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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

20161216: Managed Workstation Newsletter (December 2016)

Welcome to the semi-annual Managed Workstation service newsletter, which brings you valuable updates and information to help you make the most of our services.

This is usually semi-annual, but we’re late by 3 months this time around. Sorry!

New Capabilities and Improvements

Documentation reorganized and notable gaps filled: Over time our documentation lost its focus. So we’ve whipped it back into shape, so you can find what you need. In the future, we’ll be renaming the URL to our documentation to drop “Nebula”.

Lowered FY17 rates: Almost every Managed Workstation FY17 rate was lower when compared to FY16.

Service catalog support hours clarified: 3 sections in our service catalog entry have been updated to clarify for customers when Managed Workstation staff are available for different kinds of support:

To summarize: you can contact us at any time, we’re only available to respond to routine requests during normal university business hours, and we’ll respond to urgent and impactful service interruptions outside normal university business hours.

Transitions to enable focus and excellence: When it comes to IT support that we charge consulting rates for, we’ve tightened our focus on the core capabilities we can excel at. That means we’ve stopped providing some things that it makes little sense for us to continue providing. Reasons behind these decisions include that we aren’t the experts for that capability, our costs are too high to justify, or that the capability is best left managed locally. We believe all of these transitions are win-win–you get a better result by using a better solution, and we focus. Transitions since the last newsletter include:

Since we didn’t announce the last item, it’s worth saying a little more about that. We don’t provide the same set of management capabilities for Macs that we do for other OSes. So we stopped charging the MWS rate for Macs. At some point, we’d like to add those capabilities, but with current priorities, I suspect it will be a year before we can. In the meantime, we will continue to provide Mac support at consulting rates. Unlike other consulting situations, we don’t know what the initial state of the Mac is, which means we have to spend more orientation time, so the amount of time spent to do Mac support may be higher than for a managed workstation.

Installing Software:

How you install software changed from Run Advertised Programs to the Software Center.

Delete means delete:

We aligned the retention practices for MWS file services with the UW reference architecture so that deleted files do not persist in backups beyond 90 days.

Spotlights

Nebula2 domain end of life: We recently disabled all but a small handful of Nebula2 user accounts. We expect that by the end of December all Nebula2 user accounts can be disabled. This is a little later than we were planning, but is a significant milestone along our journey.

There is a hive of activity happening behind the scenes to prepare us to move workstations and the servers providing your services to the NETID domain. Some of the servers have silently been moved already, while others will move after we’ve moved workstations.

Speaking of moving workstations, in January, we’ll be contacting each department to schedule a time to migrate workstations. We are still targeting the beginning of April for shutting down the Nebula2 domain. The workstation migration will not break your access to what’s on your workstation and the activities related to it are mostly silent and automated. There is a reboot required, which is why we’ll be talking to you about scheduling. To prepare for the migration, a few workstations that have the “_” underscore character in their name will need to be renamed.

OS Support changes: Our OS lifecycle support document has been updated. Recent changes include:

  • Windows 8 moved to retirement
  • Windows 8.1 in containment with a strong recommendation to upgrade to Windows 10
  • Windows 10 1507 in containment (soon to retirement)

You may wonder what Windows 10 1507 is, and how you’d know whether you have that or not. In almost all cases, you shouldn’t need to know that detail–we’ll handle that. What you need to know is that we’ll upgrade old Windows 10 versions to the current supported version when necessary. An announcement with more details about Windows 10 upgrades is planned.

Version 1507 is the original release of Windows 10, and it is expected that Microsoft will drop its support for it in March 2017; Microsoft has released two versions since that original release. 

What’s Next

Our objectives for the next six months include:

  • Moving to NETID domain: This is our top priority in terms of improvements.
  • MWS Training room equipment refresh: The computers and equipment in our training room will be getting replaced with newer technology and the latest Windows 10 image.
  • Password Manager: We are working to purchase LastPass Enterprise licensing for Managed Workstation users. Using this software can improve your password management practices. We’ll share more when purchase is complete and we’re ready to roll it out. Note: at least two emails to every eligible user will be part of the roll out.
  • Migration from our H: drive to the central U: drive: We are exploring whether we can provide a seamless migration. This would result in a cost savings for many customers (U: drive provides first 30GB at no cost), would greatly simplify what UW-IT provides, and would resolve a persistent problem a small handful of users experience.
  • New hybrid Managed Workstation rate: We are exploring the viability of an offering that doesn’t include tier 2 services. A large potential customer is interested in this hybrid model and we suspect this kind of model may attract other customers.
    Note: all rates are essentially the (total costs)/(# using). So when the number using Managed Workstation increases, the rates fall for everyone. So our flexibility to potential new customers benefits your bottom line.
  • High security managed workstation offering: We continue work to develop this offering for those who have expressed an unmet need. Some of this work will also benefit the existing managed workstation offering via increased security settings and self-service benefits, e.g. we’ve been working on a group service based mechanism to manage local administrator privileges per managed workstation.
  • Windows File Services: We’ll update the server providing these services, transitioning to an offering that can handle confidential data with the ability to encrypt data at-rest by default.

Trends

Below are metrics across the Managed Workstation service. The takeaway statement following each graph compares metrics in the last 6 months to the prior 6 month period. For information specific to you or your department, the MyIT portal has more data: https://support.nebula.washington.edu/myIT/Default.aspx.

Operating System Versions

Takeaways: +70 Total Windows (3370 today), +1000 Windows 10 (~1560 total today), -180 Windows 8.1 (~260 total today), -700 Windows 7 (~1550 total today), +0 MacOS (~10 total today)

So Windows 10 adoption rate continues to be high.

VPN Use

Takeaways: -34 sessions on average (~21 sessions average with a peak of 53)

Network

Takeaways: +200 Public network (~2700 total today), +20 Private network (~570 total today)

We encourage customers to move to UW private networks; staying on the public network puts you at more risk. Contact us for help.

Nebula2 User Account Status

Takeaways: -5100 Enabled (~200 total today), +5000 Disabled (~9600 total today)

As noted elsewhere, Nebula2 user accounts are almost end of life.

Managed Workstation User Logons

Takeaways: -260 Active User (~1890 total today), -560 Nebula2 (~100 total today), +550 NETID (~2590 total today)

Active users is down, primarily because some folks are no longer using both a Nebula2 and NETID user account.

Support Requests

Takeaways: Support requests have increased by ~13%; 4708 requests resolved vs. 4166 in prior period.

Incidents

Takeaways: Incidents have increased by 379%; 277 incidents resolved vs. 73 in prior period.

Note: almost all of these incidents had the same parent incident and cause, namely the MWS file service issues we had this summer.

Your Feedback

Supporting your needs for Managed Workstation capabilities is our priority, so we welcome feedback on how we can make the Managed Workstation service more valuable to you. The nebula-announce and nebula-discuss mailing lists are good sources of information. We recommend that each customer have at least one individual join the nebula-announce mailing list. See https://www.washington.edu/itconnect/wares/nebula/contact-us/ for more on how to join.

You can voice your support for future objectives to help us rank priorities, ask for things that aren’t yet on our radar, or simply contact us via help@uw.edu.

Brian Arkills

Managed Workstation Service Owner

UW-IT