MetrixInsight for CVAD vs Citrix Management Packs

Since June 2020, all Citrix SCOM Management Packs, solutions offered by Citrix for monitoring Citrix products, are all End-of-Life (EOL). The last set of Citrix SCOM Management Packs that turned EOL were those for monitoring Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (CVAD), StoreFront (SF) and Provisioning Services (PVS). Citrix Management Packs for License Server (LS) and NetScaler (ADC) were already deprecated much earlier.

The reason for this seemed to be the uncertainty Microsoft provided, while marketing Azure Monitor, about the future of SCOM. Now that it has become clear that SCOM will stay and Microsoft is fully developing on this great product (again), it is a rather sad fact for a lot of customers that Citrix has made its decision to stop developing and supporting their SCOM Management Packs and try to push them to their own monitoring solution, Citrix Director. Especially, if you are an enterprise organization that uses SCOM as the enterprise monitoring platform to support the organization's embedded monitoring strategy. Which Citrix Director is not designed for.

Luckily in 2017, GripMatix started developing MetrixInsight for CVAD. A solution for monitoring CVAD stacks with SCOM. We aimed for a much better architected solution and provide more useful monitoring features than the Citrix Management Packs. Its first release was launched November 2018.

MetrixInsight for CVAD is an all-in-one bundle of SCOM Management Packs for monitoring Citrix CVAD, StoreFront, License Server, Provisioning Server and NetScaler. Just recently we created a stand-alone solution for the NetScaler Management Pack too, called MetrixInsight for ADC. We are proud to see so many companies are using our products to maximize Business Continuity.

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Moreover, a lot of organizations which were using the old Citrix SCOM Management Packs have already migrated to our solutions, or are in the process of doing so. Frequently asked questions we get, are those about the differences between MetrixInsight for CVAD Management Packs and the ones provided by Citrix for monitoring CVAD stacks.

To understand these differences properly we think a little background information on our designing process is useful. When GripMatix started to design MetrixInsight for CVAD, we defined some important design rules that shape our solutions continuously:

“Our solution must maximize organizations’ Business Continuity, with the lowest possible organizational effort and resources”.

“It should be a solution that supports organizations’ digital transformation processes and their journey to the (hybrid) cloud”. 

We then determined some criteria for which we wanted the solution to excel and perform better than the Management Packs provided by Citrix. These are:

  • User Experience Monitoring
  • Infrastructure Monitoring
  • Drill-Down
  • Single-Pane-of-Glass Dashboarding
  • Scalability and Flexibility
  • Load Balancing and High Availability
  • Workflow Resource Pressure
  • Multi-Tenancy
  • Cloud Ready

In this article we will try, using these criteria, to point out the improvements we think we have achieved with MetrixInsight for CVAD compared to the old Citrix Management Packs. But don't just take our word for it. Check it out yourself today in our online Experience Center, or install a trial.

User Experience Monitoring

Infrastructure Monitoring

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

User Experience Monitoring is the monitoring of real or synthetic transactions User Transactions.
Infrastructure Monitoring is the monitoring of availability, performance and utilization of the technical components that form up the CVAD stack.

Drill-Down

Single-Pane-of-Glass Dashboarding

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

The power of Drilling-Down is the power to create Single-Pane-of-Glass dashboards that are easy to understand and show you the health and performance of the whole stack in just a glimpse, which you can then drill-down into more granular object state information and metric data to find the Root-Cause of an issue.
Single-Pane-of-Glass dashboards are dashboard that are easy to understand and show you the health and performance of the whole stack in just a glimpse.

Scalability and Flexibility

Load Balancing and High Availability

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

Management Pack Scalability and Flexibility is the power to quickly increase or decrease resources to align with changing scale size of monitored environments.
Management Pack Load Balancing is the power to divided workflow pressure accross different Windows Computers. High Availability makes sure that workflows fail over and keep running when workflow resources fail.

