E-Handbook: What's new with desktop virtualization management? Article 3 of 3

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IT gains a secret weapon with VDI monitoring

IT admins can use VDI monitoring to gain X-ray vision into their VDI deployments. These tools help strengthen the user experience and pinpoint problem areas.

Most people would love to have a secret weapon to conquer any task. For IT professionals, that comes in the form of X-ray vision using VDI monitoring tools.

VDI monitoring provides IT with a clear picture of what is happening in a VDI deployment. These tools allow IT to assess everything that makes up a deployment, including the user experience, capacity management, compliance and security. The end goal is to create a positive user experience on a daily basis and to maintain that experience in the long run.

Major VDI monitoring vendors, such as ControlUp, eG Innovations, Goliath Technologies and many more, are available to assist IT in different ways, as well as built-in offerings in Citrix's and VMware's desktop virtualization platforms. IT must know what it is looking for in terms of monitoring and managing VDI to find the best fit for the organization.

What is VDI monitoring good for?

The ability to see into each part of a VDI deployment is no small feat, because there are many aspects to look at. One is the users' devices, which can consist of laptops, thin clients, smartphones and more. VDI monitoring allows IT to see how virtual desktops run on each device and make adjustments to solve problems.

Another element is the network, which is important because that connection controls how VDI is delivered from the data center to the device. IT can use VDI monitoring to make sure nothing enters the network that could damage the data on the device and to keep security on lock with firewalls. If the VDI gateway is not secured, for instance, devices connected to the gateway could be exposed. IT must also watch over the VDI broker, which is directly responsible for the virtual machines (VMs) and determining which ones are created, used and destroyed.

Monitoring the user experience consists of how the VM runs and how the remote display protocol streams the desktop to the user. A VDI monitoring tool must be able to detect the difference between problems with the VM and slowdowns in the network. Finally, having a clear view of VM capacity, as well as desktop compliance and security, is required to keep the infrastructure running smoothly and efficiently.

Who needs VDI monitoring?

VDI monitoring is an interpreter between users and IT by finding the precise problem area.

Deployments of less than 200 virtual desktops can likely live without VDI monitoring tools, because the tools are expensive and IT can keep track of the desktops on its own. For larger organizations, however, VDI monitoring tools have proven to be great resources. The tools provide information about how servers and apps perform, as well as how users access and work with the apps. These tools also deliver quantitative information on memory and storage.

VDI monitoring tools also help with security in more advanced VDI deployments. If there was a network intrusion, IT can identify the connection it occurred on. If a desktop has a malware breach, IT can cut off the malware's ability to work back into the data center and infect other desktops. VDI monitoring is also useful for software audits to make sure all licenses are up to date and to identify which devices use what software.

How does VDI monitoring help users?

VDI monitoring tools can control how users experience VDI. A common problem for IT is that users do not know how to articulate their issues with technical clarity. VDI monitoring can act as an interpreter between users and IT to help identify the precise problem area.

Admins can also better measure the averages among users to get rid of randomness within a VDI deployment. IT can measure synthetic users behaving in predictable patterns by automating application use through scripts that reflect how real users would interact with them. The data IT collects can help create a better deployment that enhances the user experience.

What tools are available?

Putting too much stock in VDI IOPS could lead to project failure

The larger the deployment base, the more powerful tool the IT department needs and the more users the licensing needs to cover. Third-party offerings, such as SysTrack vScape from Lakeside Software Inc., are designed to help with an entire VDI deployment from all angles. The eG Enterprise product includes synthetic user monitoring, which tracks simulated data transfers between the browser and back end to determine the response time of webpages and applications, predicts use times and identifies performance issues. Liquidware and its Stratusphere UX also provide more detailed tracking of the VDI user experience.

Desktop virtualization software admins should also consider their pre-existing tools. Citrix offers Comtrade management that works with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager to deliver deeper insight into a Citrix VDI deployment. VMware has vRealize Operations for Horizon in vSphere as well.

A negative user experience is often the result of a single resource malfunction, which is why VDI monitoring tools give IT admins strength. The tools cut down the time IT must spend trying to find the problem and instead give that time back to fix it.

Next Steps

A complete guide to virtual desktop monitoring

Common VDI troubles and how to get out of them

The keys to a successful VDI deployment

Dig Deeper on UX and performance monitoring and management

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