A Day in the Life of ControlUp Edge DX

What is ControlUp Edge DX? In short, Edge DX a new piece of the ControlUp Digital Employee Experience management platform that makes it possible for IT to monitor, troubleshoot, remediate, and analyze Windows-, MacOS-, Linux-, and IGEL OS-based endpoints that may or may not be attached to a corporation’s network and domain. 

To give you a better sense of what it’s like to use ControlUp Edge DX, let’s look at  “a day in the life of a desktop administrator using Edge DX.” You’ll be able to see the power of Edge DX’s metric gathering, alerting, scripting, and reporting and how these can make admins more productive and efficient, freeing up their most valuable resource: their time, so they can accomplish other tasks.

Before we get into that, however, let’s address the elephants in the room, shall we? The first two questions any administrator will have before installing any new application on a device: 

  • How secure is it? 
  • What resources will it require? 

To the first point, the architecture of ControlUp Edge DX makes it secure, as it delivers data over a standard outbound https connection, using port 443; if the web browser can access <tenant_name>. sip.controlup.com, the product should be good to go and no other ports will be to opened or firewalls rules will need to be modified. All the data transmitted over the internet uses TLS to ensure that it can’t be intercepted. Further, the agent runs in user, rather than kernel, mode, so it can’t cause a system to black-screen or cause the other undesirable effects a kernel-based agent can. 

On the cloud side, since Edge DX is a SaaS application, all data storage and computation is handled via public cloud, no infrastructure is required by its customers.

The Edge DX agent is lightweight and its support infrastructure is handled by ControlUp. In a recent blog, I noted that the agent uses less than 1% of the CPU and has a memory footprint of 46MB with barely noticeable network usage and zero impact on common Office and workstation applications.

Performance Issues

A common scenario that a desktop administrator faces is that an end user reports that their performance is unacceptable and would like to know why. If the user makes this inquiry as it is happening, Edge DX can help significantly by allowing the administrator to view its analytics reports. The dashboard graphs make it easy to identify which resources are being taxed, and then the graphs can provide deeper insight into which processes are consuming those resources.

Not all issues are reported in real time, but administrators can use Edge DX’s historical data and forensic capabilities to pinpoint the reason, out of myriad possibilities, for performance issues. This includes not only common performance metrics, but also those that affect remote users, such poor Wi-Fi connections.

To test out Edge DX’s investigative capabilities, I wanted to look into an issue that had already occurred.  I navigated to the Devices tab on the Edge DX dashboard and entered the username (user01). Then, in the Last Console User text box, I filtered the dashboard and double-clicked the device that the user was using.

On the Devices page, I set the Date Range to Yesterday, since that was when the user reported the issue. If they had reported an exact time, I could have narrowed the range even further.

The CPU Usage widget showed a spike around noon. When I pointed to the spike in the graph, it reported the actual usage in a pop-up.

I repeatedly clicked the spike until I narrowed that graph to a 10-minute timeframe that showed the PID (10428) of the process (pvengine64.exe). The graph showed that this process was consuming 96% of the CPU. Astute observers may have noticed that when the widget showed the entire day, CPU usage was at 49%; the reason for this is that the metric was averaged over a more granular period, and showed an average rather than a high watermark for the metric.

I clicked Send Message to communicate with the user and ask that they call me.

After discussing the issue, we decided that I should be notified, in real time, when the system had high CPU usage again, so I set up an alert.

I configured and activated the alert to send me an email notification once CPU usage went over 60% for a period of one minute.

Later that day, I received an email alerting me that the condition had occurred, and I was able to investigate the issue in real time.

In all, it took me less than a minute to unravel the problem and to set up an alert to notify me if it happens again.

Reporting 

Another common task asked of desktop administrators is to assess a company’s environment for a hardware/software refresh. Compiling this information can be tedious and time-consuming, and most administrators consider it annoying busy work. However, this information is critical for upper management to assess the status of their environment and forecast their budget, so they can upgrade hardware or correct other deficiencies. 

Below are some common questions and how they can be quickly and efficiently addressed using Edge DX’s predefined reports.

How many devices are registered with Edge DX? 

The home Edge DX dashboard showed 153 managed devices.

How many systems are Lenovo devices? 

I ran the Hardware & Operating Systems report, set the filters, and saw that we had five Lenovo devices.

How many devices are running Windows 10 Home? 

I ran the Hardware & Operating Systems report, set the filters, and saw that we had five devices running Windows 10 Home.

Can you provide a list of the devices that are running Adobe Acrobat Reader DC but not on v 21.001 yet? 

To generate this list, I ran the Installed Applications report, set the filters, and exported it to a CSV file.

Can you provide a list of the devices that are missing any critical patches? 

To generate this list, I ran the Missing Patches report, set the filter to Critical, exported it to a CSV file, and sent it off.

It took me less than five minutes to compile all of this information. To manually collect this data, it would have taken me at least a day for those 158 machines. One of the great things about Edge DX is that it would take the same amount of time to gather this information for 158 devices as it would for 500, 5,000 or even 10,000.

Run Command

Occasionally, an administrator needs to perform an action on an endpoint. Edge DX lets you run commands as either a user or as the system. In my case, an application needed a unique user, so I added a user to the local system with Edge DX’s Run Command capability.

Once the command had completed, I was able to see it logged under Device Events.

While I could have walked the user through this process or used RDP to remotely access the system, Edge DX made it possible to finish the task in a fraction of the time I’d need to do any of that.

Moving on. I needed to see if the user’s account was on some of the devices in my environment. Since this was an action that I’d need to repeat, I checked this out with a script, using Edge DX’s Custom Action feature.

With Edge DX, I was able to check 30 machines in less than five minutes, regardless of whether they were on the corporate network or in the corporate domain.

Investigation

One of the most common complaints among desktop users – and the bane of the existence of desktop administrators everywhere – is slow logon times. Rummaging through logs to find the start and stop times of the dozens of events that happen when a user logs on is an error-prone and mind-numbing task. Edge DX recognized this struggle, and it was one of the first problems that they looked at helping administrators solve.

Under Reports > All Reports, I selected the user experiencing the problem and selected the magnifying glass under the Logon Detail column.

The dashboard showed the resource usage and all the events that occurred during the user’s logon. The chart is color-coded, which was useful in picking out the event that was causing the slow logon.

Slow logons are frustrating for users, and sifting through the data to find their cause is a task most administrators dread. But with Edge DX, I was able to identify the process that was causing the slow logon and then address it in a snap.

Monitoring, managing, and assisting users in the office can be difficult, but when they are remote on a variety of different platforms, and not on the corporate domain or network, it can be downright painful. Fortunately, ControlUp Edge DX makes monitoring and managing them on a day-to-day basis easy, and when there are problems, Edge DX’s ability to run commands on the system remotely is invaluable. Moreover, if a problem is recurring, alerts and triggered scripts can greatly improve an administrator’s effectiveness. 

To take a look at ControlUp Edge DX and see all it can do, schedule a demo today!