At Lakeside Software, we are very excited that XenDesktop 7.5 is being released - the third 7.x iteration in a few months puts customers on a great footing with the first unified architecture for both application and desktop virtualization.
Citrix has been doing a great job integrating design principles into the products for a couple of years now. Back in 2009 and 2010, we worked closely with the Citrix Consulting Services organization and took a "design thinking" approach to the implementation of XenDesktop and help determine organizations what their users need and expect from the solution. Those thoughts eventually led to the Desktop Transformation Methodology and the Desktop Transformation Assessment service offering from Citrix Consulting Services, which uses Lakeside SysTrack to gather the requisite data. I wrote about the methodology about two years ago on citrix.com.
A few years ago, I wrote another brief blog post about observing end-user behavior. I felt that IT owed it to the end-user community to try and understand their business, their work, their desires, their frustrations etc. in order to provide the best possible experience. This is obviously difficult to do in person and on a large scale and IT leaders who are willing to apply this type of approach either have to select a small sample size or try to automate the task. That's where Lakeside Software's SysTrack comes into play. It has been around for 17 years and is a Citrix Ready certified product. It is primarily used for on-going and in-depth, non-intrusive end-user experience monitoring in cloud-hosted or traditional Desktop environments, but also plays a vital role in any transformational project such as the virtualization of desktops with XenDesktop 7.5 - whether in an on premise fashion, cloud hosted, or in a hybrid cloud architecture.
SysTrack can easily be deployed to existing XenApp servers and desktops (no matter if physical or virtual) and it seamlessly records and summarizes key usage patterns. What are the applications in use (and which ones are not used and thus consuming expensive licenses)? How often are they used? What resources do they consume (CPU, memory, network, graphics (including detailed NVIDIA GPU / GRID consumption))? How do end-users connect? What are the network and surrounding parameters? All these are questions that must be answered before architects can meaningfully design and size the infrastructure, the application landscape, and the master golden images.
Within SysTrack, there are several modules that complement XenDesktop 7.5 wonderfully:
- Virtual Machine Planner (VMP) for application rationalization, environment sizing, and master image design.
- SysTrack Transform to manage the migration process from the old to the new. Citrix Platinum edition customers can share AppDNA compatibility data directly with SysTrack Transform and get more value out of their platinum investment.
- SysTrack's dashboard builder lets non-programmers quickly build dynamic dashboards and metric about the specific aspects of the environment that they care about. This is particularly valuable to hosting providers and IT shops that are building public or hybrid clouds to see the things that matter globally or to just one tenant.
- Proactive alerting of any changes on the server or desktop side. This is often used to detect unauthorized changes or malicious software packages.
- NVIDIA GPU and GIRD instrumentation allows customers to gather data for GRID vGPU Planning and for operational monitoring in order to allocate the right GRID profiles to users based on their actually observed needs.
- SysTrack vScape to instrument the Hypervisor layer and provide real time summary data across the environment - invaluable in private, public, or hybrid cloud environments.
- Broad user experience scoring that can be observed over extended periods of time to identify high level trends.
- SysTrack visualizers and the Resolve tool to direct IT efforts and pin point issues and resolve them quickly.
In summary, short of sitting an IT admin next to every user in the environment for a months and have them take copious notes, Lakeside SysTrack is the leading tool to apply design thinking to any deployment of XenDesktop 7.5 and keep a high level of end-user satisfaction for many years to come.