Triage application issues with Citrix Web Insight

Introduction:  NetScaler Gateway is one of the leading and advanced gateway solutions in the industry today.  NetScaler Gateway is used as a front-end for all Citrix applications.  It’s also used for SaaS, Web 2.0, database and legacy client-server applications.

Most of the big and medium scale enterprises have multiple types of applications for internal use or other external facing applications. Back in “the days,” the biggest challenge enterprises used to face was, implementation and maintaining these disparate applications. But then, “back in the days,” IT was much simpler. Users mostly had a desktop to access these applications except for a handful of users who had laptops to access these applications remotely.  Today, many enterprises offer work from home options to employees.  Most end users have smartphones.  The nature of people’s jobs keeps them highly mobile.

Thus, the challenges have increased manifold.

Not only does an enterprise ensure an application can be accessed from various devices, but also at a performance level that is acceptable to users. For network and application administrators, it is a daily challenge to meet customer expectations. With so many moving parts, it has become tough to make a stable application environment.

Citrix NetScaler Gateway

The good news is that the NetScaler Gateway application not only answers the concerns mentioned above.  But, life is much easier for administrators and their end users. For all enterprise applications based on SaaS, Web 2.0, legacy client-server or messengers, NetScaler Gateway provides Web Insight.

This tool helps administrators triage network and application issues at L4-L7 and provides much better user experience for end users.

Citrix Web Insight

Citrix Web Insight comes with all licenses of NetScaler (i.e. NetScaler Standard, NetScaler Enterprise and NetScaler Platinum).  Along with HDX Insight, Citrix Web Insight is a part of NetScaler Insight Center.

  1. It is deployed as a VM in a customer environment, to monitor and provide analytics for all HTTP traffic flowing through the NetScaler device.
  2. NetScaler collates HTTP traffic level information in Appflow records and forwards it to the VM running NetScaler Insight Center over a UDP connection.
  3. Web Insight provides a dashboard for both Network and Application admins to monitor and triage network and application issues.

Use case 1:  Client Network Latency

An admin received a complaint from a user complaining about slow response for SharePoint application. The diagram below shows number of hits for SharePoint and the response time. 

Please note:The response time for SharePoint is high.

However, the diagram above does not tell the full story. An admin can dig into this data further to get more specific analysis. Please refer to the diagram below. It shows the Network Latency on the client side


As an administrator, you can drill down further as in the diagram below. The orange bar shows the client network latency for a particular user being much higher as compared to other users. This proves the slow response of the application is due to higher latency on the client network. This data helps route the problem to the right support team and improve SLAs and user experience.

Use Case 2: Slow response on a single web page

A user is reporting slow response on the “main.html” page.  All other pages are working “OK.” As a administrator, you can take a look at Web Insight and look at the data below. From the data, one can see the rendering time for “main.html” page is higher than the rest. Now, what can cause this problem? Is it a network problem, or an application problem? Let’s find out. From the data below, you as an admin can look at the data for “render time” in the bottom right corner of the diagram below. The render time for “main.html” is highest among other pages in the website. Now does this tell us exactly what is causing this rendering time to be this high? No. Let us dig deeper.

A user is reporting slow response on the “main.html” page.  All other pages are working “OK.” As a administrator, you can take a look at Web Insight and look at the data below. From the data, one can see the rendering time for “main.html” page is higher than the rest. Now, what can cause this problem? Is it a network problem, or an application problem? Let’s find out.

From the data below, you as an admin can look at the data for “render time” in the bottom right corner of the diagram below. The render time for “main.html” is highest among other pages in the website. Now does this tell us exactly what is causing this rendering time to be this high? No. Let us dig deeper.

Let us analyze the page “main.html” using the data below. As we can see, the render time is way high.

We can further click on “Page Analysis” to get the next set of data in the diagram below. As we can see there are various objects embedded in this page. Looking at the data below, an admin can safely point out /background.jpg to be the cause of overall high rendering time. This data helps route the problem to the right support team, for e.g. application team in this instance, and improve SLAs and user experience.

In scenario’s like these, the customer can also explore Front End Optimization feature of NetScaler and enable better optimization at object level from NetScaler itself.

Use case 3: Server response time is slow

A user is reporting slow response on a particular application. For this case, let us consider it to be SharePoint. An admin can compare response time for multiple applications in an environment. One can clearly see the response time for SharePoint is much higher than that for Outlook.  

An admin can click on the SharePoint graph and get the next level of data. Using the data in the diagram below, an admin can notice the server response time for SharePoint and point out the exact issue. This data helps route the problem to the right support team (For the e.g. server team in this instance) and improve SLAs and user experience.  

Conclusion

Citrix Web Insight helps administrators triage network and application issues in real time as well as get historical data to plan and optimize networks for future. Citrix® NetScaler® is the industry’s leading web and application delivery controller, and maximizes the performance and availability of all applications and data. NetScaler products are easily selected by determining the edition providing functional needs and the appropriate physical or virtual appliance platform to fulfill performance needs.

For more information please visit: http://www.citrix.com/netscaler/