Workflow Resource Pressure

Multi-Tenancy

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

Workflow Resource Pressure is the CPU, Memory and Disk IO load, monitor and data collection workflows put on your Citrix components' resources.
Multi-Tenancy is the power to use the solution in multi-tenant environments with several CVAD Sites. Technically and licensing wise.

Cloud Ready Design

Cloud Ready License Model

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

A Cloud Ready design is one that creates a Management Pack architecture for monitoring Cloud and Hybrid Cloud environments.
Cloud Ready License Models are license models that are subscription based on pay per use pricing.

Ease of Deployment

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

Ease of Deployment is the extent to which the installation and configuration of the solution takes some effort.

User Experience Monitoring

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Besides monitoring Logon Duration and Session Round Trip Time (RTT) delivery group averages, MetrixInsight for CVAD collects and monitors these metrics for individual users as well. Respective health and performance data is presented in several ways, including graphs. The metrics for logons are those for real logons. Synthetic user logon monitoring, triggered by robots, is on our road map.

By monitoring on user level you can objectify user experience whenever a user complaints about slow logins or ‘laggy’ sessions. At the same time, you can pinpoint what VDAs or client devices were involved in forming up the Root-Cause of the issue.
User Logon Duration monitoring with MetrixInsight for CVAD displayed in SquaredUp
To reduce performance pressure on the OperationsManager database, individual User Transactions are by default stored in the SCOM Datawarehouse. Data retention times run up to months, or even years, depending on how you have configured your Datawarehouse.
User Session RTT and Logon Duration monitoring with MetrixInsight for CVAD displayed in SquaredUp
Management Packs provided by Citrix lack the collection and monitoring of User Session Round Trip Times for individual Users. This data is essential to monitor User Experience.

It collects, but does not monitor, Session Round Trip Times (RTT) averages per Server OS Machine only, which you need to access through SCOM Reporting.

Citrix Management Packs

Furthermore, it does collect and monitor average Logon Durations for delivery groups, but only collects individual user Logon Durations to show on a SCOM Report. You can then view this data from a list.

Infrastructure Monitoring

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

Management Packs provided by Citrix have not been updated since 2017. While for CVAD itself, as part of the Current Release Lifecycle, every three months a new version is being released. Components and features that were introduced in CVAD releases after 2017 are therefore not discovered and monitored by these Management Packs. They eventually went End of Life (EOL) in June 2020 and are not supported anymore. Latest CVAD releases are not compatible either.
MetrixInsight for CVAD discovers and monitors all critical CVAD components and beyond. It is a fully supported solution that is compatible with the latest and future CVAD releases. For modelling the Management Pack's service and health model, it uses the same hybrid cloud reference architecture as Citrix does for CVAD. This way GripMatix ensure Management Pack features are up-to-date and complete.
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Example CVAD Stack Components - MetrixInsight for CVAD

Drill-Down

MetrixInsight for CVAD

To be able to properly drill-down through a Management Pack's service model, it must comprise a rich set of layers and relationships between the object types from those layers.

It is furthermore required that all collected and monitored data, directly correspond to real CVAD components, by means of service model objects which represent them.

Moreover, the service model needs to reflect the stack's architecture.

Management Packs provided by Citrix however, still organize objects based on the XenApp/XenDesktop legacy tier model. Besides that, it collects quite some data without relationships to real components (e.g. Server OS Machines data) and lack relationships for drill-downing consequently.

This obviously limits drill-down capabilities and lowers flexibility when creating Single-Pane-of-Glass dashboards.
MetrixInsight for CVAD however, has a consistent and well-structured Management Pack Service Model based on Citrix hybrid cloud reference architecture.
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Drilling-down in MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

It organizes discovered objects into the typical End User Computing Layers as we know them today and each component is discovered as a single SCOM object. Hence every data item correponds to a discovered object representing a component of the stack.

