Citrix Scout and TAAS, a golden combination

For any consultant a set of tools that helps you in your daily job is a must. Citrix has been providing consultants with a set of tools that really rocks. I’ve written about this before but I think the tools need constant attention to make sure everyone is using them.
I’m talking about Scout and TAAS, two tools that interact with each other and should be ran every now and then in every Citrix environment.

What is Scout?

For those of you who never heard of Scout let me tell you in short what it is. Scout is a tool that you run on any Citrix server to collect metrics of that server and the Citrix environment in general. From the tool you can select other servers as well as long as WinRM is configured correctly.
Running Scout gives you two option
  1. Collect and upload
  2. CDF trace
The most basic feature is collect and upload for that will do a scan of your environment and upload it to TAAS which I will explain soon. Whenever you are having an issue with you Citrix environment you might want to provide them with information about the environment. With Scout while you are uploading the data you can assign a case number to the data. Citrix support can access that data and has an instant overview of your environment, so that saves hours of calls because you’re on the same level right away.
Now if they want more information or more indepth information they might ask you to do a CDF trace. A CDF trace is a very detailed trace of everything that went on in the environment. There is also a CDFcontrol uitility that you can use to what e.g. your reciever is doing, it will show it in real-time. It’s pretty neat but for most of us mambo jambo to read. Citrix loves your CDF traces for with that they can see who’s the bugger.
So that’s Scout a collector or metrics, that saves you time and effort in collection data for Citrix when you have a problem.

What is TAAS?

TAAS is the cloud component that Scout needs to analyse what it found. After you did the collecting of metrics you zip the file (Scout does it for you) and you upload it to TAAS . There the zip file will be unzipped and analyzed.
After it analyzed you get the data and it will show whether you have issues in your environment or not. Issues don’t have to be serious at all, it’s not like your environment is falling down all of a sudden. Many issue are around security patches or application start up errors that appear in event logs.
I included a example of two environment where I got issues, both had 4 issues.
TAAS will provide you with details of what it found, as you see the information you get is very valuable. Most important issue here was that the database was fragmented pretty severe. When you click on the link you get a link to a knowledge base article helping you to solve it… pretty neat, right?
The data of Scout is store on you local server so if you want to see what it measured after you get an overview like this, you can. If you look at the file stored there and look for anything related to the database you go to FarmInofXADSinfo and see all the CSV files there.
Sure many of you see files that would interest you instantly but I was interested in teh IndexFragLevel file to see what turned up during the collecting.
As you see the fragmentation level of the index tables and many others are pretty high. so this might become an issue because 96% fragmentation should lead to slowness of getting data eventually.
As I mentioned when you click on the message you will see more information, so I did.
The message shows the same data as the CSV file but not as easy to read I think.
It also shows a link to a Microsoft article how to solve the issue and a bit of explanation for you to understand why it’s an issue.
Next to the analysis which is great it will also show you a nice overview of your environment together with all versions of software installed on all servers. We found that the GPMC version was just not right on all servers and that is good info.
It shows you all hotfixes of Microsoft and Citrix deployed and will tell you if one or more servers has a missing hotfix. Sure we all got in under control but perhaps you missed one and that one solves your issues.
It will show Microsoft hotfixes as well as Citrix hotfixes. It will also show the event viewer messages that are related so for troubleshooting this tool is a must. Start with this tool always, you need this data.
There is so much to show and tell but the best way to understand the power is to download it right now and run it (it doesn’t need installation). Run it and look at your data, you’ll love it.
You can download Scout here, it works with 6.5 and 7.x without issues. I looks like a 7.x version but that’s just looks. For taas you need a Citrix account but if you work with Citrix you will have that somewhere.
Good luck debugging and enjoy these tools.

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