The latest Citrix SCOM Management Packs released with XenApp and XenDesktop Version 7.16 release, as always, supports the latest XenApp and XenDesktop, StoreFront, and Provisioning Services versions. This release also supports NetScaler Version 12.0 and ShareFile Version 5.0/5.1.

The noticeable features additions are XenApp and XenDesktop Zone monitoring, enhanced XenApp and XenDesktop Site Database availability monitoring, Application usage reports and monitoring the validity of certificates used by StoreFront.

Application usage

If you are looking for any of the following information, the new Application Usage report in the Citrix Management Pack for XenApp And XenDesktop is your solution:

  • Which applications are not used anymore?
  • Which are the rarely used applications?
  • Which are the most used applications?
  • Which applications are used by a specific user and how much?
  • Which users are using a specific application and for how long?
  • What is the number of distinct users using a particular application?
  • What is the number of distinct clients from which a particular application is accessed?
  • What is the maximum number of concurrent users and maximum concurrent instances of a specific application?

The Application Usage report helps with capacity planning, licensing compliance, billing for application usage and other purposes. Here are some scenarios where application usage reports come handy:

  • To find applications that are not required anymore, so you can decommission them and eliminate associated maintenance costs. Besides applications unused in the last couple of months, rarely used applications are also good candidates. Users of rarely used applications can be identified to check if they really need a specific application and look for possible alternates.
  • To optimize application licensing costs – this reports helps you ensure that you are not breaching the licensing agreement lesser licenses and also you don’t spend for unused licenses. The supported licensing models are named users, number of distinct users, maximum number of concurrent users, maximum number of concurrent application instances, and number of distinct endpoints.
  • Server OS VDAs hardware upgrade is planned and you want to know the number of servers/CPUs required for the current load based on the maximum number of concurrent users or application instances.
  • Maintenance is planned for a specific application and you want to find the current users of that application to let them know ahead that they will be affected.
  • There is a requirement to charge users based on their application usage duration.

Now, let’s take a look at how the report looks.

Application – Usage report

This report shows for a selected Site all its applications and their usage during the reporting time range. For each application you can see:

  • Time when the application was created/published (Created)
  • Cumulative time the application was used by any user within the reporting time period (Usage Duration)
  • Number of distinct users that used the application in the reporting time period (Distinct Users)
  • Maximum number of concurrent users within the reporting time period (Max. Concurrent Users)
  • Number of times application was launched in reporting time period (Launches)
  • Number of application instances (Usage) even partially existing in the reporting time period (Instances)
  • Maximum number of concurrent application instances within the reporting time period (Max. Concurrent Instances)
  • Number of distinct endpoints from which the application was accessed (Distinct Endpoints)
  • Last time any user started the application – not limited by the reporting time period (Last Launch)

Figure 1: Application – Usage report

By default, the usage is shown for all applications within the selected Site. However, you can limit the report output to server specific use case by specifying appropriate input parameters.

Figure 2: Input parameters for the Application – Usage report

The report can show either All, Bottom n (least used), Top n (most used) or only unused applications.   Further the report can show only applications that have not been created recently which is very useful when you are looking for unused or rarely used applications. By specifying the username, you can check the application usage for particular user. The list of applications in the report can be limited also to applications published by a specific delivery group.

Applications on the report are by default, listed in the order of Usage Duration but they can be listed by any usage data by clicking on relevant column.

When looking for unused and rarely used applications, besides checking Usage Duration it is also useful to check Last Launch because application could have been used more in the beginning of a longer reporting time range but not used anymore for a while. For rarely used applications, you would typically want to check the users that are using those applications, so you can talk to them and see if that application is really needed. And you can do that by simply clicking on application name which runs Application – Usage by Users report.

Application – Usage by User report

For a selected application, this report shows all the users using it and their usage.

Figure 3: Application – Usage by Users report

Clicking on a user name runs the Application – User Activity report with which specific usage of a selected application and user can be analyzed.

XenApp and XenDesktop Zones

The Management Pack for XenApp and XenDesktop shows the primary and secondary zones in the Site topology for XenApp and XenDesktop Version 7.7 (where zones were introduced) and later. Brokers and hypervisor connections are now contained in zones and not directly under the Site.

Figure 4: XenApp and XenDesktop 7.7+ topology

Citrix services (e.g. Broker Service) are now monitored not only at the Delivery Controller (DC) and Site level, but also at zone level.  When a specific Citrix service is down on all the DCs in a secondary zone, the performance is degraded and you get a warning. However, when a specific Citrix service is down on all the DCs in the primary zone, this has a major impact on the functionality and you get a critical alert.

XenApp and XenDesktop Site Database Availability

Database monitoring has been enhanced with explicit Site Database visualization in the topology as shown in Figure 4. If a database is not available a critical alert, including reason, is triggered.  In case the database is setup in high availability mode with mirroring you will be warned if one of two mirrored databases is not available, giving you the chance to fix the issue before second database might become unavailable too.

StoreFront certificate monitoring

When using StoreFront in production, the best practice is to secure it using SSL which depends on a valid SSL certificate. If certificate used for SSL connections to StoreFront expires users can’t connect to StoreFront and subsequently can’t access their applications and desktops.

The new Citrix Management Pack for StoreFront warns you if the StoreFront certificate is about to expire, by default 15 days prior to expiration, giving you a chance to replace certificate with new one before users get affected.

Figure 5: StoreFront SSL certificate expiration warning

If by chance the certificate expires, a critical alert is generated pointing out the problem.