Browser Activity – VM Test

When a user complains of a virtual desktop slowdown, administrators will have to instantly figure out if that VM is experiencing a resource crunch, and if so, which process/application on the desktop is contributing to it. One of the common reasons for CPU/memory contentions and handle leaks on a virtual desktop is web browsing! If a user to a virtual desktop browses resource-intensive web sites, it is bound to result in over-usage of the resources allocated to that VM, which in turn degrades the performance of not just that VM but even the other VMs on that host. While the System Details – VM test can lead administrators to the exact browser application that is consuming the CPU/memory resources of the VM excessively, it does not provide visibility into the precise websites that were been browsed when the resource contention occurred. This is where the Browser Activity – VM test helps.

For each web browser that is being accessed by a user per virtual desktop, this test reports how every browser uses the allocated CPU, memory, and disk resources and reveals the number and URLs of the web sites that are being accessed using each browser. This way, the test not only points administrators to resource-hungry browsers, but also indicates which web sites were being accessed using that browser.

Note:

  • This test will report metrics only if the Windows VM being monitored uses the .Net framework v3.0 (or above).
  • This test will not be able to monitor the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows 10 VMs.

Target of the test : A Citrix XenServer

Agent deploying the test : An internal/remote agent

Outputs of the test : One set of results for each browser used by every powered-on Windows guest/each user logged into a Windows guest on the Citrix XenServer monitored

Configurable parameters for the test

  1. Test period - How often should the test be executed
  2. Host - The host for which the test is to be configured.
  3. port - The port at which the specified host listens. By default, this is NULL.
  4. XEN user - To enable the eG agent to connect to the XenServer API for collecting statistics of interest, this test should login to the XenServer as a root user. Provide the name of the root user in the XEN USER text box. Root user privileges are mandatory when monitoring a XenServer 5.5 (or below). However, if you are monitoring XenServer 5.6 (or above) and you prefer not to expose the credentials of the root user, then, you have the option of configuring a user with pool-admin privileges as the xen user. If you do not want to expose the credentials of a root/pool-admin user, then you can configure the tests with the credentials of a xen user with Read-only privileges to the XenServer. However, if this is done, then the Xen Uptime test will not run, and the Xen CPU and Xen Memory tests will not be able to report metrics for the control domain descriptor. To avoid such an outcome, do the following before attempting to configure the eG tests with a xen user who has Read-only privileges to the XenServer:

    • Modify the target XenServer’s configuration in the eG Enterprise system. For this, follow the Infrastructure -> Components -> Add/Modify menu sequence, pick Citrix XenServer as the Component type, and click the Modify button corresponding to the target XenServer.
    • In the modify component details page that then appears, make sure that the os is set to Xen and the Mode is set to ssh.
    • Then, in the same page, proceed to provide the User and Password of a user who has the right to connect to the XenServer console via SSH.
    • Then, click the Update button to save the changes.

    Once this is done, you can configure the eG tests with the credentials of a xen user with Read-only privileges.

  5. xen password - The password of the specified xen user needs to be mentioned here.
  6. confirm password - Confirm the xen password by retyping it here.
  7. ssl - By default, the Xen Server is not SSL-enabled. This indicates that by default, the eG agent communicates with the XenServer using HTTP. Accordingly, the ssl flag is set to No by default. If you configure the XenServer to use SSL, then make sure that the SSL flag is set to Yes, so that the eG agent communicates with the XenServer using HTTPS. Note that a default SSL certificate comes bundled with every XenServer installation. If you want the eG agent to use this default certificate for communicating with an SSL-enabled XenServer, then no additional configuration is required. However, if you do not want to use the default certificate, then you can generate a self-signed certificate for use by the XenServer. In such a case, you need to explicitly follow the broad steps given below to enable the eG agent to communicate with the XenServer via HTTPS:

    • Obtain the server-certificate for the XenServer
    • Import the server-certificate into the local certificate store of the eG agent

    For a detailed discussion on each of these steps, refer to the Troubleshooting section of this document.

