Sessions by Servers Report

Server farms are often sized based on expectations of the number of simultaneous sessions that the farm will be required to support and the average duration of each session. A significant deviation in either the number of simultaneous sessions or the duration of sessions may warrant a rethink of the farm’s capacity. Hence, session activity in a farm is one of the most critical metrics to track and report on. An analysis of the session activity in a farm can indicate:

  • How many simultaneous sessions does the farm handle?
  • Is the session load evenly balanced across the servers in the farm?
  • What is the average duration of a user’s session?
  • How many unique users are logging into the farm?
  • Which are the users with longest sessions (since long sessions often take more server resources)?

Administrators need to closely observe the session activity on a Citrix/Microsoft RDS/VMware VDI server so as to make a fair judgment of current server capacity and make sizing recommendations for the future. To facilitate effective session monitoring, eG Enterprise provides a comprehensive Sessions by Servers report. Besides furnishing pre-configured details pertaining to Citrix / Microsoft RDS server sessions and user sessions to virtual desktops in a farm, this report also leads to a page listing the longest sessions and the users with the maximum access duration both at the farm level and individual server level. This enables administrators identify sessions that have been open for a long period of time and the users who have probably kept them open, investigate the reasons for this abnormal behavior, and immediately initiate the required remedial action. Using the user session analysis report, administrators can also verify whether the server has been sized commensurate to its active and anticipated workload, and can thus perform effective capacity planning.

User Session Analysis reports are also useful for compliance to emerging standards like Sarbanes Oxley. Using these reports, an administrator can list all the users who have accessed any of the servers in the farm. Thus, any unauthorized access can be spotted and corrected.

To view the Sessions By Servers report, do the following:

  1. Follow the menu sequence: REPORTS BY FUNCTION -> Domain-specific Reports -> Virtual Applications / Desktops -> Sessions -> Sessions by Servers.
  2. Figure 1 will then appear. To monitor the Citrix/Microsoft RDS/VDI servers pertaining to a farm, select the Zone to which the servers in the farm have been added.

    Figure 1 : Generating a User Session Analysis Report

  3. When Figure 1 appears, select a criterion for analysis from the Report By list box. Using this report, you can analyze the user sessions on one/more independent virtualized components, or those that are part of a segment, service, or a zone. This way, you can assess the impact of the user sessions on the virtual components of a particular service/segment/zone, and accordingly take decisions. The options provided by the Report By list box are discussed hereunder:

    • Component: Select this option to choose the component(s) from across all the managed components in the environment. For instance, for a report on the user activity on all the managed vSphere ESX hosts in the environment, select VMware vSphere ESX from the Component Type list, select Component from the Report By list, and then select all the virtual hosts listed in the Components list of Figure 1. . If the Components list consists of too many components, then viewing all the components and selecting the ones you need for report generation could require endless scrolling. To avoid this, you can click the button next to the Components list. The COMPONENTS pop up window will then appear using which you can view almost all the components in a single interface and Select the ones for which the report is to be generated. You can narrow your search further by using the Search text box. Specify the whole/part of the component name to search for in this text box, and click the icon next to it.
    • Service: Select this option if the components for which a report is to be generated are involved in the delivery of a business service. Then, select a Service.
    • Segment: Choose this option if the virtual hosts to be evaluated are part of a segment. Then, pick a Segment for analysis.
    • Zone: Pick this option for a report on the performance of virtual components that are included in a zone. Then, choose a Zone.
  4. The Component Type list is then populated with the Citrix MF XP, Citrix, Microsoft RDS, VMware vSphere VDI options, based on the type of components present in the chosen Zone.
  5. Next, choose a Report Type (Graph or Data). The default Report Type is Graph. To closely observe and clearly understand the behavior of a single performance parameter across a zone, you can plot a single measure's data alone in a Graph report (see Figure 1).
  6. When the Report Type is Graph, a Criteria list box will appear, containing the complete list of measures that you have configured for the report. From this list, pick the Criteria based on which the graph is to be generated (see Figure 1).
  7. Then, specify the Timeline for the graph. You can either provide a fixed time line such as 1 hour, 2 days, etc., or select the Any option from the list to provide a From and To date/time for report generation.

