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Selecting a Monitor Solution for SBC/VDI environments Part 4: EG Innovations

In earlier articles of this series we discusses how to select a monitor solution for Server Based Computing (SBC) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI). In that article series I described getting to a shortlist of products. The products on that shortlist should be investigated in more detail and check if and how the products meet the wishes created earlier.

The article series is based on a real life scenario I did at one of my customers. For that real life case we created a shortlist of four product, from which I tested three completely in a test environment. In this part I’m describing my experiences with one of the products: EG Innovations.

Keep in mind that this is not a full review of a product, but I will touch the parts that are interesting for SBC/VDI infrastructures. Most information will be based on Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop as that was the software running at this customer, but I will also mention other SBC/VDI products possibilities if applicable.



Installation

EG Innovations exists of three components. A database to store the data, a manager server between the database and the last component the agent. The product is based on Java, so some java components are installed during the installation steps. Many don’t like Java, but I must admit that it worked fine and I did not have any issues. During the installation of the manager server, the database is created. EG support Microsoft SQL and Oracle as database platform. For Proof of Concepts SQL Express can be used. By default the product install in the root of the C drive, but that path can adjusted. For a Proof of Concept you need to obtain an evaluation license from EG Innovations, which need to be copied into the manager directory.

The communication between the agent and the management component is done via port 7077. EG offers encrypted communication between the components. I like the concept, but when you install the product the first time it can be bit confusing answering the answers about those secure communications.

The agent needs to be installed on the machines you would like to monitor completely, for many components also agentless monitoring is available (but sometimes you can’t get all information via the agentless methodology). Don’t forget to add .Net Framework 3.5, the product works better out of the box when this is available on the agents.

Configuration

EG Innovations is a complete monitoring solution. It offers much more than monitoring a SBC/VDI infrastructure, actually I will be amazed if you find that an infrastructure component is not available within the product. Also the support for SBC/VDI infrastructures product is huge. You expect that there is support for Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, Microsoft RDS and VMware View, which are included. But EG also has monitoring capabilities of solutions that are less used like 2X and KVM

When the components are installed, you need start managing the agents. You assign an agent to a component type. Adding an agent to a component type arranges that the monitoring part of that specific component are applied. Some of those test need some configuration, but those are asked to complete when a component type is actually added to the product.

Because the product is automatically adding monitoring rules the set-up is done pretty quickly.

Besides assigning the agent to a component type, you can configure segments/services. A segment / service is a set of agents providing the actual service to the end-user. Combining those agent you get a quick overview if and how the whole chain is performing and it also shows where the issue exists in the chain. You can set-up pretty impressive segments overviews. This part is one of the unique features that EG offers and can be a great added value.

EG Innovations for SBC/VDI in action

With this segments figure we are came to the point that we are looking how EG provided information about SBC/VDI environments. As EG Innovations is a complete monitor product, which arranges that there are several views available for the server resource usage. Each view shows the information in another format, so you need to find it out which dashboard fits your needs best. Also the alerting is fine, when you go to the monitor tab the open alerts are shown directly.

Also on the specific Citrix part EG is showing a lot of useful information. EG shows for example the connected Citrix client versions, the type of Devices connected, client IP address and more. One of the better features into the product is showing the usage of the virtual channels within the ICA protocol and the latency of the session.

A part I really like is the user experience dashboard. It shows a lot of useful information of the user session. It provides a quick overview of the processes which are using the different available resources and also averages on latency and similar information. In the User Experience Dashboard also the logon times are shown both in a graphical as textual overview.

For most information shown on the dashboard there is a possibility to get a more detailed view of that information. In that case EG changes from a graphical overview to a text based overview. The information shown is exactly what you would like to see, personally I needed to get used to this view a bit.

In comparison with the other products EG also offers lots of possibilities to monitor Citrix infrastructure components like License Server, Web Interface, StoreFront and Citrix Provisioning Services. This goes much further than monitoring services of such a product, for example the whole PVS infrastructure is taken care of as seen in the shown figure below.

Mentioned earlier EG also offers monitoring capabilities for other SBC/VDI infrastructures. I did not have the possibility to check View, KVM and 2X but took a look at the Microsoft RDS implementation. EG is also doing a decent job on this part. EG is one of the few product that also shows the latency of the RDP protocol. Also detailed RemoteFX session information is shown including virtual channels. The same user experience dashboard is also available for RDP users

Resource Usage by EG

Because I have seen some strange behavior by some monitor products I always would like to know how much resources are required by the agent. I got this information from the supplier, I did not test or check is by myself.

EG reported back on this with the following figures: the agent uses maximum 1,29% CPU, 8,1 KB/sec Disk Activity, 48 MB Memory usage and 3,2 Kbps network bandwidth.

Summarization

EG is an extended product, which is an overall monitoring solution. Especially compared with the other product in our shortlist. The installation is not difficult, but requires more knowledge and time in comparison with the other products in this shortlist.

EG is providing a lot of information and is a product that also monitors the other Citrix components within a XenDesktop/XenApp infrastructure extensively. EG is also showing a lot of specific Citrix information, which is probably wanted by many companies when selecting a monitor product for their Citrix infrastructure.

Also EG is the only product that offers monitoring for that many other SBC/VDI infrastructures. Besides the expected Microsoft RDS support, monitoring is also available for VMware View, 2X and KVM.