  8. INSIDE VIEW USING - By default, this test communicates with every VM remotely and extracts “inside view” metrics. Therefore, by default, the INSIDE VIEW USING flag is set to Remote connection to VM (Windows).

    Typically, to establish this remote connection with Windows VMs in particular, eG Enterprise requires that the eG agent be configured with domain administrator privileges. In high-security environments, where the IT staff might have reservations about exposing the credentials of their domain administrators, this approach to extracting “inside view” metrics might not be preferred. In such environments therefore, eG Enterprise provides administrators the option to deploy a piece of software called the eG VM Agent on every Windows VM; this VM agent allows the eG agent to collect “inside view” metrics from the Windows VMs without domain administrator rights. Refer to Configuring Windows Virtual Machines to Support the eG Agent’s Inside View Using the eG VM Agent for more details on the eG VM Agent. To ensure that the “inside view” of Windows VMs is obtained using the eG VM Agent, set the INSIDE VIEW USING flag to eG VM Agent (Windows). Once this is done, you can set the DOMAIN, ADMIN USER, and ADMIN PASSWORD parameters to none.

  9. DOMAIN, ADMIN USER, ADMIN PASSWORD, and CONFIRM PASSWORD - By default, this test connects to each virtual guest remotely and attempts to collect “inside view” metrics. In order to obtain a remote connection, the test must be configured with user privileges that allow remote communication with the virtual guests. The first step towards this is to specify the DOMAIN within which the virtual guests reside. The ADMIN USER and ADMIN PASSWORD will change according to the DOMAIN specification. Discussed below are the different values that the DOMAIN parameter can take, and how they impact the ADMIN USER and ADMIN PASSWORD specifications:

    • If the VMs belong to a single domain : If the guests belong to a specific domain, then specify the name of that domain against the DOMAIN parameter. In this case, any administrative user in that domain will have remote access to all the virtual guests. Therefore, an administrator account in the given domain can be provided in the ADMIN USER field and the corresponding password in the ADMIN PASSWORD field. Confirm the password by retyping it in the CONFIRM PASSWORD text box.
    • If the guests do not belong to any domain (as in the case of Linux guests) : In this case, specify "none" in the DOMAIN field, and specify a local administrator account name in the ADMIN USER below.

      Prior to this, you need to ensure that the same local administrator account is available or is explicitly created on each of the virtual machines to be monitored. Then, proceed to provide the password of the ADMIN USER against ADMIN PASSWORD, and confirm the password by retyping it in the CONFIRM PASSWORD text box.

      If key-based authentication is implemented between the eG agent and the SSH daemon of a Linux guest, then, in the ADMIN USER text box, enter the name of the user whose <USER_HOME_DIR> (on that Linux guest) contains a .ssh directory with the public key file named authorized_keys. The ADMIN PASSWORD in this case will be the passphrase of the public key; the default public key file that is bundled with the eG agent takes the password eginnovations. Specify this as the ADMIN PASSWORD if you are using the default private/public key pair that is bundled with the eG agent to implement key-based authentication. On the other hand, if you are generating a new public/private key pair for this purpose, then use the passphrase that you provide while generating the pair. For the detailed procedure on Implementing Key-based Authentication refer to Troubleshooting the Failure of the eG Remote Agent to Connect to or Report Measures for Linux Guests.

    • If the guests belong to different domains - In this case, you might want to provide multiple domain names. If this is done, then, to access the guests in every configured domain, the test should be configured with the required user privileges; this implies that along with multiple DOMAIN names, multiple ADMIN USER names and ADMIN PASSWORDs would also have to be provided. To help administrators provide these user details quickly and easily, the eG administrative interface embeds a special configuration page.

      To access this page, simply click on the Click here hyperlink that appears just above the parameters of this test in the test configuration page. To know how to use the special page, refer to Configuring Users for VM Monitoring.

    • If the INSIDE VIEW USING flag is set to ‘eG VM Agent (Windows)’ - In this case, the inside view can be obtained without domain administrator privileges. Therefore, set the domain, admin user, and admin password parameters to none.

