Citrix technologies are often used by remote employees or collaborators to access corporate applications and desktops. Citrix access is session oriented – a session is established at logon time and a connection between the client and the server/desktop being accessed is maintained for the duration of the session. User access to Citrix apps and desktops is highly interactive – mouse clicks, keystrokes, etc. all have to go from the client to the server/desktop to be processed. All of this means that Citrix performance is heavily dependent on the quality of the network connection between the user terminal and the Citrix server/desktop.
When users complain that Citrix applications or desktops are “slow”, the Citrix stack is usually the first suspect and the helpdesk passes most such complaints to the Citrix admin team. Yet, not all problems related are due to Citrix issues. Bottlenecks in the supporting infrastructure, storage or in the network can manifest as “Citrix is slow” complaints from users. There have been many instances of Citrix admins spending hours troubleshooting only to find that Citrix slow complaints are due to poor network connectivity from the user end.
As a result, Citrix admins have often desired to have the ability to prove that it’s not the Citrix farm but a user’s connection to the data center that is causing the issue.
The Citrix Connection Quality Indicator for Citrix Users
Several years ago, Citrix introduced a Connection Quality Indicator (CQI). This is a client-side tool that can be executed by a Citrix user while he/she is in a session. The user can leave the tool running during their session, or they can execute it when needed (e.g., when there was a problem or when they were on a call with the Citrix helpdesk seeking help for slow access).
Citrix admins can also make this tool available to users (instead of depending on the user to download the tool). The connection quality indicator can be installed along with the Citrix VDA and configured using group policies (GPOs) so it is automatically executed and running in a user’s session. Using this tool, Citrix users can see notifications when there is a change in the connection quality for applications and desktops delivered by Citrix virtual apps and desktops.
The Citrix Connection Quality indicator highlights if a user’s connection to the Citrix farm is Strong, Weak, or Poor. This judgement is made by assessing several metrics during a session. Metrics considered include ICA Round Trip Time (ICA RTT), Latency, line speed and access bandwidth. As per the latest Citrix guidelines, if the latency is below 60ms, the connection is good, whereas if the latency is more than 220ms, the connection quality is weak. If the latency is in between 60ms and 220ms, the connection is graded as being weak.” in between will have a weak connection. The same bounds are used for ICA RTT also. Bandwidth availability is also considered when determining connection quality – higher the bandwidth available, better the connection quality.
- Users can point out issues that degrade the user experience.
- Real-time data from the tool enables sophisticated users to find causes for lags in screen refreshes.
- Since users can check if Citrix slowness is due to their network connection, this can reduce the number of calls to help desks.
Now a Citrix Connection Quality Indicator for Citrix Admins
Citrix admins also need to be able to track the Connection Quality Indicator for all virtual app and desktop sessions. Asking users to execute and tell them about the connection quality is a reactive process and not all the users may want to execute a tool in their session or report what they are seeing periodically to the admins. In order to be proactive, Citrix admins need visibility to Citrix Connection Quality without needing to have to ask their users each time.
eG Enterprise v7 provides a way for Citrix admins to track connection quality of every Citrix session. Without needing any additional software to be installed on the VDAs or client terminals, and without needing to ask their users, Citrix admins can proactively track Citrix Connection Quality of their user sessions from the eG Enterprise web console itself. Using the same metrics that the standalone utility uses, the Citrix Connection Quality indicator embedded in eG Enterprise provides Citrix admins with live information about the quality of all the sessions they are supporting.
The Citrix helpdesk team can also use this indicator to respond to user complaints. When a user calls in saying that Citrix access is slow, they can check the eG Enterprise console, immediately determine if the user has a poor connection and indicate to the user that the issue may be with their network connection and not with the Citrix farm itself.
User Experience Management: More than just CQI
Citrix Connection Quality monitoring is just one of the ways that eG Enterprise helps IT teams monitor and manage user experience. Watch this 2 minutes video to learn more about what complete user experience management entails and how eG Enterprise can help your organization in achieving this.