    Note:

    • The default Timeline can be set using the consolidated reports page in the eG administrative interface; to access this page, follow the menu sequence: Configure -> Reports -> Consolidated. For more details regarding this page, refer to Section Consolidated Reports of this manual.
    • Shorter the Timeline for a report, lighter would be the query that is executed on the database, and faster the report generation. Report Timelines that run across many weeks therefore, cause excessive strain on the database, thus slowing-down report generation. To save the eG backend from injury, eG Enterprise automatically restricts the maximum Timeline for which a thin client report can be generated to the lower of the following values:

      • the value of the CtxLoginTest parameter in the [ddd_cleanup] section of the eg_format.ini file (in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory)
      • the value of the MaxTimeline parameter in the [misc] section of the eg_report.ini file (in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory).
      • The maximum timeline for which the current user to eG Reporter is permitted to generate reports;

        The [ddd_cleanup] section is where you define the interval (in days) at which the detailed diagnosis of specific tests is to be purged from the database. For the CtxLoginTest, the default interval is set to 32 days (i.e., just over a month), indicating that, by default, the detailed diagnosis of the CtxLoginTest is cleared from the database at the end of every month. Since critical thin client reports are generated based on the detailed diagnosis information, a Timeline that exceeds the duration set against CtxLoginTest would result in a report that displays invalid/no data. This duration however, is configurable. Similarly, you can also configure a MaxTimeline in the [misc] section of the eg_report.ini file. By default, this parameter is set to 168 (hours), indicating that the maximum Timeline for a thin client report is 1 week (i.e., 24 * 7 = 168 hours).  Also, while creating user profiles using the eG administrative interface, an administrator can indicate the maximum timeline for which that user can generate reports, so as to avoid long running reports.

        Now, assume that you have set the CtxLoginTest parameter to 21 days (i.e., 3 weeks) and the MaxTimeline parameter to 336 hours (i.e., 2 weeks). Also, say that user john with access rights to eG Reporter has been configured to generate reports for a maximum timeline of 1 week. Therefore, whenever user john logs into eG Reporter and attempts to generate a thin client report, eG Enterprise compares the three values, picks the lowest of the three, and sets that value as the maximum Timeline for thin client reports. In our example, the maximum timeline settings of user john (i.e., 1 week) is the lowest  Therefore, the maximum value that will be available for selection from the Fixed Timeline list box in the thin client report page will be 1 week.

        Note that this timeline restriction does not apply to fixed timeline settings alone. If a user chooses the Any option from the Timeline list and proceeds to provide a start date and end date for report generation using the From and To specifications, eG Enterprise will first check if the user's Timeline specification is equal to or below the lowest of the three values discussed above. If not, report generation will fail. For instance, for a user who is allowed to generate reports spanning over a maximum period of 3 days only, the difference between the From and To dates should never be over 3 days. If it is, then, upon clicking the Run Report button a message box will appear, prompting the user to change the From and To specification.

  8. In addition to the settings discussed above, this report comes with a set of default specifications. These settings are hidden by default. If you do not want to disturb these default settings, then you can proceed to generate the report by clicking the Run Report button soon after you pick a Measure. However, if you want to view and then alter these settings (if required), click on the icon. The default settings will then appear in the MORE OPTIONS drop down window (see Figure 2). The steps below discuss each of these settings and how they can be customized.

