoring service developed by UonCloud that layers on top of Configuration Manager. Described as an “agentless solution”, there is literally nothing for you to install, you simply sign-up and let the cloud-based solution perform its magic.
SupTool was designed to effortlessly generate reports that identify computer compliance from any existing management system (SCCM/WSUS/Group Policy). Once you’re on board, SupTool immediately and continuously begins collecting information directly from your computers and analyzes additional metadata from multiple sources, such as Active Directory and Configuration Manager.
Importantly, using a cloud-based service hosted in Microsoft Azure means you will not have to spend hours implementing another system that you will have to dedicate additional effort to maintain and support your data center.
Configuring SupTool requires minimal assistance because there are only a few technical requirements and the underlying engine performs most of the configuring on your behalf. When I ran my tests with SupTool, I was up and running within 20 minutes.
The true power of the SupTool monitoring system is that it can identify broken computer applications as well as missing Windows updates on end-user devices and automatically restore them. Afterward, the SupTool engine compares the information it collects against deployed Software Update groups and reports the real-time percentage of deployed vs. missing Windows updates.
This means that even if the SCCM client is broken or missing, SupTool can accurately measure your organization’s Windows patch compliance. Imagine the relief of knowing that the computers you’re responsible for are always healthy and compliant with company security configurations and patch compliance.
If you’ve had some experience managing an IT environment, you know that it’s easy for small details to be missed, which can lead to unexpected outcomes. For example, some computers fail to reboot for months at a time because they are not getting their policies to enforce reboots. Other computers might be receiving their Windows Updates from the wrong update source such as directly from Microsoft or your WSUS server rather than Configuration Manager. Also, it is possible that the device is properly managed, but it is targeted with an old patch list.
Those of you familiar with SCCM know that it also provides reporting utilities to gather data on unhealthy computers, but they take time and effort to set up and once the bad computers are identified it takes more time to build your own ways of remediating the issues.
SupTool was designed to automatically detect unexpected gaps in your end-user computers and clearly identify vulnerable computers, which in turn, can be automatically remediated.
SupTool seamlessly integrates with System Center Configuration Manager (and Configuration Manager Software Update Groups) to keep your primary endpoint management system working. Given that major Configuration Manager functionality relies on a functioning SCCM client on the end-user computer, ensuring that each SCCM client is working and healthy significantly increases your patch compliance and software distribution across the entire organization.
What sets SupTool apart from other products out there is its simplicity. After you provide UonCloud with some basic information about your network such as accounts to use to connect to your environment and the Configuration Manager server to connect to, it only takes 10 minutes to set up and you’re off and running!
This is great news for organizations struggling with the workload to manage their environment and want to focus on less repetitive, high-value tasks.
SupTool was built to reduce the number of daily tasks you have to perform and deliver improved visibility on your environment.
To put these savings into context, on average, it takes about 30 min. to triage and fix a machine that has a non-responsive or broken SCCM client. In my experience, approximately 15% of the computers in a typical organization have a problem with their SCCM client. So if you manage 100 computers, simply by deploying SupTool into your environment can save you an entire day’s worth of work.
Most of you reading this probably manage much larger environments with more computers (and more types of devices), which only compounds the problems and makes it harder to stay on top of compliance. That is unless you deploy SupTool because it doesn’t care how many devices you have, it will continuously monitor the state of your environment and work in the background to keep everything working.
There are so many great features that you will not find in any other system:
- Information on active and managed computers
- Statistics on Windows patch compliance
- Data on Antivirus software and status
- Details on fixed computer issues
- Track Windows 10 migration and progress
- Daily and weekly notification and alerts
- Deploy zero-day updates
- Download log files
- Reporting integration with Configuration Manager Software Update Groups
They’ve built a workflow engine under the hood to manage all the tasks, which brilliantly requires no further configuration once the tool is active. The workflow engine allows you to control the various automated fixes by simply enabling or disabling them through the portal.
They have built-in workflows designed to resolve health issues with end-user computers. As the system attempts to fix problems, if it encounters an issue that can’t be fixed in the first pass, it is escalated automatically and will attempt more invasive fixes to resolve the health issue.
SupTool’s primary workflows resolve:
- Stopped Services
- GPO issues
- SCCM Client health problems
- WMI issues
In essence, the core workflows of SupTool are purpose-built to restore a computer so that it can successfully communicate with your Configuration Manager and receive required Windows patches and Software updates.
In the event that a particular end-user computer can’t be fixed, it will be assigned for manual remediation. The result is that IT staff are immediately notified of serious problems so that they can intervene, while at the same time, they are attending to fewer, lower priority issues.
That’s a big win in my books and for those of you familiar with SupTool, they recently added some great new functionality:
- Integration with Software Update Groups in SCCM – allows SupTool to show customer patch compliance even if SCCM client is broken or missing on targeted computers.
- Notifications and Alerts – automatic email on actions that are executed on computers to restore their functionality, either an SCCM client reinstall or WMI repair.
- Windows 10 migration tracking report – summarizes OS information from AD and shows OS changes in the 90-day trend. Allows you to track migration progress if the same computer name is used for Windows 10.
- Access to Log files – download SCCM log files from anywhere (ccmsetup.log, ClientIDManagerStartup.log, WUAHandler.log, PolicyAgent.log) on problematic computers.
- Force WMI Repair – if the computer has problems with WMI, then there is an option to force WMI repair and track progress.
- Hardware Types – new reports that show you what kinds of computers (desktops, laptops, virtual machines) and models of computers are in your environment.
- Custom checks – we are working with customers to create custom checks to improve computer health and security. These checks could be to used to check some the state of some additional Windows services or even copy files to all copy files to all computers on the network.
SupTool is an excellent example of a SaaS product designed to solve a real problem and do it well. It is easily implemented and delivers value on day one. Reports automatically populate with actionable data such as machines currently being managed and machines with health issues. Though the historical reports, you can visualize changes to the overall health of your environment as SupTool does its work and your IT staff can focus on more complex issues, freed from having to work on simple problems.
In case your curiosity wasn’t already piqued, UonCloud also offers a free SCCM client health assessment (https://www.uoncloud.com/sign-up.html) that will determine how many computers are managed by Configuration Manager and then analyze their configuration. Once the assessment is complete, UonCloud will send you a report with their findings.