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Citrix XenDesktop 7: Director and EdgeSight explained!

Posted by Cuong Le on

There have been a lot of rumors circulating about the demise of EdgeSight.  After reading this article, it will be very clear that EdgeSight is not dead – in fact it is more alive than ever as we demonstrated in the Citrix Synergy 2013 Keynote (38:26 min. into the Keynote video).  MarkT and BradP discussed Director and EdgeSight and how we are utilizing Director as our unified console in XenDesktop 7, enabling Citrix application and desktop administrators with the ability to holistically monitor their XenDesktop 7 environment.  This article will break down this value proposition and explain exactly what that means.

XenDesktop 7 Director – Real-time assessment

Desktop Director (as it is known in XenDesktop 5) is a real-time web tool, used primarily for the Help Desk or Level 1 Call Center agent.  It is an easy, innovative way to quickly search and view the session level details of a user who calls support to report a problem. In XenDesktop 7, Director expands upon this role.  The new troubleshooting dashboard provides the real-time health monitoring of your XenDesktop 7 site.  Using the Troubleshooting Dashboard, administrators are now able to see on a minute-by-minute scale if any failures have occurred, giving a true view of the end user experience for your customers.

Filters view- Drilling down into session details is the key to being able to quickly resolve issues. From the Troubleshooting Dashboard, administrators are able to click on the failure or sessions number and are immediately taken to the Filters view.  In this table view, it is easy to see exactly who has been affected by the failures, what machines are affected, failure reason, time of failure, plus many more details.  Global actions can be performed from this page enabling quick remediation of issues.

Trends view – As the dashboard presents the last 60 minutes, it is useful to be able to see what has been occurring over the past 24 hours or perhaps over the past week. From the dashboard, the administrator can click on “View Historical Trends and is taken to the Trends view, in context, from the dashboard.  Data from the configuration log provides reasons and accountability with regards to changes that have been made in the site.   For example, it may be that these changes have been the root cause of user connection failures.

Help Desk View – This enhancement enables access to a new actionable Help Desk view (Activity Manager page) and an updated User Details view that provides additional troubleshooting capabilities and will help customers increase their first call resolution.

XenDesktop 7 EdgeSight – advanced analytics

EdgeSight evolves from a standalone product into an integrated solution expanding the value proposition of existing products such as Director.  Instead of focusing on product silos, this new approach allows Citrix to provide a more comprehensive and holistic experience.  Providing monitoring through the Citrix lens is very important to ensuring satisfied end users through Service Level Agreement assurance.

In XenDesktop 7, EdgeSight provides two key features, performance management and network analysis.

Performance management provides the historical retention and trend reporting.  With historical retention of data versus the real-time assessment, administrators are able to create Trend reports.  These reports enable capacity and health trending.  Questions such as the following can be answered by utilizing Trends:

  • What has been the load on my published application servers over the past month compared to the previous month?
  • What is the effect of the number of logged on users to the logon duration for these users?
  • Have I had machine registration errors every Monday?  What has been the past health trend?
  • What is the number of peak sessions over the past month, year, quarter over quarter?

As part of the performance management feature, customers have the ability to compare a date range to a previous baseline based on that customer’s environment.  This auto-baselining feature is key to understanding what is “normal” or when the “normal” trends occur (i.e. increased session usage every end of quarter as people rush to close out the quarter).

Leveraging NetScaler HDX Insight, the EdgeSight network analysis feature provides much needed network visibility to the Citrix administrator. As customers become more mobile it is the network that is the main culprit to poor session performance.  How does the Citrix administrator prove it is not a “Citrix problem”?   With EdgeSight network analysis, Citrix administrators are able to diagnose if the problem is due to a high latency or a low bandwidth connection for that XenDesktop 7 user.  Even more important, understanding if this is a wide spread issue affecting many users or if it is isolated to one user helps understand the impact.  Proving that the culprit is the network and not due a “Citrix problem” instills confidence in the Citrix solution.  Citrix administrators are now able to quickly escalate the problem to their network administrators showing exactly what the network issue is.

License editions

Desktop Director 2.x is included with all editions of XenDesktop 5 and provides the help desk capabilities for XenDesktop 5 and XenApp 6.5.  EdgeSight Advanced is included with XenApp Platinum and XenDesktop Platinum.

With XenDesktop 7, Director, the real-time assessment and troubleshooting tool is included in all XenDesktop 7 editions.  The new EdgeSight features are included in both XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum editions entitlements however these features are based on the XenDesktop 7 platform.  The environment must be XenDesktop 7 in order to leverage the new Director and EdgeSight features.

EdgeSight network analysis also requires NetScaler Enterprise or Platinum edition.  With NetScaler Enterprise, real-time data for the last 60 minutes is provided.  NetScaler Platinum edition has an unlimited data retention.  To summarize,

  1. All editions:  Director – real-time monitoring and basic troubleshooting (up to 7 days of data)
  2. XD7 Platinum:  EdgeSight performance management feature – includes #1 + historical monitoring (up to a full year of data through the monitoring SQL database)
  3. XD7 Platinum + NetScaler Enterprise:  EdgeSight performance management and network analysis – includes #2 plus 60 mins. of network data
  4. XD7 Platinum + NetScaler Platinum:  EdgeSight performance management and network analysis – includes #2 plus unlimited network data
Be sure to read the Monitoring of XenDesktop 7 with Director and EdgeSight, taking it to the next level whitepaper for important configuration and grooming details at the end of this blog article.

Monitoring previous versions of XenApp and XenDesktop

Customers have several options when choosing a monitoring solution for their Citrix delivered virtual applications and desktops.

Citrix will continue to support and maintain Citrix EdgeSight 5.4 as stated in the product lifecycle matrix.  Additionally, customers may want to use NetScaler HDX Insight for ICA packet visibility.  This requires a deployment of a NetScaler in the network path in order to gain the ICA visibility and the versions of Receiver for Windows and Mac to be released within the XenDesktop 7 timeframe (Android and iOS are not yet supported).

Customers may also use XenDesktop 7 Director and EdgeSight to monitor lower VDA versions however the Delivery Controller must be running XenDesktop 7.  Because of new instrumentation in the XD 7 VDA, there will be limited data available for the lower versioned VDAs (XD 5.6 and below).  Metrics that will not be collected for lower versioned VDAs are the logon duration metrics, logon breakdown details, and some categories of machine and connection failures.

Source: Citrix's Blog

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