While XenApp and XenDesktop 7.13 includes powerful features that enhance the end user experience, does this update include anything in Citrix Director to make life easier for IT? Of course it does!

Citrix Director 7.13 brings two new insights for XenApp & XenDesktop administrators: Session idle time and real-time monitoring for Adaptive Transport of HDX. This blog post chalks out scenarios where an administrator can use these new features to speed up troubleshooting, improve return-on-investment, organize maintenance and upgrade cycles, and fine-tune configuration to enhance the overall end-user experience.

Session idle time

Session idle time, as the name suggests, is the time for which there is no activity on a XenApp/XenDesktop session. This has been one of the top-rated enhancement requests for Citrix Director with multiple customers and partners asking for it via several channels, including the Citrix forum here and here.

session-idle-time-filterFigure 1: Narrow down on list of sessions that have been idle for for more than certain number of hours

Below, we discuss some scenarios in which session idle time is useful for administrators.

Terminate sessions to free up application licenses

For workplaces where employees work in shifts and/or have a physical presence across geographies to realize the “follow-the-sun” strategy, it may be a good practice to identify all the idle sessions at the end of an employee shift or work-hours and terminate idle sessions to free up precious resources like pooled application licenses, Citrix Concurrent User (CCU) licenses so that the employees in the next shift do not struggle to access these mission-critical resources.

Speed up the “drain” process during an upgrade or maintenance cycle

If an IT administrator identifies a poorly performing or misconfigured VDA machine, but can’t kick all users off at once, they can manually kill the idle sessions to speed up the ‘drain’ process, so they can remove the machine from use and work on it. Similarly, for upgrading an application to a newer version, the administrator can manually kill the idle sessions running that application to speed up the ‘drain’ process

Periodic clean-up and culling

Although XenApp/XenDesktop administrators can configure disconnect and logoff timers, some idle sessions may continue to exist past the configured idle and disconnect timers for a variety of reasons (hung app, hung VDA process etc.). An administrator may want to periodically review the XenApp/XenDesktop site for these types of sessions by using the filters page in Citrix Director and then decide to manually kill the sessions.

Use Smart Scale to shut down idle machines in the public cloud to reduce costs

With multiple XenApp and XenDesktop customers moving their workloads to public clouds, the cost is mainly driven by the workload instances. With Citrix Smart Scale the customers will be able to optimize cost by shutting down VDAs during off-hours. But before shutting down a VDA machine, the administrator may want to ensure that there are no active sessions running on it. Filtering session lists by machine name and session idle time on Director will come in handy.

If any of the scenarios presented here sound like they are a good fit for your IT environment, read our blog post on Monitoring Idle Applications and Sessions in Citrix Director that shows step-by-step details on how to filter sessions by idle time in Citrix Director.

And if you are using session idle time in other creative ways then we would love to hear your story; please share in the comments section below.

Monitoring Adaptive Transport of HDX

XenApp/XenDesktop 7.13 introduces Adaptive Transport of HDX, a network-aware data transport engine that provides efficient, reliable, and consistent congestion and flow control. Director provides visibility of the underlying protocol used to administrators under the session details page. Read our blog on HDX Adaptive Transport Protocol Monitoring via Director to find out how the resultant protocol is depicted in the monitoring console.

So, Kickoff 2017 with XenApp & XenDesktop 7.13 and enjoy the improved HDX experience along with the new monitoring features.