3 Rampant Application Nightmares on XenApp and RDS


Citrix XenApp and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services, or more commonly known as RDS, are session virtualization technologies that power the application infrastructure of thousands of enterprises, and for good reason! Session virtualization offers central management of user profiles and requires a modest resource footprint per user session. Additionally, as a single application installation services many user sessions, patching applications and agents is a breeze. Update your base application and you’re all set.

But there’s an issue – application usage in XenApp and RDS is often a black box. From our conversations with IT administrators, the most basic questions from their managers and software auditors about their application usage are often unanswerable with their current toolsets. In this post, we will address 3 common pain points with managing XenApp and RDS environments and how StacksWare can help.

1. Tracking application usage as XenApp and RDSH farms grow

XenApp worker servers and RD session hosts are often virtualized on hypervisors like VMware ESXi. For various reasons, these hosts may be deleted or powered off temporarily and new hosts may be cloned from base images. Since your VM landscape is always in flux, it is difficult to forecast software license requirements and application usage.

StacksWare is built from the ground up for hypervisors. Our StacksWare Internal Monitor, the virtual appliance that sits in your datacenter, scans your virtual environment and detects host deletions and additions. As new hosts are added and powered on, we immediately start monitoring these new machines. No additional configuration is needed per host.

2. Correlate application usage to physical host resources

High availability environments with vMotion offer automatic failover and VM consolidation to keep your business alive and cost efficient. However, as more applications and operating systems (e.g. Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2) move to licensing models based on physical and virtual core licensing, understanding the physical infrastructure underlying your application stack has become increasingly important. For example, if your XenApp worker server or RD session host runs Windows Server 2012 R2, you may find out (perhaps even during an audit) that these servers have run on many more physical hosts and cores than you thought. Too often this results in thousands of dollars in extra expense.

By integrating directly with the hypervisor, StacksWare grabs the underlying physical host information of your virtualization infrastructure along with the resource usage of each virtual host. We then determine exactly which applications ran on which virtual machine and physical host. This allows you to correlate core counts to application usage in each virtual server to better capacity plan your licenses.

3. Balancing application utilization on XenApp and Remote Desktop Services

For companies with expensive published software like Microsoft Office, utilizing software licenses to their maximum potential is critical. Even the most data-driven IT enterprises can easily rack up several thousand dollars in unnecessary licensing costs for their expensive applications. More scarily, with software vendor audits on the rise, overutilizing licenses can result in heavy fines or litigation from vendors like Microsoft.

StacksWare provides real-time metering of application usage for XenApp and RDSH farms to ensure that employees actually use your purchased software while connected to a session server. We additionally provide advanced features to group users and session virtualization hosts to determine software budgeting on a departmental basis. Within 15 minutes, you can get instant insight into your current usage and send auditors packing.

Struggling with these issues?

Before you spend any time rolling your own scripts to gather application usage for your environment, save yourself days of pain and get in contact with us! You can request a demo hereor send me an email at sales@stacksware.com.