In my home lab, I run a handful of various monitoring tools to get better acquainted with their performance, interface, and abilities. One of my favorites, especially for my VMware View environment, is Xangati’s VDI Dashboard. I’ve had it in my lab for just over 3 months now, which is basically right after seeing them at Gestalt IT’s Virtualization Field Day 2 and writing about their very bacon and Star Wars focused presentation.
Can’t argue with Yoda
The Xangati Dashboard has quickly become my go-to tool for figuring out any issues in the lab, or purposely designing issues to better understand how they impact other systems. As a matter of full disclosure: I was provided a handful of socket licenses under NFR, which basically provide the same features as their trial product, but without an expiration date. Point being – anything you read about in my posts can essentially be explored using their free tool (for a single host) or a trial (for a cluster).
Follow The User
So, why am I writing about Xangati today? I was lucky enough to get some hands on lab time with their beta release code, which includes a new feature for profiling VDI end-users across desktop sessions (or even across unique desktops, as with floating pools) without needing an agent. I’d imagine that anyone else who works with virtual desktops can attest to the difficulty of figuring out a performance problem in a non-persistent desktop pool. It usually requires a lot of digging through logs to figure out their session history, and then correlating those sessions (virtual machines) to performance historical data. No fun!
The primary dashboard page showcasing desktops and desktop users
The new release of the Xangati VDI Dashboard uses this new follow-the-user style tracking (that’s my term for it). As you may already be aware, vSphere tracks virtual machines, while View tracks users sesions – there really isn’t a good bridge between the two from a monitoring perspective. The Xangati appliance will poll the View Connection servers for log in data, and make a relationship mapping of user to desktop. Couple that with their knowledge of the underlying environment (from vCenter and NetFlow data) and you’ll get a solid picture of what’s going on.
It also gathers all the running process via WMI queries and PCoIP session statistics from the VMware View Agent on the desktop. This gives you a complete, end-to-end look at the user’s experience across disparate desktops along with the relevant performance data. Eureka!
A replay of PCoIP session details for a desktop user named viewclient2 (highlighted in red)
Another nice thing about this? When a user calls in for help, you don’t need to have them provide an asset tag, desktop pool name, or anything else besides their account name. Xangati already has a list of all the users and what desktop they are on. This saves you some time from digging around the View Administrator to find the user – you can get directly to troubleshooting, and then go to the View Administrator later if the resolution involves some administrative task (refreshing a desktop, for example).
All desktop users are quickly presented and can be clicked on for historical details. Or, you can use the search box.
Response and General “Snappiness”
In addition, I still find the GUI to be extremely responsive and snappy. One gripe I have about a lot of products is their sluggishness as you scale out or begin pulling in a lot of data points. Even over my WAN to the Xangati lab, the Dashboard was still extremely fast to load any data I wanted, and moving from screen to screen (such as from a desktop user to a desktop VM, to the host that the VM was on, to the entire cluster) was nice and fast.
The VDI Dashboard also offers support for both VMware and Citrix brokers. While not all that prevalent in a smaller environment, I do see mixed end user desktop solutions in larger enterprise deployments. Because Xangati does not use agents, you can have both environments being monitored by their product, and still get PCoIP (VMware) and HDX/ICA (Citrix) session statistics for a user.
This isn’t to say that Xangati is only a VDI monitoring solution. The VI Dashboard has all sorts of server metrics for environments that aren’t doing any virtual desktops. In addition, Xangati has also made mention that their new release will include more capacity management features available, including trend management and waste finding (locating capacity hogs). I’ll be interested to hear of results from users who start using the end-user tracking in the environments – please feel free to comment if you’re using Xangati and want to share an experience.