Category Archives: VDI Monitoring

How End-User Experience Dashboard Enables Users to Quickly Diagnose Virtual Desktop Slowness

User Experience a Key for Virtual Desktop Success

Great user experience is a key to the success of any virtual desktop deployment. If users believe that the performance of virtual desktops is slower or less reliable than that of physical desktops, they will want their physical desktops back.

The performance of virtual desktops depend on many factors – the connection broker that manages user sessions, the virtualization platform on which the desktops are hosted, the storage tier supporting the virtual desktops, the provisioning servers that stream the desktop operating system, the enterprise applications being accessed by users, the virtual desktops themselves and the user’s terminals and their connections to the data center where the virtual desktops are hosted. Virtual desktop administrators have complete control over the connection brokers, virtualization platform, provisioning servers, and storage, but they do not often have visibility into or control over the network connectivity from a user’s terminal to the virtual desktop or the applications running inside the virtual desktop.

Virtual Desktop Performance is Not Always Controlled by the VDI Administrator

The below two factors can have a significant impact on user experience and user confidence in the virtual desktop service.

  • Impact of poor network connectivity on virtual desktop performance: Many virtual desktop deployment scenarios involve users being in remote locations than the virtual desktops they access. For instance, many companies outsource key business processes offshore. In such cases, knowledge workers in countries like India and Philippines connect to virtual desktops over wide area networks. Congested WAN links can result in virtual desktop slowness being perceived by users. Even in flexwork situations, users working from home can be connecting over low bandwidth lines to their virtual desktops. In such situations, virtual desktop administrators cannot be held responsible for poor virtual desktop performance
  • Impact of virtual desktop applications on the user experience: Applications run by the user on a virtual desktop can also cause slowness. Many a times, the user is not even aware of such a situation. For instance, one of the applications launched on the desktop could have a memory leak, causing the desktop to become slower and slower over time. Another common occurrence is when users access non-corporate web sites from their browser. These web sites can trigger the execution of client-side scripts on the browser, taking up key CPU resources on the desktop.

Unfortunately, irrespective of whether the slowness is caused by the virtual desktop, the network tier, or within the virtual desktop infrastructure, the user complaint is that “the virtual desktop service is slow”.  In such situations, administrators end up spending a lot of time and effort troubleshooting performance issues that are not within their control. Long problem diagnosis cycles also result in frustrated users.

eG’s End-User Performance Dashboard: Performance Visibility for End Users

eG Enterprise’s end-user performance dashboard provides end-users with key insights into the performance of their virtual desktops. From the dashboard, users can see the performance of the network connecting their terminal to the virtual desktop. They can also see the resource utilization within the virtual desktop and see what applications executing in the desktop are taking up resources.


eG End user dashboard showing key performance metrics, their detailed diagnosis and historical values for analysis

The key benefit of the end user dashboard is that it empowers end-users to quickly diagnose if a performance problem is being caused in areas of the infrastructure that are within their control. If a performance problem is in the interconnecting network or in one of the applications the user has launched, the user can initiate corrective action (e.g., kill the offending process, contact the local network team, etc.) to alleviate the issue. This results in fewer complaints and trouble calls to the virtual desktop helpdesk and administrators. As a result, support costs are lower, users less frustrated and they have more confidence in the virtual desktop technology.


User can notice the higher utilization of a key resource (e.g., CPU) and can dig deeper for detailed diagnosis. In this figure, the user can clearly identify that Windows Media Player is consuming excessive CPU inside the virtual desktop and could be affecting the performance of other applications.

Some of the key questions that users can answer with the end-user dashboard and the corresponding actions they can take are indicated in the table below:

Questions a User can Answer with the End-User Virtual Desktop DashboardAction the User can Initiate
Is the network connectivity from the user’s terminal to the virtual desktop the cause of virtual desktop slowness?Raise a complaint with the user’s local network team to resolve the issue.  Try connecting from an alternative network if that is possible.
Is any application consuming excessive resources on the desktop (high CPU, high memory, lot of disk I/O) and thereby slowing performance for other applications?Kill the offending application process or stop the application
Is there a memory/handle leak in one of the applications running in the desktop that could be causing slowness of the desktop?Kill the offending application process or stop the application
Is there excessive traffic from the desktop – printer, audio, video, USB – that could be causing slowness during remote desktop access?Stop all bandwidth-intensive operations (eg. Audio/video players) on the desktop.

With eG’s end-user dashboard, users do not have to have login access to the performance management system. Administrators can publish the dashboard for access to virtual desktop users. By entering his/her domain user name, a user can get to see the performance of his / her virtual desktop session. Historical performance can also be observed for all key metrics.

Real-World Experience: User self-service lowers Virtual Desktop Support Calls

Our customers have observed that with basic training, end users are able to learn how to do a first level triage to see if the problem is in their network or in their virtual desktop. They can contact the virtual desktop team only if the problem is neither in their network nor in their virtual desktop. This way, the end user dashboard allows enterprises deploying virtual desktops to:

  • Reduce the volume of helpdesk calls;
  • Have their key VDI experts spend time troubleshooting issues that lie in domains that they control;
  • Resolve virtual desktop performance issues at the earliest (since problems are directed to the right domains);
  • Build confidence in the user community about the technology.

