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Citrix performance analytics tool puts a spotlight on UX

Citrix details a new add-on to its Analytics service that seeks to improve end users' experiences by providing IT with quantifiable data on performance.

Atlanta -- With UX as the main focus of Citrix Synergy 2019, it should be no surprise that Citrix plans to release a performance monitoring tool.

Citrix Analytics Service, announced at Synergy in 2017, focused on security, using machine learning capabilities to detect anomalies in user behavior. At Citrix Synergy this year, the company announced Citrix Analytics for Performance, which offers application and infrastructure insights and rapid troubleshooting tools. It generates a quantified UX score to help IT determine which end users are experiencing performance issues.

"Things are getting so complicated that, if we don't have some sort of assistance in our day-to-day work, it's going to be increasingly hard to get it done or get it done well," said Jack Gold, analyst at J.Gold Associates in Northborough, Mass. "[Citrix Analytics for Performance] is a little like Google Maps. We used to drive around and try to find stuff with trial and error."

Built on the same platform as Citrix Analytics for security, Citrix Analytics for Performance is an add-on cloud service at an additional cost, although the company has not yet released pricing. The service is currently limited to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops customers, but the company plans to make the offering available to all Citrix customers in the future.

Benefits of Citrix Analytics for Performance

With Citrix Analytics for Performance, IT admins can look at performance factors, such as login duration, application launch time and latency, and dig in further to understand what might be contributing to those issues. IT can use the service to discover that misconfigured policies, for example, are the root cause of an extended login time.

Citrix Analytics for Performance aims to cut down on the time it takes to troubleshoot a performance issue and reduce IT help desk tickets, said Rory Sugino, network administrator at Sutter Health, a healthcare company in Sacramento, Calif.

"Right now, it's like, 'We've got a problem. What's the problem? Well, it's slow. Why is it slow? Not sure,'" he said.

Javon Scales, systems engineer at Carilion Clinic, a healthcare organization in Roanoke, Va., hopes to use Citrix Analytics for Performance to proactively monitor and pinpoint bottlenecks.

"Before the user calls in to say, 'Hey, we have a problem,' we could forecast it before it becomes an issue," he said.

Currently, the IT team at Carilion Clinic uses a variety of monitoring tools, including those from ControlUp, SolarWinds and Splunk, Scales said.

"I don't think we're going away from Citrix anytime soon," he said. "So, just to have that one vendor platform would be great instead of having to manage five or six [tools] to do the same thing."

Playing nice with others

Citrix Analytics for Performance will likely benefit existing Citrix customers that are in the market for a performance monitoring tool, but it's unclear how it will interact with other products.

Citrix doesn't want to replace all the business process management or analytic tools out there. They want to be a platform to bring it all together.
Jack GoldPrincipal analyst, J.Gold Associates LLC

"Citrix doesn't want to replace all the business process management or analytics tools out there," Gold said. "They want to be a platform to bring it all together."

It's likely, however, that Citrix Analytics for Performance will compete with existing performance analytics tools.

"Whenever we make a significant decision to do something like performance analytics, it will have a ripple effect in the marketplace," said PJ Hough, chief product officer at Citrix.

Citrix Analytics is considered a competitor to ControlUp, said Trentent Tye, technical evangelist at ControlUp.

"ControlUp Analytics is complementary in certain ways, but there's a lot of duplication," he said. "Citrix Analytics is … not as deeply involved as our product; it's like a first attempt. But, obviously, Citrix has the ability to make that grow."

ControlUp and Citrix Analytics for Performance achieve different goals, however, said Nguyen Truong, principal application systems analyst at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

"Citrix Analytics [for Performance] gives insight on the performance of the environment, but I don't think we could take actions within it," he said. "ControlUp aggregates all of these different metrics, and not only can you make the decision based upon that, but you can take actions without having to go off to another console to perform that work."

The performance monitoring market is saturated with vendors that have been honing their products for years, Gold said.

"Are they probably further ahead than Citrix? Yes. Do most companies need that level of performance monitoring? That's the question," he said. "It's a relative thing."

A fresh coat of paint

For some IT admins, Citrix Analytics for Performance isn't an entirely new product. The first iteration, Citrix Analytics for security, wasn't "fully baked in," Truong said.

"To me, Citrix Analytics is a fresh coat of paint over what [Citrix] Director already is," he said. "But we've got to be able to see what else it can do."

Citrix Director also provides performance analytics and historical data to help IT identify bottlenecks. The service, however, was designed for XenApp and XenDesktop -- now Citrix Endpoint Management -- while Citrix Analytics for Performance integrates with Citrix Workspace and Virtual Apps and Desktops.

The fact that Citrix Analytics for Performance is a cloud service is limiting for some organizations, however.

"We're still a very desktop-centric company, so we can't move to a SaaS-only infrastructure," said Moto Tohda, vice president of information systems at Tokyo Century Inc. in Purchase, N.Y. "There could be a disconnect for fast-moving companies versus operations with a small task to do on a much smaller scale, so people would need to wear a lot of hats."

Even organizations that want to consolidate their monitoring tools and go with a Citrix-only environment would likely be unable to do so, Scales said.

"We can't replace all tools with Citrix Analytics until it can monitor stand-alone servers as well," he said.

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