One of our customers stated their application reporting needs were simple: ”I just want to know who is using what application, and for how long.” The request is more complicated than it looks, and a lot more difficult to answer than it appears on the surface. The application deployment and licensing models and how the reporting tool gets its information determine the application subset and the degree of specificity to which this question can be answered.
Let’s break the question into component parts. We’ll dig deeper into the issues with each question in subsequent posts.
- Who is the user?
Let’s call the user Mary. We need to locate Mary. We most likely know who she is from the corporate directory, but first we need to associate Mary to the application. We may be able to get this associating information by monitoring: Mary’s workstation to get her login information, the network traffic going to and from her workstation/device, or perhaps the application Mary was using provides the information. Once we know who Mary is for this report, we’ll also want to know some attribute information to put context to “who” she is, such as her title, the task she is working on, the group she’s with, where is she when she’s using the application, etc.
- What is the application?
Let’s call the application Autodesk’s Revit. To know what the application is, we need to know how where and when the application is running. We probably will also want to know the license type and license delivery model. Is it a standalone application? Does it have a desktop executable with a license deployed from a license server, or from the cloud? Is it running in the browser? Attribute information we’d probably want to have available for desktop applications might be versions such as basic, standard, or professional, etc. Application versions may also be licensed by year, e.g. Autodesk Revit 2014 or 2016. Lastly, we might want to know what patch level the application is at if the reporting question concerns support. When we are reporting on use, we also need to define whether we are reporting on the application or the license.
- For how long?
To answer this, we need to know when the application or license started being used on a given day and for which session. What was the use behavior - did the user minimize the window and then re-open it or log out and later relaunch the application? Most users don’t work in just one application at a time – they bounce between applications. The user might simply be gathering information to support work in the primary application – how long do we assume this lookup activity might take before we assume the user is truly not using an application?
If the report is to track usage for project or chargeback reimbursement, then “how long” might be the summary of actual application use time across one or more application sessions. If the report is for concurrency, we might want to see if Mary was actively using the license, or if it was parked and inactive (and thus unavailable for someone else). We might also want to see who has checked out a license but not returned it at the end of the day. “How long” might refer to any inactive licenses between 5:30 and 6:00 pm.
In our next post, we’ll look more at the difficulties in identifying the user.
At Cetrus, we believe we can capture more of the “who, what and for how long” information by monitoring at the device level. If you’re interested in learning more, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to explain the ways we can help.