1 A Software White Paper December 2013 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Monitoring Tools and Login VSI Testing Tools A Joint White Paper from Login VSI and Software
2 2 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Table of Contents Abstract... 3 Introduction... 3 How Monitoring Differs from Performance Testing... 3 Performance Testing with Login VSI... 4 End User Analytics and Monitoring with Software... 5 How These Solutions Complement Each Other... 6 End User Analytics and Performance Testing During the Desktop Lifecycle... 9 Gartner s 7 stages of a Hosted Virtual Desktop Rollout... 9 The VMware Technology Consulting Services Approach... 9 The Citrix Desktop Transformation Methodology Gabe Knuth on the Virtual Desktop Toolbox Unifying Theme A Safe and Successful Desktop Transition from Implementation to Production Combine and Benefit from the Best of Toolsets Login VSI, the industry standard benchmarking tool for SBC and VDI SysTrack, the industry leader in end user analytics Better Together For More Information... 15
3 3 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Abstract This white paper describes how Software s SysTrack end user analytics tool and Login VSI s testing tool complement each other throughout the entire virtual desktop lifecycle. We will describe how these toolsets fit in with a number of different project approaches. As a conclusion we describe how these toolsets can be combined effectively to create and to ensure the best possible performance for centralized desktop end users. Introduction More and more organizations are investigating, or are migrating to, centralized Windowsbased desktop environments, where multiple users share centralized resources like servers, storage and software. The key business drivers for this transformation are security and compliance, easier user management, and cost reduction. Moving from traditional fat client models to these new thin client infrastructures is a journey with many potential hurdles. To provide users with the required functionality, at the same (or even better) performance level than before, is the goal and the challenge for all involved to work towards. A structured project approach, combined with the correct use of the best tools available in the industry today, will help organizations that are investigating, testing, migrating and using virtualized desktop environments to design, build and manage well performing centralized desktop infrastructures at the lowest cost possible. Many tools and methodologies are available to help. They can help make better decisions during the project phases, and to help to keep out of trouble, during the resulting production phases. But which ones to choose, and when to best use them? How Monitoring Differs from Performance Testing While the objective of both activities is to help create and maintain the best possible performance for virtual desktop users their respective approaches are very different.
4 4 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Monitoring and assessment 1 tools analyze the real behavior of real users, and specifically the workloads they generate upon real production environments. Load testing tools simulate behavior of real users. These simulations can happen on separate test environments, or on production environments outside business hours (nights, weekends). User Behavior Environment Performance Monitoring Real user workloads Production environment during production hours Performance Testing Simulated user workloads Production environment outside production hours or test environment Performance Testing with Login VSI The main goal of the Login VSI test suite is to determine the maximum number of users that can work on a given virtual desktop infrastructure within an acceptable performance. In this scenario the Login VSI Load Generator simulates typical user behaviour by launching scripts that are executed on the machine being tested. These scripts can be out of the box workloads called light (a typical task worker), medium (a typical knowledge worker), heavy (a typical multitasking power user) or multimedia (an intensive user of audio/video). The scripts can be adapted by adding or removing actions or entire applications. It is also possible to test with completely customized workloads. These different workloads can be mixed to mimic the diversity of a real production user workforce as much as possible. The information of these tests is analyzed and summarized by the Login VSI Analyser in two easy to understand statistics: VSIbase (the original baseline performance of the system when no load is using the systems resources) and VSImax (the maximum number of active users on the system before the performance becomes unacceptable). 1 The leading vendors in the VDI performance monitoring space, are also the leaders in the VDI assessment space. While the use cases are very different, both activities are very similar from a technical perspective.
