In a full 50% of the Citrix environments we are called to work on, the end-users are not happy. With proper care and management, Citrix is a very powerful enabling tool for business, but when things start to go bad we hear complaints like:
- “It takes so long for my machine to boot.”
- “Citrix is slow.” “Printing does not work properly.”
- Why does Citrix keep losing my email signature and bookmarks?”
From our own research, 70% of existing Citrix environments have no management tools in place for Citrix and did not purchase Citrix’s own management tool, EdgeSight. Of those customers that did purchase Citrix EdgeSight, only 30% actually use it because of the complexity of the tool and difficulty getting meaningful data out of it. An approximate 9 out of 10 Citrix customers are effectively asking their IT department to manage their Citrix environment with a blindfold on.
Problem 1: The IT department does not have the appropriate tools to readily identify the problems.
The best solution we have found is to deploy a management tool that gives you full visibility into every area of your network, including Citrix, so that when a problem arises the root cause can be quickly identified with data that is correlated from across the network.
The best and most effective way to improve the end user experience is to include a tool that actually measures the end user experience on every device that will reports to IT when performance is outside of acceptable norms, thus giving IT the best opportunity (60% of the time+) to correct issues before end users call the Support Desk.
At the very least, Citrix EdgeSight can be deployed relatively inexpensively, providing insight into your Citrix environment. This will not give you any data into any of the areas outside of Citrix, but at least your IT services team will not be blind to what is happening inside your Citrix farm.
Problem 2: Most of the management tools in place only cover issues related to one product or service.
All IT organizations have some management tools, but they are rarely interconnected. The server team uses two or three products, the network team is using something else entirely, and so it goes across the organization.
When there is a problem the path to resolution typically takes the form of “tiger teams” with experts from each department bringing their tools’ reports to a collective meeting and comparing notes in an effort to identify the problem. Often symptoms are identified, but it can be very difficult to arrive at a root cause. Hours can be lost trying to solve a symptom that showed up on one report that was caused by a problem in another group that did not even register as an issue on their management tools.
Small to medium organizations with small, part time or outsourced IT services often have no significant management tools at all.
Problem 3: Without identical Citrix servers, or a manageable number of images, the number of variables that could be at the source of a problem can multiply exponentially.
When there is a challenge, everything that is different about one Citrix server from another is just another variable that could be a symptom or root cause of the issue. Multiply that by every other component in the network and you can see why locating the true root cause could take some significant time.
Problem 4: Lack of Citrix expertise on your IT staff or with your Citrix consulting partner.
Without the proper management tools to diagnose issues, particularly related to Citrix, you end up relying on the expertise of your staff or consultants to resolve the issues. Top Citrix talent can be very expensive and cost prohibitive for organizations to have as a dedicated resource. Consulting organizations that do not do a lot of Citrix deployments face the same problem.
Where there is no in house expertise or solid management tools, we are called back on average between 12-14 months after the initial deployment to repair the environment.
Problem 5: A problem with any of the individual component of the network can and often does impact the performance of the Citrix farm and damages the end users experience.
Citrix is an umbrella technology, meaning that is resides on its own servers but must interact with the database servers, virtualization host servers, mass storage in the form of Storage Area Networks (SANs), web servers, license servers, applications, and network components like switches and routers.
End users call every problem a Citrix problem because every other component remains hidden behind Citrix. The reason it can take so long to correct what are seemingly Citrix issues is that your IT services team must spend a considerable amount of time trying to determine which of these components, including the Citrix servers themselves, actually has the problem.
How do we correct these problems, improve productivity, and improve the end user experience?
Get visibility into your end user experience. As noted in research by the Aberdeen Group, business performance starts to decline when mission critical applications reach a baseline of a 5.1 second delay in response time.
You need to be able to see and manage your environment through the eyes of your end users. If email is slow today or your ERP application is not performing right, your Support Desk should know about it the same instant the end user does.
Get Visibility into the problems your end users are facing more quickly. Aberdeen Group research states that 50% of the businesses interviewed said they lost revenue opportunities because of poorly performing applications.
Application performance issues can impact corporate revenues as much as nine percent. The faster IT is able to identify the root cause of a problem the faster the problem will be resolved. Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) drops, and the end user experience improves.
Get management tools in place that will give your IT team the full picture, including the end user experience. As the number of individual management tools increase, so does the complexity of using them to resolve an issue. As a result problems take longer to solve.
Build proactive IT management. With a proactive Support Desk, our goal is to identify and resolve issues 60% of the time before we hear from an end user. There are reports of this number being as high as 80%. Identifying and resolving issues before your users report them will improve your end user experience metrics. Removing technology bottlenecks before they become an issue will always lead to improved productivity.
Evaluate Outsourcing Citrix management with a Citrix Managed Support agreement, or working with a Citrix Managed Services firm to host your Citrix farm and have your applications delivered as a service.
Having Citrix managed in your data center or hosted with a Citrix Managed Services firm can be a cost effective way to squeeze all of the value out of Citrix for firms that are not in a position to hire a Citrix specialist.