Total Visibility for Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop Logon Success
Key Features of Citrix Logon Monitoring with eG Enterprise:
- Detailed insight into every aspect of the Citrix logon process
- Drilldowns for instant diagnosis and resolution
- Correlation with network, server, virtualization and storage performance
- Breakdown by delivery group and server
- Integrated reporting for audits, analysis and planning
Logon Monitoring with Citrix Director is Limited – You Need More
- The Citrix logon performance metrics provided are at a high level and do not provide the detailed visibility of all the phases of logon that Citrix EdgeSight provided.
- Actionable diagnostic information for fine-tuning the Citrix logon process is missing – for example, which client side extension (CSE) or group policy is taking time when being processed.
Citrix Logon Performance Reporting
The wealth of Citrix logon metrics collected by eG Enterprise can also be used for reporting purposes.
Using eG’s insightful User Logon Performance report, you can rapidly analyze user logons historically, accurately isolate users whose logon experience has been consistently poor, and understand from a quick glance, the factors that have very often impacted the users’ logon experience – a slow domain controller? a badly written login script? user profiles that are continuously growing in size?
In Depth: Causes for Logon Slowness
When users notice that Citrix logons are slow, they are often unaware of what is causing the slowness. Citrix administrators have to determine where exactly the slowdown happened – which of the 12 logon phases mentioned above is slow and why – is it an Active Directory issue?, could it be a network issue?, is there an issue with the profile server?, or could it be with one of the scripts being run when the user logs on? Diagnosing the cause of logon slowness in Citrix is often very hard and challenging.
The common causes for Citrix logon slowness can be categorized into six main areas:
- Hardware & Network
- Logon & Authentication
- GPO Processing
- Logon script execution, Printer mapping, Folder redirection etc
- Desktop / application launch
Hardware & Network
Hardware virtualization helps to run Active Directory, Citrix XenApp servers, and other infrastructure servers such as DNS, DHCP etc., as virtual machines. Virtual Switches created in the hypervisor provide the network connectivity to the infrastructure servers to reach the outside world.
Trouble spots: Issues like misconfigured DNS settings, poor routing, dropped packets, insufficient bandwidth or physical network cards, uplink issues can cause significant delays, as requests are timed out or passed to an incorrect location or a non-existing domain controller/DNS server. Thus, virtualization adds an additional layer of complexity in troubleshooting the Citrix logon issues and significantly delay the troubleshooting procedure.
Logon & Authentication
Each session is created after the credentials are validated against the domain controller.
Trouble spots: Incorrect sites in multi-forest domain, unavailable domain controller, an over-utilized domain controller server and DNS issues can delay this phase from milliseconds to seconds.
This phase starts after the user credentials are validated by the domain controller and continues until the user profile is downloaded from the file server. Roaming profiles are generally used in Citrix environments as it provides consistency across XenApp servers/virtual desktops and preserves user settings and changes.
Trouble spots: It is recommended that all user folders be redirected to a file server except "AppData," as it is used heavily by applications. Large profile size, unavailable file server, network congestion, and corrupted profiles are typical causes of slowdowns at this phase.
Many organizations use Group Policy to manage the Citrix XenApp servers and virtual desktops and apply policy settings and customizations.
Trouble spots: Group policy (GPO) depends on the Active Directory infrastructure, so Active Directory and DNS issues can significantly delay in finding the policies and GPO processing. Too many GPOs and client side extensions (CSEs) can delay this phase. Identifying the client side extensions and corresponding group policy is a challenging task once this phase has been identified as the source of the slow Citrix logon issue.
Logon script Execution / Printer mapping / Folder redirection
Generally logon scripts are considered as outdated, but they are still being used to customize individual users in a multi-user environment.
Trouble spots: Insufficient loops in the script, long-running logon scripts, and many mapped client printers are a few common issues that can delay this phase. Windows 2008/2012 support Group Policy preferences, which can be used to perform tasks like map network drives, change registry keys etc., previously performed by logon scripts.
Desktop / Application Launch
Backend tasks, file share accesses, etc. can be causes for slowness in launching specific applications. Application pre-launch can be considered for such applications to speed up the launching of these applications.
Importance of Monitoring Logon Performance in Citrix
Diagnosing logon slowness has always been a challenge in Citrix infrastructures. In the 2016 Citrix performance survey by eG Innovations and DABCC, we asked Citrix admins to indicate what were the most common complaints they received from Citrix users and slow logons ranked as the most common complaint (see image).
While a user logs on only once to the Citrix farm in some industries, in others, one user may logon many times through Citrix. For example, consider the healthcare domain where a doctor or a clinician may have to logon many times – once on each device/terminal that they use. In such situations, slowness with logons can be extremely frustrating and can reduce user productivity.
How eG Enterprise Monitors Citrix Logon Performance
eG Enterprise first gathers logon performance information directly from the Citrix Delivery Controller, a central player in the logon process. The visibility provided by it into the logon process is fundamental to understanding how logon is working, so eG Enterprise collects performance data using Citrix Delivery Controller’s web services interface.
Notice from the image above that the logon for this user took over 6 mins and the time taken for the interactive session to be set up was the significant contributor to the excessive logon time.
The interactive session time refers to the time taken to handoff keyboard and mouse control to the user. Some of typical activities happen in this stage are:
- Folder redirection / Printer mapping
- Group Policy processing
- AutoRuns programs
- Antivirus scanning
- Loading user profiles from UPM etc.
However, the Citrix Delivery Controller does not have the additional details about why interactive session time was high as the processing of the session at this point has been passed on to the VDA. To provide additional diagnosis, eG Enterprise collects detailed information from the VDA about the Citrix session establishment process. Figure 6 depicts the two stages of logon performance monitoring – from the Citrix Delivery Controller and from the Citrix VDAs of XenApp and XenDesktop.
For the group policy processing duration, eG Enterprise provides detailed diagnosis (as indicated by the magnifying glass next to the metric) that highlights the different group policies/CSEs that were processed and the time taken for each. The image below provides the details of the group policy processing time in this case.
From the above figure, it is clear that most of the group policy processing time is being spent in drive mapping. Armed with this information, a Citrix admin can easily take action to speed up the logon process.
Why eG? One Monitor to Manage All of IT.
- eG Enterprise is the only single pane-of-glass, virtualization-aware, auto-diagnostic performance monitor
- Only eG Enterprise automatically provides actionable answers to performance issues, wherever they originate
- Get visibility across every tier of the physical and virtual infrastructure
- Automate the identification of performance issues with patented correlation-intelligence technology
- Pinpoint where urgent problems originate and exactly what tiers and processes are being affected
- Ensure a great user experience and dramatically improve IT efficiency