    Figure 2 : The default settings for the generating the User Session Analysis report

  9. The speed with which a report is generated depends primarily on the report Timeline. While a Timeline that varies between a couple of days to a week enables the eG Enterprise system to quickly retrieve the required data, timelines that span multiple weeks/months could slow-down the data retrieval and report generation process to a considerable extent, owing to the volume of data involved. In order to ensure quick and easy access to reports, eG Enterprise provides you the option of enabling data retrieval from the Trend information in the database, instead of the Detailed test information that is used by default for report generation. The Detailed test information base comprises of multiple measurement records for a test - one or more each for every test execution. Whereas, the Trend information includes only hourly, daily, and monthly summary computations for a test performed on a continuous basis. For instance, during a period of 1 hour, a test that runs every 5 minutes inserts atleast 12 records into the Detailed test information base. On the other hand, the Trend information base would consist of only 1 record for the same 1 hour period. Fewer the number of records, query execution becomes that much more quicker, and data retrieval faster. To use the trend data for report generation, you will have to select the Trend option from the Show Data field in Figure 2. By default, the Detailed option is selected in Figure 2 indicating that, by default, the report data is retrieved from the detailed test information in the database. If need be, you can also ensure that all reports always use the Detailed test tables alone by hiding the Show Data field from the reporter interface. To achieve this, do the following: 

    • Edit the eg_services.ini file in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory.
    • In the [misc_args] section of the file, you have an AvgSumTrends flag that is set to Yes by default. This makes sure that the Show Data field appears in the reporter interface, by default.
    • If you set the AvgSumTrends flag to No, then the Show Data field will not appear in the reporter interface; this denies users access to the Trend option, and thus ensures that reports are always generated using the Detailed tables.

      Note:

      • A Trend report will not include the data for the current day since trend data is only computed at the end of the day.
      • If the Trend option is chosen, the time period of the report should be greater than 1 day.
      • The usage of Detailed test tables for generating reports, especially those that span weeks, increases the stress on the eG database, thus resulting in undue delays in report generation. In order to ensure that the database is not choked by such voluminous data requests, you can configure eG Enterprise to automatically "force" the use of the Trend option if the Timeline of a report exceeds a pre-configured duration. To specify this time boundary, do the following:

        • Edit the eg_report.ini file in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory.
        • In the [MISC] section of the  file, you will find a DetailedTime parameter.
        • Specify the duration (in days) beyond which Detailed reports cannot be generated, against the DetailedTime parameter, and save the eg_report.ini file
        • For instance, to make sure that Detailed reports are disallowed for a Timeline of over 2 weeks, set the DetailedTime parameter to 14 and save the file. 
        • Say, subsequently, you attempt to generate a Detailed report for a FixedTimeline of 3 weeks (which is greater than the 14-day limit set in our example). The instant you select the 3 weeks option from the Fixed list box, the Detailed option gets automatically disabled, and the Trend option gets enabled. Similarly, if you specify an AnyTimeline that runs over 14 days, then, upon clicking the Run Report button to generate the report, a message box appears (see Figure 8) informing you that only the Trend option is permitted.
        • To proceed with the Trend report generation, click the ok button in the message box. To terminate Trend report generation, click the Cancel button.   
  10. Next, specify the start time and end time for report generation against the Time period field.

    Note:

    The default Time period to be displayed here can be configured using the consolidated reports page in the eG administrative interface; to access this page, follow the menu sequence: Settings -> Reporter -> Consolidated Reports. For more details regarding this page, refer to Section Consolidated Reports of this manual.

  11. If the timeline specified for the report needs to exclude the data collected during the Weekends, then set Exclude weekends to Yes. If not, select No.

    Note:

    You can configure the days of the week that need to be considered as a ‘weekend’ using the consolidated reports page in the eG administrative interface; to access this page, follow the menu sequence: Settings -> Reporter -> Consolidated Reports. For more details regarding this page, refer to Section Consolidated Reports of this manual.

  12. In large environments, reports generated using months of data can take a long time to complete. Administrators now have the option of generating reports on-line or in the background. When a report is scheduled for background generation, administrators can proceed with their other monitoring, diagnosis, and reporting tasks, while the eG manager is processing the report. This saves the administrator valuable time. To schedule background processing of a report, you can either select the Background Save - PDF option or the Background Save - CSV option from the Report Generation list. In this case, a Report Name text box will appear, where you would have to provide the name with which the report is to be saved in the background. To process reports in the foreground, select the Foreground Generation - HTML option from this list.

