By George Spiers, Citrix CTP

Why is it so difficult to find the Citrix expertise you need to successfully manage the end-user experience?

It is all in the numbers. And the numbers are not changing anytime soon. Citrix sites support over 400,000 customers. On average, an organization has 2-3 total FTEs managing and monitoring their Citrix environment. If you take those numbers, then roughly there is a demand for at least 1.2 million experts who need to be able to interact with Citrix in a knowledgeable way. Now on the supply side. We know there are 62 named Citrix Technology Professionals (CTPs) every year who are highly certified. There are then roughly 50-150 Citrix Technology Advocates (CTAs). Harder to quantify is how many additional Citrix experts at varying certifications exist. What I can say is the total supply is far below the demand of 1.2 million. And regionally, it can be even more challenging. Here in Northern Ireland the talent pool supply is much lower than London or major cities in the United States. This means that more often than not organizations using Citrix are under resourced and struggling to find or keep professionals with deep technical expertise. (Click here to view Citrix Infographic highlighting these numbers.)

And if you are a lucky organization with the right expertise level, my guess is your deep technical experts spend anywhere from 25-30% of their time troubleshooting basic end-user tickets. This is critical time taken away from optimizing, managing, upgrading, and supporting your Citrix environment.

This paradigm isn’t going to change anytime soon. The only way to change the paradigm is to change the factors. This is where technology, with embedded intelligence and automation, can augment your expertise. The right technology solution knows what to monitor, what thresholds to set, and the right alerts to implement in order to proactively anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent performance issues – all without manual intervention.

Citrix Expertise Out-Of-The-Box   

All too often Citrix experts are hired to deploy, manage, and optimize their Citrix Virtual Application and Desktop environments. But where do they spend their time? They spend it troubleshooting end-user performance issues and responding to countless support tickets that come across their desk. The free tools don’t help always help. They often give only a single view into the Citrix stack, not the broader view to the entire delivery infrastructure, which includes elements like Active Directory, Licensing Servers, SQL databases, hypervisors, operating systems, network connectivity, and more. Now, instead of strategically helping transform the way people work, the few experts you do have spend their days defending the technology and its capabilities without the right tools to support them.

This can all be changed by leveraging purpose-built technology that embeds intelligence and automation to proactively anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent end-user performance issues regardless of where workloads or users are located. Instead of spending time on a full-time employee (FTE), at a fraction of the cost you can use technology that will not only pre-emptively alert you about potential performance issues before users are impacted but can also isolate root cause automatically when issues arise.

Augmenting Existing Expertise

In addition to serving as a full-time expert, purpose-built technology can uplevel your current staff. Organizations often hire junior level Citrix talent and invest in growing their skills over time. We can expedite that timeline by offering visual representations of performance data correlating key metrics to isolate root cause of issues. This can alleviate clicking around for hours trying to understand why end users are experiencing poor performance, instead empowering employees to quickly isolate the user session (Figure 1) experiencing an issue and quickly identifying what might be causing the performance lag (Figure 2).

Without a tool that automatically correlates and ties specific end-user experience data to the complex delivery infrastructure, admins could waste hours sifting through different systems and reports trying to recreate specific details of a user session. This even assumes that the data (event logs, performance data, etc.) exists for the right time period and user session in question. Even with hours of hunting, administrators could still come up empty -handed on why an end user is experiencing poor performance.

Goliath's Purpose Built Monitoring and Troubleshooting Tool

Figure 1: This is an example where Goliath Technologies, a purpose-built monitoring and troubleshooting tool, can offer a view of all virtual desktop sessions (current and historical) which an administrator can quickly bring up and sort and search for a user session to confirm that the slowness they are complaining is real and then drill into the next step to identify why slowness is occurring.

Goliath's Single End-User Session View

Figure 2: The image above shows a visual summary, powered by Goliath Technologies, that summarizes a single user session. At a glance, administrators can quickly get an overview of a single session’s performance correlating key metrics they may not easily find in Citrix alone.

  1. Dependency map offers a quick overview of all components involved in establishing and hosting the selected Citrix end-user session.
  2. Quick visual breakdown of all stages of the logon process.
  3. Key performance metrics enable an administrator to quickly view answers about the performance of a Citrix/VMware session and determine if slowness is caused by the network or other resources.
  4. A detailed breakdown of the application usage reveals root cause of a performance issue within an end-user’s virtual machine.

Retaining Talent

Talent retention is a top of mind topic for most managers. Good Citrix admins do not want to spend their days reacting to end-user complaints and fires. They want to invest in the future and be proactive in the services they deliver. Investment in purpose-built tools empowers administrators to proactively look for issues before end-users complain, avoiding support tickets all together from being filed.

Also, key performance reports empower administrators to foster data driven conversations with other IT team members, upper management, vendors, and end-users themselves. This avoids hours of wasting time blaming others for an issue and instead drives factual conversations and faster resolution times.

Selecting the Right Technology

Now if you are you looking to augment, uplevel, and support your teams you need to select the right technology. Not all technology is the same and not all will support the goal of delivering a “Citrix Expert Out-of-the-Box”. In order to get the complete uplift you are looking for, you need a solution that offers:

  • Embedded intelligence and automation to proactively prevent end-user issues from ever arising.
  • Broad and deep metrics across entire IT delivery infrastructure (Citrix, VMware Horizon, Microsoft, IGEL, etc.) and end-user behavior.
    • If in healthcare includes visibility across all major EHR applications.
  • Historical reports and analytics to foster data driven conversations with internal IT teams, other vendors, and end users.

These key elements are in fact all part of Goliath Technologies offerings. Goliath Technologies offers software with embedded intelligence and automation for monitoring and troubleshooting end-user performance issues for environments built on Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops or VMware Horizon platforms, whether on-premises or in the cloud (e.g. AWS, Azure). With Goliath’s unified view of end-user experience data across any hybrid landscape, IT is positioned to proactively ensure a great end-user experience regardless of where end users or workloads are located.

Summary

When investing in a purpose-built monitoring and troubleshooting solution, like Goliath Technologies, it is like adding a full-time Citrix troubleshooting expert available 24/7/365.  And it is an expert that is a trusted resource helping others on your team from the help desk to other administrators and upper management.

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