Advanced management with ControlUp


Advanced management with ControlUp

This blog will show you how ControlUp could help you with managing your VDI/SBC environment.
As most of you will know I had done a report on end to end monitoring for a customer last year and published some of the results on my blog. For that report I also looked at ControlUp to see if and how it would do end to end monitoring.

After my blog post Yoni from ControlUp contacted me to talk about what ControlUp could do and he thought it would be good to meet up. It took a while but this year at VMworld be met and he gave me a demo about the management possibilities. I have to be honest, my first impression of ControlUp was that it was just another monitoring tool (I looked for these feature). I didn’t look further than monitoring and missed the biggest features, the management features. ControlUp is a very interesting product to get a grip on your network.

Issues

First lets take a look at issues you might experience managing your environment. Looking at environments that are persistent like persistent VDI of physical SBC servers you will see that the systems grow different over time.
What does this mean? Let’s assume that you have 100 Citrix server and they are not provisioned with PVS or MCS. You installed them manually and over time someone installed a piece of software on some of the servers.
Now you have several servers that run some software and others that don’t. User are complaining that they experience different behavior when working on some servers.
This one example but the same could be a printer installed on one server and not on the others.

ControlUp

So after this introduction we come to ControlUp, so let’s dive into the management options from ControlUP. Let’s start basic and go a bit advanced step by step.

Basic funtions

first we have a list of computers or hosts and per computer or host you can see the stress level and multiple metrics that show the status of the system. This is still basic monitoring but for administrators and service desk very important. The metrics are various, I had to split it in two pictures.

Looking a bit further there you see that you can see various metrics about the disk, network and processor. If you want to get more details you can click on the metric and it will take you one step deeper.

If you click on the Processes to see that is taking up all the resources you get to the screenshot shown below. For a service desk this is valuable for it gives a quick insight.

In the main management overview there is a menu bar that guides you through the most basic functions, you switch from Folders to Host or Computers, sessions, processes, accounts or executables depending on what you’re looking for.

I chose Sessions for now and in my lab these were the sessions logged on, three administrator sessions. Per session you get some details and you get a quick view on how the session is doing health-wise.

Session control

This all looks pretty basic, I can hear you think yeah I’ve seen that before what’s the big deal? Okay as promised we start simple and will built up as we go along. When you right click on the session you get a menu (you get the menu also with computers, hosts etc.. but we’ll get there in a minute.)

The menu shows one very interesting thing I want to talk about first. Think about those users that call you and say when I click this I get a error and you have no idea what they talk about. Now you have the option to take a screenshot of the users screen and see what they see. You can do that with or without notifying the user, use it with care for you don’t want to get sued 😉 The screenshot you will see looks like the one below, it makes life a bit easier.
There a more menu options as you noticed, you can force an Group policy update, manage registry or start or stop a service. The Remote Desktop services are options you used to see in a RDS/SBC environment, basic options like logoff, shadow or disconnect.
They are complemented with options you never had in a SBC/RDS environment. One example is the possibilty to start a process in a user sessions.
Reapply or Refresh group policy is a very hand feature to have available, this would certainly be easy when managing a VDI environment. It just gives you control over the workspaces that you don’t get from the vendor of the VDI/RDS/SBC products.
There is more like registry management and managing programs and updates but that I will talk about later on. When we click on Computers and choose several computers we will get a different menu. One option is the power control you get over the remote computer.
Another very nice feature is the RunAs feature you can start a process on a remote computer under a different account. I know you can do that with some of your tooling but this is all done from one console with no freaky tools whatsoever.
When you click on RunAs you get the following pop-up, you can start any program and specify with which user you want to start it.

Multiple computer management

Still although this was amazing for it’s all combined in one console and so easy to use we go further with features I like even more.
When you select more computers at once you have to option to see the differences between these computers. So let’s click on Programs and Updates and see what we get.

ControlUp collects very rapid all the details of all computers selected and with different colours you see if the program is installed on one or more computers.

Clicking on a program will show on which computers this program has been installed. It gives a very quick insight and makes it easy for you to fix. I had many users on the phone when I managed a network telling me “it works fine on server x and doesn’t one server y”. With this feature you can determine if a server is compliant with the others.
It doesn’t just work for programs and updates, it also works for Services. The process is the same with different colours you can see which service is installed on which server. I chose very different server to amplify this feature. Wish I had something like this many years ago.
And again when we click on a service we see the computers it’s installed on, make life a whole lot easier for many of us.
Let’s do one more, Registry for that might be a bugger in many cases. Just think of a Citrix environment where all servers are installed by hand or deployed with SCCM. These servers will be different before you can say Schevenings greedschapkistje.. With ControlUp you can check if they are consistent and do a repair if needed.
If you need to do that repair, you can select the registry key or hive that only exist on one server and distribute it to multiple servers. You just select the target servers and ControlUp takes care of the rest.
I think this is one of the coolest features of the product, you have a good overview of all kind of settings on each server and can restore the registry on other servers if it’s out of sync.

Printerdrivers

Ah, almost forgot our global nightmare, printerdrivers. Printerdrivers and printers are like most things held in the registry. the easiest way to figure out what is installed is looking in the registry. With ControlUP this is a breeze.

Conclusion

This is a first blog about ControlUp, I think you get a proper idea on possibilities of the product.
I was suprised by the possibilties and think this would be a good addition to any organization next to an end to End monitoring product to be used a an operational monitoring and management solution. I think it helps administrator and service desk personel with their daily job managing servers and solving user issues.


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