  10. IGNORE VMS INSIDE VIEW - Administrators of some high security XenServer environments might not have permissions to internally monitor one/more VMs. The eG agent can be configured to not obtain the 'inside view' of such ‘inaccessible’ VMs using the IGNORE VMS INSIDE VIEW parameter. Against this parameter, you can provide a comma-separated list of VM names, or VM name patterns, for which the inside view need not be obtained. For instance, your IGNORE VMS INSIDE VIEW specification can be: *xp,*lin*,win*,vista. Here, the * (asterisk) is used to denote leading and trailing spaces (as the case may be). By default, this parameter is set to none indicating that the eG agent obtains the inside view of all VMs on a XenServer host by default.

    Note:

    While performing VM discovery, the eG agent will not discover the operating system of the VMs configured in the IGNORE VMS INSIDE VIEW text box.

  11. EXCLUDE VMS - Administrators of some virtualized environments may not want to monitor some of their less-critical VMs - for instance, VM templates - both from 'outside' and from 'inside'. The eG agent in this case can be configured to completely exclude such VMs from its monitoring purview. To achieve this, provide a comma-separated list of VMs to be excluded from monitoring in the EXCLUDE VMS text box. Instead of VMs, VM name patterns can also be provided here in a comma-separated list. For example, your EXCLUDE VMS specification can be: *xp,*lin*,win*,vista. Here, the * (asterisk) is used to denote leading and trailing spaces (as the case may be). By default, this parameter is set to none indicating that the eG agent obtains the inside and outside views of all VMs on a virtual host by default. By providing a comma-separated list of VMs/VM name patterns in the EXCLUDE VMS text box, you can make sure the eG agent stops collecting 'inside' and 'outside' view metrics for a configured set of VMs.
  12. IGNORE WINNT - By default, the eG agent does not support the inside view for VMs executing on Windows NT operating systems. Accordingly, the IGNORE WINNT flag is set to Yes by default.
  13. webport - By default, in most virtualized environments, the XenServer listens on port 80 (if not SSL-enabled) or on port 443 (if SSL-enabled). This implies that while monitoring an SSL-enabled XenServer, the eG agent, by default, connects to port 443 of the server to pull out metrics, and while monitoring a non-SSL-enabled XenServer, the eG agent connects to port 80. Accordingly, the webport parameter is set to 80 or 443 depending upon the status of the ssl flag.  In some environments however, the default ports 80 or 443 might not apply. In such a case, against the webport parameter, you can specify the exact port at which the XenServer in your environment listens so that the eG agent communicates with that port.
  14. REPORT BY USER - While monitoring a Citrix XenServer, the REPORT BY USER flag is set to No by default, indicating that by default, the guest operating systems on the XenServer are identified using the hostname specified in the operating system. On the other hand, while monitoring a Citrix XenServer - VDI, this flag is set to Yes by default; this implies that in case of the XenServer VDI model, by default, the desktops will be identified using the login of the user who is accessing them. In other words, in VDI environments, this test will, by default, report measures for every username_on_virtualmachinename.

  15. REPORT POWERED OS - This flag becomes relevant only if the report by user flag is set to ‘Yes’.

    If the report powered os flag is set to Yes (which is the default setting), then this test will report measures for even those VMs that do not have any users logged in currently. Such guests will be identified by their virtualmachine name and not by the username_on_virtualmachinename. On the other hand, if the report powered os flag is set to No, then this test will not report measures for those VMs to which no users are logged in currently.  