5 5 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Figure 1 Typical Login VSI graph showing VSI Baseline and VSImax data End User Analytics and Monitoring with Software s SysTrack gathers very detailed data on end user performance and utilization across physical and virtual desktops and the underlying server infrastructure. The data collection happens continuously in production environments with minimal impact to the performance of the system. During the assessment phase of a desktop virtualization project, the data is used to count the applications in the environment, quantify their usage and resource consumption and leverage the data to plan the design of the virtual desktop images. The SysTrack Virtual Machine Planner also provides sizing recommendations for the targeted environment that can include virtual desktops, virtualized applications, terminal servers and Citrix servers. SysTrack is then leveraged to provide detailed insights into user behavior and system performance during the production phase of an environment. Administrators are proactively alerted of potential system bottlenecks, service desk tickets can be created automatically, and negative impacts on the end user experience can be avoided. This level of detail is also needed to better understand the exact reasons for a slowdown of the system when it occurs, to be able to fix the systems performance as quickly as possible.
6 6 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Figure 2 How End user analytics tools like SysTrack differ from Performance Load Testing tools like Login VSI How These Solutions Complement Each Other In test environments where simulated user loads are used to stress a system to its limits, detailed technical metrics are very useful to gain insights into the specific behaviors of the environment under load. SysTrack is used to gather items like CPU and memory utilization, I/O characteristics, network utilization, and a wealth of other performance data. Data is gathered both from the virtual desktops and the hypervisor layer to provide a complete picture of how activities in the guest impact the infrastructure. This provides an analytical basis for forecasting future load using tools like SysTrack s Virtual Machine Planner to model what potential workloads may resemble in the production environment. The first aspect of interoperation between the two solutions involves the characterization of the end user behavior that should be modeled. By first performing an assessment with SysTrack the most actively used and resource intensive applications can be identified in order to create more accurate synthetic workloads to be run with Login VSI. This, along with a segmentation of the user population, provides a much more
7 7 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack accurate picture of what the unique loading conditions will be in a given environment. This is also a very useful way to continuously ensure service quality by introducing new applications into a test environment with artificial load conditions to test impact before deploying into an active production environment. SysTrack adds value by providing an extra layer of detailed reporting options that fit seamlessly with the workloads generated by Login VSI. The vast amount of quantitative information made available by marrying the reporting available in both tools gives complete insight into environmental characteristics. The combination with end user analytics adds an extra dimension of information to performance testing, and is therefore highly recommended by Login VSI as a best practice for all virtual desktop test activities. Figure 3 How end user analytics platforms like SysTrack complement Performance Load Testing tools like Login VSI
9 9 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack End User Analytics and Performance Testing During the Desktop Lifecycle Different models are used to describe desktop transformation projects. This makes the exact mapping of the tools discussed in this white paper challenging. In the next part of this white paper we will investigate how assessment, testing and monitoring tools fit into a few different models. This makes the discussion more platform generic and useful. Gartner s 7 stages of a Hosted Virtual Desktop Rollout Gartner defines 7 stages in a Hosted Virtual Desktop Rollout: 1. Evaluation, 2. Gather Information, 3. Proof of Concept, 4. Segment Users, 5. Select Product, 6. Pilot, 7. Rollout. After these 7 project phases, we ve added stage number 8 for production support and maintenance. We also suggest to swap phases 3 and 4 (to segment the population before a proof of concept) to better fit a regular project timeline. The first two phases, evaluation and information gathering, happen on the existing user production environment. This is where assessment tools add value. User segmentation is done based on the information gathered in phase 2. The phases Proof of Concept, Select Product and Pilot all happen in non production test environments. This is where testing tools are necessary to help select and validate the different infrastructure options. The phases, Rollout and Production happen in the new user production environment and are supported with real user monitoring tools. The VMware Technology Consulting Services Approach VMware takes customers through the following phases: Assess, Strategize, Architect, Design, Implement, and Optimize. This methodology also recognizes the importance of assessing end user needs at the onset of the project. SysTrack is used during the Assess phase to enumerate the applications, quantify their usage and help with user segmentation. During the Design and Implement phase Login VSI comes into play to test specific and relevant workloads to determine the expected scalability characteristics of the virtual desktop infrastructure and to size and validate the future environment. The post go live phase is specifically described as an on going optimization phase. Organizations work with SysTrack to gather end user and systems analytics, identify problems pro actively and prevent issues from arising in the first place. Login VSI is used for on going testing to help Architects and Administrators quickly validate small design improvements or the impact of application or OS patches to the overall scalability before such changes are widely deployed in the production system.
