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Selecting a Monitor Solution for SBC/VDI environments Part 5: Goliath Monitor IT

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: Goliath Monitor IT.

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

The infrastructure of Goliath Monitor IT is based on three components. A database for storing the data, a management server and an agent for those components that will be monitored with the product.

The starting point of the installation is setting up the management server. Goliath provides a 32bit and 64bit installer. With the management installation part also the database can be set-up. You can use an SQL database and for Proof of Concept you can also use a SQL Express edition that can be installed automatically. What I like is that Goliath has a 30 day trail period, which does not require need a license key or something similar. You can just start using the product after the installation.

The agent can be installed in many ways. It’s available from the web service (management is all web based), you can create a script/package and agent can be installed via the Management Console during the initial set-up as well.

It’s important to know that the management server requires a fixed IP and that the agents require specific .Net Framework 3.5 (also on Windows 2012 machines). The agent installation is really straight forwarded.

Configuration

Goliath Monitor IT is totally focusing on Citrix infrastructures and the component that are related. So it’s not a full monitor solution, so do not expect monitor options for Exchange and more. The product is completely web based, so the first step after the actual installation is starting the management console in a browser, newer IE versions requires compatibility mode to be configured. When the console is started the first time it shows which components can be configured. For this review I will focus on the XenDesktop/XenApp, but know that the hypervisor, VMs and physical hardware also can be monitored. There is no options available for monitoring RDS infrastructures.

Selecting a component at this level is starting actually a wizard where you specify which components are available within the Citrix infrastructure. The servers you specify during this wizard will be automatically provided with the agent. All Citrix components are in the range: Web Interface, StoreFront, PVS servers, SQL server and so on. However the real focus is on the XenApp Session Hosts and VDA agents. The agent and configuration on the Citrix Data Collector/Desktop Controller are really important for Goliath IT monitor. Luckily Goliath delivers clear manuals to configure this part per version.

Goliath has pre-configured monitor rulesets per component, which are applied automatically to an identified agent.

Within Goliath you can create groups which can represent a service. This makes it easy to see which servers are dependent of each other and also the group will show the overall status.

Goliath IT Monitor in action

Now we have done the basic configuration it’s time to see Goliath in actions. You could have the feeling seeing the previous screen shots that the interface is simple and maybe a bit outdated. I totally agree with that the GUI is not really fancy, however it also takes care that all the information is shown orderly and you are quickly used to the views.

Most views are text based and show all necessary information. Resource usage per user, per process, ICA latency, Citrix client version and much more. If you also have logon simulator in use, also the logon times are available, including the timeframes of the steps during the logon phase. During our testing Goliath also introduced monitoring the bandwidth usage within the different virtual channel in the ICA protocol.

The Logon Simulator is one of the key features of Goliath. With this feature the whole chain can be verified including the logon steps via Web Interface, StoreFront and NetScaler. Pretty cool is the fact that the functionality determines automatically which system is used. In our case it even recognized a disclaimer built in the Web Interface site, without any additional information. Also the feedback of this test is very detailed.

Goliath has also several views that provided a quick overview of the environment. Those are also more graphical based. Below shown screen-shot is good example with top 10 of most used specific resources. Similar view is also available for system resources.

Goliath has also reporting functionalities for history information. Reporting is based on the same objects, although the amount of report could be bit larger in my
opinion. However there are APIs available to extract data out of the database and Goliath also offers a service for creating custom reports if required.

What’s pretty unique are the session properties view in Goliath. It mentions a big amount of session information, which I did not have seen in other products. The information is showed in real technical format (you need to search what the value exactly means) but provides real valuable data.

Last unique feature is showing the Citrix load counter (only tested this in XenApp 6.5). This information is also available within Citrix (commands), however Goliath also show the average Citrix load based on the actual load counters. It’s not rocket science, but can be really useful.

Resource Usage by Goliath IT Monitor

Logically resource usage of the monitor agent itself is pretty important. The agent has a size of around 4 MB deployed, so that’s small. According the Goliath the agent uses around 0,1 %CPU, 1-2 IOPs, 50 MB RAM on XenApp and 200-500 bytes/sec network bandwidth. I got this information from the supplier, I did not test or check is by myself.

Summarization

Goliath IT Monitor is mainly focused on monitoring a Citrix infrastructure and corresponding components. The installation is straight forwarded and within a Proof of Concept is operational really quickly, especially when you deploy the agent out of the product during the initial wizard. It’s nice that there is automatically 30 dag fully operation trial period.

Goliath is providing a lot of information about the Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp infrastructure, in particular the XenApp Session Host and/or VDA’s. For other Citrix components the information is bit more basic, but definitely enough. The GUI is simple and not fancy, but I found the information easy to find and really readable.

Goliath also monitors the well know hypervisors and SQL. For other components or other SBC/VDI based infrastructures Goliath does not provide specific monitoring information.