Guest Post

Three Secrets to Maintaining a Proactively Healthy VDI and Virtualization Environment

By / 2018-10-15T10:21:44+00:00 October 9th, 2018|
Maintain Your Visual Infrastructure

I’ve had the chance to work in the cloud, virtualization, and application delivery industry for quite some time. The most amazing thing I’ve seen has been the evolution around delivery technologies specifically aimed at improving user experience and performance. Still, with varying operating systems, evolving desktop environments, and the constant challenges around applications – there’s still one major challenge when it comes to these ecosystems. Specifically, I’m constantly finding administrators battle the challenges around complexity.

Time and time again I’m seeing administrators reactively trying to support growing VDI and application environments. And, even with more initiatives around things like DaaS and cloud, I’m still seeing a lot of great use-cases in leveraging on-premise application and desktop delivery. A recent report from ResearchAndMarkets.com indicates that the global Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) market is expected to have a CAGR of 27% during the forecast period 2016-2023.

The key factors driving the market growth are increased adoption of BYOD, increasing demand of workplace flexibility and increasing adoptability of cloud technology in several end-user segments. However, the lack of training, education, and enhanced administrative capabilities around the virtual desktop infrastructure are restraining the market growth.

Whether you’re working with Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop or VMware Horizon solutions, your main goal should be planting seeds for the business; and not constantly trying to put out fires. I’ve worked with numerous organizations of all sizes that and I’ve had the chance to see just how reactive a lot of support operations can be. Even with native tools, we often forget that even real-time issue resolution can lead to slow downs. With that in mind, I want to share a few virtualization secrets with you. The goal here is to introduce a few new tools and practices to help you proactively resolve issues before they even become even bigger problems.

I’ve had the chance to poke around a powerful tool recently that helps make managing a virtualization environment much easier. Specifically, the Goliath Application Availability Monitoring (GAAM) tool directly integrates with your ecosystem to proactively monitor the availability of Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Horizon View, Microsoft RDS, and more. Here’s the cool part, this isn’t just monitoring availability, rather it allows you to automatically test the entire deliver infrastructure. If you have a sprawling Citrix platform, it’s like having a Citrix Admin at all of your end points logging in and testing everything.

Leveraging GAAM, here are a few tips and tricks to improve your VDI and Virtualization Environment.

1.) Become aware of logon failures or even slowness with better than real-time advanced warnings.

As a tool, GAAM alerts IT administrators of access and performance issues with business-critical applications before their end users ever attempt to logon by having the Goliath ‘system user’ attempt logons – which is actually modeled after one of your real users in terms of site, profile, and using the same steps, sites, and profiles as an actual user. From there, GAAM provides real-world data on what will happen when your end user tries to access his/her application or desktop. Logon issues reduce as you gain time and detailed metrics to proactively troubleshoot and practice towards future prevention.

2.) Can’t stress this enough – leverage tools that give you the most amount of flexibility: Cloud, On-Premises, and even Hybrid.

I have no doubt that you’ve got cloud on your mind. That said, GAAM can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, site, or geographic location of your choosing. From there, you gain the ability to monitor user logon experience in real time with the Goliath Application Availability Monitor – regardless of your deployment model. Ultimately, this gives you immediate access to the right information allowing you to mitigate logon issues quickly to eliminate end user pain. All of this, while still leveraging cloud!

3.) Take the guessing game out of logon issues and session performance challenges. 

In my experience, the vast majority of challenges are noticed after a user logs in and starts complaining. But, what if you had a tool that could analyze each phase of the logon process and document it with a screenshot? Not only that, it can show where there was a failure! With each phase of the logon process GAAM attempts, a screenshot is taken to provide visual evidence and objective proof of logon success or logon failure. This allows you to see the potential impact that typically elusive items like disclaimers, secondary authentication, client-side errors, and multiple launch sequences may have on the results of the logon process.

Furthermore, administrators are able to quickly gain context to go along with full text logon sequencing results. As such, it’s much easier for IT to understand the intricacies of a particular logon issue without needing to: a) attempt to reproduce the problem manually, or b) wait for it to happen again.

Finally, you can leverage this solution by scheduling logon attempts to test out new applications, entire business units, or how users will interact with a new system. From there, you can setup alerts as well as screenshots to know exactly when and where there are issues with applications, backend systems, or the virtualization environment in general.

The user is one of the most important components of any technology architecture. The Goliath Application Availability Monitoring tool doesn’t only help you get to a resolution, it diagnoses the root cause of the issue. For any administrator, you’re taking the guessing game out of trying to figure out why there’s slowness and why you have upset users. This is your early warning system to make sure your environment stays healthy, proactively. That screenshot technology alone can help you save hours trying to figure out why certain user sessions simply don’t work well.

The Goliath Application Availability Monitor provides incredible value, especially at the price point. This is a subscription-based tool available at $2,500/year per end point. That means, for about $200/month you have the equivalent of a full time Citrix Administrator proactively finding issues before your end users are impacting, finding true root cause, and freeing up your IT team for other projects. It’s a real win-win.

My biggest recommendation is to try these solutions out at the very least. Doing a demo or PoC isn’t challenging at all and can give you so much insight into your existing processes. I know a lot of administrators and solutions talk a ‘proactive’ game, however, technologies like the Goliath Application Availability Monitoring actually deliver. Be sure to try it out!

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  • About the Author

    Bill Kleyman is an enthusiastic technologist with experience in a variety of industries. This includes data center, cloud, virtualization, security, AI, mobility, edge solutions, and much more. His architecture work includes large virtualization and cloud deployments as well as focusing on overcoming emerging business challenges. Bill enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues around everything that is technology. During the day, Bill is the Director of Technology Solutions at EPAM where he works with AI, machine learning, blockchain solutions, DevOps, cloud, and advanced technologies to help engineer the digital future. Bill’s whitepapers, articles, video blogs and podcasts have been published and referenced on WindowsITPro, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and many others. As an active member of the technology industry, Bill was ranked #16 globally in the Onalytica study which reviewed the top 100 most influential individuals in the cloud landscape; and #4 in a different Onalytica study reviewing the industry’s top Data Security Experts.