10 10 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack The Citrix Desktop Transformation Methodology The industry proven Citrix desktop transformation methodology distinguishes the following 4 consecutive phases in a VDI project: assess, design, deploy, and monitor. Both end user analytics and testing tools play an important role throughout all four phases. The Citrix Project Accelerator ( spans the first three phases of this model. During the assess phase, users can leverage SysTrack tool to enumerate their applications and obtain a proposed design for the various desktop images. The design is generated based upon the data gathered in the assess phase. Testing tools fit into the Deploy phase of this transformation model at 3 different spots: Assess. During the assess phase, IT architects leverage Systrack to segment the end users into meaningful sub groups in order to plan a phased deployments. One of the most critical aspects of the user segmentation is the identification of a common application set and the determination of the expected resource consumption of these applications. Responsible IT architects will conduct scalability tests with Login VSI on the solution before it is rolled out to end users and the data gathered in the assessment phase can help plan the required test cases. Design. The design phase focuses on the detailed technical architectures of the environment and its interaction with the overall infrastructure. System sizing is an important aspect of the design and IT architects often leverage Login VSI to test specific workloads in order to ensure proper sizing of the new environments. Some desktop virtualization implementations stall simply because the environment doesn t meet scalability requirements and organizations are often reluctant to allocate additional capital expenditures required to provide an adequate user experience after the project has been initially funded. Deploy. The deployment phase typically starts with a group of pilot users. Architects and administrators employ SysTrack to closely watch the user experience and user behavior, while Login VSI can be used to test additional use cases that may be identified during the initial deployment phase. Citrix Consulting Services recommends in the Virtual Desktop Handbook either scalability testing or proper monitoring during a pilot should be completed to
11 11 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack generate results that are specific to the environment and user group requirements. 2 Monitor. Post go live, the desktop transformation project moves into the monitoring phase, where administrators and architects leverage SysTrack to monitor the end user experience and pro actively identify potential issues and bottlenecks. Testing tools like Login VSI are used to perform recurring scalability tests as new use cases and workflows are identified or new versions of existing software packages are readied for incorporation into the production environment. Citrix Consulting points this out and in the Operations and Maintenance Guide for XenDesktop: After a new XenDesktop environment has been designed and rolled out to production users, there are ongoing tasks required to keep everything running smoothly. 3 In addition, the Monitoring section of the Desktop Virtualization Handbook states Citrix recommends implementing a monitoring solution, which covers all aspects of an IT environment and allows aggregating all captured data within a single tool or console. This simplifies correlating events or counters of multiple components and enables administrators to easily get an end to end overview. This can decrease the time required to determine the root cause of an issue significantly. 4 Gabe Knuth on the Virtual Desktop Toolbox Gabe Knuth, desktop virtualization specialist and industry analyst, states in his blog Virtual desktop toolbox: VDI performance monitoring capabilities (found here) that When migrating to virtual desktops, capacity planning, load testing and user experience testing are important capabilities to have. He describes the different tools and their benefits in the three different stages: Assessment tools are used here to estimate the hardware capacity needed, based on information gathered. Load testing tools are used to validate the estimated hardware capacity before going into production. 2 Page 52 of the June 2013 release of the Desktop Virtualization Handbook at Page 160 of the June 2013 release of the Desktop Virtualization Handbook at
12 12 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Monitoring tools are then used to observe and maintain the user experience after the system goes into production. Unifying Theme The one common element amongst all of the chosen approaches is the need for a toolsets dedicated to assessment and monitoring and a complementary tool dedicated to performance load testing. Because of this definite need, and the advanced potential for interoperation between the technologies, SysTrack and Login VSI match up perfectly to provide both guidance in the beginning phases of a project and ongoing performance management in the later phases to ensure optimal end user experience and reliability. A Safe and Successful Desktop Transition from Implementation to Production Monitoring and testing both add value during the implementation and in production. When used appropriately, end user organizations and their advisors (consultants and vendor system engineers) will be able to design, build and maintain well performing virtual desktop infrastructures, shorten the implementation cycle and accelerate the time until organizations get the value out of their investment.
