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Ensuring a operational Citrix infrastructure with Goliath Logon Simulator

Any system administrator has encountered this situation at least once–arriving to the office in the morning and at the entrance you are already told that users cannot logon to Citrix.

When you are at your desk you quickly identify the issue and solve it as well. However, not everyone is happy about the fact that this was not noticed and solved proactively before users were actually starting with work.

Since you cannot simulate the whole user logon process at the moment, it is difficult to be proactive in this kind of situations. In this article, I will show you how the Goliath Logon Simulator for Citrix can proactively solve this situation.




Goliath’s Logon Simulator is integrated within the Goliath Performance Monitor (GPM) suite, but is also available as a separate product. Using it in combination with GPM offers the biggest added value, as you also have lots of insights about the sessions and the health of the Citrix infrastructure.

Not a Regular Monitoring Tool

Goliath Performance Monitor’s main focus is monitoring the Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop infrastructure and components that are directly related, like the hypervisor and the network. Because of this focus, the product offers more insights into the Citrix components than regular monitoring products.

The Goliath infrastructure (depending if you are using the suite or the stand-alone product) consists of four components: a SQL database, a Goliath server, agent on the Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop servers and the Logon Simulator software.

The Logon Simulator Installation Process

The installation of Goliath Logon Simulator is pretty straight forward. Reminder that .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 currently is required. The SQL database can be the embedded SQL express (recommended for Proof of Concepts), or a local or remote SQL server.


 

For the Logon Simulator you want to install the agent on the XenDesktop Delivery Controller (or XenApp Data Collector for 6.5 environments) and the RDS/VDA hosts.

To use the Logon Simulator, the Goliath Intelligent Agent is also required, so that is step one for that component. The installation of the Logon Simulator component is currently a manual task.

It would be nice if Goliath can make an installation package for that. However, the installation steps are not difficult at all and are well documented by Goliath. The Logon Simulator has some dependencies, so check the document thoroughly (IE11, Citrix Receiver 4, specific Trusted Site settings).

Configuring the Goliath Back End

Logically for the Logon Simulator, you need to have the Citrix XenDesktop infrastructure within the scope of the Goliath product, so follow the instructions to add a XenDesktop site within the Goliath product. It’s important that a Delivery Controller is configured as the XenDesktop Broker Controller within the software Suite and that the XenDesktop VDAs have a Goliath agent installed.


Configuring the Logon Simulator

Now we can start configuring the Logon Simulator. A monitoring rule needs to be created for each machine you would like to run a Logon Simulator on. This can be accomplished by doing the following:

  • Go to the Configure tab and select ‘Monitoring Rules’
  • At the bottom of the rules page, select ‘New’ and then choose ‘Citrix Logon Simulator’
  • This will bring up the pane in which you configure the simulations.

You will need to specify:

  • The URL for NetScaler, StoreFront, Web Interface, that the user would access to launch the desktop or application
  • The user account information for starting the session
  • Which Desktop or Application will be launched
  • Specify the tab/folder path where the Desktop/Application can be found, if applicable.
  • If using Goliath Performance Monitor, it’s also a good idea to configure the Web Logoff field to be at least 120 seconds. This is so the agent can capture additional session metrics.
  • From the server tree, you select which machine the simulations will be executing on. This is the machine that was prepared with the Logon Simulator prerequisites that were mentioned earlier.

In addition, you can specify how often the simulations will run on the Schedule tab. On the Notifications tab, you can specify how you would like to be alerted (e-mail, SMS text, SNMP, Syslog, etc.). I will go into more details about Remediation shortly.

For those of you working with the latest Storefront, version 3.0, the Goliath Logon Simulator supports it. What is really cool is that the Logon Simulator automatically detects if the connection is set-up via a NetScaler Gateway, StoreFront or Web Interface.

I even created my own disclaimer in the Web Interface and it was automatically detected. In my opinion, this is a big plus for the Logon Simulator as even a small change in the portal environment does not mean that you need to change anything in the Logon Simulator.

Logon Simulation in Action – The Basics

After the simulation test is scheduled within Goliath Performance Monitor/Logon Simulator, the results are shown from the Logon Simulator tasks. Via a simple green/red line, you check which tests succeeded and which failed.

The real value is clicking the details option, which shows the exact steps executed, and logically, a point that caused the failure.

To get more insight about what happened in the past with the test, there is also a report available showing all Logon Simulator tests with the same results and details.

We configured Notifications to inform us when a test has failed as well. However, you don’t need to troubleshoot anymore because you already know where the issue is arising by the extensive logging of the Logon Simulator. You can respond directly and carry out tasks to ensure the environment is available again.

The nice thing about combining the Logon Simulator for Citrix with the Goliath Performance Monitor suite is that you can compare the results of the Logon Simulator user with actual users who are logging on to Citrix XenApp and or XenDesktop.

Some good examples are the logon time reports and insights into ICA latency. These insights are especially useful when users are mentioning issues.

Logon Simulation in Action – The Next Step

With the notification functionality, we can respond quickly to incidents where we can solve the issue before end-users experience the same behavior. However, it would be even better if Logon Simulator can already execute tasks.

To make the Logon Simulator for Citrix really proactive, Goliath has options to automatically execute remediation actions. This can be configured in the Remediation tab of the Logon Simulator monitoring rule.

While there are remediation actions that are available out of the box, you can create your own custom remediation actions or have Goliath Care do it for you. For example, one customer is running a Logon Simulator for every XenApp server, and when that server does not respond as expected, the server will be placed in a drain mode. Goliath is aiming to add more of these advanced remediation actions pre-build in the product.

Useful Insights about ICA Latency, Connection Performance, and Bandwidth Usage

Combining the Logon Simulator together with Goliath Performance Monitor offers lots more than only Logon Simulations. Goliath really focuses on the Citrix client and the Citrix VDA, providing lots of useful insight like Connection Performance, ICA latency, network latency, bandwidth usage, virtual channel usage, and client version.

Conclusion of the Logon Simulator Review

The Goliath Logon Simulator for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop is an easy to implement solution to ensure that the IT teams knows that the end-users can logon to the Citrix infrastructure.

It’s powerful because the solution works with any connection methodology without making changes to scripts or something similar. By using the intelligent remediation, the solution is really proactive. It would be nice if the installation and remediation would be more integrated within the product, but Goliath is already working on those enhancements.

The Logon Simulator is definitely an added value for Citrix infrastructures and provides lots of insights between the endpoint and Citrix infrastructure in combination with Goliath’s Performance Suite features.

To try the Logon Simulator in your own environment, download a fully supported 30-day free trial or request a personal demo.