The software featured in this post was brought to market with help from IT operations teams who participated in the Design Partner Program. Current customers of the Goliath Application Availability Monitor (GAAM) featured in this post include Facebook, Lionsgate, Carefirst Blue Cross, Energy Transfer Partners (Sunoco), Augusta Health and SM Energy.
Simplifying the Process of End User Experience Monitoring & Management
There are multiple tools that Systems Administrators attempt to use to get ahead of end user experience issues. The problem is, each tool only offers a partial solution, causing IT operations teams to weave together multiple tools while managing a bloated toolset—until now.
To help IT operations teams simplify the process of monitoring and managing the end user experience, Goliath Technologies performance monitoring software is architected to proactively manage the full spectrum of the end user experience from logon initiation, through the logon process to session performance in one fully integrated software product.
Proactively Managing the End User Experience of Any App Delivered through Citrix
It is important to state at the outset that, in a marketplace rife with pronouncements by companies that they have the “only solution of its kind” or analysts who write about “the best product in years,” Goliath offers a more realistic solution.
Our solution incorporates the best concepts to date from Citrix EdgeSight, the Citrix Application Availability Manager and others into one product. The technology may not solve your Citrix performance issues, and we will not say that ours is the first ever, but it is the only single product available that fully integrates logon simulation with performance monitoring to give a true understanding of the actual end user experience and the data to proactively impact it.
As our architects designed GAAM we spoke with many customers and did an in-depth analysis of available solutions. These findings inspired our product design and development. IT administrators defined three key areas where performance issues most likely result in a call or open ticket from an end user:
- Logon initiation
- Logon process
- Session performance
One Product that Simultaneously Sends Preemptive Performance Alerts & Initiates Remediation Actions
IT Administrators required us to develop one product that will preemptively alert them if end users are going to have a performance problem and then, simultaneously with the alert, initiate self-healing or remediation actions. So, the challenge presented to us was to warn IT if there was going to be a problem in the future, provide the root cause and then fix it using one simple-to-use technology, not multiple tools. A challenging “ask” to say the least.
The only way to accomplish this was to simulate the end user logon process; but it had to be in such a way that we could exercise the entire Citrix delivery infrastructure like a user would when they logon. In addition, the technology has to monitor all the IT elements involved in application delivery or we wouldn’t be able to determine the root cause, much less fix it.
Now, with the back story out of the way, the remainder of this blog will describe how our technology provides a preemptive approach to determining if there will be issues with logon initiation, logon process and session performance so IT administrators can truly be proactive.
Our customers have relayed to us that a comprehensive, proactive, and preemptive end user experience management solution must have 6 capabilities:
- Real life simulation of an end user
- Simulate any Citrix delivered application and/or desktop
- Ability to simulate logon initiation from both local and remote locations
- Breakdown of the logon duration process by stage for each end user
- Detailed analysis of ICA protocol by channel
- Simultaneous alerting and self-healing
In the next few paragraphs, I will explain how our unique solution offers these capabilities in one product.
Real-life Simulation of an End User
This is the genesis of any comprehensive simulation technology. The “simulation” needs to be real life in order to be effective. In the case of Citrix, this means that the simulation must work in such a way as to exercise the same IT elements that a user would when they are accessing the applications.
Ask administrators when performance issues are likely to occur and they will tell you it is when end users attempt to logon. Though the independent systems may look healthy, problems frequently manifest during the act of making the entire Citrix delivery infrastructure work in concert to deliver the application.
Our technology takes the same actions an end user would and thereby tests the whole delivery infrastructure to proactively determine if there will be performance issues when users attempt to access their applications. The diagram below depicts the simulation process which includes the NetScaler or F5.
Simulate any Citrix Delivered Application and/or Desktop
GAAM is designed to accommodate any application and or desktop delivered through Citrix software in the first release (VMware View and RDS in future releases). This includes business applications such as Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Office, and Quickbooks, and browsers such as Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
In the core product, we have even added functionality to accommodate key EHR/EMR applications such as Cerner, MEDITECH, Allscripts with others such as Epic, Siemens and McKesson coming soon.
Simulations from Local and Remote Locations
The importance of this capability cannot be understated and it really relates to the concept of “real life simulations.” If you have a simulator, whether a commercial or home grown solution, that doesn’t offer the ability to simulate locally and remotely while taking into consideration the load balancer or application delivery controller like F5 or Citrix NetScaler, then the results of the simulation aren’t adequate for truly proactive management.
I would argue that a simulation tool that leaves “gaps” in visibility by not taking into account the real life scenarios encountered by end users simply does not have the ability to be preemptive in its alerting.
Breakdown of the Logon Process by Stage for Each End User
If the logon initiation process is successful, the next stage where most issues occur is the duration of the logon process. “It is taking me forever to log on” is a common complaint reported by our Citrix System Administrators.
GAAM for Citrix, coupled with the Goliath Performance Monitor, will break down each stage of the logon process including brokering, authentication, group policy loading, personalization, script execution, profile load, folder redirection and the presentation of the interactive display.
The Citrix System Administrator will be able to tell at a glance, and in real time, the root cause of the issue and execute the appropriate fix actions. The actual product screen shot below depicts the logon duration breakdown for each end user.
Detailed analysis of ICA Protocol by Channel
Now, after logon initiation and the logon process the Citrix User is in the session and has complaints that the session is slow or they are experiencing screen lag. It is annoying and an often heard performance issue.
GAAM has unique functionality that breaks down, again by user, how the ICA Channel is consuming bandwidth by virtual channel including, display/video, audio, copy/paste, printing, keyboard/mouse, USB, and other dynamic channels, like Adobe Flash redirection so that remediation actions can be focused on the root cause of ICA latency. The actual product screen shot below shows the breakdown.
Simultaneous Alerting and Self-Healing
To now be truly proactive in managing the Citrix end user experience one has to be able to take action. The alerting and self-healing or remediation sequences embedded in the product function equally well with simulated users as well as real users.
This is the key: Systems Administrators are able to receive alerts based on logon failures, logon duration slowness or session performance from simulated users because the logon simulations can be run 24/7 or set to run before real end users get to work, allowing valuable time to remediate.
Since GAAM is fully integrated into the Goliath Performance Monitor, these alerts can kick off the remediation sequences Systems Administrators select. For example, if XenApp Servers or if the XenDesktop VDIs are unregistered and not allowing logons, a reboot can be executed automatically to reset the virtual machine or server.
To see if GAAM is right for you, you can also get a fully supported free 30-day trial or personal demo.