This independent review of Goliath’s Performance Monitor & Logon Simulator for Citrix is republished on our blog with permission from Rob Beekmans, vExpert, CCEE, CCIA, VCP5, VCP5-DT, VCAP-DTD, MCSA2012. The original post appears here on Rob’s blog, EUC, UEM, Mobility and Monitoring.
In my previous blog about Goliath Logon Simulator for Citrix, I stopped just after the Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop session was established. The last thing I showed you was the result of the Logon Simulator from the console. If you missed that article, it is a good start before reading this article, you can read the story here.
In this article I will go deeper in the product and show you how you can see very cool and wanted metrics within the Citrix ICA and HDX channel, and how you can monitor and debug a Citrix environment.
If we were to take a poll on the coolest report Citrix EdgeSight used to have, I’m sure #1 and #2 would be Logon Details and Session Startup Details, which gave very detailed information, step-by-step client side and server side. Logon Details gave insight in GPO load time, logon scripts and so on.
Together, these features are a killer combo, but they were hidden in a license that was hard to sell and now Citrix decided to kill all cool features to start fresh, leaving you and me thinking of the past.
No worry, those two cool reports are still there, not delivered by Citrix but through Goliath Technologies. When you do proactive monitoring with the Goliath Performance Monitor the agent measures all this data and will report this to the console. The great people at Goliath added this report in the console so life without EdgeSight is wonderful again.
Enough talk, let me show you what they have in the product.
The most important metrics you want while monitoring a Citrix environment are:
- ICA/HDX Latency
- GPO load time
- Bandwidth and congestion
- Connection time to the broker/web front
- User profile load
- vGPU performance (becoming more and more common)
Goliath offers several reports to will help you understand the end user experience. Just to remind you, Goliath preforms simulated Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop user logon with actual user accounts. With that in mind you can understand that loads of data is gathered.
Each session is stored and can be debugged in details afterwards if needed through a search function. I started a couple of sessions over a few days to get some data.
In my last article we primarily looked at the reporting of the Citrix Logon Simulator section, now we focus on the section XenDesktop/XenApp session which is much more interesting for IT guys. In the report below you see two sessions that were active, if you look closely you see two important metrics right in the open.
The logon time and the ICA latency are reported already, giving you instant information about the user experience. So were done, right… or wait there is more, so much more.
If you want to see more data you click on the + mark next to the session you get into the reporting part. A huge number to tabs and sub tabs will open where you find detailed information about the session, the server and the user. First we start with the logon duration that was shown also in the main screen.
The logon duration is more than just logon, it is made up from several steps that together make up the logon time. The logon time is made up with the following steps:
- Logon time
- Client validation; brokering
- Scripts that run
- User profile
All are shown in the report and the time they take, also per step a detail is given.
If you look at the details in the report above you see that it shows exactly what server, domain, etc. it is talking to. This is the kind of detail you want in a report when you debug slowness for instance.
If we look at the break down of all of this, what I used very much in EdgeSight was the Start Detail Report for it showed all aspects of the connection. If you never worked with EdgeSight you might think it a silly game with lots of letters but they all actually stand for something.
CASD for instance is Credentials Authentication Server Duration, in plain English, translates to, how long does it take to get your credentials verified. On the client side you have LPWD, its not a police force, it’s Launch Page Web Server Duration, or how long does it take to launch the web page (Storefront or Web Interface).
Depending on your environment you get different values and more or less values. There are lists on the Internet to tell you what the abbreviations mean, I’ve included one that was written for EdgeSight.
A detailed report about the ICA Channel delivers metrics that are important to understand the end user experience. The ICA channel performance will be different from normal network performance, latency for the ICA channel and network latency can be different.
Here you also find ICA Latency, a very very important metric to be measured. Together with the bandwidth and network latency this give a good indication whether the user is having some issues. Latency is the time it takes for a package to travel from one point to it’s destination, the higher the number the worse your user experience gets.
Next to latency there is available bandwidth not to be mistaken with speed. The available bandwidth has a direct influence on the latency, if your pipe gets congested latency goes up.
This has nothing to do with the speed of your connection, you can have a 100M connection but when it’s congested it will not perform. To solve congestion you add more pipes, unfortunately that doesn’t mean latency will go down in the same rate, latency can have more influencers.
Goliath offers a report that shows these metrics together so you see the relation between them.
There is an option also to look at the virtual machine and see numerous of metrics that will help you understand the performance of the user session and the machine it lives on. This virtual machine metric dashboard has many other tabs showing relevant information about the server, the following tabs are shown;
- CPU & Memory disk use
- Disk Peformance
- Disk Space use
- Network Throughput
- Storage & VM Limit
- Agent Up&down
- Graphics Metrics
- Storage Trends
- Storage Allocation
- Storage Usage
Well if that doesn’t give you enough information I don’t know what will, let’s take a look at some of them.
If we look at server disk performance we see the performance of the disks, throughput and IOPS being displayed. In my lab with one or two users there is no issue but in a live environment this might be valuable and show if the user is having issues because of a lack of IOPS.
A minor report is the Disk Space Use, which allows you to identify conditions where there is unchecked disk space growth on your diff and identity disks.
Network throughput is important in solving issues with end user experience. If for some reason your network speed is low it might impact the end user experience. As I said before speed is not the most important factor in end user experience but a lack of speed doesn’t help also. All metrics work together to deliver the best performance, think about the E1000 versus the vmxnet3 NIC and the performance difference it gave.
One of the cool features I think is the ability to monitor the usage of vGPU with their Performance Monitor for NVIDIA GRID vGPU. Goliath is working closely with NVIDIA to capture the data of the cards that need to be captured. I borrowed this screen shot from Goliath for my home lab is not equipped with a grid card. If you monitor an environment without a vGPU this tab won’t be visible.
Metrics you find here are:
- Frames per second
- vGPU Compute Utilization
- vGPU Memory Utilization
When debugging or monitoring sessions you need to know the context of the issue the user is experiencing. The context of the user experience is to know which other processes are running and using resources. The application performance report is doing just that, it shows the other processes running with metrics per proces.
A good start is always the overview of the session you’re debugging, without a good sense of the session the metrics say nothing. Together with Citrix Director, which does a good job of showing information about a session, this report also shows the session properties.
Here you can verify versions, networking details and so much more, I think it’s a good starting point and a good report to end this article with.
I think Goliath offers a very good tool to do simulated Citrix logons with actual user accounts and that the reports are useful to monitor and debug a session. If you look for a monitoring tool to look at the user logon performance of your Citrix environment Goliath would certainly be able to fill that in.
The addition of vGPU is something that will be needed more and more, even Citrix XenApp servers will get graphic cards in the near future.
I spoke to Goliath about the next versions of the tool and as I wrote also in my previous article, starting an application is something that might be useful for that is a user action also that might vary in time. If they could start an application (e.g. Word) and report time it takes to load certain plugins that would be useful.
Another addition would be to be able to do exactly the same as they do with Citrix in a VMware Horizon View environment. It all depends of course with VMware opening up the API’s to allow them to ge the data from the channel. In my job I see a 50/50 in deploying Citrix and VMware and for VMware there are less options to do simulated monitoring.
Perhaps integration with vCops, or as it is now called, vROps (vRealize Operations) would be interesting for all data is collected there already although not all our customers have that running. If I had to make a choice it would be both ways, integrate and be independent as well to accommodate both customers.
Hopefully, my article gives you a better idea of what Goliath is capable of. To see for yourself, try a 30-day free trial or demo of Goliath Performance Monitor.