Citrix introduced an analytics service to help IT professionals better identify the cause of slow application performance within its Virtual Apps and Desktops platform.
The company announced the general availability of the service, called Citrix Analytics for Performance, at its Citrix Summit, an event for the company's business partners, in Orlando on Monday. The service carries an additional cost.
Steve Wilson, the company's vice president of product for workspace ecosystem and analytics, said many IT admins must deal with performance problems as part of the nature of distributed applications. When they receive a call from workers complaining about performance, he said, it's hard to determine the root cause -- be it a capacity issue, a network problem or an issue with the employee's device.
Performance, he said, is a frequent pain point for employees, especially remote and international workers.
"There are huge challenges that, from a performance perspective, are really hard to understand," he said, adding that the tools available to IT professionals have not been ideal in identifying issues. "It's all been very technical, very down in the weeds ... it's been hard to understand what [users] are seeing and how to make that actionable."
Part of the problem, according to Wilson, is that traditional performance-measuring tools focus on server infrastructure. Keeping track of such metrics is important, he said, but they do not tell the whole story.
"Often, what [IT professionals] got was the aggregate view; it wasn't personalized," he said.
When the aggregate performance of the IT infrastructure is "good," Wilson said, that could mean that half an organization's users are seeing good performance, a quarter are seeing great performance, but a quarter are experiencing poor performance.
With its performance analytics service, Citrix is offering a more granular picture of performance by providing metrics on individual employees, beyond those of the company as a whole. That measurement, which Citrix calls a user experience or UX score, evaluates such factors as an employee's machine performance, user logon time, network latency and network stability.
"With this tool, as a system administrator, you can come in and see the entire population," Wilson said. "It starts with the top-level experience score, but you can very quickly break that down [to personal performance]."
Wilson said IT admins who had tested the product said this information helped them address performance issues more expeditiously.
"The feedback we've gotten is that they've been able to very quickly get to root causes," he said. "They've been able to drill down in a way that's easy to understand."
A proactive approach
Eric Klein, analyst at VDC Research Group Inc., said the service represents a more proactive approach to performance problems, as opposed to identifying issues through remote access of an employee's computer.
"If something starts to degrade from a performance perspective -- like an app not behaving or slowing down -- you can identify problems before users become frustrated," he said.
Klein said IT admins would likely welcome any tool that, like this one, could "give time back" to them.
"IT is always being asked to do more with less, though budgets have slowly been growing over the past few years," he said. "[Administrators] are always looking for tools that will not only automate processes but save time."
Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Mark Bowker said in a press release from Citrix announcing the news that companies must examine user experience to ensure they provide employees with secure and consistent access to needed applications.
Eric KleinAnalyst, VDC Research Group
"Key to providing this seamless experience is having continuous visibility into network systems and applications to quickly spot and mitigate issues before they affect productivity," he said in the release.
Wilson said the performance analytics service was the product of Citrix's push to the cloud during the past few years. One of the early benefits of that process, he said, has been in the analytics field; the company has been able to apply machine learning to the data it has garnered and derive insights from it.
"We do see a broad opportunity around analytics," he said. "That's something you'll see more and more of from us."