Above: Skybox's Software Audit view tab showing a % view of MS Office versions, filtered by CPU architecture. Useful!
Not long ago we had a customer come to us asking if FastTrack could solve a particular problem. A large organisation, it had offices spread around the UK, all connected and tied into Active Directory. The IT manager was able to set up and solve his main IT headache (will cover that peach in a different FastTrack Fix item!) however, after he'd deployed FastTrack on about 20 PCs in his office, all of a sudden some users started reporting strange FastTrack login errors. Annoyingly these errors were not reliable. Any IT person knows that if you are going to have a problem, at least make it a reliable problem!
The issue 'symptom' would occur apparently randomly on boot and login. So user would boot up, and would get a login error, meaning none of their printers or network drives would be mapped. They would log out, and then log back in, log in script would run fine. The next day, they would boot their PC, and again fine. After lunch, they log back in, and the error was back.
The only thing consistent about the problem, was that it only occurred on particular PCs. However there was nothing obviously 'particular' about the PCs which exhibited the problem and those that didn't. Same hardware. Same networking. Same office. Same O/S.
Wanting to help the customer get to the bottom of the problem, our first reflex reaction was to get WireShark out and start looking at what was going on. This is not easy however, on a large 'unknown' network, to get a good feel of what is going on quickly. Certainly we found a load of DNS issues, these were all sorted however the login problems did not go away.
Then we had a bit of a brain wave. Determined to discover the 'difference factor' between working PCs and PCs with login problems, we asked the customer to deploy FastTracks SkyBox audit functionality. This would allow us to round up all the working PCs, and examine their make up in detail, and compare these to the none working PCs. Perhaps we would find the one thing which was the root of this issue. As FastTrack handles software deployment also, the IT manager as actually able to install the Skybox client automatically without users knowing. In no time at all, we had a good sample of PCs to look at.
It didn't take long for SkyBox to reveal that all the problem PCs had one software package installed in common, which was not installed on any of the working systems. It was a TAPI based telephony product, un-authorised by IT, which was attempting to log the user into to a now non existent phone server. For some reason doing this interfered with the network login process, and therefore caused the intermittent the FastTrack login errors.
The funny thing is that the customer wasn't even aware that FastTracks Skybox functionality was included in the Enterprise Edition they had purchased. It ended up solving a network problem that had been plaguing them for months.
In addition to helping you keep on top of 'what' is running on your office PCs, SkyBox gives you a full inventory on each PC itself. As you can see in the image below, you get a QR code useful for asset management, Teamviewer and Remote Desktop links, and geographical location too!
If you would like to download FastTrack yourself to take a free trial please click on the download link below!
Above: SkyBox PC Inventory view, showing computer information, user, system, hardware, geographic, operating system info and more.