“We were all frustrated at the intermittent disconnects the Rehab Department was experiencing with their tablets used to access MEDITECH with Citrix. We tried everything but couldn’t find the fix. Then, our current vendor Goliath suggested we deploy their new Citrix Troubleshooting for Windows Tablets. Using this troubleshooting technology we were able to isolate the root cause and resolve the issue in 1 business day”
– Bob Clifton, Technical Manager of Information Systems for Harnett Health
Over the past several years following the advent of the Microsoft Surface tablets, which based on the Windows platform have become the norm in many enterprise environments. This is especially true in the healthcare sector where medical staff is often required to be mobile throughout the day.
Performance Issues Impacting Physicians Using MEDITECH on Windows OS Tablets
One of our existing healthcare customers, Harnett Health System, had been facing the challenge of managing Windows-based tablets. Specifically, monitoring Citrix which delivered the MEDITECH application and troubleshooting Citrix, MEDITECH, and the Windows Tablets. Harnett Health System, which includes multiple hospitals and acute care facilities, had previously been able to leverage our Goliath Performance Monitor and MEDITECH Module solution for performance monitoring of vSphere, Citrix and MEDITECH.
During discussions with Harnett Health System, the server administrators in charge of this initiative explained that ever since rolling out the Windows OS tablets to their rehab and physician practices, they’ve had a significant uptick in the number of end user complaints.
These complaints consisted of general system and application slowness while using their tablets, power/battery related issues, and random disconnects from MEDITECH and other mission critical applications they use on a daily basis.
Windows OS Tablet & Citrix Performance Monitoring?
They contacted us at Goliath about our Goliath for Windows OS Tablets Monitoring. Yes, Windows OS tablet performance monitoring is a real thing. Their goal was to troubleshoot and resolve the challenges faced by IT and physicians by proactively monitoring the following:
- Battery Status: End users were complaining that the tablet batteries died quickly, but keeping track of battery health was difficult at best from their perspective.
- Network and System Performance: Data transfer rate was unacceptably slow, and impacting productivity. On average it was taking 1 hour to transfer 1 GB across their internal network.
- Application Performance: There was a multitude of tickets indicated that applications were consistently hanging and/or crashing. Up to this point in time, there was not enough visibility available to identify factors contributing to these application issues.
Proof of Concept in Windows OS Tablet Monitoring
The deployment process began with the discovery functionality to populate the 75 Windows OS tablets into the Goliath Performance Monitor product which already was deployed to monitor Citrix and monitor MEDITECH. Next, we deployed our intelligent agent to the Windows OS tablets, immediately starting the monitoring process. At first, the admins were concerned about overhead from the agent, but their worries quickly eased.
It is understood that available system resources are a precious commodity on servers and workstations, and this is even truer on Windows tablets. Unlike typical monitoring agents that heavily consume system resources, the Goliath intelligent agent is optimized, ensuring that less than 0.1% CPU, 1.5 MB of capacity, and no more than 30 MB RAM is consumed. Also, no reboot is required when deploying the agent.
This made deployment non-disruptive and allowed the customer to deploy the agent to tablets actively in production. Despite the size of the organization and the complexity of the environment, the agent was deployed to each of the tablets within minutes, and data collection began instantly.
Out-of-the-box Alerts & Real-time Proactive Monitoring
Once the agent was deployed to the Windows tablets, out-of-the-box alerts allowed for real-time proactive Windows Tablet monitoring. Some of the alerts included:
- Windows Tablet: High system resources for CPU, Memory and Disk
- Windows Tablet: High application resources for CPU & Memory
- Windows Tablet: Application crashes and hangs
It was no surprise to the administrators when alerts started to trigger moments after the agent was deployed, indicating a series of problems. These problems included applications reaching high CPU & memory usage, and the Windows tablets themselves having low resources.
These Windows Tablet alerts and indicators are detailed below.
It was observed that in many cases MEDITECH would hang as a result of high CPU utilization. In order to allow the administrators to address this condition in a timely fashion, remediation actions were configured to address the hung MEDITECH applications in real-time. In this case, the application was restarted if it reached 80% CPU consumption for over 5 minutes.
The MEDITECH remediation action configuration is depicted in the image below:
Another key component that allowed Harnett Health to proactively manage their Windows Tablets is the Performance Graphs and Dashboards display within the Citrix performance monitoring and troubleshooting technology. This display allows administrators to create custom dashboards for monitoring infrastructure elements and Windows OS Tablets. The dashboards allowed Harnett Health System to trend the performance of their Windows OS tablets from a single pane of glass, by creating a Tablet Performance Dashboard.
This custom dashboard specifically featured the information and metrics previously detailed that were critical to ensuring a positive Windows OS Tablet user experience for them. The specific metrics in this use case are detailed as follows:
- Windows Tablet: Battery Charge & Discharge Rate
- MEDITECH: Packet Loss & Bandwidth for Wireless Connection
- Windows: CPU, Memory, and Disk
Another key capability of the Windows Tablet monitoring product allows admins to drill down from the high-level Windows tablet dashboard to view more detailed metrics such as utilization metrics like Disk Queue length, IOPS, network performance details, CPU queue lengths, and more.
This is depicted in the images below:
In addition to alerting and troubleshooting issues on the Windows tablets, the administrators also wanted to identify how frequently resource-related problems were occurring. Performance reports were generated on the alerts to provide Harnett Health System with a consolidated view of the MEDITECH application crash events.
The report data showed them when MEDITECH crashes occurred, the frequency of the crashes, and a means to identify related patterns of failure. To accomplish this, an Alert Analysis Report was generated using the custom alerts previously detailed. The report provided them with a correlated analysis on triggered monitoring rules/alerts that have taken place over a specific period of time.
This report was scheduled to run on a monthly basis and is emailed to the administrators along with their direct management team. Having this report empowers the administrators with actionable intelligence that enables them to understand tablet performance over time, the severity of discovered issues, and how effective mitigating controls are when implemented.
By configuring Goliath for Windows OS Tablets to address the gaps in monitoring visibility, Harnett Health System was able to be proactive and to resolve issues before the user community was impacted. Prior to implementing Goliath Performance Monitor, and the aforementioned Windows Tablet performance monitoring capabilities, there was little to no visibility into their Windows tablet infrastructure. After implementing monitoring for Windows Tablets, email alerting allowed the administrator to be aware of issues in real-time before the end users complained.
Getting Fingers Pointing in the Right Direction
This solution also empowered the administrators with the ability to monitor and mitigate issues surrounding resource utilization and specific application failures. Furthermore, by using the out-of-the-box remediation features, the help desk engineers and administrators were able to focus on improving the environment rather than spending their time troubleshooting issues as they arose.
In cases where MEDITECH complaints were reported, the administrators were able to utilize the Windows OS tablet dashboard to view a historical look back into the environment, analyze performance trends, and identify where bottlenecks may have taken place. Though MEDITECH was being blamed because that is what the physicians and healthcare workers saw on their screen, it was really the Windows Tablets that were the root cause.
This capability meant that a single ticket did not lead to a widespread issue. Lastly, the administrators were able to confirm the success of their efforts with management via reports detailing trending data over time.