This way, all objects can be used on dashboards to show related performance and health information.
Drilling-down in MetrixInsight for CVAD with SquaredUp Dashboard Pack
Additionaly, advanced object relationship discoveries make it possible to create understandable Single-Pane-of-Glass dashboards that you can Drill-Down into more granular objects and performance data, to find that Root-Cause.

Single-Pane-of-Glass Dashboarding

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD provides multiple dashboards that do not only give insight into the health of CVAD components, the core of the stack, but also aims to go beyond, to give Single-Pane-of-Glass experience for the whole CVAD stack.

It does this by using Integration Packs which integrate non-Citrix objects, from external Management Packs, into the CVAD layer topology it discovers. Integration Packs currently integrate with SQL, Active Directory and Windows Server Management Packs. More integrations will follow: e.g. Hyper-V, VMWare ESX, Nutanix Management Packs etc.
Furthermore, the solution is complemented by a Squared Up Community Dashboard Pack with more than 60 drill-down views. Squared Up is a HTML5, extremely fast, multi-platform web console. This dashboard pack along with MetrixInsight for CVAD is able to give you the full CVAD stack monitoring experience.
Management Packs provided by Citrix, on the other hand, have some dashboards but give insight into the health of CVAD stack core components only.

However, there is an Integration Pack from HYCU that integrates the Citrix Management Packs with its Nutanix Management Pack. It has a dashboard that relates Citrix Delivery Groups to Nutanix VMs and their performance.
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MetrixInsight for CVAD - Single-Pane-of-Glass
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MetrixInsight for ADC with SquaredUp Dashboard Pack
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MetrixInsight for CVAD with SquaredUp Dashboard Pack

Load Balancing and High Availability

MetrixInsight for CVAD has been architected to provide maximum flexibility, scalability and performance. It makes use of Resource Pools that contain multiple Health Service Agents. These Agents run important workflows for monitoring Delivery Groups, User Transactions and Server OS Machines (VDA). You can use the Health Service Agents from SCOM Management Servers, Gateways or Agents as Pool members.

MetrixInsight for CVAD

The workflows running on Resource Pools are designed to be able to monitor remotely. This means you do not have to run them on your Citrix Delivery Controllers, StoreFront Servers, PVS Servers and Server OS Machines (VDA), which could obviously waste precious Compute resources and affect CVAD User Experience. Especially in very large environments.

Citrix Management Packs

Furthermore, workflows are Load Balanced between Resource Pool members and provide High Availability. If one Health Service Agent would fail, another one takes over.

You can add remote Health Service Agents to a Resource Pool in seconds.

The Management Packs provided by Citrix do not provide any High Availability. Some Server OS Machine workflows are Load Balanced across MP Machine Agents which you need to install manually.
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Scalability and Flexibility

When using the Management Packs provided by Citrix several workflows for monitoring Delivery Groups and Server OS Machines, run on just one Health Service Agent. The one that is running on your Citrix Delivery Controller with the lowest ID of the CVAD Site. There is no way to add other Health Service Agents to help load balance the pressure on concerning resources. This extremely restricts the amount of data it is able to process, limits the scale size you can monitor and can hurt CVAD User Experience significantly.

Citrix Management Packs

However, some Server OS Machine related workflows run on so-called Proxy Agents which perform remote collection of data. The amount of data a Proxy Agent can handle is limited. However you can manually install and configure more of them to scale up.

MetrixInsight for CVAD

As explained, MetrixInsight for CVAD uses Resource Pools to run important workflows. You can add or remove Health Service Agents from those Pools to match any size of your CVAD platform. You can easily do this by adjusting the amount of Resource Pool members accordingly, using the Resource Pool wizard from the SCOM Console.

Workflow Resource Pressure

MetrixInsight for CVAD

MetrixInsight for CVAD workflows have been designed to use as little resources as possible.

