Delivering Impressive End User Experiences in Citrix Xen Upgrades - But Not as an Afterthought!
March 15, 2017

Colin Macnab
AppEnsure

Share this

The move to Citrix 7.X is in full swing. This has improved the centralizing of Management and reduction of costs, but End User Experience is becoming top of the business objectives list. However, delivering that is not something to be considered after the upgrade.

Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop have been around for many years, delivering IT Ops an essential ability to centrally manage and control costs of App and VDI delivery. The move to a new architecture in Xen 6.X accelerated deployments and now the move to the latest improvements in Xen 7.X is in full swing. We see this occurring globally, with generally good results.

However, during these last two upgrade cycles, we have also seen the Digital Transformation of businesses, making delivery of an impressive End User Experience (EUX) now one of the most important objectives of the upgrade process.

We also see most upgrades following the tried and trusted legacy approach of, first deployment rollout, then performance monitoring and management. Unfortunately this approach is self-conflicting, performance as an afterthought is a legacy approach that has not resolved performance issues well post deployment. If EUX is the primary or an important objective, then it needs to be part of the planning and deployment process at the start, to achieve the desired results.


Oops, you did not approach your upgrade that way and now the users are complaining, the business is complaining and your management urgently wants IT to explain what all the time and money was spent on without resolving all the inefficient waiting that is the core complaint. Waiting to logon, waiting to access Apps, waiting for responses, waiting for the screen to refresh. Waiting!

So, what to do to resolve this and deliver the performance that is now demanded by all? Often we see the application of legacy monitoring and management tools used in other parts of the stack to try to understand what the problems are. However, these tools were mostly architected before virtualization was part of the design remit. Recent revs to these tools cannot get past that initial architectural limitation, so they rarely resolve anything or present any new visibility into the issues. The waiting continues.

Citrix itself offers little to address these challenges, the recent End of Life of Edgesight was effectively their exit from addressing the subject. There are several third party Citrix tools available that do address the subject, but they generally all are platforms for viewing the commodity data streams from Citrix and other sources in a single pane, not a source of real EUX measurements. While this can present some interesting observations, it does not rescind the old maxim, "commodity data gets you commodity results."

There are a couple of tools that actually do try to measure performance, but they use synthetic transactions, which is another way at guessing what the EUX might be, not an actual measurement of the real transactions and experience.

However, in the end all these tools fall under the influence of the mistaken belief that in a dynamic, distributed, virtualized IT stack, it is possible to collect enough metrics on the availability of various silos of technology; Citrix Servers, CPU, Storage, Networking, etc. and other feeds to infer what the EUX will be. You cannot, there will never be enough data to find the correct real result. Worse, as these deployments grow more and more complex with DevOps continuously evolving the Apps, it is getting exponentially more complex to even attempt this approach.

Further, the third party tools available to monitor Citrix environments are confined to monitoring the Citrix silo only, a very incomplete and compartmentalized perspective. They provide large amount of data collected through API calls and PowerShell scripts from the underlying Citrix layers, but then require that subject matter experts review the logs after the fact and decipher the data to discover what is happening inside the Citrix silo.

Therefore, these are not real time solutions. These solutions also fail to provide end-to-end visibility through the complete stack and the breakdown of that end to end visibility hop-by-hop. As a result, they assist establishing the fact that the end-user experience degradations are not the result of the Citrix silo, but fail to identify the actual root cause.

In some cases, these tools advise that an end user experience is degrading, but do not provide the reason behind it. Knowing your end user is having a bad experience is important for the Citrix administrator, but not knowing why they are having a bad experience is very frustrating. Since delivering optimal end-user experience involves many hops and layers, just knowing that there is a degraded delivery still requires that the Citrix administrators drill down even further into the various segments of the delivery, if they need to understand the root cause. This is the primary reason why end-user experience remains an unsolved mystery in Citrix environments.

Colin Macnab is CEO and Founder at AppEnsure.

Share this

The Latest

October 20, 2021

Over three quarters (79%) of database professionals are now using either a paid-for or in-house monitoring tool, according to a new survey from Redgate Software ...

October 19, 2021

Gartner announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022. With CEOs and Boards striving to find growth through direct digital connections with customers, CIOs' priorities must reflect the same business imperatives, which run through each of Gartner's top strategic tech trends for 2022 ...

October 18, 2021

Distributed tracing has been growing in popularity as a primary tool for investigating performance issues in microservices systems. Our recent DevOps Pulse survey shows a 38% increase year-over-year in organizations' tracing use. Furthermore, 64% of those respondents who are not yet using tracing indicated plans to adopt it in the next two years ...

October 14, 2021

Businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve network performance and security, according to a new State of AIOps Study, conducted by ZK Research and Masergy ...

October 13, 2021

What may have appeared to be a stopgap solution in the spring of 2020 is now clearly our new workplace reality: It's impossible to walk back so many of the developments in workflow we've seen since then. The question is no longer when we'll all get back to the office, but how the companies that are lagging in their technological ability to facilitate remote work can catch up ...

October 12, 2021

The pandemic accelerated organizations' journey to the cloud to enable agile, on-demand, flexible access to resources, helping them align with a digital business's dynamic needs. We heard from many of our customers at the start of lockdown last year, saying they had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight, and this effort was heavily cloud-reliant. However, blindly forging ahead can backfire ...

October 07, 2021

SmartBear recently released the results of its 2021 State of Software Quality | Testing survey. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that a "lack of time" was reported as the number one challenge to doing more testing, especially as release frequencies continue to increase. However, it was disheartening to see that a lack of time was also the number one response when we asked people to identify the biggest blocker to professional development ...

October 06, 2021

The role of the CIO is evolving with an increased focus on unlocking customer connections through service innovation, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey. The study reveals the shift in the role of the CIO with the majority of CIO respondents stating innovation, operational efficiency, and customer experience as their top priorities ...

October 05, 2021

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software ...

October 04, 2021

Is your company trying to use artificial intelligence (AI) for business purposes like sales and marketing, finance or customer experience? If not, why not? If so, has it struggled to start AI projects and get them to work effectively? ...