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Using Citrix Resource Manager

Citrix Resource Manager and Citrix Presentation Server flavors

Citrix has three versions of their Citrix Presentation Server product on the market. The three flavors are Standard, Advanced and Enterprise edition. As everyone knows Advanced is supporting load balancing in comparison with the standard version. The enterprise edition (especially with Presentation Server 4) offers more functionality like Installation Manager, Server Reboot options, Application Isolation Environment, CPU utilization management and virtual memory optimization.




Also only available in the Enterprise edition is the Resource Manager. Although this part can be very useful, not many companies are using this functionality in their infrastructure. In this article I will describe the benefits of Resource Manager, configuration of Resource Manager and the usage of Resource Manager during system administration.

Introduction of Resource Manager (RM)

What is Resource Manager actually?
Resource Manager collects displays and stores data about system performance, applications or process use. Is this not exactly the same that Performance Monitor (standard available in Windows) does? Citrix RM has definitely some overlap with Performance Monitor, but adds some extra functionality to it.

These additional functionalities are also the benefits from Resource Manager.

  • Real Time Watcher, on the monitored counters (called Metrics within Resource Manager) you can assign two thresholds (warning and error). If these threshold Resource Manager can warn you via several methods like SMS, E-mail or SNMP.
  • Resource Manager can store the collected data for a longer time. This makes it possible to generate reports bases on current and past activity. 
  • Resource Manager has an option to create billing reports based on self defined based costs. 
  • Resource Manager collects beside the system counters also Citrix specific data like Application usage, User activity and Farm information.

If in your Infrastructure already contains an advanced monitoring systems like Tivoli NetView, HP OpenView, CA Unicentre provides via the Network Manage component. This component ports the data of Resource Manager to the monitoring system, so the data is also available in those systems. Citrix also support this functionality for Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM).

Set up Resource Manager

Resource Manager configuration is done via the Citrix Management Console via the Resource Manager menu option in the left pane.

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Figure 1: Rescource Manager overview

The first is to configure the Summary Database. This database can be hosted on a MS SQL or Oracle server. After the definition of the database you should pick one of your Citrix server to host the role Database Connection Server. On this server you should define a Data Source Name (System DSN) to set-up a connection with the database server. If the DSN configuration is completed the last step is to configure the chosen server as the Database Connection Server. This is done via configure button on the Summary Database tab within the Resource Manager component.

Choose the server you created the system DSN on specify the database user with this password. Also choose an update time. At this time the database connection server stores all collected data in the database. This data is stored in a local access database on all Citrix servers during the day. You can specify the retention period of the data in the database and if need alert settings for summary database alerts.

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Figure 2: Setting up a Summary Database

As mentioned before Citrix also collected specific data about the Citrix Farm. This specific data is collected by one server which has the so called Farm Metric role. This assigning of this role is done at the Farm Metric Server tab. At this tab you can configure the primary server and backup server. If this server is unavailable the role will be assigned to the backup Farm Metric server automatically.

If you would like to be alerted via SMS, SNMP or e-mail these settings are configured on the tabs SMS, SNMP and/or Email.

If you company is charging departments, branch office or customers for the usage of the IT infrastructure, they could use the billing option available in the Resource Manager.
First you need to define a fee for the environment based on one or more sources, like session time, CPU, memory and process active time. Secondly you need to define so called Cost Centers. In these Cost Centers you add users and or groups which represent an entity which your company would like to invoice. Via the same Billing TAB also the invoices can be generated.

Configure Metrics

Probably the real time monitory option is one of the most used options within Resource Manager. The so called watcher shows the configured metrics with their current state. These metrics are configured at the server level on the tab Resource Manager. Right Click on a metric and choose properties to set the desired values for the metric.
Of course it is very important that the metrics thresholds are configured with truthful values and there it is going wrong in many cases. Lots of companies do not change the thresholds and get warning and errors all the time, while the environment looks fine.

So definitely change the threshold values with values that correspondent your environment. To do this using Resource Manager or Microsoft Performance Monitor to make at least two baselines. One baseline is an overview of the system usages when no users are connected. The second baseline is a server with connected users as normal usage is expected/calculated. Use the second baseline to define your thresholds. Configure the thresholds somewhat higher than the maximum values which were shown in the baseline.

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Figure 3: Configuring the thresholds for the metrics.

Also additional metrics can be added to your needs, but do not add too many metrics. Citrix recommends limiting the amount of metrics to fifty.

I advice to monitor the following counters, because they give a good overview of the total system performance or important Citrix data:
• Citrix Metaframe Presentation Server – Data Store Connection Failure
• LogicalDisk - % Disk Time
• LogicalDisk - % Free Space
• Physical disk: % disk time
• Physical disk: Average current disk queue length
• Memory: Pages/sec
• Memory: Available Bytes
• Memory: % Committed bytes in use
• Paging file: % Usage
• Processor: % Interrupt Time
• Processor: Processor Time %
• System: Processor queue length
• Network interface: bytes total/sec
• System – Context Switches/sec
• Terminal Services – Active Sessions
• Terminal Services – Inactive Sessions

Because these settings are on server level, you configure different metrics and thresholds on every server. But in most situations you would like to have the same metrics and thresholds through your whole farm. This can be done in the server metric properties of the server you configured all the metrics. Choose Apply to other servers and select the servers you want to assign the metrics to. 

If you would like to monitor the usage of application you should define this during publishing of the application via the Citrix Management Console. This is the only metric available, so you can just let’s count how many instances of the application are running.

Monitor the farm using Resource Manager

Now the configuration is finished we are ready to really use the Resource Manager. You can use two options with the Management Console as starting point.

  • The Resource Manager tab on the Servers component (in the left pane)
    This gives an overall overview of the status of your servers with easy icons (green for below thresholds, yellow for warning level and red for the error level). If one or more metrics are above his/their threshold then the overall server status will also changes.
  • The Watcher tab within the Resource Manager component.
    If one or more metrics are above threshold, they will be displayed within the watcher.

When double clicking on the server or metric you forward to the Resource Manager tab of that particular server where the metric exceeded the threshold.

Double click the metric to show the real time graph on the specified metric. The specified threshold are displayed using a yellow (warning) and red (error) line.

Reports using Resource Manager

Besides this real time monitoring part you can also create report of current activity and historical usage. Within the Resource Manager just a few simple reports are available. These can be useful for troubleshooting, but are not reports you can use for analysis or management overviews. Fortunately Citrix added lots of useful report in their new Access Suite Console.

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Figure 4: Selecting report out of the Citrix Access Suite console

If the report within the Access Suite does not fit your needs you can use specified products to create your own reports. Because the summary database is a SQL or Oracle database you can directly query the database. One of the most used software products for this kind of tasks is Crystal Reports. Citrix delivers several Crystal Reports templates to get started with this product. The templates can be downloaded at Citrix Download Site.

Conclusion

Resource Manager is a component within the Enterprise edition of Citrix Presentation Server that is not used a lot in Terminal Server infrastructures. Actually that is a pity, because Resource Manager can mean a lot for you for analysis and trouble shooting. In this article I described the benefits of Resource Manager, followed by the configuration and usage of Resource Manager. Hopefully this article activates your needs to use Resource Manager in your environment. Also if already have a monitoring system like NetView, OpenView or Unicentre in your infrastructure Rescource Manager can be useful because you can connect the metrics into your overall monitor system by the Network Manager component. 

Article previous published at MSTerminalServices.org.