The Aberdeen Group reported in a 2008 study that business performance starts to decline when mission-critical applications reach a baseline of 5.1 seconds of response time delay1.
That statistic is troubling to me because there are many Citrix/VMware environments out there where there are no tools in place to catch and identify something as small as a 5.1 second delay.
Citrix’s application virtualization technology sits atop 11 different information technology systems, from the Network layer through Active Directory to back end application databases on mass storage technology like Storage Area Networks (SANs.) A wiggle anywhere in that stack for 5 seconds or more hurts the end user experience and negatively impacts business performance.
"To further complicate matters, the native Citrix monitoring tool, EdgeSight (for those that own Citrix Platinum licenses or bought it separately) is a completely reactive solution providing reports after the fact."
As a virtualization integrator & Managed IT Services Provider specializing in Citrix, a reactive tool like EdgeSight is too blunt of an instrument to be our primary Citrix management tool. To legitimately try to consistently root out potential 5 second delays, a proactive management solution for Citrix has to be in place.
In short, we discovered we needed a precision tool that would be able to answer 25 fundamental questions in advance of a crisis, as much as possible, to give us the best possible opportunity to isolate and eliminate issues in and around Citrix or VMware before a significant number of end users were impacted.
For our proactive Citrix Managed IT Services approach we use two tools. One tool, ControlUp captures and correlates data from the data center out to the edge device. Because we maintain a significant focus on delivering an exceptional end user experience we use a second tool, Aternity, which sits on the edge device, giving us visibility into the end user experience, looking back into the data center.
Here are the 25 questions that we take baselines for; repeatedly asking these questions of our monitoring and management tools to stay proactive in our approach to Citrix support.
End User Experience Management - Citrix Managed IT Services
1. What is the average response time that critical users are seeing when connecting to a XenApp server?
2. How many users are logged in to each XenApp/Presentation Server in the Citrix farm(s)?
3. What is the resource usage (CPU and memory) for each user?
4. Are specific user profiles too large?
Monitoring & Managing Published Applications - Citrix Managed IT Services
5. What are the published applications on a XenApp servers?
6. Who is using each application?
7. What is the resource usage for each published application?
Monitoring & Managing the XenApp Servers - Citrix Managed IT Services
8. Are the Citrix XenApp servers available to service user requests?
9. Are there sporadic disconnects from the Citrix XenApp server?
10. What time does peak server utilization occur and is the server capacity adequate?
11. Are we load balancing across all the servers?
12. Is the Data Store available?
13. What are the access rates to the data store, the dynamic store, and the local host cache?
14. What is the volume of IMA traffic between servers?
Monitoring & Managing the Operating System - Citrix Managed IT Services
15. What is the average CPU and memory usage on all the servers in the farm?
16. Is any unusual memory scanning/paging activity happening on the systems?
17. Are the critical XenApp server and IMA processes up?
18. What is their resource consumption?
Monitoring & Managing the License Server - Citrix Managed IT Services
19. How many product and connection licenses are available in the farm and what is their usage?
20. Are there enough licenses available for each of the published applications?
Monitoring & Managing Infrastructure Services - Citrix Managed IT Services
21. Is the Web Interface/StoreFront server forwarding requests to the XenApp server?
22. Are the backend databases working?
23. What is the resource usage of the databases?
24. Are users able to login to the server farm? How long is the login process taking?
25. What is the usage of the Microsoft Windows Domain Controller?
Can you think of a question we should be asking? What questions are you asking as you manage your Citrix environment?
(1) Aberdeen Group (2008) “Application Performance Management: Getting IT on the C-Level’s Agenda”