Plan Your Next VDI Project with Lakeside SysTrack

12 July 2016 | By Tye Barker

When planning for a new virtual desktop project, there are many questions that should be answered prior to the design of any solution. Many of these may be difficult to accurately answer, such as “how many hypervisors will I require?” and “what applications will I need to provision?”, or simply “who is an ideal candidate for VDI within my organisation?”.

The traditional method would be to consume hours upon hours of project time, workshopping these types of questions with the various business units, arriving at best effort estimates. An alternate approach, is to automate some of the discovery process, using products such as Lakeside SysTrack, and rapidly gain the required business intelligence to deliver a successful project.

Lakeside SysTrack is an agent/server based data collection technology that collects a vast array of user and Windows machine metrics (up to 10,000 data points every 15 seconds), which is then funnelled up to the central SysTrack SQL datamine. From this point we can then utilise SysTrack to perform deep analysis of this data and present it through a suite of visualisers and consoles to answer many of the common VDI planning questions.

Typically, within the Assess Phase of the VDI project, SysTrack agents are deployed to the current end user platform, be it Windows Desktop or even an existing VDI environment. Once an adequate amount of data (generally about 30 days) has been collected, reports can then be generated to provide an in-depth view of the current environment’s health, resource utilisation, applications usage, and much, much more.

Out of the box, SysTrack provides utilities and consoles to obtain business intelligence in the following areas:

  • Visualisers. The Enterprise/Site/Application/Data Center Visualisers present us with valuable data and insight into the health, usage, resource utilisation, launch times and latency of applications, web applications utilised, boot login times, users who use high compute resources and storage utilisation just to name a few.
  • Analysis. Perform in-depth analysis and identify environment issues through the use of the Resolve console.
  • Planning. The Virtual Machine Planner, Image Planner and Transform consoles (more on this later)
  • Operations Management. Observe environment alarms and alerts through the operations console and understand underlying hypervisor host utilisation (if presently virtualised).
  • Configuration. Agent deployment and configuration. Also contains pre-configured reports and dashboards for many common third party vendors such as NVIDIA Grid (GPU pass-through), Citrix XenApp/Desktop, VMware View, etc.

Whilst all of the above consoles provide crucial inputs when planning a VDI project, we can focus on the Virtual Machine Planner (VMP) and Image Planner in order to rapidly model the environment. The VMP utility leverages data collected in the SysTrack datamine to visualise your VDI project based on inputs specified at time of modelling. Here you can specify the type of project (Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop, etc.), the specification of the hosts you plan to procure, and users in scope of the project.

SysTrack will then commence modelling your VDI project based on real data collected from your current environment to deduce the number of hypervisor hosts required (based on current CPU cycles, memory utilisation, storage, and network currently being used), the number of images required to support your applications (based on user segmentation of commonly used applications), application rationalisation, along with any third party reports you might have imported through the SysTrack Kits console (e.g. reports for GPU offload feasibility using NVIDIA Grid).

The results from the data analysis can be exported as Microsoft Word documents and may be presented to key stake holders ahead of planning, to gauge the scope of a VDI project, and of course utilised within the Design Phase of the project.

Another key question that generally comes after a VDI project has been designed and built, is often “how do I gauge the effectiveness of my VDI migration?”, or simply “has my user experience improved?”.

Again, SysTrack can assist in answering these questions by using the “User Experience Score”. This metric is based on an algorithm that calculates the score based on many key performance indicators, such as compute resource utilisation, application launch times, latency, boot/login times, application health and performance, and many more. This score is plotted in a line graph, extendable to the previous 3 years data, so you can understand how the user experience is trending, a very useful tool to demonstrate a before and after comparison of each of the environments.

There are many uses for SysTrack in the ongoing day-to-day management and monitoring of your end user compute environment, and this post is just a short snippet of what can be achieved. Please get in contact with us today, so we can show you how Lakeside SysTrack can benefit your business when planning your next VDI deployment, or how it can be a valuable tool in day-to-day operations.