Now you can get deep visibility into your XenApp and XenDesktop deployment from a single web-based console as part of Citrix NetScaler Management and Analytics Service. The same features that have been tried and tested in the on-premises version of NetScaler MAS now are available in a Citrix Cloud service. And best of all, you can sign up right now and try it out for free for 30 days!

We introduced the rich functionality of the Management and Analytics Service in a previous blog post. This is the second article in the series; it explores the many ways NetScaler MAS can help you manage your apps and improve customer experience.

Gaining visibility to virtual apps, desktops and users

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) frees IT departments and users from the limitations of traditional client-based desktop and application IT management. You probably already rely on Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop for application and desktop virtualization. The foundation of Citrix VDI solutions is the Independent Computing Architecture (ICA ™) protocol, developed by Citrix to optimize the user experience.

In order to troubleshoot application performance issues across your VDI and maintain a high quality user experience, you need deep visibility into traffic flows. In addition, visibility into a user’s access details is essential for troubleshooting access failure issues. As the network administrator, you want to know when a user is not able to log on to a service, and you want to see the user activity and the reasons for logon failure.

Now you can sign up for the NetScaler Management and Analytics Service and get all of this and more.

How NetScaler Management and Analytics Service can help

If you use NetScaler to manage access to your XenApp and XenDesktop environment, you now can use NetScaler MAS to gain unprecedented end-to-end visibility to ICA™ traffic passing through your NetScaler instances. The HDX Insight functionality in NetScaler MAS collects, correlates and displays highly informative network usage and performance data for XenDesktop and XenApp, both in aggregate and down to the level of individual user sessions. This data helps both network and application administrators to identify and triage network and application issues.

In addition, the Gateway Insight dashboards in NetScaler MAS provide visibility into the failures that users encounter when logging on, regardless of the access mode. You can view a list of users logged on at a given time, along with the number of active users, and number of active sessions. You can view the end-point analysis (EPA), authentication, single sign-on (SSO), and application launch failures for a user. You also can view the details of active and terminated sessions.

To access these powerful insights, you don’t need any intrusive network taps or software agents. You just need to sign up for the NetScaler Management and Analytics Service or download the NetScaler MAS software to be able to start collecting and analyzing data from your NetScaler instances.

Let’s look at more detail regarding what NetScaler MAS can provide in terms of visibility into your Citrix VDI infrastructure.

Proactive monitoring

NetScaler MAS/HDX Insight allows administrators to dissect network data from various angles — by desktop, application, user groups and individual users. This is a powerful tool that allows much faster root cause analysis. Additionally, you also can see TCP level jitter and latency information and get a detailed breakdown of ICA session latency by client, ICA RTT and by server. This information can be viewed in real time — or you can see historical information, all on simple-to-understand dashboards.

Complete ICA visibility

Once NetScaler MAS is connected to your NetScaler instances, you can detect and dissect ICA connections in order to provide complete visibility into the protocol.

High-level aggregate information with drill-downs to session-level data can be accessed from several different perspectives, including:

  • Users Administrators can view a snapshot of the average round trip time (RTT, or screen lag time), WAN latency, datacenter latency, and bandwidth consumption across all users over select time periods (e.g., last 5 minutes, hour, day, week or month). The same screen also canh be used to view Top Users by a range of attributes (e.g., number of apps/desktops launched, bandwidth consumed, latency and number of active desktops/apps) or search for individual users.
  • Applications In addition to the aggregate bandwidth being consumed by all hosted applications, this view provides an app-by-app breakdown that includes the number of active sessions and apps, total count of sessions and apps launched, and launch duration across select time periods.
  • Desktops In addition to total bandwidth being consumed by all hosted desktops, admins get a breakdown by user that includes the number of active sessions and desktops, session duration, bandwidth utilization, RTT, datacenter latency, and WAN latency.
  • Gateways The aggregate/summary data for this view is based on the traffic transiting each individual instance of NetScaler ADC, NetScaler Gateway or SD-WAN and provides a way to compare performance across sites/locations.

NetScaler MAS is the only solution that reliably dissects the ICA protocol to provide granular details of what’s going on in each virtual channel level. 

Powerful reports

NetScaler MAS provides the following reports both in historical and real-time views:

  • Top Users by number of apps/desktop launched, bandwidth consumed, client device information, app launch count, active sessions, active desktops, and latency.
  • Top Desktops (per specific time frame such as daily, weekly, monthly or custom) across all XenApp/XenDesktop users by total number of launches, established sessions, uptime, and session latency.
  • Top Apps (per specific time frame such as daily, weekly, monthly or custom) across all XenApp users, by up-time and total number of launches

Visibility to user access issues

Gaining visibility into a user’s access details is essential for troubleshooting access failure issues. As the network administrator, you want to know when a user is not able to log on to their desktop or applications and identify the reasons for logon failure, ideally before the user starts to complain. Gateway Insight in NetScaler MAS provides visibility into the failures that users encounter when logging on, regardless of the access mode. You can view a list of users logged on at a given time, along with the number of active users, number of active sessions, and bytes consumed and licenses used by all users at any given time. You can view the end-point analysis (EPA), authentication, single sign-on (SSO), and application launch failures for a user. You can also view the details of active and terminated sessions for a user.

Even better, NetScaler MAS also provides visibility into the reasons for application launch failure for virtual applications. This enhances your ability to troubleshoot any kind of logon or application launch failure issues. You can view the number of applications launched, number of total and active sessions, and the number of total bytes and bandwidth consumed by the applications. You can view details of the users, sessions, bandwidth, and launch errors for an application.

Simple, cost-effective deployment

Unlike other solutions that have multiple touch points and require a complex configuration of network taps or intrusive agent software, NetScaler MAS provides end-to-end visibility with nothing more than an organization’s existing footprint of NetScaler ADCs, NetScaler Gateways, or SD-WAN instances. The required instrumentation is already a part of those solutions; it only needs to be turned on and configured with NetScaler MAS.

NetScaler Management and Analytics is the answer

NetScaler Management and Analytics from Citrix allows administrators to easily view, automate, and manage all their application infrastructure, as well as gain deep insights into application performance and security across a hybrid multi-cloud environment.
NetScaler MAS is available as a cloud service or as software you can download.

  • For more information on NetScaler MAS click here.
  • To start a trial and evaluate NetScaler MAS today click here.