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8 VDI monitoring tools to consider

VDI monitoring helps IT pros get to the bottom of end-user experience issues. Understand what to monitor and review some of the top VDI tools on the market.

When it comes to fixing anything, the first step is to understand the source of the problem.

That is exactly what virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) monitoring tools are designed to do. They give IT professionals insight into the inner workings of their deployments, including information on login times, application response times and historical trends. IT can harness all this information to diagnose and resolve problems.

IT pros should understand what VDI monitoring tools should measure and some of the top monitoring tools on the market.

Measuring VDI performance metrics

Identifying and monitoring KPIs is one of the most important tasks in keeping a VDI environment healthy. Doing so can help IT to spot and remediate trends affecting the end-user experience.

One of the main differences between virtual desktop monitoring software and server monitoring software lies in the types of monitored resources. Server monitoring tools often focus on raw hardware metrics, such as the load on a server's CPUs. Modern VDI monitoring tools do not require admins to interpret raw performance metrics. Virtual desktop monitoring software, on the other hand, tends to focus on the end-user experience instead.

User experience monitoring is generally done either through synthetic transactions or real user monitoring. Synthetic transaction monitoring typically works by logging simulated users into virtual desktops and then using various metrics to gauge the simulated user's experience.

Real user monitoring is what it sounds like. Rather than monitoring simulated user accounts, the monitoring software bases its performance metrics on real user sessions. How synthetic transactions and real user monitoring work vary by vendor, and some vendors blend the two technologies.

VDI processes to monitor

Desktop virtualization uses virtualization software to host a desktop operating system on a collection of virtual machines running on top of virtualization software. Like any other virtualized environment running in the data center, certain processes must be healthy for the desktop environment to work as intended.

Every VDI monitoring tool has differing capabilities, and the granularity of the troubleshooting tools varies from product to product. However, there are certain aspects of the user's experience that VDI monitoring software tends to examine:

VDI processes to monitor.
  • VDI resources. VMs used in VDI deployments share host resources like CPU, storage, network and memory. A big part of VDI monitoring involves ensuring that each virtual desktop receives the hardware resources it needs and that none of the virtual desktops are consuming resources to the point that they are depriving neighboring virtual desktops of necessary resources.
  • User login times. Most vendors' products monitor how long a user takes to log in to the system. The time it takes users to complete the login process can often gauge the VDI deployment's overall health. Goliath Technologies measures the logon experience for synthetic users to remove user variability and deliver objective measurements. A tool like that enables admins to initiate synthetic user sessions from multiple network locations to validate end-to-end connectivity.
  • Application load time and responsiveness. Real-time application performance monitoring for desktops is hard because end users can be unpredictable in how they use applications. However, IT should know whether a user sees an hourglass icon when an application loads.
  • Session responsiveness. This refers to how well the OS responds to user input. IT monitoring tools should be able to catch lags when a user opens the start menu or performs a search.
  • Graphical performance. Monitoring tools can show whether problems occur if a user tries to perform a graphically intensive operation, like playing a video.
  • Capacity planning. Some virtualization monitoring software can also be used for capacity planning. By monitoring resource consumption and various aspects of the end-user experience, monitoring software may help IT pros determine the optimal number of virtual desktops they should be running on each virtualization host.
  • Root cause analytics. If the monitoring software finds that the end-user experience is not as good as it should be, it may use the raw performance metrics to assist with root cause analytics. For example, a monitoring tool might find that a user is experiencing poor application response time because one of the databases used by the applications is generating more storage IOPS requests than the storage hardware can deliver.

How to choose the right VDI monitoring tools

When it comes to VDI monitoring, every organization's needs are different. Even so, there are some features and capabilities to consider when shopping for a VDI monitoring tool. Some such features to consider include the following:

Automation. Like a physical environment, managing a VDI environment can involve significant work. Automation capabilities can help organizations to reduce the required effort by automating some of the more labor-intensive tasks. This may include deploying new virtual machines, creating virtual desktop images, deploying updates or even deprovisioning old desktops.

Real-time application performance monitoring for desktops is hard because end users can be unpredictable in how they use applications.

Integrations. Integrations refer to the hardware and software the monitoring tool natively supports. For example, a tool designed for virtualization monitoring will likely include integrations for Hyper-V, VMware and possibly other hypervisors. Some of the general-purpose monitoring tools include hundreds of integrations.

Plugins. Plugins often refer to community-developed integrations. They are essentially modules that admins can download and install to make their monitoring software work with resources that are not officially supported.

Dashboards and reports. Every monitoring tool provides dashboard views of the monitored resources. This view may sometimes consist of little more than raw metrics, while other tools provide rich topology maps. Additionally, most monitoring tools can generate detailed, downloadable reports.

User experience monitoring. Virtual desktop monitoring tools often quantify the end-user experience through user experience monitoring -- using an agent to collect performance metrics from actual user sessions -- or synthetic monitoring. These monitoring tools can help organizations determine whether users have a good or bad overall experience.

