As a working Citrix Engineer, my top priority is delivering a good End User Experience. I am always looking for tools that will help me be proactive, meaning get ahead of end user complaints, so I can fix issues before they impact my users.
I was able to take an early look at the new Goliath Performance Monitor (GPM) version 11.6 from Goliath Technologies. This software has some of the best new features I have seen to help engineers and admins proactively monitor and manage the end user experience because it delivers three key benefits:
- Real-time Alerts: GPM 11.6 alerts you in real time if performance thresholds are breached so you can resolve potential issues before they happen;
- Troubleshoot Root Cause: to help you get objective evidence of the root cause of performance issues, GPM 11.6 gets the data you need to pinpoint the root cause to troubleshoot and remediate, and then report on it after the fact;
- Ease of Use: all of the features and functionality you get with GPM 11.6 are out-of-the-box. There is literally almost no configuration you need to do, which is something I have never seen in an IT performance monitoring product.
While this post doesn’t cover all the new features, I do delve into the 6 I think are the most compelling for a Citrix Engineer like myself.
1. Unified Dashboard
Today’s system administrators have to look at numerous applications and tools to gather information: a network monitoring tool, a hypervisor console, windows performance monitor and likely several other 3rd party tools or scripts. This begs the question “When an issue is reported, where do you start?”
Below you can see Goliath Performance Monitor brings you all of this end user session data in a single dashboard.
2. End User Experience Monitoring and Management
Anyone that has used Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop knows about End User Experience; there is even a Windows Service named “Citrix End User Experience Monitor” (EUEM). Moving a user’s desktop into the data center shifts the burden of end user experience away from the local desktop hardware and onto the server infrastructure. That means it is now the responsibility of the server administrators to provide an excellent end user experience.
In today’s world of extra processing power and super-fast solid state hard drives at ever lower prices, end users expect the same superb performance at work that they have on their home systems. Logon times in excess of one minute are no longer acceptable and any sluggish performance is noticed by the end user. Mouse click delays and profile loading time are simply not acceptable.
When an end user problem is reported, the administrator needs to have the right tool to determine exactly what caused the problem and which component in a complex environment to remediate. Goliath Performance Monitor breaks down the logon process into numerous unique events that show exactly what is occurring when the user logs on to the system. Metrics such as ICA RTT and bandwidth, network latency and frames per second have a direct correlation to the user’s experience – these are all captured by GPM.
Below you can see that in the same tab we looked at vGPU metrics, we can track in real time HDX performance in a series charts.
3. Real Time Logon Performance Metrics
With the added logon performance metrics gathered in Goliath Performance Monitor 11.6, this monitoring product is uniquely positioned to not only fill the monitoring and alerting gaps left in stock XenApp/XenDesktop 7 implementations, but also to completely replace Citrix EdgeSight – without losing any End User Experience Monitoring (EUEM) data or core functionality. Citrix EdgeSight was a great product especially when it came to EUEM data, monitoring Citrix sessions and troubleshooting user logons and overall experience issues.
Not only has EdgeSight been discontinued, it also had numerous gaps in understanding and presenting the performance of the underlying virtual infrastructure. Citrix Director does not even come close to providing the HDX-specific data that EdgeSight did, nor does it provide any of the missing functionality that EdgeSight lacked.
Goliath Performance Monitor 11.6 is unique in that it has full ‘ICA/HDX specific’ capabilities out-of-the-box as well as being able to gather performance metrics on the hypervisor, compute, and shared storage platforms that underpin most of today’s enterprise private cloud environments. This visibility into both the Citrix session and the infrastructure supporting the session allows engineers and administrators easily track down end user experience issues.
Below is a screen shot of the very detailed logon performance metrics breakdown. Note that this is out-of-the-box, so no set up or configuration, and it is in real time due to the API development Goliath has done with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.
4. End User Experience Reporting
In addition to the real time EUEM data gathered by GPM 11.6, the data has also been made available to the reporting engine. The following reports are available out of the box – no custom reports required:
XenApp (XA), XenDesktop (XD)
- XA/XD Client Report
- XA/XD End User Activity Report
- XenApp End User Experience Report
- XA/XD ICA Latency Report
- XA/XD Server Health Report
- XenDesktop Peak Usage Report
- XA/XD Session Activity Report
- XA/XD Session Logon Duration Report
- XA 4.5-6.5 End-to-End Connection Report
- XA 7.5-7.6 End-to-End Connection Report
Below are a few that I found most useful- Citrix XenApp Session Report and the XenApp ICA Latency Report.
5. NVIDIA GRID vGPU Monitoring
More and more components in the Windows operating system are relying on the availability of a hardware Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) – including Windows Aero, modern web browsers and even the Microsoft Office suite. As such, the demand for a solution that includes NVIDIA GRID technology is rapidly increasing and further complicating the virtual infrastructure.
Goliath Performance Monitor 11.6 is purpose built to help administrators understand exactly what is going on inside of GRID-enabled virtual machines or vGPUs. With out-of-the box dashboards, reports and alerting built right in to the GPM console, there is no need for additional components or scripting.
Below is a screenshot of the vGPU metrics they track and trend in real time.
6. Additional Windows Performance Counters
As virtual infrastructures become more complex and harder to troubleshoot, engineers and administrators are being asked to understand more and provide an even better user experience. This task becomes more difficult as layers of virtualization, shared networking, shared storage, and compute are added on. Goliath Performance Monitor 11.6 (GPM) gathers performance metrics at every layer of the stack – including the lowest: the guest operating system.
Monitoring tools that only monitor at the hypervisor level may provide some decent ‘what’s going on right now’ metrics, but they lack the ability to look at what the guest OS is doing. By gathering specific Windows performance counters, GPM is able to display and alert on the resources that lead to performance issues – effectively looking into the future of a performance bottleneck and proactively alerting before it becomes a larger problem.
Below you can see performance dashboard. These performance counters are enabled by default with GPM and integrated into the existing performance dashboard allowing administrators to get a firsthand look at issues before they happen.
As you can see, the new features in GPM 11.6 make this product a great tool for troubleshooting not only logon slowness but also overall Citrix session performance – it is also one of the first monitoring tools to gather data from NVIDIA GRID vGPU deployments. A unified troubleshooting interface and numerous session reports right out of the box without custom code or 3rd party plugins makes Goliath Performance Monitor your one-stop-shop for all your monitoring and troubleshooting needs for Citrix and End user experience.