by Alain Assaf, CTA and Raleigh-Durham CUGC Leader
I have been working with Citrix deployments for many years, and the primary aspect of these environments is change. You could add a new software package to thousands of users or refresh your server hardware. Collecting and tracking performance metrics over time helps you to understand how these changes affect your user capacity and user experience. In this post, we’ll discuss Application Launches (specifically, hosted application usage).
Note: This post assumes you are running Citrix Director (pics are from ver 7.15 and have access to Microsoft Excel (365 on-prem)
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Why Track this Metric
Recording Application Launches in your Citrix environment is another metric of your capacity and growth. You may find that certain applications are used consistently over the year, while others only spike during certain quarters. Most importantly, you can gauge the usage of all your applications in your environment and see if some are not being launched any longer. This may point to an issue with the application that is not reported (in larger environments this does happen and users find a work-around or do not report a problem until a month or two goes by) or you could remove the application to simplify your administrative overhead.
How to collect the data
We will be able to generate all the data we need using the Capacity Report in the Trends section of Director. Login to Director and click on the Trends button. Then click on Capacity Management.
To generate data for the last month, leave Delivery Group set to All (this will capture application launches for your whole environment), change Time Period to Last Month, and set Ending to custom. A date field will appear. Select the first day of the current month. Click Apply and the past month’s (last 29 days in this case since February was in a leap year) data will appear.
Click Export and export as an Excel file. This format will export all the data into one file.
If you prefer to export the data as a CSV, you will have to export the table and chart data as separate files. The table data will have the following fields:
- Application Name – The name of the application (not the name your users see)
- Folder Path – The folder name where the application resides
- Peak Concurrent Instances – The highest number of running instances of the application during the report period.
- Total Instances – The total running instances of the application during the report period
- Total Launches – The total application launches during the report period.
- Total Usage – The total time the application was active during the report period.
- Total Distinct Users – The number of unique users who ran the application during the report period.
The chart data will show the peak concurrent application instances for the day. The Excel file combines all this data in one file. It also includes a chart of the peak concurrent instances for the report period.
How to record/display the data
There are many tools that can be used to display this information, but we’ll use Excel in this example as it’s the one I’m most familiar with and probably readily available to most Citrix Administrators.
We will first summarize the data for the month. If we look in our Excel export, this comes from the top line of the Application Based Usage table. I found that I have to convert these values after export from Director (YMMV). If the you see a triangle in the cell and select it, you will get a warning pop-up. Hovering over this tells you the number is viewed as text.
You can easily convert all these cells to a number by selecting cells, clicking on the warning and then select Convert To Number.
This will convert the data to a number format which allows us to use formulas and graphs more easily.
In this example, I’m grabbing the Peak Concurrent Instances, Total Instances, Total Launches, and Total Distinct Users. Every month you add these numbers to your table and you get the following:
Once you have several months of data you can add some Year-on-year comparisons. To show daily, monthly, or yearly change we use this formula:
([New Value] - [Old Value]) / [Old Value]
For daily, the new and old value would be the difference between Thursday and Wednesday. Monthly would be the difference between May and June, and so on. We can make Excel display this as a percentage to make it easier to interpret (in the example below, I’m comparing year-on-year change).
To show growth over time from a fixed point (in this example I’m tracking my user growth from a fixed point to see how much it grows/shrinks over time), you use the same formula with a slight change. You reference your old data as a fixed cell by putting a [$] in front of the column and row you don’t want to change. Then as you copy the formula to the next month, the fixed cell stays the same.
Graphing the Concurrent and Total Instances, the Total Launches and Total Users over time as a 3-D Area map gives you this:
Daily Concurrent Launches If you want to better visualize the utilization of your environment over time, you can track the daily peak concurrent application instances. This metric gives you the the highest number of concurrent applications running for a day. You will find this data in the table to the left of the graph in your Excel export. It consists of the day and the highest number of concurrent applications recorded for that day.
This can be graphed over time (as a line graph) to show how the number of applications running increase or decrease over time. This graph also shows a trend line on the concurrent launches.
And you can graph the years individually to compare year over year. You should configure a series per year and order the series with the newest one on top.
The x-axis is the daily peak number for the year and the y-axis is the dates for the year. Each series uses the same y-axis so they can overlap in a 3-D Area Graph.
Monthly Application Launches With this data you can also track individual application utilization. This is most useful in identifying which apps are heavily used or no longer used so you can assess whether you want to still host and update them. This can also help with application license usage tracking. We get this info from the Application Based Usage Table. This will show you every published application in your environment including disabled ones.
I’m going to use the Application Name, Peak Concurrent Instances, Total Instances, Total Launches, and Total Distinct Users. Every month, I’ll add the last four columns to my Excel table every month to track usage over time (as you add/remove apps, you will have to insert or remove rows to keep everything lined up).
To make unused applications standout more, I’ve added a conditional highlight and a formula. In the right-most column, I use this formula:
I use the conditional IF statement to see if the sum of total launches over 6 months is greater than zero. If it is the cell stays blank, otherwise, the cell value becomes “NO”.
In the left most column (which is the application name), I created a conditional highlight rule that changes the cell to a bright yellow if the right-most column is “NO”.
Finally to total up all the applications we may want to remove, I use the COUNTIF formula to count a cell if its value is “NO”.
Tracking hosted application usage is important for license usage, capacity management, tracking a new application’s growth, and showing which applications are underutilized. Hopefully the examples above give you an idea of how you want to collect and report on this information. Please comment if you have any questions.
- Monitor historical trends across a Site
- Citrix Director
- COUNTIF function
- Change the display of a 3-D chart
- Use conditional formatting to highlight information
Thanks for reading,
Citrix Technology Advocate
Raleigh-Durham CUGC Leader