Product Documentation

Understanding NetScaler Insight Center

Sep 07, 2016

In mobile, cloud, and virtual desktop environments, applications are deployed in a dynamic and distributed manner. In such an environment, monitoring the applications and diagnosing the application issues can be a challenge, which can affect the user experience and employee productivity.

NetScaler Insight Center, a virtual appliance that runs on XenServer, VMWare ESX, or on Microsoft Hyper-V addresses the application visibility challenge by collecting detailed information about web-application and virtual-desktop traffic, such as flow, user-session-level information, web page performance data, and database information flowing through the NetScaler ADCs, NetScaler Gateway appliances, or CloudBridge appliances at your site and providing actionable reports. It enables IT administrators to troubleshoot as well as proactively monitor customer issues in matter of minutes.

To help you analyze the performance of the applications running on your appliances, NetScaler Insight Center provides insight into all of the components that might affect application performance, and generates performance reports.

NetScaler Insight Center has the following components:
  • Web Insight that delivers data analytics for web traffic flowing through NetScaler ADCs.
  • HDX Insight that delivers data analytics for XenApp and XenDesktop traffic flowing through NetScaler ADCs, NetScaler Gateway appliances, or CloudBridge appliances. HDX Insight collects reports when NetScaler ADCs are deployed in transparent mode, and when NetScaler Gateway appliances are deployed in single-hop mode or double-hop mode.
  • WAN Insight that delivers data analytics for both accelerated and unaccelerated traffic flowing through CloudBridge appliances.
  • Gateway Insight Provides visibility into the failures that users encounter when logging on, regardless of the access mode. You can view a list of users logged on at a given time, along with the number of active users, number of active sessions, and bytes and licenses used by all users at any given time.
  • Security Insight Provides a single-pane solution to help you assess your application security status and take corrective actions to secure your applications.
Note: NetScaler Insight Center was earlier called NetScaler Insight. At the time of rebranding, the release number was changed from 1.0 to 10.1 aligning with a NetScaler release.

Understanding Web Insight

Web Insight provides visibility into web applications and allows IT administrators to monitor all web applications being served by NetScaler ADCs. Web Insight captures data about web traffic that flows between the clients and the servers, generates AppFlow records by doing deep inspection of the data, and presents the records as visual reports. These reports provide critical information such as user and server response time, enabling IT organizations to improve web application performance.

Key features of Web Insight include application-specific reports, URL-specific reports, and cache server-specific reports that provide visibility into cache performance. Web Insight also provides visibility into HTTP request methods, HTTP response status, client operating system, and user agents.

Information about client-side parameters enables you to evaluate user experience. Along with other capabilities, you can identify the top web applications accessed by clients and track their peak usage.

The administrators of web servers can use Web insight to answer any of the following questions:
  • While accessing a particular application like SharePoint, which clients are experiencing high latency?
  • In the past hour, which applications have had the most hits?
  • For any given client, what are the applications and URLs that have been accessed?
  • What operating system and browser is a particular client using?
  • Which applications or servers are sending the most error-related responses?

Understanding HDX Insight

HDX Insight provides administrators of Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop environments an easy way to monitor users and the performance of the applications hosted on NetScaler ADCs, NetScaler Gateway appliances, or CloudBridge appliances. HDX Insight captures data about the ICA traffic that flows between the clients and the servers, generates AppFlow records by doing deep inspection of the data, and presents the records as visual reports.

Note: HDX is built on top of the Citrix ICA protocol. ICA is a Citrix proprietary protocol used in XenApp/XenDesktop traffic. It is composed of virtual channels. A virtual channel is a bidirectional, error-free connection used for the exchange of generalized packet data between a Citrix host for online delivery (XenApp or XenDesktop) and the Citrix Receiver online plug-in. Connections for sound, graphics, client drive mapping, printing, and end user experience monitoring are a few examples of the virtual channels.

With HDX Insight, administrators can troubleshoot issues while accessing a particular published application through XenApp or XenDesktop.

For example, the administrators of Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop environments can use HDX Insight to answer the following questions:
  • For a given XenDesktop user, what is the average client and server-side latency, and the average jitter?
  • Which part of the network, the first Demilitarized zone (DMZ) or the second DMZ is causing a bad user experience?
  • Which XenDesktop or XenApp users are consuming the most bandwidth over a given time period?
  • Which virtual channels are consuming the most bandwidth over a given time period?
  • What are the top applications across all XenApp users, by up-time and total number of launches over a given time period?
  • What is the DC latency at the datacenter end of the CloudBridge appliance?

NetScaler Insight Center supports collecting information from NetScaler ADCs when they are deployed in Transparent mode or LAN User Mode. In this mode, the user is local to the XenApp and XenDesktop applications. NetScaler appliance is directly part of the traffic flow. No NetScaler Gateway is used.

NetScaler Gateway appliances can be deployed in different modes. HDX Insight supports collecting ICA reports from NetScaler Gateway appliances when they are deployed in the any of the following modes:
  • Single-Hop Mode: In this mode, a NetScaler Gateway appliance is used to connect to the XenApp and XenDesktop applications.
  • Double-Hop Mode: In this mode, two NetScaler Gateway appliances are deployed to connect to the XenApp and XenDesktop applications.

NetScaler Insight Center also collects information from CloudBridge datacenter and branch appliances. For details, see NetScaler Insight Center in a CloudBridge Setup.

Note: NetScaler Insight Center can also be integrated with Desktop Director. In that case, to enable HDX Insight data collection, you must configure the NetScaler Insight Center virtual appliance in Desktop Director. For more information, see Configure HDX Insight.

Understanding WAN Insight

A CloudBridge setup supports delivery of a large number of applications by greatly improving the efficiency of data flow across the network. However, maintaining maximum efficiency requires monitoring your network. For example, poor performance of critical applications can increase the latency in application delivery, and a particular branch office using maximum bandwidth can cause delays at other branch offices.

The WAN Insight feature of NetScaler Insight Center gives CloudBridge administrators an easy way to monitor the accelerated and unaccelarted WAN traffic that flows through CloudBridge datacenter and CloudBridge branch appliances, and it provides end-to-end visibility that includes client-specific data, application-specific data, and branch- specific data. With the ability to identify and monitor all the applications, clients, and branches on the network, you can effectively deal with the issues that degrade performance.

The WAN Insight feature provides powerful capabilities for failure analysis of your network, branches and applications. Live and historical reports enable you to be aware of performance issues before users raise complaints.

As a CloudBridge administrator, you can use WAN Insight to answer questions such as:
  • Which client in a branch office is consuming the most bandwidth?
  • What compression ratio is achieved at a particular branch?
  • What is the latency at the CloudBridge datacenter appliance?

To view WAN Insight reports, you must first add the CloudBridge appliance to NetScaler Insight Center, and then enable AppFlow.