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How to track end user network log on from a web app.

Posted on 2015-02-04
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Last Modified: 2015-02-18
Good Afternoon Pro's,

I have been asked to find a solution for the following problem.

We have a network of about 100'000 users.
Of these users, we have about 25'000 users who use a time and activity tracking web application to track their activity on each of the 'tasks' that they have been assigned to.

My boss has asked me to look into a solution that would:

1. Track how long a person is logged into their computer
2. Transmit that data to a table in the web app.

The purpose of this, as told by the boss, is to use a solution to grab that data (hours logged on) gathered from the above solution, so that when the end user has to 'enter their hours' at the end of the week, those hours for that user would be displayed and then the user would be able to transfer those logged in hours to work hours within the web app.

Please feel free to ask any questions and feel free to think outside the box.

I will be monitoring this post closely.

Thank you in advance.
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Question by:Myrocco
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by:it_saige
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You could have many different solutions provided.  The first one that comes to my mind is a services that starts a session based application.  The session based application would then be responsible for updating the table (or a table) with logged in and out information (although I am fairly certain that there is an AD setting that can confirm the last time a user logged in and most likely settings in WMI that do the same).  The session based application can also be configured to treat session changes (or locks) as logged out events.

Now, my question to you is this.  Does a user logging into a workstation, truly signify work accomplished in an activity tracking web application?  The smarter option may be to have the web application tracking this activity as it can be configured to maintain session based parameters for a users activities.

-saige-
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by:Myrocco
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Thanks IT SAIGE,

Yes, that was one thought, to use AD in some way, however, Having 'read up', I discovered that it would be best if one would go thru the DC and configure/view the security features.

Your questions:

1. Does a user logging into a workstation, truly signify work accomplished in an activity tracking web application?
A: I think, the answer to that, is 'NO'.  However, my boss is not to much worried about that.  His main focus is to give the end user the total number of hours that that user had been logged into the local machine/network at the end of the week so that total number of hours would be displayed in a input form when the user does open the app at the end of the week to "hurry up and put their time in".  In effect, make it easier for the engineer end user to close the gap between working hours and activity working hours.

2. The smarter option may be to have the web application tracking this activity as it can be configured to maintain session based parameters for a users activities.
A: I thought of that also, however, that would mean that we would have to load a small applet into main 'image' used to image the machines thru-out the company.  That applet would have to 'auto-start' the web app in the background of the local machine.  Also, because only 25'000 or so users actually use the app.  I could imagine what a bureaucratic mess it would be to isolate those 25'000 machines out of so many that would not need it.

How about, maybe, some kind of applet that references the user table and then would ping the network for each user's status on the network.  Would something like that function?

Thanks for your input !!!!!!
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by:Myrocco
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How about some kind of SMS solution?  Maybe use the user table to get the names of the users that need this applet, then, work with the upper IT management, so that, when they push out those SMS packages those users would receive the applet that would interface with the web app database, thus tracking the hours...  What are your thoughts on that?
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by:it_saige
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If you are using SMS for push (or pull) installations, I am certain that there is a reporting mechanism that could be queried for the statistics of these requests (username, time started, time completed, etc.).  Let me check, there might be a powershell solution to this.

Along those lines, you could potentially leverage a script that run's when an engineer logs in in order to gather these statistics.

-saige-
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by:Myrocco
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I agree.  The only REAL issue is this.  We are a rough IT unit within the company and have no direct access to the servers.  What ever we choose to do, we will have to go thru the horrific ordeal of working whatever we choose to do thru the IT department.  We wish to find some kind of solution that would minimize that need.
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by:it_saige
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After a brief search, it does look like it is possible to retrieve this type of information from SMS.  It's just a matter of generating the correct report or using the right query.

https://vasanthsccm.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/sql-queries-for-sccm/ - Is a list of some useful SCCM queries (and there are plenty of other queries that popped up in my search).

Do you think this can help accomplish your goal?

-saige-
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by:it_saige
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Just read your last entry.

-saige-
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it_saige earned 500 total points
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If the users are all in the same OU, then the web application modifications would make the most sense as you could easily have an OU specific script start the web application when the user log's in.  

Otherwise, is there any other way these users are bound together in AD?

If there is not, then the simplest solution may be to do what I had initially outlined.  Create a service that launches an application on user login.  This application then reports to your web app's database.

-saige-
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by:Myrocco
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Given that the web app is programmed in VS 6.0.

Is it possible to place a cookie on the clients machine (when the client opens the web app home page)  that would monitor their systems "login/logoff" "uptime" and so on, then send data to the web app's back end DB?
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by:Myrocco
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Hey, it_saige, We decided that what will happen is to tap the BE DB of the ms lync service and get the data from that angle.

Please accept the points as I appreciate your input....
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by:Myrocco
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I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for Myrocco's comment #a40591855

for the following reason:

.
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by:Myrocco
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it_saige needs his points !!!!!
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by:Myrocco
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it_saige needs his points
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by:it_saige
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Author wishes to assign points.

-saige-
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by:it_saige
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No problem Myrocco.  Glad you guys were able to find an angle that will work for you.

-saige-
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