    Note:

    • The Report Generation list will appear only if the EnableBackgroundReport flag in the [BACKGROUND_PROCESS] section of the eg_report.ini file (in the [EG_INSTALL_DIR]\manager\config directory) is set to Yes.
    • The default selection in the Report Generation list will change according to the Timeline specified for the report. If the Timeline set is greater than or equal to the number of days specified against the MinDurationForReport parameter in the [BACKGROUND_PROCESS] section of the eg_report.ini file, then the default selection in the Report Generation list will be Background Save - PDF. On the other hand, if the Timeline set for the report is lesser than the value of the MinDurationForReport parameter, then the default selection in the Report Generation list will be Foreground. This is because, the MinDurationForReport setting governs when reports are to be processed in the background. By default, this parameter is set to 2 weeks - this indicates that by default, reports with a timeline of 2 weeks and above will be processed in the background.
  13. Finally, click the Run Report button.
  14. If the Report Type is Graph and the option chosen from the Report Generation list is Foreground Generation - HTML, then, clicking on the Run Report button will invoke Figure 3, which will reveal the following:

    • A distribution pie chart reveals the number of components in different distribution ranges (see Figure 3). The distribution ranges are obtained based on the first of the configured functions on the chosen Criteria. For instance, assume that Active sessions is the chosen Criteria. Say that you have configured to display the Avg and Max of Active sessions in the session report. Typically, both these configured values will appear only in a Data report. In the case of a Graph report however, the first of the two functions - i.e., Avg of Active sessions - alone is calculated for the chosen zone. A quick glance at the pie chart indicates whether or not session load is uniformly distributed across the various components in the zone. Click on a particular slice in the pie chart to view the list of components that fall within the value range represented by that slice (see Figure 4). Against every component name, the actual values for each of the configured functions (both Avg and Max, in our example) will be displayed. A zone-level Summary of the chosen Criteria, and the maximum and average session durations at the zone-level will also be displayed.  

      Figure 3 : A graphical User Session Analysis report

      Figure 4 : A list of components with Active_sessions in a given range

      Note:

      By default, the chart type for distribution is a pie chart. However, you can have a bar graph depict the same data instead of a pie chart, by following the steps given below:

      • Edit the eg_report.ini file in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory.
      • Change the value of the chartTypeForDist parameter in the [citrix session report] section of this file from the default Pie, to Bar.
      • Save the eg_report.ini file.

      By default, the number of value ranges that need to be configured for the distribution chart is 10. To override this default setting, do the following:

      • Edit the eg_report.ini file in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory.
      • Specify a number of your choice against the nofRangeForDist parameter in the [citrix session report] section of this file. By default, this parameter will hold the value 10.
      • Save the eg_report.ini file.
    • Adjacent to the pie chart, you will find a bar chart that indicates the components that have topped/failed in a selected performance realm (i.e., the Criteria) during the specified Timeline. For example, for the Active sessions measure, this bar chart reveals the top components in terms of current session activity. Like the pie chart, the values for the bar chart are also calculated by applying the first of the configured functions on the chosen Criteria. Clicking on the bar corresponding to a server name results in a Server Report(see Figure 5) that enables you to focus on the performance of that server.

      Figure 5 : The server report that appears upon clicking on a bar chart

      Note:

      The number of components to be displayed in the Top <N> Components bar chart is configurable. To specify the number, do the following:

      • Edit the eg_report.ini file in the <eg_install_dir>\manager\config directory.
      • Specify a number of your choice against the NoOfServersforChart parameter in the [citrix session report] section of the file. By default, the value displayed here is 10, indicating that, by default, the bar chart will be for the Top 10 Components. For example, if you change this value to 5, then a bar chart displaying the Top 5 Components will appear.
      • Finally, save the eg_report.ini file.

