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 : An ESX server host

Agent deploying the test : A remote agent

Outputs of the test : One set of results for every user to each Windows virtual desktop on the vSphere/ESX server being monitored.

Configurable parameters for the test

  1. Testperiod - 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 host listens. By default, this is NULL.
  4. esx user and esx password - In order to enable the test to extract the desired metrics from a target ESX server, you need to configure the test with an ESX USER and ESX PASSWORD. The user credentials to be passed here depend upon the mechanism used by the eG agent for discovering the VMs on the target ESX server and collecting performance statistics from it. These monitoring/discovery methodologies and their corresponding configuration requirements have been discussed hereunder:

    • VM discovery using the web services interface of the ESX server: Starting with ESX server 3.0, a VMware ESX server offers a web service interface using which the eG agent discovers the guest operating systems on a physical ESX host. The VMware VI SDK is used by the agent to implement the web services interface. To use this interface for discovering the VMs, this test should be configured with an ESX USER who has “Read-only” privileges to the target ESX server. By default, the root user is authorized to execute the test. However, it is preferable that you create a new user on the target ESX host and assign the “Read-only” role to him/her. The steps for achieving this have been elaborately discussed in Creating a New User with Read-Only Privileges to the ESX Server.

      ESX servers terminate user sessions based on timeout periods. The default timeout period is 30 mins. When you stop an agent, sessions currently in use by the agent will remain open for this timeout period until ESX times out the session. If the agent is restarted within the timeout period, it will open a new set of sessions. If you want the eG agent to close already existing sessions before it opens new sessions, then you would have to configure all the tests with the credentials of an ESX user with permissions to View and Terminate Sessions. To know how to grant this permission to an ESX user, refer to Creating a Special Role on an ESX Server and Assigning the Role to a New User to the Server.

    • VM discovery using the vCenter in the target environment: By default, the eG agent connects to each ESX server and discovers the VMs executing on it. While this approach scales well, it requires additional configuration for each server being monitored. For example, separate user accounts may need to be created on each server for read-only access to VM details. While monitoring large virtualized installations however, the agents can be optionally configured to perform guest discovery using the VM information already available in vCenter. In this case therefore, the ESX USER and ESX PASSWORD that you specify should be that of an Administrator or Virtual Machine Administrator in vCenter. However, if, owing to security constraints, you prefer not to use the credentials of such users, then, you can create a special role on vCenter with ‘Read-only’ privileges.

    Refer to Assigning the ‘Read-Only’ Role to a Local/Domain User to vCenter to know how to create a user on vCenter.

    If the ESX server for which this test is being configured had been discovered via vCenter, then the eG manager automatically populates the esx user and esx password text boxes with the vCenter user credentials using which the ESX discovery was performed.

    Like ESX servers, vCenter servers too terminate user sessions based on timeout periods. The default timeout period is 30 mins. When you stop an agent, sessions currently in use by the agent will remain open for this timeout period until vCenter times out the session. If the agent is restarted within the timeout period, it will open a new set of sessions. If you want the eG agent to close already existing sessions before it opens new sessions, then you would have to configure all the tests with the credentials of a vCenter user with permissions to View and Terminate Sessions (from vCenter 4.1, this is called the View and stop sessions permission). To know how to grant this permission to a user to vCenter, refer to Creating a Special Role on vCenter and Assigning the Role to a Local/Domain User. When the eG agent is started/restarted, it first attempts to connect to the vCenter server and terminate all existing sessions for the user whose credentials have been provided for the tests.

    This is done to ensure that unnecessary sessions do not remain established in the vCenter server for the session timeout period.  Ideally, you should create a separate user account with the required credentials and use this for the test configurations. If you provide the credentials for an existing user for the test configuration, when the eG agent starts/restarts, it will close all existing sessions for this user (including sessions you may have opened using the Virtual Infrastructure client). Hence, in this case, you may notice that your VI client sessions are terminated when the eG agent starts/restarts.

  5. confirm password - Confirm the password by retyping it here.
  6. ssl - By default, the ESX server is SSL-enabled. Accordingly, the SSL flag is set to Yes by default. This indicates that the eG agent will communicate with the ESX server via HTTPS by default. On the other hand, if the eG agent has been configured to use the VMPerl API or CLI for monitoring (i.e., if the ESX USER parameter is set to none), then the status of the SSL flag is irrelevant.

    Like the ESX sever, the vCenter is also SSL-enabled by default. If you have chosen to use the vCenter for monitoring all the ESX servers in your environment, then you have to set the ssl flag to Yes.

  7. webport - By default, in most virtualized environments, the ESX server and vCenter listen on port 80 (if not SSL-enabled) or on port 443 (if SSL-enabled). This implies that while monitoring an SSL-enabled ESX server directly, the eG agent, by default, connects to port 443 of the ESX server to pull out metrics, and while monitoring a non-SSL-enabled ESX server, the eG agent connects to port 80. Similarly, while monitoring an ESX server via an SSL-enabled vCenter, the eG agent connects to port 443 of vCenter to pull out the metrics, and while monitoring via a non-SSL-enabled vCenter, the eG agent connects to port 80 of vCenter. 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 ESX server or vCenter in your environment listens so that the eG agent communicates with that port.
  8. VIRTUAL CENTER - If the eG manager had discovered the target ESX server by connecting to vCenter, then the IP address of the vCenter server used for discovering this ESX server would be automatically displayed against the vIRTUAL center parameter; similarly, the esx user and esx password text boxes will be automatically populated with the vCenter user credentials, using which ESX discovery was performed.

    If this ESX server has not been discovered using vCenter, but you still want to discover the guests on the ESX server via vCenter, then select the IP address of the vCenter host that you wish to use for guest discovery from the vIRTUAL center list. By default, this list is populated with the IP address of all vCenter hosts that were added to the eG Enterprise system at the time of discovery. Upon selection, the esx user and esx password that were pre-configured for that vCenter server will be automatically displayed against the respective text boxes.

    On the other hand, if the IP address of the vCenter server of interest to you is not available in the list, then, you can add the details of the vCenter server on-the-fly, by selecting the Other option from the vIRTUAL center list. This will invoke the add vcenter server details page. Refer to Adding the Details of a vCenter Server for VM Discovery section to know how to add a vCenter server using this page. Once the vCenter server is added, its IP address, esx user, and esx password will be displayed against the corresponding text boxes.

    On the other hand, if you want the eG agent to behave in the default manner -i.e., communicate with each ESX server for VM information - then set the VIRTUAL CENTER parameter to ‘none’. In this case, the ESX USER and ESX PASSWORD parameters can either be set to none or can be configured with the credentials of a user who has at least ‘Read-only’ privileges to the target ESX server.

  9. 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.
  10. ignore vms inside view - Administrators of some high security VMware 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 an ESX 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. 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.
  12. 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 the eG Agent to Collect Current Hardware Status Metrics 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.

  13. 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/Solaris 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 VM Details – ESX Test.
    • 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.
  14. REPORT BY USER - While monitoring a VMware ESX server, the REPORT BY USER flag is set to No by default, indicating that by default, the guest operating systems on the ESX server are identified using the hostname specified in the operating system. On the other hand, while monitoring VMware Desktop environments, this flag is set to Yes by default; this implies that in case of VDI servers, by default, the guests will be identified using the login of the user who is accessing the guest OS. 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 userflag 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 Enterprise 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