Related Articles

Citrix Director: What It Is and How it Works

Read Part 2: Is Citrix Director Sufficient for End-to-End Monitoring?

Understanding the Monitoring Capabilities of Director and How to Use It

Citrix Director is a web-based monitoring console for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop virtualization platforms that allows administrators to control and monitor virtual applications and desktops. Starting with version 7, Citrix Director is the default management tool, replacing the erstwhile Citrix EdgeSight.

In this blog, we will look at the key capabilities of Citrix Director, what it does, how far it goes for Citrix monitoring. In a subsequent post, we will go into analyzing when and for what use cases you may need to look beyond Citrix Director for your performance monitoring needs.

Key Considerations for a Citrix Monitoring Solution: Download Checklist »

Why Use Citrix Director?

  • Because it’s free: Citrix Director is built-into Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.
  • It doesn’t require any external agents to be deployed: Citrix Director uses instrumentation built into the Citrix FlexCast Management Architecture (FMA). No additional agents need to be deployed for it to work.
  • It integrates with Citrix NetScaler MAS. Director mainly provides insights into server and session performance. If an administrator is interested in network-level visibility into Citrix traffic and has NetScaler MAS already in place, they can see NetScaler MAS metrics in the Director console itself.
  • It can be used for monitoring both on-premise deployments of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop as well as Citrix Cloud deployments. The actual console in the two cases may be different but administrators can benefit from a similar look and feel of the user interface.

Read this blog to understand the functions of #CitrixDirector and how it can be useful in #Citrix #XenApp and #XenDesktop deployments.

What Does Citrix Director Offer?

Starting off as mainly a helpdesk tool, Citrix Director has enhanced in capabilities over subsequent releases of Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop 7.x.

The key capabilities in Citrix Director include:

Monitoring of Real User Logons and Breakdown of Logon Times: From the Director console, administrators can track the logon times that users are experiencing and see which parts of the logon process are causing slowness – from brokering to interactive session. Citrix Director pulls these metrics from the Delivery Controller.

Monitoring of Citrix Connection Failures: Different types of user, desktop and machine connection failures can be tracked from the Director console. (Refer: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2014/03/25/director-dashboard-explained/)

Monitoring of Server Resources: Key server resources such as CPU and memory of the server OS can be tracked from the Director console. For environments configured with NVIDIA GPUs, Director also can track GPU utilization. (Refer: https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX223925).

Monitoring of Application Failures: Different types of application failures are also reported from the Citrix Director console. (Refer: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/08/23/application-related-session-failure-reporting-in-citrix-director-7-15/).

Monitoring of Sessions: By searching for a specific user, administrators can drill down into a user’s session. The details of the user’s session, endpoint information and virtual channel details are all accessible to the administrator, providing visibility into the complete list of processes being executed by the user.

Control Actions: From the Director console, administrators can control a user’s session. Actions that can be taken include logging off a session, disconnecting it, sending a message to a user, shadowing a session, etc. Helpdesk personnel may find these actions quite useful.

Active Application Probes: Recently, Citrix Director, as part of XenApp & XenDesktop 7.18, included the capability to initiate active synthetic tests against the Citrix StoreFront servers to determine if applications are available or not. Given a StoreFront URL, an active probe initiates a check at a pre-defined time to determine if an application is working or not. One thing to note that this probing functionality is only available for published applications and not desktops. This is also a Platinum license feature and not available to other Citrix customers. (Refer: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2018/06/18/application-probing-your-proactive-application-monitoring-solution-from-citrix-director/)

Alerting: Starting with Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop 7.7, threshold policies can be set for metrics and email alerts initiated to inform administrators about abnormal conditions. Alerting is only enabled with Platinum license and is not available to other Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop license levels. (Refer: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/01/13/configuring-managing-alerts-and-notifications-using-director/)

Trending: Trending capabilities in Director provide graphical analytics of historical performance over time. But only 7 days’ worth of historical data is typically stored. For longer data retention periods, Citrix customers must be on Enterprise (1-month storage) or Platinum (1-year storage). Data retention for Citrix Director on Citrix Cloud is 90 days.

Director also has predictive capabilities, which might be helpful for capacity planning and forecasting.

How is Citrix Director Licensed?

Director is available with all editions of Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Basic functionalities of Director are available for Citrix Advanced license customers. However, additional functionalities like alerting, application probing, desktop usage reporting, NetScaler MAS integration for HDX Insight data, SCOM integration, long-term historical reporting are available only with XenApp and XenDesktop Platinum license. (Refer: https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2016/08/10/citrix-director-features-by-edition-and-version/)

To summarize, this blog provided insights into what Citrix Director can do, its features and licensing information. As a built-in tool available with XenApp and XenDesktop deployments, Director is certainly good for high-level monitoring of user session information. But, how far does Director really go for delivering deep performance visibility, detailed drilldowns, and facilitating triage and troubleshooting of complex performance problems? We will discuss this in the next post and analyze how third-party Citrix monitoring tools can complement Director and extend monitoring capabilities to beyond the Citrix tiers and deliver end-to-end performance insight.

Is Citrix Director Sufficient for End-to-End Monitoring?