Whether it's a storage latency issue or a WAN connectivity problem, when something goes wrong with your virtual desktops, you need VDI monitoring tools to help you identify
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) products have management consoles that are usually oriented more toward provisioning than toward on-going monitoring and support. If you want deep information for real-time support, you'll want a better management and monitoring tool.
The right tool for you depends on your existing management style and products; you may already have visibility into some parts and just need augmented information. You also may require more than one product to get the answers you need or may simply need to better train staff to use the products you already have. To give you a feel for the kinds of VDI monitoring tools that are available, here are details about four options and how they manage VDI in different ways.
Xangati takes a fairly network-centric view of VDI, because the company's background is in monitoring the network and alerting you to unusual behavior. Information is also drawn from the virtualization layer, and it can measure and analyze both Citrix and VMware protocols.
Xangati allows detailed information to be kept only for the period when there are issues, rather than averaging monitoring data that's collected over time and keeping a lot of detail. There is a special dashboard to display VDI-specific analytics, providing a fast path to the cause of anomalies.
VMware vCenter Operations for View
If you have a VMware View environment and the vCenter Operations Suite, then the View adapter is a logical choice for VDI monitoring. By feeding View information into the same analytics engine that collects the vSphere information, you get a single console with visibility for the whole stack -- at least inside the data center.
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Another benefit of using management application and monitoring tools from the same vendor is that they know their products best and can -- hopefully -- provide insights into the health of your environment. One trap is that vCenter Operations Suite for View does require the Enterprise edition, which is a significant cost if you don't have it already. The Foundation edition that is bundled with some vSphere editions doesn't accept additional adapters or dashboards.
Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere UX
Liquidware Labs' Stratusphere UX product builds on its tools for pre-virtualization desktop assessment and puts a particular focus on the user experience. It emphasizes the super-critical question, "What is it like for users?"
Since Stratusphere UX uses the same engine as the assessment tool, it can also be used for a before-and-after comparison to see how the user experience has changed between the physical desktop and its virtual replacement. Stratusphere UX works across multiple VDI platforms, including VMware View, as well as Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp; plus, it does ongoing monitoring of desktops that are still physical. The company does expect that you already have good systems in place for monitoring your hypervisor.
Citrix Desktop Director
If your environment is Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp, you have a no-cost option with Desktop Director. This VDI monitoring tool is focused on help-desk staff, providing dashboards and the ability to troubleshoot user issues with their sessions and desktops. It includes a fairly simple interface for quickly resolving individual desktop issues.
For a deeper insight, Citrix NetScaler can provide more network-centric analytics, although that is only a small part of what NetScaler offers.
As you choose a VDI monitoring tool, go for an application or applications that rapidly expose the cause of issues. Select tools that complement or integrate with your existing tools and focus on individual end users to give the highest satisfaction with your deployment.
This was first published in April 2013