New Approach for Citrix Application Performance Monitoring and Troubleshooting
Solving performance problems for applications served through Citrix XenApp can be daunting. While Citrix fixes many problems related to application management and performance, it can also make troubleshooting a bit more complicated.
In the past, troubleshooting Citrix-related bottlenecks was a time-consuming process wherein a successful outcome depended largely on the experience of the analyst.
When users complain about slowness across Citrix servers, sometimes there are obvious culprits. For example, a particular XenApp server may be oversubscribed in terms of CPU or memory, the WAN connection between the user and the XenApp server may be congested, or the backend application may be overutilized. After reaching for all the low hanging fruit and coming up empty, the next step is to take a closer look at the individual user sessions.
Typically, investigating user transactions in Citrix involves downloading the packet data at each hop along the path between the end-user, the XenApp server, and the backend application. Packet analysis across Citrix XenApp is always a time consuming process that is sometimes impossible (e.g. when the packets aren't available, or the payload is encrypted). Even when the data is available to analyze, the interpretation of the data is subjective; there is no common information shared between the front-end Citrix user session packets and the backend application traffic. The mapping between front-end Citrix session and backend application boils down to an educated guess, at best. For these reasons, analyzing user transactions was seen as a “hail mary pass” that should be approached with caution.
Fortunately, OPNET recently released a new product, CX-Tracer™, which drastically changes the approach to Citrix monitoring and troubleshooting.
CX-Tracer™ automatically traces every end-user transaction through the Citrix server and into the backend application with perfect accuracy. Identifying the root cause of a performance bottleneck with CX-Tracer is much faster than the old workflow. Typically, a root cause determination can be made within a few minutes. After being alerted to a problem, the troubleshooter can jump directly to a clean, end-to-end transaction trace that spans from the desktop, through the XenApp server and into the backend application. This transaction trace will conclusively point the finger at the bottleneck. Most often the slowness is related to the backend application rather than the Citrix server or the WAN connection. In this case CX-Tracer automatically integrates with OPNET's APM suite to correlate the user transaction with delays in SQL and other application protocols.
The new OPNET CX-Tracer product is a blessing for anyone who troubleshoots performance issues across Citrix frequently. The product is valuable, not just because it saves time, but because it takes the guesswork out of the analysis and brings Citrix application performance management into the realm of science rather than art.