Baselining Performance using Liquidware Stratusphere UX

This afternoon I was on an interesting and informative webinar hosted by Liquidware in which they discussed using SpotCheck Inspection of an environment as a means to provide visibility into the user experience.

NOTE: Let me make this clear, in this post I’m focus on VDI in regards to a SpotCheck inspection, but Stratusphere’s scope is NOT limited to VDI.  You can use Stratusphere UX to monitor the performance of your physical systems, including Mac’s, Chromebooks, IGEL thin clients, as well as most Linux distributions. 

The presenters were Kevin Cooke (Product Director, Stratusphere) and Chris Walker (Senior Solutions Architect).  I’ve worked with Chris before and am always impressed by the depth of his knowledge….watching him navigate Stratusphere to detect and identify performance issues is like watching an artist, a master at this craft.  I’m sure Kevin is cool too, I just don’t know him but I did hear him say that we could use the information from the webinar “how you see fit” so I took that as permission to post!

Is SpotCheck Inspection a new product?  That was my first question and the answer is no.  SpotCheck Inspection is simply a methodology that allows you to determine the health of your VDI environment from an end-user experience.  Evaluating the end-user experience is key because you’ve probably seen this yourself….everything checks out from a hardware perspective, meaning CPU, RAM, Network, and Disk utilization of your virtualization hosts and storage system fall within expected and accepted parameters, yet your virtual desktops still run like garbage.  Perhaps the next day you come into work expecting the help desk queue to be filled with VDI calls only to find that the virtual desktops are running “better” today, even though you didn’t change a thing.  To figure out why, you need more visibility into VDI environment and this is where the SpotCheck Inspection methodology with Stratusphere UX can pay big dividends.

The SpotCheck Inspection methodology is a repeatable, point-in-time analysis that focuses on several key end-user experience metrics in order to determine the overall health of VDI system.  The SpotCheck Inspection methodology has 5 phases that I’ll very briefly summarize:

  • Situation Analysis
    • Why are we doing the analysis?  What are the business drivers?  Determining the situation properly will ensure the appropriate diagnostic activities follow.
  • Cursory Data Review
    • Data gathering using Stratusphere UX to gain an understanding of the situation.  Are we inspecting disk/network latency after a hardware refresh or troubleshooting an issue where VDI slows down at 2pm on every other Thursday?  What can Stratusphere tell us about the disk/network latency and what’s going on at 2pm every other Thursday?  Do we see patterns emerging?
  • Narrow the Field
    • Armed with metrics gathered by Stratusphere, you identify and examine potential areas of concern.
  • Formulating a Resolution Plan and Documentation
    • Once a problem has been identified, you will need to formulate a plan to resolve the issue but don’t just “check a box” to resolve an issue and keep it to yourself.  Discuss the resolution with your team, document your findings AND the steps you will take to resolve the issue.  I can’t stress the importance of this step enough!  Without the discussion, plan, and documentation, you will likely find yourself repeating the same steps over and over as another administrator is going to “uncheck the box” because it was “unchecked the last time I was on the server.”
  • Rinse and Repeat
    • Yes, use the SpotCheck methodology to troubleshoot issues but also use it repeatedly at regular intervals to maintain the visibility needed to minimize risk in your architecture.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I know there are other tools out there, but if I’m troubleshooting a bizarre VDI issue like VMs going nuts at 2pm every second Thursday, I can think of no other tool I’d rather have than Stratusphere UX.  I have seen it expose gremlins roaming around the dark hallways of a VDI environment.  And when using Stratusphere to perform a periodic examination of your environment using the SpotCheck methodology, you can be sure that your end-user experience will be as optimal as possible.

Again, remember that Stratusphere can provide the same visibility into a physical environment.  I guess it would be better for me to say that if I’m troubleshooting ANY bizarre issue, whether virtual or physical, I can think of no better tool to use.

If you don’t have Stratusphere UX but would like to know more, you can contact myself or Adam by leaving a comment or you can get in touch with us through our contact page.  You can also connect to the Stratusphere page where you will also find the Liquidware SpotCheck Inspection methodology whitepaper.

Thanks to Kevin and Chris at Liquidware for the great webinar today.  You can find them on Twitter using the links below:

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