End-user experience monitoring is an important part of managing virtual desktops, and there are several metrics that IT can keep track of to ensure consistent performance across the environment.
A good end-user experience is essential to productivity in any organization. End users don't want to wait long to sign in or deal with delays accessing their applications, and performance issues can lead to direct time loss. It's crucial for IT administrators to have a grasp on the end-user experience, but asking end users about performance can only give so much insight. To gather more specific information and identify issues, admins can turn to end-user experience monitoring (EUEM).
Most EUEM platforms monitor an environment's performance on multiple levels -- hypervisor, host, user session, application, etc. All of these components contribute to application performance and network performance, and having insight into them makes it easier to determine the root cause of any problem and maintain a positive end-user experience. Another critical function of some EUEM tools is to keep a performance history, which enables admins to investigate the past performance of the environment and see any changes in end-user experience over a longer span of time. This variety of insights helps to ensure a functional virtual desktop environment for end users.
A wide range of metrics go into end-user performance, so IT administrators should understand the most valuable ones and how to apply them effectively. Learn about the most important metrics for end-user experience monitoring and how they can improve virtual desktop management.
1. CPU usage
With CPU usage, IT can monitor how busy the CPU is working on processes. It's important to monitor not only the CPU usage in the end-user session but also on the VM hosting the session, as well as the hypervisor that's hosting the VM. High CPU usage always directly affects performance and gives a slow user experience. Most VDI monitoring tools show which process takes up the most CPU usage, and admins can act on that process. On the other hand, if the CPU stays high, it might mean that the environment is not correctly scaled and needs more CPU power.
2. Memory usage
Another primary metric is random access memory (RAM) usage. This shows how much the running process takes up the system memory. Every EUEM tool should show this, and this is also important to know for the user session, VM and hypervisor host. High memory usage will directly negatively affect the user experience. If there's a persistent memory issue, it's possible that the environment isn't scaled correctly and needs additional RAM, or factors such as the web browser may be to blame.
3. User input delay
An important metric that directly indicates user experience is user input delay. User input delay gives a real-time measurement of the delay between a keyboard or mouse input and the UI changing on the screen. This doesn't measure how long the network takes to send the click and receive the image, instead tracking the delay in the system itself when it receives the click and changes the UI. User input delay is a good indicator of whether the system is too busy to handle the user's input. This can then mean CPU usage is high or there are too many users on the system. A way to improve the user input delay is to change the process's priority. With modern EUEM tools, admins can automate the priority of processes with a trigger on user input delay.
4. Login time
Login time shows how long it takes for users to sign in. This is often measured from when they click on the virtual desktop to when they are able to use their mouse and keyboard to start applications and tasks. Long login times can lead to frustrations for end users, making this an especially important metric to keep track of. Factors that might affect login time include profile load times, printer and network drive connections, Group Policy Object settings and login scripts.
5. Network latency and bandwidth
Most EUEM tools can monitor the network and give metrics such as round-trip latency and available and used bandwidth. A virtual desktop environment is always streamed over the network to the end user, and any problems with this network connection can cause stutters, delays or disconnects. High latency or low bandwidth can both cause performance issues for the end user. For IT admins, this is also a good metric to determine if the virtual desktop environment has an issue or if the problem stems from the end user connection or device. If only one user with low available bandwidth and high network latency has performance issues on the session host, for example, the problem is most likely with the end user's network and not the virtual desktop environment.
6. Wi-Fi details
Wi-Fi details is a newer metric that not all EUEM tools support because it requires a monitoring agent on the end-user device. When this metric is available, it adds to the network latency and bandwidth insights, enabling admins to see the strength of the end-user network connection. It shows the details of their Wi-Fi connection, how fast the Wi-Fi connection is and how strong the signal is. This way, admins can help users who have a poor Wi-Fi connection and high latency by advising them to switch to a better Wi-Fi network or wired internet to improve the user experience.
7. Disk queue length
The disk queue length metric shows how many I/O requests are waiting to access the disk. A high disk queue length can mean the underlying storage technology is not fast enough to host the environment. Disk queue lengths today are not as long as they typically were in the past because most environments use SSD storage, which is often quick enough to handle the disk queues. Some environments might still suffer from long disk queues, and when that occurs, IT admins should investigate which users and processes perform a large number of disk operations. A long disk queue can lead to poor performance and affect the user input delay.
8. Insight metrics
A lot of modern EUEM tools offer insight metrics. These tools collect a lot of data and provide comprehensive analysis, such as which applications in the environment use the most resources over a month, or how the environment compares to similar environments of other customers. All these insights help admins to optimize and scale their environment.
Some EUEM platforms also provide an overall user experience score, which is usually built up from the combined score of multiple metrics such as CPU usage, login times, user input delay and RAM usage. This metric gives IT teams a broad understanding of the user experience and enables them to troubleshoot the users with the worst scores quickly.