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Get a jump on VDI issues with root cause analysis

The right root cause analysis tools and methods can help IT identify the source of VDI problems and resolve them quickly to minimize the effect on user experience.

In the Star Wars saga, the force enables Jedi Knights and Sith Lords to see things before they happen. It's what gives them the power to deflect laser blasts, avoid danger and engage in epic lightsaber duels.

With the right root cause analysis tools and methods, IT professionals working with VDI can wield the force in their organizations and address VDI issues before they become major problems. Root cause analysis helps find out what caused a problem so the issue does not come up again. It can also help IT prevent problems from happening in the first place.

Before IT pros can use root cause analysis to resolve VDI issues, they must have a solid understanding of the architecture behind their deployment and how they send virtual resources to users. If they don't know what they have or how it works, they can't identify why a problem is happening.

Channel your inner Luke Skywalker -- or Darth Vader, if you prefer the dark side -- and become one with the key root cause analysis benefits, methods and tools for VDI.

Why is root cause analysis important for VDI?

The most fundamental benefit of root cause analysis is that, instead of simply treating the symptoms of VDI issues, it enables IT to diagnose and cure them.

Effective root cause analysis can also help IT maximize the performance and reliability of a VDI deployment.

Effective root cause analysis can also help IT maximize the performance and reliability of a VDI deployment. These tools provide metrics, such as app response times and desktop login times, by monitoring resources on the network, back-end servers, virtual machines, endpoints and more. This can help IT quickly identify why a problem is happening and fix it faster, which results in less downtime and fewer workflow disruptions for users.

Additionally, root cause analysis can unveil minor issues, such as network bottlenecks, overprovisioned resources and unnecessary components that are having minimal, but tangible effects on the user experience.

Insight from root cause analysis can also help prevent problems from reoccurring. If IT pros identify and resolve a problem in a server in one office location, for example, they can look for the warning signs in the equivalent server at another location. In addition, the real-time and historical data that these tools provide can help IT pinpoint trends that lead to certain problems.

Together, the benefits of root cause analysis save IT pros time spent looking for the source of problems and money by keeping users productive. As an added bonus, solving user experience issues instills a sense of confidence in IT that minimizes the risk of shadow IT problems.

Can IT pros perform root cause analysis manually?

One root cause analysis method that IT pros can use is manual discovery -- for instance logging into servers, checking event logs and more. They can also use Tag Manager -- a Google tool for tracking HTML and Java scripts -- to see how apps are performing. It is essentially like looking for a needle in a haystack.

With manual discovery, IT should aim to recreate the issue the user is experiencing by retracing his steps, such as logging into the app the user is trying to access. Then, IT can see any error messages associated with the problem, go through the event logs and get to the bottom of the issue.

Manual discovery can be effective for preventing downtime if IT pros start the process immediately after a problem occurs and can identify why the problem is happening. But a manual approach is far more time-consuming than using a tool designed for root cause analysis, and it's less accurate. If IT pros are slow to the punch or waste time fixing the wrong thing, the loss in user productivity can be damaging.

What root cause analysis tools are there?

When it comes to root cause analysis tools for resolving VDI issues, the major players, including Citrix and VMware, offer proprietary options.

Citrix Director provides real-time data in nine areas, including machine failures, load evaluation and logon performance. VMware offers vRealize Operations for Horizon, which enables IT to examine the entire VDI deployment and identify bandwidth consumption, packet loss and more.

There are also third-party tools for IT to use when dealing with VDI issues.

Liquidware Stratusphere UX, for example, delivers a high-level view of the VDI deployment IT pros can use to drill down into where the problem is occurring. Quest Software offers Foglight for Virtualization, which enables IT to analyze user sessions, app performance, Microsoft Active Directory, virtual storage tiers and more. Lakeside Software's SysTrack includes an insight engine to search for VDI issues using natural language. ControlUp Insights quantifies the user experience with reports on login times, protocol latency and Windows errors. Login VSI, eG Innovations and Ivanti also offer root cause analysis tools.

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