Citrix Analytics services, much need insight in behaviour of users and applications
Citrix announced new functionality at Synergy in Orlando. It will provide analytics and with that security. Citrix has announced that it will be available by fall 2017. I thought it might be interesting to shed a little light on this. There is not that much information available but the idea is clear. Let’s take a look at why this might be interesting and how they are possibly going to do this.
As mentioned already, there is little information to work with. The documentation around it shows a few bullet points only. What we do know is that Citrix is working hard to get more grip on the Citrix sessions. If we look at last year, we saw that Citrix merged NetScaler Insight center and Command center into NetScaler Management Analytics system (MAS). This move was part one of the announcement you heard at Citrix Synergy. Citrix NetScaler is becoming more and more the central analytics and security management component of Citrix.
In the past Citrix had the weakness many vendors have, they had several consoles each for a functionality. With merging the NetScaler functionality into one console they are moving into the right direction. From what I make of the news at Synergy is that NetScaler MAS will be enhanced with this functionality. One console from where you have a deep insight in the Citrix session, user and application behaviour.
Detecting user, network and application behaviour is important these days. I’ve implemented a solution lately where the customer was very keen on knowing what was going on and if it would pose a threat. In the old days we used to rely on Firewalls and Anti virus but threats have changed. If you want to know what is going on you need to monitor at machine level and catch every move on every level, including in memory. LakeSide Systrack has this feature already in their system and if you run them you will see from a machine point of view all the communication applications or user have. It doesn’t do mitigation but will show you where the pain is. So the announcement of Citrix is logical looking at the current world and question that we get a customers.
If we take a look at the current offering we see that Citrix has three user centric console, Citrix Director and Citrix NetScaler. Of course these are not just user centric but if you would to know something of the user, the applications or the session these are the consoles to use.
Citrix director is the console that will be used most by administrator or service desk. It gives a nice view on what sessions are connected and several details of the sessions. Diving into the user session you will see the applications a user has running and some basic useful metrics to determine if they have issues. From a trend point of view the Directors shows machine and user related metrics. Useful information but as I mentioned also in my webinar last week not enough as you would like to see more pro-active metrics to determine if issues are arising.
Citrix NetScaler is the in between (bad choice of words) for the user connecting remotely and the Citrix session. It therefor has a lot of insight in the connection that is setup and how it is preforming. With Citrix NetScaler you can determine if a connection issue is related to latency in the data center of remotely (out of you control). Within the NetScaler console you will see application launch times, usage of applications and so on. depending on the license you have different options like web insight or gateway insight.
when you look at the drawing above (from the Citrix site) you see how they position Citrix NetScaler MAS. Instantly with the news you just heard at Synergy you see how this make perfect sense. Citrix NetScaler will be the aggregate all data coming from different Citrix components (and beyond) and provide you with the dashboard and metrics to determine how your environment is running.
Citrix analytics services functionality
So with this drawing in mind we take another look at the announced functionality. They will expand the NetScaler MAS and add more data learning features to it. From the announcements we learned that Citrix analytics services will offer the following features;
- Collects and aggregates information on users, applications, devices, networks and data
- Behaviour detection, insights
- Risk resolution capabilities
- Uses data from XenApp, XenMobile, ShareFile and NetScaler
- Build unique and comprehensive visibility into user behavior and context
- Uses machine learning to detect anomalous behavior and threats
- Operates in a real-time closed loop by modifying product policies to mitigate threats
- Works on premises, in a public cloud or hybrid deployments
What I’m interested in is whether it will also expand this detection and behaviour learning to more than just the Citrix user, session and application running on Citrix. From the news it sounds like it will be Citrix centric and not be an end to end monitoring solution as well. It looks like a security feature “only” to detect , predict and mitigate threats. I put only between “” as it is not only that and it is very good that they work on something like that. VMware for a short period of time worked on something similar but dropped it beginning of this year.
what I like Citrix to do is add the option to monitor dependencies as well or allow third party monitoring solution metrics to be shown in a personal dashboard of some sort, this would allow administrator to use one console for all their management.. and while you’re busy merging and expanding….
One console to monitor and manage?
With the announcement the door is open to add more features to Citrix NetScaler MAS, I would opt to port the Citrix Director trend dashboards to NetScaler MAS as I’d like to see one console to monitor the whole Citrix stack. with one central console and delegation of control administrators could get a very details insight in the Citrix environment and view issues from different point of views. I don’t think Citrix is that far yet but perhaps one day Director is merged with MAS so we have two console, one for setting up the environment and one to monitor and manage it (..if they could move the PVS console also).
Citrix analytics services in a nutshell, a very good move from Citrix that customers will appreciate. I hope they will not put every option of this feature in the Platinum license as this is core business and companies need this. Seems fall 2017 (around VMworld perhaps 😉 ) will be interesting.