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Virtual desktop monitoring helps IT see the light

IT admins need visibility to make sure VDI runs smoothly. Virtual desktop monitoring tools take them out of the darkness and help them see where they're going.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Most people have tried to navigate a dark room and ended up stubbing their toe or knocking something...

over because they couldn't see where they were going. They lacked visibility.

With VDI, visibility is just as important in making sure nothing breaks and nobody gets hurt. As a result, virtual desktop monitoring tools are crucial.

"[Monitoring is about] proactive troubleshooting for our end users," said Sean Telljohann, senior network specialist at Klingbeil Capital Management in Columbus, Ohio. "We try to prevent the stuff from breaking before it actually does."  

Telljohann and other attendees here at Citrix Synergy 2017 learned about the company's options for virtual desktop monitoring in a session this week. Those options include Citrix Director, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Management Packs and the new Citrix Management Solutions for the Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS).

"It's all about having the right amount of visibility when you need it," said Allen Furmanski, senior product marketing manager for Citrix.

A closer look at Citrix monitoring

Director, the day-to-day tool for Citrix shops, provides a single management console as well as real-time virtual desktop monitoring. The Platinum edition offers the most features, including custom reporting, proactive notifications and alerting, and the ability to retain data for up to a full year.

New features in Citrix Director 7.14 include resource utilization monitoring for CPU, memory, disk and graphics processing units. Citrix also added historical data so VDI shops can look back at specific periods of time to identify peaks and trends that affect resource usage. This information is particularly helpful for IT administrators when they try to assist users but cannot get to their problems for a couple of days. With historical reporting, they can go back to the specific period a user was experiencing a problem and see what was going on in the network at the time, said Mudit Mehrotra, senior product manager for Citrix.

It has a lot of functionality, but it looks like they've really expanded.
Sean Telljohannsenior network specialist, Klingbeil Capital Management

The new features are interesting to Telljohann, whose company uses Director 7.6.

"It has a lot of functionality, but it looks like they've really expanded," he said in a post-session interview.

SCOM Management Packs complement Director. They provide application and desktop usage reports, which can help IT identify which users are working with which apps and data and for how long. Organizations in highly regulated fields can use these reports to stay compliant and ensure that users do not overuse any resources, Mehrotra said. The Management Packs also provide reports on server loads, resource consumption and the number of sessions each machine launches.

The SCOM Management Packs are only available for organizations with Platinum licensing. That can be limiting for some smaller shops such Telljohann's, which has about 125 Citrix users.

"We don't use SCOM or anything," he said. "We're a pretty small shop. If they can trickle down some of the Platinum level pieces that they have available to some of the lower levels, [it would add] more value for us."

Mehrotra and Furmanski also discussed Citrix Management Solutions for OMS. The pair described it as monitoring as a service, because it allows VDI shops to monitor Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp deployments from the Microsoft Azure Cloud. OMS tracks information on the user logon experience, including the average logon times and the number of failed connections, plus information on the availability of Delivery Groups and the number of desktops that are ready for use. 

"The Operations Management System that Microsoft is coming out with is something we'll definitely look into," Telljohann said.

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