Citrix Auto Support & Scout, Citrix troubleshooting done right


Auto Support & Scout, Citrix troubleshooting done right

Citrix troubleshooting has grown up, a new tool and a new method will provide customers with an easy way to solve their issues, learn how in this blog. Citrix Auto Support has been announced at Synergy 2012 in Barcelona, Auto support is the name for the product formerly known as TAAS.
Auto Support is about automatically analyzing a set of data taken from you XenDesktop, XenApp or Netscler environment. Basic analysis shows enough info to determine whether a site is experiencing issues or running healthy.28-10: I wrote this blog a few weeks ago when Citrix Synergy was going on, I noticed that with the FP1 release a tool called XenDesktop Collector had been shipped. Knowing TAAS from the Citrix Synergy a year earlier I decided to take a look at what they released.
I noticed that noone was talking or blogging about it, I wondered why for troubleshooting tools are welcome in a world that becomes more complex due to integration of solutions.

So initially I wanted to write about Citrix XenDesktop Collector and the site TAAS.Citrix.com, the tools I assumed made up the solution “Citrix Auto Support”. After my blog had been read hundreds of times I got an e-mail from Fred Donovan and Michael Ryan from Citrix asking for a conference call to talk about my blog and the tools I described. From the initial contact I gathered that XenDesktop Collector wasn’t the tool Citrix intended to use for Auto support. I was anixious to find out more.

During the confernce call we discussed the possibilities of the tools, the future of the tools and the areas they are planning to cover with the tool. So after the conference call I decided to change the blog and write about Auto Support and the tools the way Citrix is planning to deploy it.

So here you go, read about Scout and Auto Support (The Tool Formely known as TAAS).

Some history

I think it was Citrix Synergy Berlin or perhaps Barcelona last year that I first got to meet the guys behind Citrix TAAS. I was invited to test a “private”demo and fell in love with the idea straight away.

Finally no more log files over and over, just a one-click tool that does it all.
So let’s skip talking about TAAS and start talking about the Auto Support tool and Scout.

Scout

For logging there is a tool that not only supports XenDesktop but also XenApp, this tool is called Scout. The scout tool is downloadable from the Citrix site. Scout is the tool Citrix is intended to be using for the Auto Support site, TAAS.Citrix.Com. With Scout you can collect logging from;

  • Citrix XenDesktop;
  • Citrix XenApp;

Scout logging results can be uploaded to the Citrix Auto Support site where TAAS engines will do the analysis. There a two way of collecting data;

 

  • A health check of your
    environment and the machines you have selected.  Note that WinRM is
    required for collecting data from remote machines.
  • If you are troubleshooting and issue that you can reproduce, then you can run a CDF trace while reproducing the issue and the trace file will be included in the data upload for analysis

The first one gives you basic information about the setup of your environment like if you applied database mirroring or applied a hotfix on all server. The second on is the one that is used already these days when you open a case with Citrix, it’s the real debugging way.

For any reference visit:

 

Beta

To make it clear, when you use Scout for collecting data from Citrix XenApp, it’still in BETA. There are bugs and things it doesn’t look for but along the way it will be updated and change. Scout for XenDesktop, XenServer and Netscaler is in production it’s just XenApp that’s still BETA.When it starts it will check for a newer version and report if it found one.

Auto support (Formely known as Tools As A Service)

The tooling consists of two components:
– A web service;
– A collector tool, Scout
Can’t be simpler than that.
Of course the product has some requirements but they’re basic stuff like DotNet FrameWork and Powerhsell. All XenDesktop agents need to have WinRM and remote registry, but all do by default.

The Tool, Scout

Scout is a tool that you don’t need to install, it comes as a ZIP file. Just unpack it and run it as Administrator.
It wil take some time starting up, depending on your environment.
When it starts it will fire off some Powershell commands to figure out which servers or desktops are there.

 

Opening the tool gives a empty screen with just the Farm name shown in the corner.
In the bottom you see two buttons, one of the is Collect and Upload.

Clicking that button pops-up a screen with a selection of devices, controllers and VDA’s.
When you click a device the status shows OK or something else when you don’t have WinRM configured.

 

After selecting a device, click on Continue to star the collecting.

The end result of this collection can be uploaded to the TAAS.Citrix.Com site.
There is a possibility to upload the collected data directly to Citrix via Scout but in some networks this ain’t possible. for these networks, log on to the site and upload it from there as described a bit later on in this blog.

 TAAS.Citrix.com

TAAS.Citrix.com still holds to old name of the solution, the TAAS site is in fact the Auto support site where you upload your loggings. Opening the page you see a logon page where you need to logon with your Citrix userid.
When you are logged on, the main screen appears, first blue button you see is “Upload data”. As I wrote before, this is needed when you can’t upload from the server directly.

 

Next to the upload button is the Filter menu option, if you have multiple uploads of many products it might come in handy to filter them out. I noticed that in this release the filter isn’t doing that much, in most environments you won’t have hunderds of logs uploaded so the overview is stil there. In a next release the filtering will be fixed I’m sure about that.

When you uploaded the file it gets analyzed, this analyzing takes a few minutes..

XenDesktop

As you can see the file I uploaded (one controller only) had no issues. I would almost say of course it had no issues 🙂

The healthcheck summary gives a quick overview of how many issues are found.

The environment gives an overview over the environment, site and licensing.

In the connection overview you can see how many VDA versions you have running, might come in handy when you have older versions running. My farm is still small because it in testing.

..the same goes for the operating systems you have running, a overview is presented.

What I really like about the analysis is the Controller overview with all components and versions being displayed. this really is handy.

 

XenApp

I also took a look at the XenApp side of Scout, again can’t state it often enough, it’s BETA.
I detected two issues in the XenApp environment, So I looked at the analyzing side of the screen.

The two issues are reported, one is about a hotfix not being applied on all server, that was on one server outside the PVS deployed farm used for some extra testing… good to know we forgot that one..
The other issues was about database mirroring…

XenServer

through XenCenter/Tools/Server Status Report you are able to produce a file that can be uploaded afte rlogging into TAAS.Citrix.com. There is no auto upload possibility. Can’t tell you much more about Xenserver for it’s not the hypervisor of my choice.

Conclusion

If you scrool through the analysis you wil see they are stil developing it, some areas are still left open.
During the conference call we discussed what was coming next and they are keen on receiving feedback on what we are looking/waiting for. So use the tool and provide feedback. Make troubleshooting as easy as riding a bike.
Hope this hase given an insight in a great debugging tool that despite the fact the reports aren’t working right now it will be a great asset to help you debug.

 

 

 


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