You can’t manage what you can’t measure – Introducing Citrix NetScaler Insight
Have a look around you at the various devices that you could use to access the web right now. You’ve obviously got at least one as you’ve found this post but how many more do you use in a day, a week or a month? A desktop PC, a laptop, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, games console? What browsers do they all use? Internet Explorer? Firefox? Chrome? And how are these ‘things’ connected to the internet? Millions of people everyday pick up a device and type ‘www’ and for the vast majority of them all of the above simply does not matter. But if you work in a data centre and you have service levels to maintain, that’s a whole different story.
Keeping track of all the users accessing a service and more importantly what sort of experience they have is getting to be a challenge all on it’s own, often solved with complex and expensive solutions from multiple vendors each with their special way of achieving what should be a fairly simple end result – visibility. What’s needed is an efficient, centralised way to establish exactly whats happening from the server to the endpoint and back again and that is the basic principle behind the recently introduced NetScaler Insight.
For thousands of organisations worldwide, NetScaler Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) provide a cost effective, high performance method of connecting users to data, as a result, NetScaler is in the perfect position to provide a look at what is happening to those users sessions, regardless of the type of application or the encryption used. Back on version release 9.3, Citrix introduced AppFlow which provides an open standard record of exactly what was happening – only back then it was still necessary to bring a 3rd party vendor in to actually analyse the data and turn it in to something for we humans to read. But that was then….
Available to download now, NetScaler Insight uses the AppFlow records generated by NetScaler ADCs to provide administrators visibility about all aspects of the infrastructure from server response times to the time it takes the content to render on the end point, whatever and wherever it is.
So far, so good but if you really need to manage web delivery service levels, you need seriously deep inspection capabilities that can be quickly and efficiently accessed which is where the NetScaler Insight Center (NetScaler Insight 2.0, available May 13) steps up to provide WebInsight, if you deliver anything over HTTP/S and have service levels to maintain then make sure you check this new feature out.
Highly granular troubleshooting is a valuable tool but WebInsight offers the ability move beyond closing support tickets to truly understanding what users experience when they visit the service. Spotting trends driven by users can allow IT to react to their target audience before service levels slip and ultimately capitalise on the ability to keep users happy and engaged. As the fabulously titled ‘Internet of Things’ becomes reality with thousands of devices coming online daily, the levels of scrutiny offered by WebInsight allows IT to become a key contributor to business intelligence mechanisms – this is a real game changer.
What about the desktop users though, specifically the ever expanding XenDesktop user base? Insight Center serves up HDX Insight the first end to end, highly granular Citrix (ICA) traffic monitor with the ability to inspect down to the individual channels within the ICA stream, any deeper and you’d just see a stream of ones and noughts… Which servers are slow to respond? How are the sessions performing on Android devices? Do we need to consider WAN optimisation for a particular branch office due to limited bandwidth or is the latency far greater than the SLAs offered by the circuit provider? Having this end to end view could be considered good enough but the ability to feed network metrics back in to XenDesktop Director takes the whole conversation up a gear. If service levels matter, this is a no brainer.
Being able to establish where to focus attention for the maximum service benefits allows IT to support users with greater performance across an increasingly diverse range of end points and mobile/BYOD policies. In short, Insight is everything that EdgeSight promised to be. It’s the final piece of the end to end message from Citrix and it going to be very well received… Al
© Al Taylor 28th March 2013
NetScaler Insight 1.0 is available to download now from Citrix.com (login required). Compatible with NetScaler 9.3 or above
NetScaler Insight Center (Insight 2.0) is scheduled for release May 13. Requires NetScaler 10.1 (E/P)
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