VDI monitoring tools

There are many tools available for monitoring VDI deployments. While VDI vendors provide some tools as supplementary products, others are offered by third-party vendors. The following list was chosen using extensive research into the VDI market and a detailed analysis of user reviews. This list is not ranked and instead appears in alphabetical order.

Citrix Director

Citrix Director is a native tool designed to monitor and troubleshoot Citrix virtual desktops. Director monitors the Citrix infrastructure to ensure the health and performance of virtual desktops and applications while allowing for end-user experience monitoring.

One of the more specialized features provided by Citrix Director is a console that adapts to the role of the IT professional using it. For example, a help desk administrator would have a different interface and overall experience from an administrator responsible for managing the entire stack.

Citrix Director is a free tool built into Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.


Dynatrace is a full-stack monitoring tool that uses AI to interpret the conditions the software monitors. While many of Dynatrace's capabilities focus on security, the Dynatrace platform also provides application and infrastructure observability and digital experience monitoring through both real and synthetic monitoring. The software even makes it possible to replay a session for troubleshooting purposes.

Dynatrace uses a complex pricing model that is more similar to that of a hyperscale cloud provider than a software company. The total cost depends on the extent to which the software is used. The price for full-stack monitoring, application monitoring and application security is calculated hourly, real user monitoring by the session and synthetic monitoring based on each synthetic request. Log analytics bills per gigabyte, and the log file retention cost is calculated per gigabyte, per day.

EG Enterprise

EG Enterprise from EG Innovations is an application and infrastructure monitoring tool for cloud and data center operations. This tool helps organizations monitor application performance, public and hybrid clouds, digital workspace, enterprise applications, end user experience and infrastructure.

EG Enterprise provides alerting capabilities and can assist with root cause analysis when problems occur. Additionally, it includes native monitoring support for hundreds of applications, nearly a dozen hypervisors and over 20 different storage devices.

Pricing varies based on the scope of the deployment. A basic subscription starts at $100 monthly, but the company also offers a SaaS option starting at $125 monthly. Perpetual licenses start at $10,000.

Goliath Technologies

Goliath Technologies provides monitoring software for Citrix, VMware, Microsoft, ChromeOS and infrastructure monitoring. The software automatically discovers IT components and then maps how they connect. Like other monitoring tools, Goliath Technologies includes an alert engine that can notify administrators when certain conditions are detected. Goliath can automatically remediate some problems by rebooting a resource or running a script. The software can also proactively test the environment to ensure all infrastructure components work properly.

Goliath Technologies does not disclose pricing information but offers subscription-based pricing and perpetual licenses.

ManageEngine OpManager

ManageEngine OpManager is another multipurpose monitoring platform that can monitor virtual desktop environments. The software heavily emphasizes network monitoring, which is crucial to ensuring a good end-user experience. In addition to its network monitoring capabilities, OpManager provides various visualizations such as Layer2 maps, virtual topology maps and even 3D floor and rack diagrams.

OpManager also includes physical and virtual server monitoring, supporting platforms like Hyper-V, VMware, Citrix and Nutanix.

ManageEngine offers three different editions of its software, ranging from $245 for the Standard Edition, which supports 25 devices, to $11,545 for the Enterprise Edition, which supports 250 devices.

ManageEngine Site24x7

Site24x7 is another option from ManageEngine that's not a dedicated VDI monitoring tool but can monitor an organization's IT resources. Site24x7 includes tools for monitoring websites, servers (including virtualization hosts), networks, applications and user experience.

Even though Site24x7 is not designed specifically for VDI monitoring, its real user experience monitoring capabilities are well suited to ensuring that virtual desktop users see the expected performance level. Additionally, the tool's network and server monitoring features are useful for monitoring the VDI infrastructure.

Site24x7 comes in a variety of plans ranging from $9 per month for the Web Uptime plan to $449 per month for the Enterprise plan. The plans differ regarding the number of basic and advanced monitors they include and other factors, such as access to add-ons and supported log sizes.

SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor

Like Site24x7, SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor is a comprehensive, cross-platform monitoring tool. The software includes over 1,200 monitoring templates, with more than 1,000 additional templates available that the community developed. These templates provide native support for monitoring Citrix XenDesktop environments. Virtualization level monitoring is also supported for other platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V. There is also support for monitoring various back-end infrastructure components.

Among the software's more notable features are dependency mapping capabilities and the ability to perform customized monitoring through APIs or even PowerShell scripts.

Pricing for SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor starts at $1,813.

Syskit Monitor

Syskit Monitor is another all-in-one monitoring tool. While the software natively includes the ability to monitor Citrix virtual apps and desktops, it features numerous other monitoring capabilities, including application monitoring and usage, user activity monitoring and server performance monitoring.

In addition to performing these high-level monitoring functions, Syskit Monitor lets IT monitor the Remote Desktop Services and access gateways. It also allows IT to monitor users' remote desktop protocol sessions, which is useful for organizations running Windows-based virtual desktops.

Syskit offers Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions of its software, billed at $359, $479 and $659 per year, respectively.

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