The pack is also able to migrate workflows to remote dedicated Health Service Agents in seconds. This is especially useful for large environments with thousands of concurrent users to avoid any pressure on the CVAD components' resources.

Citrix Management Packs

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Workflows from the Management Packs provided by Citrix do run rather efficiently. However they cannot be migrated to remote dedicated Health Service Agents. This obviously limits scalability as this would eventually put too much pressure on the compute resources used by Citrix components.

Multi-Tenancy

Instead of names, MetrixInsight for CVAD uses Global Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) as IDs for discovered Citrix objects. This way objects are always unique across multiple CVAD Sites. This is especially important for Managed Service Providers for which names for CVAD component names can easily be the same across different tenants.

Furthermore, GripMatix has a pricing and licensing model that is especially beneficial for Managed Service Providers, or other environments with multiple CVAD Sites and a high number of Citrix User Licenses.

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Citrix Management Packs

With MetrixInsight for CVAD's subscription model, customers can easily scale up or down.

The Management Packs provided by Citrix do use GUIDs as well and therefore technically support the monitoring of multiple CVAD Sites.

The solution is End-of-Life now, but pricing and licensing models were directly proportional to the amount of CVAD User Licenses. Therefore there were no benefits for large environments with a high number of CVAD User Licenses.

Cloud Ready Design

MetrixInsight for CVAD has been designed to be ready for Citrix Cloud. It discovers and organizes objects and metric data using the same hybrid cloud reference architecture Citrix uses for CVAD and CVAD Service. This way it is able to provide clear and understandable visualizations for the complete stack. It gives Citrix experts the Single-Pane-of-Glass insights and Drill-Down benefits the way they understand it. Whether it is Citrix CVAD on-prem, CVAD Service running in Citrix Cloud, or Hybrid Cloud.

Additionally, the architecture has been designed to embed the latest cloud APIs and actually use similar ones already.

Furthermore, the design includes Resource Pooling concepts to quickly scale up or down resources for monitoring the CVAD platform. And, because of its subscription based license model, the amount of licenses required can easily be scaled up or down as well. Just as today's cloud era demands.

MetrixInsight for CVAD

The design for the Management Packs provided by Citrix was created in a time and world when clouds, as we know them now, did not even exist. Therefore it makes sense that these packs do not use Citrix hybrid cloud reference architecture and still organizes components into legacy tiers etc.

Citrix Management Packs

Cloud Ready License Model

MetrixInsight for CVAD

Originally the Management Packs provided by Citrix were licensed based on a perpetual license model. After that, it was included into the CVAD Premium License Model for licensing your CVAD platform. Management Packs provided by Citrix are End-of-Life (EOL) now.

Citrix Management Packs

MetrixInsight for CVAD is licensed on a user volume based annual subscription license model.

Because of this 'pay-per-use' characteristic, there is no big upfront investment required. You pay annually as long as you want to use the product. Every year you can scale up or down.

During the subscription you are entitled to use the product and you will get technical support for it when needed. Product quality and feature updates are released regularly and included as well.

We think these kind of licensing models perfectly fit in the Cloud era we live in today.

Ease of Deployment

MetrixInsight for CVAD

When pre-requisites as firewall settings and permissions have been met, it is a matter of importing the Management Pack files and configuring the Run As Account.

For sizing purposes, you optionally need to add or replace some Health Service Agents to a Resource Pool.

MetrixInsight for CVAD is licensed before it is being delivered to the customer.
For the Management Packs provided by Citrix, when pre-requisites as firewall settings and permissions has been met, you need to import the Management Pack files, License the product, configure Director integration, install and configure XenApp/XenDesktop MP Agents on Citrix Delivery Controllers and install and configure XenApp/XenDesktop MP Machine Agents on Proxy Nodes (Windows Computers) which you need to install as well.

Citrix Management Packs

At GripMatix, we believe in no-nonsense tooling to help
organizations leveraging the quality of their IT infrastructure
and applications and ensure Business Continuity