      Note:

      You can configure the colors to be used in the distribution chart and the Top <N> Components bar chart in the session report, by editing the eg_report.ini file in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory. The [citrix session report] section of the file defines the 20 default colors of the distribution and bar charts:

      [CITRIX SESSION REPORT]

      ChartColor=#8399b0,#ffd95a,#a4ac91,#98d980,#d5b996,#f48848,#8b8cc2,
      #eb4052,#c4b3d0,#b18651,#ebb7ce,#028768,#f5c372,#887c65,#e4c536,
      #b5582c,#f94989,#770d72,#97a067,#89aeb7

       

      distColor=#115fa6,#f25454,#60bd68,#b276b2,#81bef7,#a61120,#ffd13e,
      #770d72,#887c65,#a4ac91

       

       

      You override the default color settings of the distribution chart by modifying the color-codes specifying against distColor. For changing the colors used by the Top <N> Components chart, alter the codes listed against the ChartColor parameter.

  15. A Data report does not graphically represent the measure data. Instead, the configured details are presented in a tabular format in the report. To generate a Data report, select Data as the Report Type (see Figure 1).
  16. Then, like in the case of a Graph report, provide a Time period, Timeline, indicate whether/not to Exclude weekends, and also indicate whether Detailed data or Trend data is to be used for report generation (see Figure 1). Finally, click on the Run Report button.
  17. If the Report Type is Data and the option chosen from the Report Generation list is Foreground Generation - HTML, then, upon clicking the Run Report button, you will find a report providing session information in two sections. The first section displays the following:

    • the total number of sessions on all Citrix/Terminal/VDI servers (as the case may be) in the farm (see Figure 6)
    • the average and maximum duration of the sessions on the Citrix/Terminal/VDI servers (as the case may be) in the farm (see Figure 6)

      Figure 6 : The Session report for Citrix XenApp 4/5/6.x servers in a farm

  18. Links to the top sessions (see Figure 6) and users (see Figure 6) in the farm will also be available in this section. Clicking on the Up-arrow hyperlink corresponding to the Top <N> longest sessions entry will reveal , which will provide the details of the top sessions in the farm. The details include the servers that were accessed, the users who accessed them, the time of login, and the duration of access. Click on the Back button in to return to the previous page. Similarly, clicking on the Up-arrow hyperlink corresponding to the Top <N> users  entry in the summary section, will lead you to Figure 8 that reveals the top users in the farm in terms of duration of access.

    Figure 7 : The longest sessions in the farm

    Figure 8 : The top users of the farm

  19. Besides, the total number of 'distinct' users to the zone during the given Timeline, is also displayed in the first section of Figure 6. Clicking on the number of Unique users invokes a distribution bar chart that depicts the number of unique users who logged into the farm every day during the specified Timeline (see Figure 9). This chart enables you to identify the exact date on which there was excessive user activity on the zone. To know which users have contributed to this abnormal user activity, click on the bar that corresponds to the 'busy' day. A list of distinct users to the Citrix/Microsoft RDS/VDI servers in the zone on that date will then appear (see Figure 10).

    Figure 9 : A day-wise distribution chart for the user activity on the zone

    Figure 10 : The list of users to the farm on a particular date

  20. Below the distribution bar graph of Figure 9 is a User details table that lists the 'distinct' users who logged into one/more of the servers in the farm during the specified Timeline. If the list consists of users who have successfully completed one/more sessions on the farm, then such user names alone will be hyperlinked. Clicking on the hyperlink will lead you to the User Report of that user for the same Timeline (see ).

    Figure 11 : User report of the user with completed sessions

  21. The second section of the session report consists of a table that provides user-configured session information pertaining to every Citrix/Microsoft RDS/VDI server in the chosen farm (see ). Links to the top 'n' sessions (see Figure 12) and users (see Figure 13) on every Citrix/Terminal/VDI server in the farm will also be available.