  16. SHOW RECENT WEBSITEs DD - Typically, the detailed diagnosis of the Recent websites measure, if enabled, reveals the URL that is open in each browser tab of a virtual desktop. In large VDI environments supporting hundreds of virtual desktops and users, collecting and storing the details of every browser tab that a user opens can increase the strain on the eG database. To avoid this, by default, this test does not collect detailed diagnostics for the Recent websites measure. Accordingly, the SHOW RECENT WEBSITEs DD is set to No by default. You can turn this flag on if you want, by selecting the Yes option. If this is done, then this test will collect detailed metrics for the Recent websites measure.
  17. DD FREQUENCY - Refers to the frequency with which detailed diagnosis measures are to be generated for this test. The default is 1:1. This indicates that, by default, detailed measures will be generated every time this test runs, and also every time the test detects a problem. You can modify this frequency, if you so desire. Also, if you intend to disable the detailed diagnosis capability for this test, you can do so by specifying none against DD FREQUENCY.
  18. DETAILED DIAGNOSIS - To make diagnosis more efficient and accurate, the eG suite embeds an optional detailed diagnostic capability. With this capability, the eG agents can be configured to run detailed, more elaborate tests as and when specific problems are detected. To enable the detailed diagnosis capability of this test for a particular server, choose the On option. To disable the capability, click on the Off option.

    The option to selectively enable/disable the detailed diagnosis capability will be available only if the following conditions are fulfilled:

    • The eG manager license should allow the detailed diagnosis capability
    • Both the normal and abnormal frequencies configured for the detailed diagnosis measures should not be 0.

 

Measurements made by the test

Measurement Description Measurement Unit Interpretation

Running browser instances:

Indicates the number of instances of this browser currently running on this virtual desktop.

Number

Use the detailed diagnosis of this measure to know how much resources were utilized by each instance of a browser, so that the resource-hungry instance can be isolated.

Recent web sites:

Indicates the number of websites that were accessed using this browser on this virtual desktop during the last measurement period.

Number

Use the detailed diagnosis of this measure to know which web sites are being accessed using a browser.

CPU utilization:

Indicates the percentage CPU usage of this browser on this virtual desktop.

Percent

Compare the value of this measure across browsers to know which browser consumed the maximum CPU on a desktop. If the value of this measure is close to 100% on that desktop, it indicates excessive CPU usage by the browser. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure to know which web sites are being accessed using that browser, which caused CPU usage to soar.

Memory used:

Indicates the percent usage of memory by this browser on this virtual desktop.

Percent

Compare the value of this measure across browsers to know which browser consumed the maximum memory on a desktop. If the value of this measure is close to 100% on that desktop, it indicates excessive memory usage by the browser. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure to know which web sites are being accessed using that browser, which caused CPU usage to soar.

Handles used:

Indicates the number of handles opened by this browser on this virtual desktop.

Number

Compare the value of this measure across browsers to know which browser opened the maximum number of handles on a desktop. If the value of this measure consistently increases on that desktop, it indicates that the corresponding browser is leaking memory. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure to know which web sites are being accessed using that browser, which caused the memory leak.

Disk reads:

Indicates the rate at which this browser read from the disks supported by this virtual desktop.

KB/Sec

A high value for these measures indicates that the browser is generating high disk I/O. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure of this browser to know which web sites on the browser are responsible for the high disk I/O.

Disk writes:

Indicates the rate at which this browser read from the disks of this virtual desktop.

KB/Sec

Disk IOPS:

Indicates the rate of read and write operations performed by this browser on the disks of this virtual desktop.

Operations/Sec

A high value for this measure indicates that the browser is generating high disk I/O. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure of this browser to know which web sites on the browser are responsible for the high disk I/O.

Page faults:

Indicates the rate at which page faults by the threads executing in this browser are occurring on this virtual desktop.

Faults/Sec

Ideally, the value of this measure should be low. A high value for a browser is a cause for concern. You may then want to use the detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure of this browser to know which web sites on the browser are responsible for page faults.

The detailed diagnosis of the Running browser instances measure reveals the process ID of each browser instance that is currently running on the virtual desktop and the resource usage of each instance. This way, you can easily and accurately identify the instance that is consuming resources excessively.

Figure 1 : The detailed diagnosis of the Running browser instances measure

The detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure reveals the names and URLs of the web sites that are being accessed using a browser. 

Figure 2 : The detailed diagnosis of the Recent web sites measure