13 13 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack Make Better Decisions when Designing Your VDI Keep out of Trouble when Managing Your VDI Use SysTrack in your VDI Project to: Observe users, usage, apps Estimate capacity plan Baseline User Experience Rate application readiness Use SysTrack during Production to: Validate user experience Identify system bottlenecks before they impact users Diagnose and resolve problems Rate application readiness Use Login VSI in your VDI Project to: Validate capacity plan Benchmark vendor options Execute a Proof of Concept Perform pre production tests Use Login VSI during Production to: Load test for headroom Stress test what if scenarios Predict impact of intended hardware/software changes Figure 6 The use cases of the different toolsets, and their benefits. Where assessment tools and load testing tools help architects to make better infrastructure decisions during the implementation, monitoring and testing tools will help to prevent or solve performance problems during production. It is therefore our strong recommendation to anybody with a real commitment to a good end user experience to embrace both toolsets Combine and Benefit from the Best of Toolsets Monitoring and Load Testing are very different markets, requiring very different skill sets. Only vendors with many years of experience in their space will provide the tools that really make the difference. Login VSI, the industry standard benchmarking tool for SBC and VDI Login Virtual Session Indexer (Login VSI) is the de facto industry standard for VDI performance testing, load testing and benchmarking. Login VSI is recognized as the
14 14 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack industry standard for VDI testing by both leading IT analysts and the technical community. Login VSI is used by all leading VDI infrastructure vendor (including server, storage, CPU and software vendors). More than 100 reference architectures and validated designs are published based on Login VSI data, and this vast number is still growing fast. For an overview of available papers go to papers Login VSI is built by experienced consultants and architects sharing a vast experience gained in over 10 years of hands on virtual desktop projects. Login VSI is 100% vendor independent, and comes with four industry standard workloads that make testing very easy to execute. Login VSI is used to test virtual desktop environments like Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, Microsoft VDI and Remote Desktop Services, VMware Horizon View or any other Windows based VDI or server based computing solution. Login VSI is the standard tool used in the acclaimed Project Virtual Reality Check ( SysTrack, the industry leader in end user analytics The SysTrack IT analytics platform provides Enterprise IT with the business intelligence to address a broad set of operational and security requirements, empowering them to make better decisions, dramatically improve productivity and reduce costs. SysTrack performs complex IT tasks like automated power management, user auditing, performance monitoring, change management, event management, latency and enduser experience management, application resource analysis, chargeback, virtualization assessment and planning, application pool design and many others. SysTrack provides all of these features in web report and interactive forms. SysTrack integrates many management disciplines into a unique, comprehensive management console. SysTrack seamlessly manages virtualized desktops, virtualized servers, terminal servers (with or without Citrix XenApp) and physical systems to provide an end to end view of the environment. SysTrack supports the complete range of deployments, from physical environments to partially/fully virtualized environments, to cloud computing. Better Together A structured approach, combined with the use of the best tools available in the industry today, will help organizations that are investigating, testing, migrating and using virtualized desktop environments to design, build and manage well performing end user
15 15 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Optimization with SysTrack infrastructures at the best cost possible. We hope this white paper contributed to your understanding on how the tool sets can help to reach this goal. For More Information Contact Software s Sales or Technical Services teams at +1 (248) or visit us on the web at Software products are sold by a network of authorized dealers. Software, Inc Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, MI USA +1 (248) Software Solutions Limited Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1TX, UK +44 (0) Software, Inc Software and SysTrack are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of Software, Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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