    Note:

    You can configure the ‘N’ in the Top <N> sessions and users, by editing the eg_report.ini file (in the <EG_INSTALL_DIR>\manager\config directory). In the [CITRIX SESION REPORT] section of this file, set the Top parameter to a particular number as indicated below:

    [CITRIX SESSION REPORT]

    Top=10

     

    In the example above, Top has been set to 10. This ensures that all ‘Top-N’ hyperlinks in the session report page now read as “Top 10”. Moreover, clicking on the Top-10 hyperlink will list the top 10 sessions that have remained active for the longest duration, or the top 10 users with the maximum access duration (as the case may be).

  22. To zoom into the details pertaining to a particular user, click on the name of the user in the Top users list of Figure 13. This invokes the User Report of that user.

    Figure 12 : The longest sessions on a particular server in the farm

    Figure 13 : The top users on a particular server in the farm

  23. In the second section again, the total number of 'distinct' users to every server in the farm will be displayed. Clicking on the number of Unique users invokes a distribution bar chart that depicts the number of unique users who logged into the corresponding server every day during the specified Timeline (see Figure 14). This chart enables you to identify the exact date on which there was excessive user activity on the server. To know which users have contributed to this abnormal user activity, click on the bar that corresponds to the 'busy' day. A list of distinct users to the Citrix/Terminal/VDI server on that date will then appear (see Figure 15).

    Figure 14 : The day-wise distribution of users to a particular server

    Figure 15 : The list of users who accessed a particular server on a specific date

  24. To know who accessed the server during the specified Timeline, take a look at the User details table below the distribution bar chart of Figure 14. The users with completed sessions to their credit are highlighted by means of a hyperlink, clicking on which leads you to the User Report of that user.
  25. In case of a Data report, the Component Type list is populated with an additional All Types option. A Data report for All Types in a chosen zone will not consist of a farm-level summary; instead, you will have sections providing the session details pertaining to every server under each component-type of the chosen zone (see Figure 16).

    Figure 16 : Session details for every server in every component-type in the zone

    Here again, you will find links to the top 'n' sessions, users, and the Unique users to every component of a type.

  26. If the Background Save - PDF option is chosen from the Report Generation list, then clicking on the Run Report button will not generate the report and display it in this page for your benefit. Instead, a message indicating that the report is being processed in the background will appear. This will be accompanied by a link that will lead you to the page that lists all the reports that are being processed in the background, and their current status. If background report generation fails for a report, you can regenerate that report using this page, or can even delete that report if need be. On the other hand, if background processing successfully completes for your report, then, you can view a PDF of the report by clicking on the icon in that page.

Note:

You can configure the per-server information that needs to appear in the session report, by editing the eg_report.ini file in the <eg_install_dir>\manager\config directory. For example, to ensure that the session report displays the average and maximum number of sessions that are currently active on each of the Citrix servers in a farm, and the average and maximum number of sessions that are inactive, do the following:

  • In the [citrix session report] section of this file, specify the following:

    [CITRIX SESSION REPORT]
    Citrix_MF_XP:CtxSessionTest:Active_sessions#Active sessions=Avg,Max
    Citrix_MF_XP:CtxSessionTest:Inactive_sessions#Inactive
    sessions=Avg,Max

    Here, Citrix_MF_XPis the InternalComponentType, CtxSessionTestis the InternalTestName that reports the Active sessions and Inactive sessions. Avgand Maxare the functions that need to be executed on the values of the configured measures (i.e., Active_sessions and Inactive_sessions) in order to compute the average and maximum number of sessions. Note that if no functions are configured, then the report will, by default, display the average (Avg) values of the measure. Active sessionsand Inactive sessions are the display names of the measures.

    Therefore, the specification should be of the format:

    <InternalComponent-type>:<InternalTest>:<InternalMeasure>#<Displayname>=<Comma-separated list of functions>.

    If a Displayname is not provided, then the actual measure name will automatically become the Displayname.

    To know the internal component type, test, and measure names, use the procedure discussed in Page First, determine the Internal name of the test and measure to be configured. For that, do the following: of this manual.

  • Finally, save the eg_report.ini file.